Article 43

 

General Reading

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Fleeing America Redux 2

image: nothing to lose

After I Lived in Norway, America Felt Backward. Heres Why.

By Ann Jones
The Nation
January 28, 2016

A crash course in social democracy.

Some years ago, I faced up to the futility of reporting truths about America’s disastrous wars, and so I left Afghanistan for another mountainous country far away. It was the polar opposite of Afghanistan: a peaceful, prosperous land where nearly everybody seemed to enjoy a good life, on the job and in the family.

It’s true that they didn’t work much - not by American standards, anyway. In the United States, full-time salaried workers supposedly laboring 40 hours a week actually average 49, with almost 20 percent clocking more than 60. These people, on the other hand, worked only about 37 hours a week, when they werent away on long paid vacations. At the end of the workday, about four in the afternoon (perhaps three during the summer), they had time to enjoy a hike in the forest, a swim with the kids, or a beer with friends - which helps explain why, unlike so many Americans, they are pleased with their jobs.

Often I was invited to go along. I found it refreshing to hike and ski in a country with no land mines, and to hang out in cafs unlikely to be bombed. Gradually, my war-zone jitters subsided and I settled into the slow, calm, pleasantly uneventful stream of life there.

Four years on, thinking I should settle down, I returned to the United States. It felt quite a lot like stepping back into that other violent, impoverished world, where anxiety runs high and people are quarrelsome. I had, in fact, come back to the flip side of Afghanistan and Iraq: to what Americas wars have done to America. Where I live now, in the homeland, there are not enough shelters for the homeless. Most people are either overworked or hurting for jobs; the housing is overpriced, the hospitals crowded and understaffed, the schools largely segregated and not so good. Opioid or heroin overdose is a popular form of death, and men in the street threaten women wearing hijabs. Did the American soldiers I covered in Afghanistan know they were fighting for this?

Ducking the Subject

One night I tuned in to the Democrats钒 presidential debate to see if they had any plans to restore the America I used to know. To my amazement, I heard the name of my peaceful mountain hideaway: Norway. Bernie Sanders was denouncing Americas crooked version of “casino capitalism” that floats the already-rich ever higher and flushes the working class. He said that we ought to “look to countries like Denmark, like Sweden and Norway,” and learn from what they have accomplished for their working people.

He believes, he added, in “a society where all people do well. Not just a handful of billionaires.” That certainly sounds like Norway. For ages, they’ve worked at producing things for the use of everyonenot the profit of a few - so I was all ears, waiting for Sanders to spell it out for Americans.

But Hillary Clinton quickly countered, “We are not Denmark.” Smiling, she said, “I love Denmark,” and then delivered a patriotic punch line: “We are the United States of America.” (Well, theres no denying that.) She also praised capitalism and “all the small businesses that were started because we have the opportunity and the freedom in our country for people to do that and to make a good living for themselves and their families.” She didn’t seem to know that Danes, Swedes, and Norwegians do that too, and with much higher rates of success.

The truth is that almost a quarter of American start-ups are not founded on brilliant new ideas, but on the desperation of men or women who cant get a decent job. The majority of all American enterprises are solo ventures having zero payrolls, employing no one but the entrepreneur, and often quickly wasting away. Sanders said that he was all for small business too, but that meant nothing “if all of the new income and wealth is going to the top 1 percent.” (As George Carlin said, “The reason they call it the American Dream is because you have to be asleep to believe it.")

In that debate, no more was heard of Denmark, Sweden, or Norway. The audience was left in the dark. Later, in a speech at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, Sanders tried to clarify his identity as a democratic socialist. He said heԒs not the kind of socialist (with a capital S) who favors state ownership of the means of production. The Norwegian government, on the other hand, owns the means of producing lots of public assets and is the major stockholder in many a vital private enterprise.

I was dumbfounded. Norway, Denmark, and Sweden practice variations of a system that works much better than ours. Yet even the Democratic presidential candidates, who say they love or want to learn from those countries, dont seem know how they actually work.

Why WeҒre Not Denmark


Proof that they do work is delivered every year in data-rich evaluations by the United Nations and other international bodies. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Developments annual report on international well-being, for example, measures 11 factors, ranging from material conditions such as affordable housing and employment to quality-of-life matters like education, health, life expectancy, voter participation, and overall citizen satisfaction. Year after year, all the Nordic countries cluster at the top, while the United States lags far behind. In addition, Norway has ranked first on the UN Development ProgramҒs Human Development Index for 12 of the last 15 years, and it consistently tops international comparisons in such areas as democracy, civil and political rights, and freedom of expression and the press.

What is it, though, that makes the Scandinavians so different? Since the Democrats cant tell you and the Republicans wouldnҒt want you to know, let me offer you a quick introduction. What Scandinavians call the Nordic model is a smart and simple system that starts with a deep commitment to equality and democracy. Thats two concepts combined in a single goal because, as far as theyҒre concerned, you cant have one without the other.

Right there, they part company with capitalist America, now the most unequal of all the developed nations, and consequently a democracy no more. Political scientists say it has become an oligarchy, run at the expense of its citizenry by and for the superrich. Perhaps youҒve noticed that.

In the last century, Scandinavians, aiming for their egalitarian goal, refused to settle solely for any of the ideologies competing for powernot capitalism or fascism, not Marxist socialism or communism. Geographically stuck between powerful nations waging hot and cold wars for such doctrines, Scandinavians set out to find a middle path. That path was contestedחby socialist-inspired workers on the one hand, and by capitalist owners and their elite cronies on the otherbut in the end, it led to a mixed economy. Thanks largely to the solidarity and savvy of organized labor and the political parties it backed, the long struggle produced a system that makes capitalism more or less cooperative, and then redistributes equitably the wealth it helps to produce. Struggles like this took place around the world in the 20th century, but the Scandinavians alone managed to combine the best ideas of both camps while chucking out the worst.

In 1936, the popular US journalist Marquis Childs first described the result to Americans in the book Sweden: The Middle Way. Since then, all the Scandinavian countries, and their Nordic neighbors Finland and Iceland, have been improving upon that hybrid system. Today in Norway, negotiations between the Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions and the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise determine the wages and working conditions of most capitalist enterprises, public and private, that create wealth, while high but fair progressive income taxes fund the stateגs universal welfare system, benefiting everyone. In addition, those confederations work together to minimize the disparity between high-wage and lower-wage jobs. As a result, Norway ranks with Sweden, Denmark, and Finland as among the most income-equal countries in the world, and its standard of living tops the charts.

So heres the big difference: In Norway, capitalism serves the people. The government, elected by the people, sees to that. All eight of the parties that won parliamentary seats in the last national electionҗincluding the conservative Hyre party now leading the governmentare committed to maintaining the welfare state. In the United States, however, neoliberal politics puts the foxes in charge of the henhouse, and capitalists have used the wealth generated by their enterprises (as well as financial and political manipulations) to capture the state and pluck the chickens.

They藒ve done a masterful job of chewing up organized labor. Today, only 11 percent of American workers belong to a union. In Norway, that number is 52 percent; in Denmark, 67 percent; in Sweden, 70 percent. Thus, in the United States, oligarchs maximize their wealth and keep it, using the democratically electedӔ government to shape policies and laws favorable to the interests of their foxy class. They bamboozle the people by insisting, as Hillary Clinton did at that debate, that all of us have the freedomӔ to create a business in the freeӔ marketplace, which implies that being hard up is our own fault.

In the Nordic countries, on the other hand, democratically elected governments give their populations freedom from the market by using capitalism as a tool to benefit everyone. That liberates their people from the tyranny of the mighty profit motive that warps so many American lives, leaving them freer to follow their own dreamsto become poets or philosophers, bartenders or business owners, as they please.

Family Matters


Maybe our politicians don’t want to talk about the Nordic model because it shows so clearly that capitalism can be put to work for the many, not just the few.

Consider the Norwegian welfare state. Its universal. In other words, aid to the sick or the elderly is not charity, grudgingly donated by elites to those in need. It is the right of every individual citizen. That includes every woman, whether or not she is somebody’s wife, and every child, no matter its parentage. Treating every person as a citizen frees each one from being legally possessed by anothera husband, for example, or a tyrannical father.

Which brings us to the heart of Scandinavian democracy: the equality of women and men. In the 1970s, Norwegian feminists marched into politics and picked up the pace of democratic change. Norway needed a larger labor force, and women were the answer. Housewives moved into paid work on equal footing with men, nearly doubling the tax base. That has, in fact, meant more to Norwegian prosperity than the coincidental discovery of North Atlantic oil reserves. The Ministry of Finance recently calculated that those additional working mothers add to Norway’s net national wealth a value equivalent to its total petroleum wealth - currently held in the world;s largest sovereign-wealth fund, worth over $873 billion. By 1981, women were sitting in parliament, in the prime ministers chair, and in her cabinet.

American feminists also marched for such goals in the 1970s, but the big boys, busy with their own White House intrigues, initiated a war on women that set the country back and still rages today in brutal attacks on women’s basic civil rights, healthcare, and reproductive freedom. In 1971, thanks to the hard work of organized feminists, Congress passed the bipartisan Comprehensive Child Development Bill to establish a multibillion-dollar national daycare system for the children of working parents. In 1972, President Richard Nixon vetoed it, and that was that. In 1972, Congress also passed a bill (first proposed in 1923) to amend the Constitution to grant equal rights of citizenship to women. Ratified by only 35 statesthree short of the required 38חthat Equal Rights Amendment was declared dead in 1982, leaving American women in legal limbo. In 1996, President Bill Clinton signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, obliterating six decades of US social-welfare policy as we know it,Ӕ ending federal cash payments to the nations poor, and consigning millions of female heads of household and their children to poverty, where many still dwell 20 years later. Today, even privileged women, torn between their underpaid work and their kids, are overwhelmed.

Things happened very differently in Norway. There, feminists and sociologists pushed hard against the biggest obstacle still standing in the path to full democracy: the nuclear family. In the 1950s, the world-famous American sociologist Talcott Parsons had pronounced that arrangement - with the hubby at work and the little wife at home - the ideal setup in which to socialize children. But in the 1970s, the Norwegian state began to deconstruct that undemocratic ideal by taking upon itself the traditional, unpaid household duties of women. Caring for children, the elderly, the sick, and the disabled became the basic responsibilities of the universal welfare state, freeing women in the workforce to enjoy both their jobs and their families.

Paradoxically, setting women free made family life more genuine. Many in Norway say it has made both men and women more themselves and more alike: more understanding and happier. It also helped kids slip from the shadow of helicopter parents. In Norway, both mother and father in turn take paid parental leave from work during the child’s first year or longer. At age 1, however, children start attending a neighborhood barnehage (kindergarten) for schooling spent largely outdoors. By the time kids enter free primary school at age 6, they are remarkably self-sufficient, confident, and good-natured. They know their way around town, and if caught in a snowstorm in the forest, how to build a fire and find the makings of a meal. (One kindergarten teacher explained, We teach them early to use an ax so they understand it’s a tool, not a weapon.)

To Americans, the notion of a school “taking away” your child to make her an ax wielder is monstrous. Yet though it’s hard to measure, it’s likely that Scandinavian children actually spend more quality time with their non-work-obsessed parents than does a typical middle-class American child being driven by a stressed-out mother from music lessons to karate. For all these reasons and more, the international organization Save the Children cites Norway as the best country on earth in which to raise kids, while the United States finishes far down the list, in 33rd place.

Don’t Take My Word for It

This little summary just scratches the surface of Scandinavia, so I urge curious readers to Google away. But be forewarned: Youll find much criticism of all the Nordic-model countries. Worse, neoliberal pundits, especially the Brits, are always beating up on the Scandinavians, predicting the imminent demise of their social democracies. Self-styled experts still in thrall to Margaret Thatcher tell Norwegians they must liberalize their economy and privatize everything short of the royal palace. Mostly, the Norwegian government does the opposite - or nothing at all - and social democracy keeps on ticking.

It’s not perfect, of course. It has always been a carefully considered work in progress. Governance by consensus takes time and effort. You might think of it as slow democracy. Even so, its light-years ahead of us.

SOURCE

FLEEING AMERICA

FLEEING AMERICA REDUX

Posted by Elvis on 02/28/16 •
Section General Reading
View (0) comment(s) or add a new one
Printable viewLink to this article
Home

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Why We Must Try

Many liberals have given up before getting started.

By Robert Reich
February 9, 2016

Instead of “Yes we can,” many Democrats have adopted a new slogan this election year: “We shouldn’t even try.”

We shouldnt try for single-payer system, they say. WeҒll be lucky if we prevent Republicans from repealing Obamacare.

We shouldnt try for a $15 an hour minimum wage. The best we can do is $12 an hour.

We shouldn’t try to restore the Glass-Steagall Act that used to separate investment and commercial banking, or bust up the biggest banks. Well be lucky to stop Republicans from repealing Dodd-Frank.

We shouldn’t try for free public higher education. As it is, Republicans are out to cut all federal education spending.

We shouldnt try to tax carbon or speculative trades on Wall Street, or raise taxes on the wealthy. WeҒll be fortunate to just maintain the taxes already in place.

Most of all, we shouldnt even try to get big money out of politics. WeҒll be lucky to round up enough wealthy people to back Democratic candidates.

We-shouldn’t-even-try Democrats think itԒs foolish to aim for fundamental change pie-in-the-sky, impractical, silly, na֯ve, quixotic. Not in the cards. No way we can.

I understand their defeatism. After eight years of Republican intransigence and six years of congressional gridlock, many Democrats are desperate just to hold on to what we have.

And ever since the Supreme Courts Citizens United decision opened the political floodgates to big corporations, Wall Street and right-wing billionaires, many Democrats have concluded that bold ideas are unachievable.

In addition, some establishment Democrats - Washington lobbyists, editorial writers, inside-the-beltway operatives, party leaders and big contributors - have grown comfortable with the way things are. They’d rather not rock the boat theyre safely in.

I get it, but here’s the problem. There’s no way to reform the system without rocking the boat. There’s no way to get to where America should be without aiming high.

Progressive change has never happened without bold ideas championed by bold idealists.

Some thought it was quixotic to try for civil rights and voting rights. Some viewed it as nave to think we could end the Vietnam War. Some said it was unrealistic to push for the Environmental Protection Act.

But time and again weve learned that important public goals can be achieved - if the public is mobilized behind them. And time and again such mobilization has depended on the energies and enthusiasm of young people combined with the determination and tenacity of the rest.

If we don’t aim high we have no chance of hitting the target, and no hope of mobilizing that enthusiasm and determination.

The situation we’re in now demands such mobilization. Wealth and income are more concentrated at the top than in over a century. And that wealth has translated into political power.

The result is an economy rigged in favor of those at the top which further compounds wealth and power at the top, in a vicious cycle that will only get worse unless reversed.

Americans pay more for pharmaceuticals than the citizens of any other advanced nation, for example. We also pay more for Internet service. And far more for health care.

We pay high prices for airline tickets even though fuel costs have tumbled. And high prices for food even though crop prices have declined.

That’s because giant companies have accumulated vast market power. Yet the nations antitrust laws are barely enforced.

Meanwhile, the biggest Wall Street banks have more of the nation’s banking assets than they did in 2008, when they were judged too big to fail.

Hedge-fund partners get tax loopholes, oil companies get tax subsidies and big agriculture gets paid off.

Bankruptcy laws protect the fortunes of billionaires like Donald Trump but not the homes of underwater homeowners or the savings of graduates burdened with student loans.

A low minimum wage enhances the profits of big-box retailers like Walmart, but requires the rest of us provide its employees and their families with food stamps and Medicaid in order to avoid poverty an indirect subsidy of Walmart.

Trade treaties protect the assets and intellectual property of big corporations but not the jobs and wages of ordinary workers.

At the same time, countervailing power is disappearing. Labor union membership has plummeted from a third of all private-sector workers in the 1950s to fewer than 7 percent today. Small banks have been absorbed into global financial behemoths. Small retailers don’t stand a chance against Walmart and Amazon.

And the pay of top corporate executives continues to skyrocket, even as most peoples real wages drop and their job security vanishes.

This system is not sustainable.

We must get big money out of our democracy, end crony capitalism and make our economy and democracy work for the many, not just the few.

But change on this scale requires political mobilization.

It won’t be easy. It has never been easy. As before, it will require the energies and commitments of large numbers of Americans.

Which is why you shouldn’t listen to the “we-must-not-try” brigade. They’ve lost faith in the rest of us.

We must try. We have no choice.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 02/14/16 •
Section General Reading
View (0) comment(s) or add a new one
Printable viewLink to this article
Home

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Rise Of The Temp Workers Part 8 - The 1099 Economy

Welcome to the 1099 economy: The only things being shared are the scraps our corporations leave behind
Companies can hire and fire perma-lancers at will. Is it any wonder the middle class is vanishing before our eyes?

By Steven Hill
AlterNet
December 13, 2015

In the aftermath of the economic collapse in 2008, a significant factor in the decline of the quality of jobs in the United States, as well as in Europe has been EMPLOYERS increasing reliance on “non-regular” workers - a growing army of FREELANCERS, TEMPS, CONTRACTORS, part-timers, day laborers, micro-entrepreneurs, gig-preneurs, solo-preneurs, contingent labor, perma-lancers and perma-temps. Its practically a new taxonomy for a workforce that has become segmented into a dizzying assortment of labor categories. Even many full-time, professional jobs and occupations are experiencing this precarious shift.

This practice has given rise to the term “1099 economy,” since these employees don’t file W-2 income tax forms like any regular, permanent employee; instead, they receive the 1099-MISC form for an IRS classification known as “independent contractor.” The advantage for a business of using 1099 workers over W-2 wage-earners is obvious: an employer usually can lower its labor costs dramatically, often by 30 percent or more, since it is not responsible for a 1099 workers health benefits, retirement, unemployment or injured workers compensation, lunch breaks, overtime, disability, paid sick, holiday or vacation leave and more. In addition, contract workers are paid only for the specific number of hours they spend providing labor, or completing a specific job, which increasingly are being reduced to shorter and shorter “micro-gigs.”

In a sense, employers and employees used to be married to each other, and there was a sense of commitment and a joined destiny. Now, employers just want a bunch of one-night stands with their employees, a promiscuousness that promises to be not only fleeting but destabilizing to the broader macroeconomy. Set to replace the crumbling New Deal society is a darker world in which wealthy and powerful economic elite are collaborating with their political cronies to erect the policy edifice that allows them to mold their proprietary workforce into one composed of a disjointed collection of 1099 employees. EMPLOYERS HAVE CALLED OFF THE MARRIAGE WITH THEIR EMPLOYEES, preferring a series of on-again, off-again affairs.

This is a direct threat to the nation’s future, as well as to what has been lionized around the world as the “American Dream.”

Ive experienced the vagaries of this new working life myself. After working for many years in the Washington, D.C.’s based think-tank world, the program that I directed lost most of its funding and was shut down shortly thereafter. All my employees, myself included, were laid off. I was promoting my latest book that had been published a few months before, so I surfed that wave for many more months. For a while, all seemed normal and natural, but without realizing it I had stepped off the safe and secure boat of having what is known as a good job with a steady paycheck, secure employment and a comprehensive safety net, into the cold, deep waters of being a freelance journalist.

Suddenly I was responsible for paying for my own health care, arranging for my own IRAs and saving for my own retirement. I also had to pay the employers half of the Social Security payroll tax, as well as Medicare - nearly an extra 8 percent deducted from my income. The costs for my health-care premiums zoomed out of sight, since I was no longer part of a large health-care pool that could negotiate favorable rates.

But that’s not all. Suddenly not only was the pay per article or lecture not particularly lucrative, but I didn’t get paid for those many hours in which I had to query the editors for the next article or lecture, or conduct research and interviews. It was as if I had become an assembly line worker who was paid on a per-piece rate; the extraneous parts of my working day rest and bathroom breaks, staff meetings or time with co-workers at the water cooler, usually paid time in a “good job” had been stripped to the bone. Not to mention I no longer had paid vacations, sick days or holidays, nor could I benefit from unemployment or injured workers compensation. Instead of receiving a paycheck from a single employer, now I had to track my many and varied sources of income, making sure that unscrupulous editors didn’t stiff me.

In short, I had to juggle, juggle, juggle, while simultaneously running uphill - my life had been upended in ways I had never anticipated. And I began discovering that I was not alone. Many other friends and colleagues including Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists, professionals and intellectuals, as well as many friends in pink-, white- and blue-collar jobs - also had become 1099 workers, tumbleweeds adrift in the labor market. They found themselves increasingly faced with similar challenges, each in his or her own profession, industry or trade. In short, we had entered the world of what is known as “precarious” work, most of us wholly unprepared.

Not to worry. The new economy visionaries who like Dr. Pangloss in Voltaire’s Candide always see the best of all possible worlds has a plan in place for us. A new mashup of Silicon Valley technology and Wall Street investment has thrust upon us the latest economic trend; the so-called “sharing economy,” also known as the gig or on-demand economy. Companies like Uber, Airbnb, Instacart, Upwork and TaskRabbit allegedly are liberating” workers to become “independent” and the CEOs of their own businesses. These companies, the sharing economy gurus tells us, allow us to “monetize our assets,” “rent out our house,” “our car,” “our labor,” “our driveway,” “our spare drill” and other personal possessions = using any number of brokerage websites and mobile apps. This is the new - sharing economy:  contracted, “freelanced,” shared,” “automated,” “Uber-ized,” “1099-ed.”

Frederic Larson enjoyed a successful 30-year career as a staff photographer with the San Francisco Chronicle, during which time he won numerous awards, including being a Pulitzer Prize finalist. As Forbes reports, he was downsized during the recession, and needing income he “monetized” his assets. He turned his house into an Airbnb hotel and his spiffy Prius into a Lyft taxi. Now for 12 nights a monthӔ40% of his lifehe shutters himself in a rabbit hole inside his own home and showers at the local gym while complete strangers have the run of his place. This award-winning professional photographer has been turned into an innkeeper in his own home and a taxi driver in his own car.
In reality, these gig economy workers also are contractors, hiring themselves out for ever-smaller jobs (gigs) and wages, with no safety net, while the companies profit. Websites like Uber, Upwork, TaskRabbit, Airbnb and others have taken the Amazon/eBay model the next logical step. They benefit from an aura that seems to combine convenience with a patina of revolution; convenience as revolution. The idea of a “sharing economy” sounds so groovy - environmentally correct, politically neutral, anti-consumerist and all of it wrapped in the warm, fuzzy vocabulary of sharing. The vision has a utopian spin that is incredibly seductive in a world where both government and big business have let us down by leading us into the biggest economic crash since the Great Depression.

But the “sharing” economys app- and Web-based technologies have made it so incredibly easy to hire freelancers, temps, contractors and part-timers, why won’t every employer eventually lay off all its regular, W-2 employees and hire 1099 workers? Any business owner would be foolish not to, as he watches his competitors shave their labor costs by 30 percent (by escaping having to pay for an employees safety net and other benefits).

Sounds extreme? Merck, one of the worldԔs largest pharmaceutical companies, was a vanguard of this underhanded strategy. When it came under pressure to cut costs, it sold its Philadelphia factory to a company that fired all 400 employeesand then rehired them back as independent contractors. Merck then contracted with the company to carry on making antibiotics for them, using the exact same workers.

An Arizona public-relations firm, LP&G, fired 88 percent of its staff, and then rehired them as freelancers working out of their homes, with no benefits. Even Outmagazine, the most-read gay monthly in the U.S., laid off its entire editorial staff and then rehired most of them as freelancers, without benefits and with salary cuts.

Examples abound of companies laying off all or most of their workers and then rehiring the same workers - as independent contractors, a clear abuse of this legal loophole. One new economy booster clarified employers audacious strategy: ҒCompanies today want a workforce they can switch on and off as needed җ like one can turn off a faucet or a TV.

The apps and websites of the share the crumbsғ economy have made it easier than ever to do that. Companies can hire and fire 1099 workers at will. In essence, the purveyors of the new economy are forging an economic system in which those with money will be able to use faceless, anonymous interactions via brokerage websites and mobile apps to hire those without money by forcing an online bidding war to see who will charge the least for their labor, or to rent out their home, their car, or other personal property. These perverse incentives are threatening to destroy the U.S. labor force and turn tens of millions of workers into little more than day laborers. BuzzFeeds Charlie Warzel has rightly observed that “any tech reporter who spends their time covering the sharing economy is now, essentially, a labor reporter.”

Outsourcing to these 1099 workers HAS BECOME THE PREFERRED METHOD for America’s business leaders to cut costs and maximize profits. This is only the beginning; we have yet to see how these trends will affect the labor force over the next decade or so. But already we can see that the so-called “new” economy looks an awful lot like the old, pre-New Deal economy. “Jobs” amount to a series of low-paid piece work they’re called micro-gigs today - offering little empowerment for average workers, families or communities. We’re losing decades of progress, apparently for no other reason than because these on-demand companies conduct their business over the Internet and apps, somehow that makes them special.ԗ Technology has been granted a privileged and indulged place where the usual rules, laws and policies often are not applied.

If that practice becomes too widespread, you can say goodbye to the good jobs that have supported American families, goodbye to the middle class and goodbye to the way of life that made the United States the leading power of the world.

SOURCE

Hat tip: Eduardo Felix

Posted by Elvis on 12/29/15 •
Section General Reading
View (0) comment(s) or add a new one
Printable viewLink to this article
Home

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Cant Find A Qualified US Worker Redux 5

dying-america.jpg rel=America is slowly dying

Qualcomm Lays Off 4,500 Workers While Demanding More H-1bs

By Rachel Stoltzfoos
Daily Caller
September 15, 2015

Another tech giant that says it must import foreign workers because there arent enough skilled American workers in the industry is laying off thousands of workers.

Qualcomm - a major producer of smartphone chips - announced last week its eliminating 15 percent of its workforce or about 4,500 employees, just weeks after fellow tech giant Microsoft announced a massive round of layoffs.

Both companies are top beneficiaries of the H-1b VISA PROGRAM, which backers say allows companies to temporarily hire foreign workers for jobs they CAN’T FIND qualified Americans workers to fill. Critics contend the program is really used to cut costs.

Microsoft and Qualcomm were in the top 15 users of H-1b visas in Fiscal Year 2013, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services data obtained by Computer World. Theyre part of a major tech lobbying effort to increase the cap on these temporary workers, on the grounds there is a shortage of Americans with science, technology, engineering and math degrees.

“Qualcomm has been engaged within the technology industry in highlighting the skills deficit in all areas of today’s workforce, especially engineering,” a spokeswoman for Qualcomm told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “This is an industry-wide problem, and we are committed to working to build the pipeline of students studying STEM fields.”

One in five of the new Qualcomm hires in Fiscal Year 2013 were foreign workers with H-1b visas, according to an analysis of SEC filings by Ron Hira, a professor at Rochester Institute of Technology who is an expert in offshoring. Those 900 foreign workers hired in 2013 triple the total number of workers Qualcomm hired in 2014.

Qualcomm and other tech firms have argued that they turn to H-1Bs because there is a significant shortage of American talent available,Ӕ Hira told TheDCNF. Given the recent large layoff announcements by Qualcomm, Microsoft, Intel, and Cisco, how can the tech industry continue to argue thereӒs a shortage of American workers?

Microsoft did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Hira also analyzed the skills of H-1b workers Qualcomm hired from Fiscal Year 2010 through 2012, and found most of the workers weren’t the highly skilled, U.S.-trained workers lobbyists imply make up the majority of H-1b holders.

Thirty-five percent of the 1,265 workers Qualcomm hired at that time held only a bachelors degree, and just 32 percent held advanced U.S. degrees. Only 44 of them held Ph.Ds from U.S. universities.

“This is very different than the carefully constructed, and MISLEADING, narrative constructed by the tech industry that the H-1b program is primarily a vehicle for keeping people from abroad that the U.S. trained, and paid for,” Hira told TheDCNF.

The Qualcomm layoffs, which it says are in response to dramatic profit losses, will eliminate the net employment gains of the past two years. A spokeswoman for Qualcomm declined to provide further detail on the layoffs or the fate of Qualcomms H-1b employees, beyond the 15 percent figure.

But Qualcomm said it plans to “significantly reduce its temporary workforce,” in a presentation detailing the restructuring.

“Obviously some of the ones being laid off are not engineers, but in general I’m sure that a lot of the people laid off could be doing the jobs taken by the H-1bs,” Norm Matloff, a computer science professor at the University of California Davis who is an expert on H-1bs, told TheDCNF.

The Department of Homeland Security is working with the Department of Labor to investigate the H-1b program after Southern California and then Disney, among others, allegedly laid off hundreds of American workers and essentially forced them to train their foreign replacements holding H-1b visas.

Its a violation of federal labor laws to fire an American worker and directly replace them with a foreign worker holding an H-1b, but companies such as SCE and Disney have apparently gotten around this by contracting the work out to H-1b reliant firms, such as Infosys and Tata.

Critics of the program, including a bipartisan group of senators, see the layoffs as evidence the companies are using the visas to cut costs, not legitimately fill in gaps in the American labor force.

Seventy-four percent of AMERICANS WITH STEM DEGREES are not working in STEM fields, according to U.S. Census Bureau data, and only 3.8 million Americans with STEM degrees hold STEM jobs.

“The entire industry abuses this visa, and Im sure that includes Qualcomm,” Matloff told TheDCNF. “I’ve done research that shows statistics on how much the industry pays its H-1b [workers], and Qualcomm is definitely one of the ones that does not have a good record in that regard.”

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 09/16/15 •
Section General Reading
View (0) comment(s) or add a new one
Printable viewLink to this article
Home

Monday, June 29, 2015

Two More Companies I’ll Never Do Business With Again

Did you read about my dealings with AMAZON and TAMOSOFT ?

Both companies lost a 20 year customer for good.

Here’s two more that recently did:

NewEgg

Why?  The last thing I bought from them arrived smashed. The box looked fine. The thing inside was messued up. I got an RMA from their website for hidden damage, and spent $27 of my own money mailing it back, What did they do?  Sent me an email they won’t accept the return because they got it back damaged.  What did I do?  Called and explained over and over again to half a dozen people what happened, who all told me they won’t accept a return damaged, insisting that I file a claim with the shipper.  I finally filed a claim with the credit card company who helped get my money back.

Discount Electronics

Why? Because they sold me a refurbished Dell computer with a OEM copy of Windows and a restore partition instead of reinstall disk.  I used the restore partion that can only be used once, leaving me no way to reinstall again. Dell and Microsoft told me to call Discount Electronics for a reinstall disk. Discount Electronics refused. So I’m left with a windows license, but no media to install it.

Posted by Elvis on 06/29/15 •
Section General Reading
View (0) comment(s) or add a new one
Printable viewLink to this article
Home
Page 2 of 164 pages  <  1 2 3 4 >  Last »

Statistics

Total page hits 8242121
Page rendered in 1.8708 seconds
41 queries executed
Debug mode is off
Total Entries: 3105
Total Comments: 337
Most Recent Entry: 04/23/2018 10:03 am
Most Recent Comment on: 01/02/2016 09:13 pm
Total Logged in members: 0
Total guests: 12
Total anonymous users: 0
The most visitors ever was 114 on 10/26/2017 04:23 am


Email Us

Home

Members:
Login | Register
Resumes | Members

In memory of the layed off workers of AT&T

Today's Diversion

God doesn't play dice with the universe. - Albert Einstein

Search


Advanced Search

Sections

Calendar

April 2018
S M T W T F S
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30          

Must Read

Most recent entries

RSS Feeds

Today's News

External Links

Elvis Picks

BLS Pages

Favorites

All Posts

Archives

RSS


Creative Commons License


Support Bloggers' Rights