Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Layoffs Wreck Lives

A recent interview with Louis Uchitelle, author of The Disposable American: Layoffs And Their Consequences, should open the eyes of every working American. Uchitelle reminds us that job security was once good for American business, as it kept experienced people on the payroll. Layoffs became a response to overseas competition during the seventies, but the initial rationale behind them was that they would be temporary - and that the laid-off workers would be hired back when the economy improved. But in the last two decades, contends Uchitelle, there has been a "paradigm shift" in the attitude of management. Layoffs are now simply a routine tool for boosting profits, a cheap and easy tactic that has become the "route of least resistance" for corporate leaders not imaginative enough to offer more constructive solutions. American workers are now traumatized and dehumanized out of fashion rather than necessity, irrespective of the state of the economy. Foreign outsourcing and the amoral juggernaut of globalization only aggravate the situation. According to Uchitelle, 4 percent of full-time employees in the United States are laid off every year. When you factor in more covert methods of forcing workers out - like the pressure to take early retirement, business relocations, and pay cuts that cause workers to quit - the real figure is closer to 7 percent. And that's annually. Read more at the link below.

Interview with Louis Uchitelle from YaleGlobal Online

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


Corporate Crime Still Flourishes Despite Sarbanes-Oxley

Congress passed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in 2002 to control the kind of corporate abuses that were rampant during the final throes of the Dotcom era. It made provisions to enforce greater CEO accountability in financial reporting, bar loans to company officers, disclose all CEO and CFO compensation, prohibit insider trading, submit corporate financial practices to closer auditing, and impose stiffer penalties on financial reporting fraud and all other violations of federal securities laws. Despite this, loopholes remain in the system and corporate abuse continues to flourish. According to journalist Michael Kinsley, the scandal lies not in what's done that's illegal, but in what's done that is legal.

"Lay and Skilling Aren't The Only Guilty Ones" from Slate
"Sarbanes-Oxley Act" from Wikipedia
New source of info on executive compensation outrages at

Friday, May 26, 2006


High Anxiety

Extreme anxiety can result from peering out at the world around you and sensing that something is terribly wrong even when it all looks just dandy on the surface. I'm talking about the existential queasiness that is induced by deja vu or certain optical illusions. Or even when you're told that the economy is booming, jobs go begging, productivity is up, and Wall Street is vibrant with evanescent gold - and yet you know that you aren't making a dime more than you did five years ago, gas prices are killing you, you can't even sell your house, and your very survival appears to teeter on a precipice. Check out the linked article - and be afraid, be very afraid...

"Economic Anxiety" from Forbes

Thursday, May 25, 2006


No Man Is An Island - Not Even An American

The author of a new book entitled American Mythos: Why Our Best Efforts To Be A Better Nation Fall Short explains his thinking at the link below. He cites the tendency of Americans to see themselves as isolates totally responsible for their own successes, and entirely to blame for their own failures. This is, in fact, a distortion of the truth, as the success of any one individual - from the scions of old families to even freshly arrived immigrants - is a synthesis of all his or her social connections and communal advantages. He also deconstructs the apparent paradox of a people who are at once fervently religious and stubbornly self-centered. Americans consider religion all too often as a private affair, a matter of personal spirituality and moral opinion, and far less often as an obligation to the community - much less as an inspiration to reach outward to other cultures and ways of life. This "me first" attitude dominates the corporate sphere, and is at least partly responsible for our rising income inequality.

"Wuthnow: Myths distort true picture of the American dream" from News@Princeton


Pondering The Executive Paycheck

Scholars have studied the pattern of U.S. executive compensation in the last several decades, and have reached some highly rationalistic conclusions that will not please John Q. Public. They cited a correspondence between the rising value of corporations in the stock market with the rising incomes of their chief executives. Well, duh - we all know the stock market feeds on blood money. But there are apparently other factors at work - especially in regard to the vast difference in compensation between American boss men and their counterparts elsewhere in the world. Since there are so many more big corporations in the United States than in, say, France, the competition for the best (read: most charismatically ruthless) boss men is much fiercer, driving up the demand and therefore the price. The scholars note, however, that the actual differences in ability among chief executives is not that great, and that the Number 1 boss man is likely to increase the value of a company only about .014 percent more than the Number 250 boss man. Nonetheless, since the Number 1 boss man is generally the head of a far larger concern, that .014 percent is proportionately magnified - and therefore, supposedly, he deserves much more money despite the slight difference in talent. The bottom line is that, since America is a virtual sweltering Mesozoic of countless lumbering corporate monsters, the boss men that prey on their profits are equivalently dinosaurian. Needless to say, this study focused on the market dynamics of executive compensation, not its ethics or morality.

"Scholars analyze why top salaries are so high" from International Herald Tribune


Who Ain't Your Daddy?

A thoughtful piece in a local Ohio paper reminds us that our team (or our company) is not our family, and our coach (or our boss) is not our daddy. The corporate equivalent of "love" is based solely on performance and economic demand, and is never unconditional. Unfortunately, that is the case in many real families as well, but who wants to idealize the dysfunctional? Most of us have sentimentalized our bosses and our co-workers at some point in our lives, only to be shown the door with consummate coldness when times change. Only wariness and detachment - not "love" - will keep us sane in the hinterlands of corporate insincerity.

"Your team or boss isn't your family" from the Akron Beacon Journal

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


Monitoring Web Access Is A Fool's Game

An article by Glenn Reynolds in yesterday's TCS Daily deplores the folly of corporations that wish to curtail web access. Their rationale is that web-surfing "cuts productivity". In fact, the opposite is true. Depriving the modern information worker of web access is like forcing a repairman to hand over his tools before he steps into your house. Even if web access isn't always strictly necessary, it makes the tedious longeuers between work assignments tolerable. After all, you don't want your employees getting impatient and deciding what needs to be done on their own, do you? Besides, most companies will offer it - and your best people will quit yours and work for the other guy if you deprive them of it. Yet another whip-cracking tic from those clueless neurotics known as "managers".

"Managing To Look Busy" from TCS Daily

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


The Myth Of An "Ownership Society"

Our Feckless Leader promotes the reduction of taxes on dividends and capital gains by claiming that 50 percent of Americans own some stocks or mutual funds. In fact, only 5 percent of Americans own 89 percent of all closely held business assets, 79 percent of stocks, and 70 percent of mutual funds. In the last fifteen years, the share of the top 1 percent in America's total wealth has increased from 30 percent to 33.4 percent, while the share of the bottom 50 percent has decreased from 3 percent to 2.5 percent. Fewer and fewer of Americans own more and more of its wealth. It's more a "secret society" than an "ownership society" - the sort of thing that the posh might join at Yale.

"Inequality Counts" from The Nation


New Book On Downsizing And The Damage It Does

Check out The Disposable American: Layoffs And Their Consequences, by Louis Uchitelle. This new book reminds us that, prior to the early 1970's, the vast majority of Americans still held long-term jobs. It also demonstrates that the industries with the highest levels of downsizing are generally the least profitable - even after downsizing takes place. Nor is this book the GOP-bashing manifesto that some might imagine it to be. Bill Clinton is soundly criticized for his laissez-faire attitude towards corporate downsizing and for allowing the remaining legal barriers to the practice to be torn away. Most importantly, it documents the human cost of downsizing, which all of must remember. Downsizings have become routine, even blase, to corporate heads and readers of business news alike, but to us they should be like Alamos and Pearl Harbors and 9/11's occurring over and over again - and should never be forgotten.

"Downsizing America's Future" from The Louisiana Weekly
"Book Review: 'The Disposable American': from Investor's Business Daily
The Disposable American by Louis Uchitelle at

Monday, May 22, 2006


Voter Apathy Enables The Rich To Help Themselves

Voters are suspicious of both Democrats and Republicans, but the lingering delusion that they, too, might someday be wealthy tilts their apathy slightly in favor the rich - and that bait-and-switch known as "tax cuts". Meanwhile, corporate wealth gets candidates elected, which induces an ethical obligation to return the favor. The synergy of these two effects allows corporate interests to dominate Congress. This is why we have the persistently inequitable tax structure that we do. Read about the self-perpetuating engine of Wealth & Power at the links below.

"Why the rich get the most tax goodies" from the Christian Science Monitor
The Conservative Nanny State: How the Wealthy Use the Government to Stay Rich and Get Richer by Dean Baker


C. Wright Mills and "The Power Elite"

Motorbike-riding tough guy C. Wright Mills was one of the most influential sociologists of the 1950's. One of his books was The Power Elite - which was all about the men who control our lives even though they have not been elected to that privilege, and who ceaselessly oppress us with a sense of artificial urgency. Middle-class anxiety is still the scourge that drives us forward - or at least keeps us in harness - and its masters have not changed. Below is a link to a retrospective essay on Mills and his thinking.

"The Deciders" from the New York Times Book Review

Sunday, May 21, 2006


Prison A Vacation For CEO Criminals

Life is sweet for our carte blanche convicts even when they're behind bars. Actually, they never end up behind bars. No matter how much money they steal or how many lives they ruin, CEO criminals do easy time at unfenced facilities with satellite supervision and no threat of violence. Premium white collar prisons offer such amenities as tennis courts, bookmobile service, "wellness" programs and music lessons. If our boys are merely fined, only a fraction of the millions they owe are ever paid, while they luxuriate in their mansions pleading poverty.

"The 12 Best Places To Go To Prison" from Forbes
"Huge white collar fines go unpaid - GAO" from MSNBC

Friday, May 19, 2006


Exxon's Fat Cat

Exxon's Lee Raymond recently retired with a 350 million dollar retirement package, angering even the stockholders of the big oil companies. Everyone suspects that such compensation is undeserved, and even Business Week admits that it really is. Oil company profits are a function of the price of crude oil, which is influenced by environmental and geopolitical factors beyond the control of any CEO. In other words, the profits of the oil bosses are not even their own accomplishment. Yet they are obscenely overpaid anyway. During the oil crisis of the seventies, the board of Mobil, for instance, had the integrity not to award a giant bonus to their CEO because everyone knew that the, ahem, "credit" for rising prices should have gone to the sheiks. Today, that honesty is a poignant memory as the fat cats of oil slurp up all the spilt milk they can get. Meanwhile the working stiffs of the world reel from gas prices that hit them with the disproportionate brutality of a flat tax.

"Oil Exec Pay 'Just Plain Stealing'" from CBS Evening News
"A Black Eye For Big Oil" from Business Week
"As Oil Profits Soar, Scrutiny Rises" from the Christian Science Monitor

Thursday, May 18, 2006


DNA Profile Of A Blue State Liberal

A DNA profile indicating the ancestral geographical origins of a Blue State Liberal is displayed at the link below. This individual is a resident of Massachusetts, was accepted at an Ivy League school but did not attend, and is descended from both New England Puritans and the Scottish nobility, but has - and desires - neither wealth nor power. Perverse in all respects, he is completely unmaterialistic, owns neither a cell phone nor an iPod, buys only pre-owned vehicles, and presumes to despise corporate leadership. His genetic origins clearly reflect his politics, and we have no doubt that once Condi Rice declares war on a certain nuke-fondling power in the Middle East, he will be swiftly interned.

DNA Profile Of A Blue State Liberal

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Injustice At The Workplace Will Kill You

A recent British study led by the same medical researchers who proved that Britons are healthier than Americans found that perceived injustice at the workplace can damage worker health. This effect is observed even when additional factors are filtered out of the analysis. Are American corporations unjust? Oh, let us count the ways. Downsizing, uncompensated overtime, escalating billions of new bucks for The Boss while your pay remains as flat as those amber waves of grain. I'd say they are unjust, but it is worse than that. Corporate injustice is like psychopathic twins or some satanically arch self-reference. It doesn't just kill you once, it kills you twice. The wound that keeps on wounding...

"Justice at Work and Reduced Risk of Coronary Heart Disease Among Employees" from Archives of Internal Medicine


Banning Internet Freedom

More on the burgeoning corporate plot to cage the Internet, and ban it from the rest of us. Unless, of course, we pay exorbitant prices we can ill afford for every online keystroke, while retail giants and Orwellian mega-corporations are awarded "platinum" service. The same phone companies who are illegally violating our privacy by letting Herr Bush spy on us for the sake of The Fatherland are the ones leading the crusade to impose a toll on the Information Superhighway. The proposed iron-hand control of our Internet access will entail even greater abridgements of freedom, such as "deep packet inspection", a method to data-mine all our email transmissions and even curtail certain types of file sharing. A few brave media companies and public interest groups are campaigning to preserve "network neutrality" and keep web access from being privatized, but the telecommunications lobbyists have deep pockets and silver tongues. The greatest danger may be the technological ignorance of our Congressmen. Next election year, vote for a software designer, not an attorney.

"The End Of The Internet? from The Nation

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Don't Strive, Be Happy!

All sorts of opinion leaders these days are pimping the cult of happiness. And we don't mean happiness of the self-actualization variety. We mean the passive sort of happiness, the happiness that comes from accepting one's lot in life. The happiness, in short, of accepting the status quo. What is one to make of the message radiating from The Haves to The Have-Nots that "money cannot buy happiness"? Sounds a little hypocritical to me - doesn't it sound that way to you? But they are wiser than us because they are richer, so we might as well listen to them. Right?

The linked article discusses the cult of happiness in modern society. It suggests that the vapid promotion of happiness is the last resort of leaders with an impoverished social imagination, and that it perilously diminishes the push for change that energizes the dialectic of a free society. There are forces out there that want us to be passive, so beware...

"Politicians, economists, teachers? why are they so desperate to make us happy?" from The London Telegraph

Monday, May 15, 2006


Can You Hear Me Now?

Only AT&T, Sprint and MCI admit cooperating with Bush's plan to spy on American phone conversations without warrants, but many other firms are no doubt involved as well. According to a recent article in The Nation, the NSA could always tap into trunk lines on the ocean floor with submarines, but getting Corporate America to let them in the front door is "cheaper". Presumably that means cheaper for the taxpayer, too - but you can only hope for so much. One wonders if the cost of violating our privacy will be tacked onto our phone bills as yet another "hidden cost".

According to authorities on communications law, all firms that cooperate with Bush's spying initiative are legally culpable, and potentially liable to litigation. "Arguing that this is legal," one asserts, "is basically saying we're in a police state." Well, duh...

"Watching What You Say" from The Nation

Sunday, May 14, 2006


Do We Want Profit To Come Before Family?

This article was published several weeks ago, but it is appropriate for Mother's Day. It decries the modern corporate attitude of putting work above all other concerns - including family. It also implies that multinational corporations with American business values are putting pressure on European societies to discard their concerns for social welfare and worker privileges, such as long vacations and short work weeks, and conform to the American model of non-stop wage slavery. The situation is unlikely to get any better.

Some social theorists believe that, ironically, those social conservatives most likely to knuckle under to corporate totalitarianism are also those who will have the most children. The effect of this could be that future generations will be more obedient than ever to an economic dictatorship that cares less and less about their own personal lives. The coalescence of these two trends is utterly contradictory, and seems totally untenable, but it is exactly what is happening.

"Stop Feeding The Work Monster" from The Progressive

Thursday, May 11, 2006


Internet Access Should Be A Right, Not A Privilege

Robert Reich has written another interesting piece in American Prospect denouncing the proposal of certain communications giants to establish Internet piping companies that will charge content providers for service. The catch is that these companies would provide different levels of service quality at different prices, favoring those content providers who can pay the most. This would put the rest of us at a marked disadvantage. Mr. Reich doesn't like that idea any better than the rest of us would. He suggests that one way to stymie this scheme to provide preferential access to rich corporations would be to remind those corporations that they, too, would end up paying more for what they are already getting dirt cheap. In other words, defer the struggle to A Battle Between The Greed Monsters, and just stay out of their way. Works for me...

"The War of Internet Democracy" from American Prospect

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Our Economy Depends On Consumption Even As Debt Destroys The Consumer

The ferocious American economy feeds on consumption. Without it, the wealth factories will close down. The problem is that, as prices go up and corporate profits explode, the spending power of the consumer continues to stagnate. As a consequence, the consumer spends more than he earns and is, on average, deeply in debt. Corporations need to think of their employees not simply as expenses to cut, but as consumers to cultivate. Even if the superlatively brutal star system of the American economy devalues the contribution of the individual worker as a worker, it must acknowledge his value as a consumer. For, without the consumer, there are no sales, without sales there is no revenue, and without revenue there can be no profit no matter how ruthlessly wages are suppressed. It is only by understanding the dual nature of those whom they dismiss simply as "human overhead", and by fertilizing the "consumer farm" of the American public, can corporate leaders continue to reap the fruits of their own greed. See the excellent article below for more details on how rampantly escalating consumer debt is laying waste to the American economy.

"The Household Debt Bubble" from Monthly Review

Monday, May 08, 2006


The Rich And Everyone Else

Here is a link to a review of several new books about the rich and the poor and social class in America. It is a thoughtful and informative read. The books themselves probably should be read, but only if one can afford the price of some hard-cover doorstop. The review itself may need to suffice. It didn't tell me anything I didn't already know, but summarized the situation nicely. It certainly held my interest as I ladled out some catfood for my lunch...

"The Rich And Everyone Else" from The New York Review of Books

Sunday, May 07, 2006


Suicide By Gasoline Imminent For Corporate Tyrants

Corporate tyrants should have a little talk with their colleagues in the oil industry. Escalating gas prices may force them to sanction telecommuting as an affordable alternative to driving to work. If not, their employees may seek work elsewhere, suggests a recent article in the Christian Science Monitor. Other factors that may spur increased telecommuting include the fear of an avian flu pandemic, transit strikes, and the ever present demands of raising a family. Telecommuters don't work less hard than on-site workers. In fact, they may work harder without the distraction of office chit-chat and superfluous meetings. Telecommuting by its very nature strengthens self-discipline and allows multi-tasking skills to flourish. It might also bring out the entrepreneur in you. After all, if you work off-site, you can work for multiple bosses at the same time and no one would really be the wiser.

It isn't just the price gouging of the oil companies that makes commuting such an ordeal these days. The time and distance required by the average commute are greater than ever. Companies close down and consolidate offices on a regular basis, forcing their employees to adjust to three hour daily commutes - or else quit. Some corporations, like Fidelity Investments of Boston (or, shall we say, soon to be formerly of Boston), use such moves as a passive-aggressive strategy to get employees to leave without explicitly laying them off. Ironically, in the case of Fidelity as well as other companies, this strategy has worked all too well and they are now hurting for people. They will all have to let their employees telecommute sooner or later. It is the coming trend - and in it lie the seeds of our liberation. It will be most amusing someday to see (or at least imagine) the hard-ass managers of, say, Exxon lonesomely cracking their whips at empty cubicles - all because their own company sold its product at too high a price. Revenge is sweetest, my friends, when it is practiced in absentia.

"Gas prices fuel telecommuting" from the Christian Science Monitor

Saturday, May 06, 2006


Texas Ranch House - Dilbert On The Range

For anyone who is curious what would happen if you applied 21st century management techniques in a mythic American context, tune into Texas Ranch House, which is now showing on PBS. It plunks a bunch of folks - a rancher, his family, and an assortment of cowboys - right smack in the middle of the West Texas wilderness. There's Injuns our thar, 'n' heat 'n' rattlers 'n' broncos to bust. But do they bond with each other? Do they at least band together against the inclement conditions? Heck, no. Their social relations become the usual contemporary blend of discourtesy and hypersensitivity, as they alternately offend and take umbrage at each other right and left. Not exactly Shane, not exactly Bonanza or Big Valley either.

For me, the most appalling bit was the rancher's management style. His spoiled daughters loll about virtually in their undergarments, letting their house become so filthy that flies infest it, too lazy even to reap the vegetables in their garden while the ranchhands are starving. But The Man turns a blind eye to their valley girl lassitude, and berates the people doing the real work - his malnourished ranchhands - for not spending every moment in the saddle. His approach is, quite literally, all stick and no carrot. He cares about profit at the expense of community, which would have been deadly on a small and isolated ranch in Indian territory.

When one of his ranchhands is captured by the Indians, he is more concerned about getting his livestock back, and refuses to deal for the life of this human being who works for him. When payday comes, the rancher cheats the ranchhand out of the horse he bought fair and square before his kidnapping, but which the rancher claims he reappropriated through his deal with the Indians. The ranchhand refuses his pay and takes his horse anyway. All the other ranchhands, including the foreman, take his side and quit as well, leaving the ranch with no one to tend it through the fall and the winter. The rancher says he can hire all the ranchhands he needs, whenever he needs them - even though the experts know that ranchhands were scarce in the 1860's. It is most rare to see the blinkered imbecility of the profit motive shown up for the deluded selfishness that it is - much less in the John Wayne world of the simulated Old West. When you watch it, you will see your bosses for what they are, and you will wonder why they haven't yet been shot in the back...

New York Times review
PBS web site

Thursday, May 04, 2006


John Bull Is Healthier Than Uncle Sam

A recent report, based on comparisons of health statistics from both countries, shows that middle-aged citizens of the United Kingdom are considerably healthier than their counterparts in the United States. Americans exhibited higher rates of cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and these differences persisted even when the samples were corrected for ethnicity and income level. Affluent middle-aged Yanks, although healthier than most other Americans, were only about as healthy as working class Brits. Anericans were fatter and got less exercise, but the Britons drank more, and the health differences could not be statistically attributed to either excess weight or inactivity. Britons, unlike Americans, have universal access to health care - but even rich Americans with full access to the U.S. medical system were sicker than affluent Brits.

Many are somewhat mystified by the results. Nonetheless, both the journalists who reported the story and the researchers themselves suggest that major differences between American and British society may result in greater psychological stress for Americans. The Britons have access to safety nets that Americans just don't have - not just universal health care, but a more equitable social welfare system, less of a wage gap between rich and poor, and a long-standing and venerable culture that offers a greater sense of community and values above and beyond the hollow pursuit of material gain. It might just be better for your health to stop humpin' it for The Man and stretch out in front of the telly like Onslow on Keeping Up Appearances with your ale and crisps...

Here are several takes on the survey:

US New & World Report
New York Times
Guardian Unlimited


Special Report On Executive Pay From The NY Times

On the left is a photo of Microsoft's Steve Ballmer, who is such a handsome, dignified and brilliant fellow that we all agree that he deserves his obscene high pay. It's the obscene high pay of those other guys that we protest. The New York Times has published a special report on executive compensation. I've only skimmed the contents page, but I respectfully intuit that the facts have been reported with the NYT's usual cool neutrality. Charts are provided, including some nifty interactive graphics that all by themselves make a visit to this web site worth the trouble. Here is the link.

"Executive Pay: A Special Report" from the New York Times

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


U.S. Savings Rate Last Year Was Negative...

Check out this little article by Robert Reich. It raises the question why the U.S. savings rate went into the red last year for the first time since The Great Depression. Reich asserts that Americans aren't saving because they can't save. Despite the fact that corporate profits have doubled since 2000, the wages of the average American worker have stagnated. And that's all across the board - from blue collar to white collar. He cites the usual suspects - weak unions, off-shore outsourcing - and suggests that one way to raise wages without triggering inflation might be for corporations to channel employee pay increases directly into their 401K's. I'll believe that when I see it.

Still, it is good to see Robert Reich taking the American economy seriously again. For a while, he had been afflicted with a bad case of complacent bloviation. Just before the Dot Com Crash, he published a book with the fatuously boosterish title The Future of Success. He imagined an economy transformed by The Creative Force of Youth. He didn't define what was "creative" about it, except maybe to say that it didn't involve technical skill or experience but simply "ideas". A vague optimism worthy of a three-martini-lunch ad exec circa 1962 suffused his rhetoric and made it almost comically weightless. It was also not the shrewdest move to relegate everyone over forty to the back seat of both "creativity" and the economy - especially since he ran for office a little while after that and voters are disproportionately older people.

But perhaps by then he didn't feel like succeeding. He had already succeeded enough, and it was time to kick back and rest on his laurels. When interviewed by Charlie Rose, he claimed he was satisfied just being a Dad to his teenaged sons, whose souls he said were like "onions - you peel one layer, and there is another one beneath that". Having once been a teenaged boy myself, I would aver instead that those souls are more like scabs, red and angry and painful. When you peel off one layer, another grows back just as ugly. Reich's take on youth is perhaps typical of an Ivy League professor - the brilliance of your students induces the illusion that the entire generation is a pack of movers and shakers.

He can be an eloquent critic of the status quo. He once described the creative accounting of corporations as "paper entrepreneurialism", and it would be nice to have that suavely iconoclastic astuteness return. Besides, at four-foot-eleven, he is way too short to succeed in politics - at least anywhere this side of a dictatorship.

"The Shrinking Nest Egg" from The American Prospect

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


Debunking The Myth Of A Software Labor Shortage

The white paper at the URL below, written by Dr. Norman Matloff, a Computer Science professor at U.C.-Davis, was last updated more than three years ago. It is a very organized and methodical presentation of issues with which anyone in IT has long since become familiar. These include the co-existence of rampant age discrimination - starting at 35 - with disingenuous complaints from the business world that "we can't find enough programmers to fill our jobs", recourse to cheap foreign labor either through off-source outsourcing or H-1B visas - and much else. The initial version was presented to the House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Immigration, in April 1998. Eight years is, of course, an eon by IT standards. Nonetheless, this paper is still relevant today, as the situation it outlines is only getting worse. The scuttlebutt these days is that those Bastions of Mendacity, the Corporations of America, can't find enough Java programmers to keep their IT projects afloat - but be forewarned. If you are 35 or older - and especially if you are one of those expensive native-born Americans - they don't want you. All disgruntled techies should check out this classic text. It is a Blast From The Past that'll blitz away whatever shreds of complacency you've been able to knit together since the last recession and will only make you angrier.

Debunking The Myth Of A Software Labor Shortage

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