Election 2004

Sales Clerk, Ph.D

The number one job-creator for America's future? Restaurant workers, including fast food. You don't need a high-tech degree, you need a hair net!
This passage is an excerpt from Jim Hightower's new book, "Let's Stop Beating Around the Bush."

In his January state-of-the-union peroration, George "Pinocchio" Bush's biggest lie was not about weapons of mass destruction.

Attempting to diffuse the growing anxiety and anger about the loss of middle class jobs, he made the bald-faced assertion that the solution is simple: More job training. Millions of unemployed and underemployed Americans must have stared in slack-jawed disbelief as this son of privilege mouthed the corporate line that everything is OK with our economy, if only America's worthless workers would get more training and improve their skills.

Training for what? Here came George's whopper: "Much of our job growth will be found in high-skilled fields." That's a lie and Bush knows it. Well, OK, he's clueless about real life, so he probably doesn't know it, but his speech writers do.

Bush's own labor department reports that of the 30 occupations that will account for the highest job growth between now and 2010, two-thirds require minimal skills. High-tech companies will create only 284,000 more jobs for computer software engineers in that period - while 10 times more jobs than that will be created in just these seven very low-tech fields: Freight movers, home health aides, janitors, waitresses, security guards, office clerks, and cashiers.

The number one job-creator for America's future? Restaurant workers, including fast food. This category alone will create 10 times more jobs than will software engineering. You don't need a high-tech degree, you need a hair net! And all of these jobs pay pitiful wages – of the top 30 "growth jobs," nearly half pay only $14,000 - $20,000 a year.

By the way, despite his call for more training in each of his four years, Bush has cut the budgets of our federal job-training programs. And forget about getting one of those 284,000 software engineering jobs – companies are now shipping them off to India, Russia, and other low-wage countries.

Training doesn't create jobs, and low-wage jobs don't create a middle class. America needs a living wage, labor law reform, an end to subsidies for corporations that ship our good jobs out... and a president who has a clue.

Here's America's high-tech future!

Jobs with the largest growth between now and 2010:
Listed by title, annual salary, and necessary eduaction level
1. Food preparer, $16,000 – On-the-job training
2. Customer service rep., $26,000 – On-the-job training
3. Registered nurse, $48,000 – Two-year degree
4. Retail sales clerk, $18.000 – On-the-job training
5. Computer support specialist, $39,000 – Two-year degree
6. Cashier, $15,000 – On-the-job training
7. Office clerk, $22,000 – On-the-job training
8. Security guard, $19,000 – On-the-job training
9. Computer technician, $55,000 – Bachelor's degree
10. Waiter/Waitress, $14,000 – On-the-job training
11. General manager, $68,000 – Bachelor's degree
12. Truck driver, $33,000 – On-the-job training
13. Nursing aide, $19,000 – On-the-job training
14. Janitor, $18,000 – On-the-job training
15. College teachers, $52,000 – Doctoral Degree
16. Teacher assistant, $19,000 – On-the-job training
17. Home health aide, $18,000 – On-the-job training
18. Freight haulers, $19,000 On-the-job training
19. Computer engineer, $70,000 – Bachelor's degree
20. Landscaping worker, $20,000 – On-the-job training

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Remember how we were told that globalization would be such a boon for American workers? Blue-collar was going to become white-collar, low-wage would move up to high-tech, and everyone would sing Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah all the day long!

They were feeding us globaloney. Dell, Microsoft, IBM, Google, Oracle, Intel, CSC and the other greedheaded giants of high-tech are swiftly moving these very jobs out of our country to China, India, Pakistan, Russia, and elsewhere, making a killing by paying a fourth as much to a foreign employee as they pay here, then pocketing the difference.

This is leading to a tense workplace. Internal IBM memos show that while U.S. companies are ecstatic about the bucks they gain by abandoning the homeland, they're very skittish about the anger this engenders. One of the memos tells top managers to be evasive when talking about the company's long-range employment plans, advising them that "Terms 'on-shore' and 'off-shore' should never be used," and that anything written to employees must first be "sanitized" by the corporate communications department.

IBM says it'll "save" $168 million this year by replacing 3000 of its "knowledge workers" with cheaper versions abroad. These are the jobs that were supposed to represent the future of upward mobility in America, but instead, the "global sourcing" of such work (as IBM's fun-loving corporate jargon-meisters call it) is leading to a distressing wave of downward mobility in our country.

IBM now provides a "suggested script" for managers faced with telling employees that their jobs are going bye-bye. For example, to soften the blow, managers are instructed to say: "This action is a statement about the rate and pace of change in this demanding industry... It is in no way a comment on the excellent work you have done over the years." That's a bit like slathering some Oil of Olay on the stiletto you're thrusting into someone's back.

The official corporate line, repeated religiously by politicians and pundits, is that high-tech is such a zoom-zoom industry that a discarded worker can easily and quickly find another job. They might check with Mary Lowrance about that. She was a high-tech worker for AMD Corporation, where she'd won awards for setting production records and helping devise ways for the company to save money. AMD repaid her by sending her job offshore. A year and a half later, she's still out of work, even after applying to more than 500 other firms. "My job has gone away," she says... "there are just no jobs to be had."

To add insult to injury, many American high-tech workers are forced to train their foreign replacements! Refuse, and they lose any severance pay.

Even some Republican leaders, such as Rep. Don Manzullo, are gagging on this globaloney: "The assumption was that while lower-skilled jobs would be done elsewhere, it would allow Americans to focus on higher-skilled, higher-paying opportunities. But what do you tell the PhD, or professional engineer, or architect, or accountant, or computer scientist to do next. Where do you tell them to go?"

If you're a high-tech CEO, you tell 'em to go to hell.
Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of "Let's Stop Beating Around the Bush," from Viking Press. For more information, visit jimhightower.com.
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