The Long Road to Desolation

Dawn Teo of the American Joblog asks the same question that protectionists have asked throughout history - when current jobs in the US are performed by foreign workers, what will be left over for Americans? And like her intellectual predecessors before her, she comes to the same false conclusion.

According to the cheap labor lobby, it is good for us to ship off as many good American jobs as possible to third-world countries where workers are exploited. They say that this will "eventually" create more jobs for us here at home.

As proof, they point to the shift from an agricultural economy to an industrial economy and the shift from an industrial economy to an information economy. But there is no shift to a "new" economy today, so where will those jobs come from? Well, evidently, they must grow on trees (like money!) because no one, including the cheap labor lobby that espouses this nonsense, can tell us exactly where they will come from.

That's it, folks. We've reached the apex of civilization. No more specialization. No more improvements in technology. No more increases in productivity. Wage rates will send all the jobs to the Congo. There will be no new jobs to take their place. It's all downhill from here.

Contrary to this fallacy presented by Dawn, as it has been presented through the ages, Americans not only will find new jobs, but actually have been finding new jobs throughout history. As W. Michael Cox, Richard Alm, and Nigel Holmes state in today's NY Times:

Well, just like previous generations of Americans, they'll learn to do something different from what they've done in the past.

Our history is one of a constant churning of jobs, with workers always finding the next step forward in the evolution of work ? from farm hands to industrial workers to information handlers. They will do so again. As existing jobs succumb to shifts in technology and trade, the economy will adjust, creating new work that uses new skills and talents. Over time, workers move up what we call a "hierarchy of human talents" ? they find jobs that demand higher-order skills and offer better pay and working conditions. As depicted in this chart, the hierarchy provides a guide to the traits and qualities that will dominate the next employment wave.

Over the past decade the biggest employment gains came in occupations that rely on people skills and emotional intelligence ? like nurse and lawyer ? and among jobs that require imagination and creativity: designer, architect and photographer. But not all of the new jobs require advanced degrees or exceptional artistic talent; note the rise of employment for hair stylists and cosmetologists.

Trying to preserve existing jobs will prove futile ? trade and technology will transform the economy whether we like it not. Americans will be better off if they strive to move up the hierarchy of human talents. That's where our future lies.

To prove this point, the authors provide a nice chart of changes in occupations that have occurred during the last decade.


Overall unemployment has changed little from 1994 to 2004, certainly not in the same orders of magnitudes as the percentages of job losses and gains shown on the chart. This means that Americans have been shifting their occupations to keep pace with changes in technology. Fewer and fewer people are farmers, timber cutters, lathe operators, and telephone operators, while more and more people are nurses, architects, medical scientists, and film directors. Jobs requiring muscle power and manual dexterity have given way to jobs that require analytic reasoning, creativity, and intelligence. That sounds like progress to me.

Do Dawn and her friends believe this to be a bad thing?

Contrary to Dawn's statements, those who are trying to use physical force to prevent this advancement of American society are the ones espousing the destructive policies. They are the ones who are embarking us on the long road to desolation. The march of progress will continue unless they have their way.

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Dawn, and protectionists

Dawn, and protectionists like her, suffer from amotivational syndrome. They pass off their fear of learning new skills (laziness) as some kind of moral high ground.

Why do people think that they can expect to do the same job for their entire lives? Hell, who would want to? Learning new skills is the price of progress. The only way for protectionism to be successful is to stop progress (and hope every other nation on the face of the planet follows suit).

We don't own our jobs. They are not "ours." You offer a service, you get paid. The employer employs whoever will work the hardest for the best price.

Speaking of the best price, it's not like there are no other costs to outsourcing. It costs a lot to deal with a foreign country, to oversee workers from thousands of miles away, to pay for shipping, etc etc etc. Most smaller companies will find it more cost effective to hire locallly. And even when it's not, many will be willing to pay extra for the convenience of proximity.

The sky is only falling if you refuse to adapt. That has been and always will be the case. Deal.

And what's this nonsense

And what's this nonsense about not being able to "tell us exactly where they (jobs) will come from."?

Exactly? What, not having amazing psychic abilities is evidence of impending doom? Sounds like someone needs to watch a few episodes of Showtime's Bullshit!.

Speaking of bullshit, I find it to be much like jobs. I don't know where, exactly, protectionist bullshit comes from, but I know it will be there.

If, as Dawn asserts, R&D is

If, as Dawn asserts, R&D is "moving offshore", then we've got reason to be concerned.

A big part of our success has been attracting the best the planet has to offer and letting them create new industries from scratch; then those industries would open up to more and more Americans as it grew until the techniques involved were simplified enough that any idiot could do it for peanuts, at which point some other entreprenuer came up with the next big thing while cheap foreigners took over the previous big thing.

If the planet's best and brightest aren't coming here anymore, but are instead creating their whole new industries overseas, then we end up getting into it only after the techniques have been simplified and the skills needed get cheaper. This is not good.

So are we no longer the destination of choice for the planet's best and brightest? If so, why? And what can we do about it?

entrpreneurs are also

entrpreneurs are also taxpayers. the world is getting smaller and right on schedule the 'Soverign Individuals' predictions are slowly coming to pass. its too bad people like Dawn never read books like that a long time ago. flag waving has to be one of mankinds lowest and saddest behaviors. its just a place for crizz sakes. if you really want 'YOUR'? job back get off your fat supersized ass and go to the country where it went, fill out a application and see if your 'good ole merican know how' can out work someone in 95 degree heat and no union doughnut break. Dawn, you would last 10 minutes.

At my job, the things I

At my job, the things I spend most of my time working on are recent innovations. They did not exist at all in any meaningful sense even ten years ago. A hundred years ago they would have been totally inconceivable.

We don't know and can't know what jobs will be like in the future. The future isn't so predictable.

Now that China has entered

Now that China has entered the world trade arena with a multitude of
consumer goods for export, it behooves (or should) economists to study
the vast potential China has for competing for top place in supplying
the wants of consumers world-wide. The vast hordes of potential
factory workers, managers, entrepreneurs, etc. in China means (to me)
that the standard of living there will remain low ( yes, I know it is increasing, but competition for jobs will keep it relatively low) for many decades to
come. This will not only keep prices down, but, during those decades, Chinese workers,
managers, entrepreneurs, etc. will, in effect, be competing with their
counterparts in, e.g., the US. ("Ha," you say, "that will create a
HIGHER standard of living in the US because of the lower price index!"
Yes, it will, but only for those relatively few who would be fortunate
enough to have unaffected incomes.) When virtually all US goods and services are supplied by China (and India) the vast majority of the labor pool
in the US would either be unemployed or working for starvation
wages....unless an astute economist can come up with a viable solution
that doesn't involve wishful thinking or unquestioned faith in the
free market.

Since many of you people

Since many of you people seem to have all the answers and disagree with Dawn Teo's stand, please tell me, a 63 year old computer programmer where I can find a job.

I'll bet you feel safe and secure in your industry and I did too until 5/2001 when I was laid off and found out all jobs with my skill set were outsourced.

You use terms like calling people 'lazy' because they don't want to retrain but in reality, I believe you don't care about anyone but yourselves.

Prove me wrong and get me a job where I don't have to relocate overseas and can make the 70K/year I did before 2001.

What do I do? I'm primarily a FoxPro programmer, web designer analyst.

It's easy to call people names or make fun of their platforms like the 'all jobs to the congo' remark - but meanwhile, I and others who have invested years and money into our careers, are seeing payments default on auto loans, tuitions and mortgages.

Put your money where your mouth is. Show us one job you've provided for the American technical worker at fair or equal wage.

I bet you can't do it!

It's easier to come up with your pompous hot air.

Gene G.