‘now cheap foreign genius is easily available’

by Grace

Thomas Friedman’s “theory of everything” explains the reasons for today’s global turmoil.

The merger of globalization and I.T. is driving huge productivity gains, especially in recessionary times, where employers are finding it easier, cheaper and more necessary than ever to replace labor with machines, computers, robots and talented foreign workers. It used to be that only cheap foreign manual labor was easily available; now cheap foreign genius is easily available. This explains why corporations are getting richer and middle-skilled workers poorer. Good jobs do exist, but they require more education or technical skills. Unemployment today still remains relatively low for people with college degrees. But to get one of those degrees and to leverage it for a good job requires everyone to raise their game. It’s hard….

Not only does it take more skill to get a good job, but for those who are unable to raise their games, governments no longer can afford generous welfare support or cheap credit to be used to buy a home for nothing down — which created a lot of manual labor in construction and retail. Alas, for the 50 years after World War II, to be a president, mayor, governor or university president meant, more often than not, giving things away to people. Today, it means taking things away from people.

So let’s review: We are increasingly taking easy credit, routine work and government jobs and entitlements away from the middle class — at a time when it takes more skill to get and hold a decent job, at a time when citizens have more access to media to organize, protest and challenge authority and at a time when this same merger of globalization and I.T. is creating huge wages for people with global skills (or for those who learn to game the system and get access to money, monopolies or government contracts by being close to those in power) — thus widening income gaps and fueling resentments even more.

Should we despair, or try to find a silver lining in the positive aspects of creative destruction?

On a related note, 48% Think Spending Cuts Could Trigger Violence.

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2 Comments to “‘now cheap foreign genius is easily available’”

  1. I’ve heard this argument before, but the reality is that most of the imported foreign “talent” is strictly middle level – imported mostly for cheaper wages. I have worked with H1B visa holders for years, and while individually, many of them have been nice pleasant people, they are not geniuses. They mainly work for one of a few Indian body shops, and are farmed out to companies as contractors. They have little leverage because they can lose their visa status so easilly.

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  2. But the “cheap foreign genius” workers who stay in their countries don’t have to worry about being sent back. US companies being able to rely on foreign expertise crowds out employment opportunities here, I would think.

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