Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The economic future of our country

The big story with Ford laying off thousands and shutting down manufacturing plants has got me worried. GM did it too just a few months previously too. Our shopping centers are filled with cheap goods manufactured elsewhere and we stand in long lines because LABOR HERE COSTS TOO MUCH. We are now importing goods and services from overseas mostly because of the high cost of doing business domestically. Companies, in their greed, farm out tech jobs to China and India. Legal services can even be farmed out. Customer service, farmed out. Most of our products we buy has been imported because we want it to be cheap. It's cheap in part because wages are lower and HEALTH CARE is subsidized by that country. Ford and GM have to compete with Japanese car manufacturers, whose labor costs are a fraction of ours, therefore the Japanese can sell us a better made car for far less money.

In the meantime Americans keep getting laid off and we can no longer depend on our employers. We're out fending for ourselves, in the meantime we need and or want cheap goods because we're in debt up to our eyeballs. At our jobs, many work what two or three people could do, and our benefits compensation has been drastically reduced. Because Labor is Expensive. With all the overtime and long commutes to and from, we're exhausted. And for this our employer can lay us off at a drop of a hat.

How are we going to compete with the rest of the world with an economic structure like this? Employer based health insurance is becoming prohibitively costly so businesses look offshore. Our colleges and universities are graduating young adults who are not much more intelligent than they were when they graduated high school. A college education these days doesn't mean what it used to -- there have been statistics quoted in various reports about this and how American graduates stack up against university graduates from other European and Asian countries. And in the meantime, China, with its vast natural resources, cheap labor and bright university educated minds, is steamrolling into a strong economy.

Our way of doing things is going to collapse soon. We can't go on like this and something drastic must be done. I'm not good at articulating this sort of heavy subject -- I don't have supportive details for my argument, but they exist out there with a switch of the radio button or a quick internet search of our newspapers. This is what I've been hearing for months and months and it concerns me greatly.


Running2Ks said...

You are right, it is scary. I hope that there is a way for Americans to compete in manufacturing. I know there is already a push back with people angered that customer service/technical support is farmed out. Maybe things will evolve into something better. I hope.

Michelle said...


It's a big reason why I'm staying in Thailand. The economic environment is amazing right now - it's vibrant, it's changing, so many new and exciting things are happening here and the money is great. You know how much I spend every month, and I still save $500 or so a month, and it looks like we should be getting a bonus next month plus, when I sign a new contract, I'm asking for another 5,000 baht ($125 a month). I should get it as I will be the teacher who has been there the longest when everyone else leaves. I also now make an additioanal $250 a month doing private lessons at school and I turn down at least 3 parents a week who are asking me to teach their kids. Making 70,000 a month would be easy here if I wanted to work more hours.

I could never do this in the US. To me, every time I come back to the US, it seems like a dying country. Depressing.

Danna said...

You are very right!!! Times are scary! You call a customer service number and the person on the other line is talking to you from across the continent. The fact that someone could outsourse me at anytime scares me. What happened to work hard at your job, and your job will take care of you? Does anyone actually retire from their job after working there 30 years anymore? Or has that became an urban myth?

My husband talked about when he lived in the Philippines the person who waited on you in a restaurant would be a doctor. The person who parked cars, also was a lawyer. Highly educated people, without jobs. I agree, an education here doesn't measure up to what it should be. So many shady places online offer degrees. I would rather EARN my degree, not just BUY it.

At times I feel like I'm being held hostage at my job. I've been there for 5 years, I don't commute, I get paid okay, and I've gotten comfortable there. Getting a new job is scary. You're the new person, low man on the poll so if there is any lay offs.. it's your butt out the door. Most of the jobs I've been finding are in the city. Why do I want to commute 3 hours a day in traffic to a job I hate, getting paid less then I do now, and without benefits? I have benefits where I work, I'm lucky for that. But the cost for single coverage is as much as what other people pay for two party coverage. The real kicker is this is the industry I work in.. benefits! It's not great, but after my last stay in the hospital I was really thankful I had it! I can't even imagine paying for family coverage. It would be my whole paycheck.

Amy said...

R2Ks -- I hope you're right. I think things will get much worse though before they get better.

Michelle -- You're on the right track, the fast track to success in Thailand. I say again that if I were in your same situation, I'd be doing exactly the same thing. Stay at D.P. they are seriously the best thing going.

Danna -- I know, I know, I know -- it's just awful. Will America end up with the same economy as the Philippines? In some situations we are. During the dot-com bust, computer engineers were taking anything they could to pay the bills. And these days in the Bay Area, they have million dollar mortgages to pay.

amygeekgrl said...

i totally agree. it's very scary. jody and i frequently talk about this sort of thing, especially in reference to walmart.
i don't know what the future holds for the U.S., but it doesn't look good as it currently stands.