I was depressed last night so I called Lifeline.Monday, on my flight up from Dallas to Indianapolis, I rode by a woman who worked for Delphi, the auto parts manufacturer. She’s managing a project to move a factory from a rural area of Indiana to Mexico. “I can’t stay in the town,” she said. “The locals are pretty angry about losing their jobs.” This factory is one of the main sources of employment, and now it is gone. I’m not sure what’ll happen to the town, but I’m sure about why it is happening. “Machine operators here in the US cost $40 an hour. In Chihuahua,” she said, “they cost $70 a week.”
I got a call center in Pakistan. I told them I was suicidal.
They got all excited and asked if I could drive a truck.
That night in the hotel, I get an email from my buddy Jeff. He’s getting laid off from his job in database design, along with 40 coworkers. The positions are being outsourced to a contractor in the Philippines.
Every color collar jobs – from blue to white – are being exported.
Globalization is not going to be stopped by legislation. It is not going to slow. It is not going to reverse. It is a reality for which politicians have given two very unsatisfactory solutions: either they tell constituents suck it up and deal with it; or they promise to stop it through legislation, a plan about as likely to work as outlawing lust.
It took us decades to adapt our school system to the creation of knowledge workers who could thrive in corporations and succeed in the information economy. Now, policy makers need to begin finding ways to prepare the next generation of workers to compete and thrive in a period of globalization.
It seems to me that a strategy for successful globalization would rest on at least three things:
1. Changing our attitude towards all things foreign. There is this odd tendency to think that foreigners have to learn English to talk to us. They do. And then they sell to us. We, by contrast, refuse to learn their languages, their cultures, etc. And we can't sell to them. The result? Huge trade deficits even when the dollar falls.
2. Dedicating our education more towards entrepreneurship. Low cost labor represents a threat to someone who is working and a great opportunity to an entrepreneur.
3. Give employees who own stock more say in company policy. Pension funds are the biggest owners of stock. It’s not obvious that they would chose to up their returns to capital by 5% if it meant that they would see their salaries fall by 50%. Employees own these companies. Let them have a say in how work is allocated and contracted.
Bucky Fuller said, “Use forces, don’t fight them.” Globalization is too big to fight, but it can be harnessed. I've ridden waves and been ridden by waves. I know for a fact that it is much better to ride them.