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The World is Flat

"In China today, Bill Gates is Britney Spears...."

"...In America today, Britney Spears is Britney Spears -- and that is our problem."

the light at the end of the tunnel is a train.

"When I compare our high schools to what I see when I'm traveling abroad, I am terrified for our work force of tomorrow. In math and science, our fourth graders are among the top students in the world. By eighth grade, they're in the middle of the pack. By 12th grade, U.S. students are scoring near the bottom of all industrialized nations. . . . The percentage of a population with a college degree is important, but so are sheer numbers. In 2001, India graduated almost a million more students from college than the United States did. China graduates twice as many students with bachelor's degrees as the U.S., and they have six times as many graduates majoring in engineering. In the international competition to have the biggest and best supply of knowledge workers, America is falling behind."

in the past month, i've augmented my usual reading with 5 books focused on business - this is one of them and is easily at the top of the list.

i bought mine at costco for $16 and consider it the best $16 i've spent in the past year. to those of you who are breathing - or know of a person who is breathing and is capable of reading - i suggest this book. fwiw, there are a number of review of the book online at amazon.

be well.
 
I saw him interviewed on a business program a few days ago. Neat guy.
 
Dtrigg said:
I saw him interviewed on a business program a few days ago. Neat guy.
thx - i'll keep my eyes peeled for him being interviewed. i've never read *any* of his work before but (perhaps because i'm involved in international software company management - commercial *and* open source), i find this book to be very interesting and right on the money in sooo many ways.

thanks for the heads-up.
hal
 
I read the first few pages on Amazon, seemed kind'a boring.

What does he say about outsourcing?

Things aren't as dire as he predicts.

I manage a mix of Indian and US employees. There is a world of difference between these two types of employees.

While my Indian employees are very talented, the cultural barrier sometimes prevent them from thinking creatively to come up with innovative IT solutions that fits the problem facing my US customers at that time.

In contrast, I have Indian and US employees who have lived here for 20 or more years, and have absorbed the "American" essence, whatever that is, and can innovate at a more natural level and work with my US customers on a much more integrated fashion.
 
NsXMas said:
I read the first few pages on Amazon, seemed kind'a boring.

What does he say about outsourcing?

Things aren't as dire as he predicts.

I manage a mix of Indian and US employees. There is a world of difference between these two types of employees.

While my Indian employees are very talented, the cultural barrier sometimes prevent them from thinking creatively to come up with innovative IT solutions that fits the problem facing my US customers at that time.

In contrast, I have Indian and US employees who have lived here for 20 or more years, and have absorbed the "American" essence, whatever that is, and can innovate at a more natural level and work with my US customers on a much more integrated fashion.
he says a lot about outsourcing, insourcing, offshoring, cultural differences and how these changes are "flattening" the world.

in fact, one of the things he addresses numerous times is (what appears to be) the creativity and innovation of american culture - he does not disagree with your innovation statement at this point in time, but it's clear the US doesn't have the exclusive franchise on innovation....

i'd be interested in hearing your opinion of the book if/when you should read it.

hal
 
i was finally able to complete reading this book and, while i may not agree with everything the author says, i think it's a **great** book to read. an interesting observation relative to the book:

last week i was reading (i think it was) slashdot.org (could have been freshmeat or another techie hang out) and there was a thread about paying programmers $15 per hour - what low pay it was, how people who had entered the field 20-25 years ago were getting that waaay back then, etc.

and then a guy from croatia (or another east european area) pops up and says, "i'd be glad to do that work for $15 per hour". $15 an hour - that's less than my nail-hammering construction worker brother makes.

is having the guy in croatia the same as having a team member in the next office? likely not, for many reasons (not all of them bad, btw). is the price difference between him and a fully burdened U.S.-based employee worthy of consideration for a future project? it depends on the project and capabilities of the company/manager, etc, to work with a remote team/member, but i'm betting the answer is yes for many companies.

yup, the world is flat, alright.
 
Re: "In China today, Bill Gates is Britney Spears...."

queenlives said:
"...In America today, Britney Spears is Britney Spears -- and that is our problem."

the light at the end of the tunnel is a train.

"When I compare our high schools to what I see when I'm traveling abroad, I am terrified for our work force of tomorrow. In math and science, our fourth graders are among the top students in the world. By eighth grade, they're in the middle of the pack. By 12th grade, U.S. students are scoring near the bottom of all industrialized nations. . . . The percentage of a population with a college degree is important, but so are sheer numbers. In 2001, India graduated almost a million more students from college than the United States did. China graduates twice as many students with bachelor's degrees as the U.S., and they have six times as many graduates majoring in engineering. In the international competition to have the biggest and best supply of knowledge workers, America is falling behind."

China has 4x the population of the USA and India has more than 3x. One million more students with 700 million more people. Our college degrees have gone downward as well. We have more people coming out with degrees perfectly suited to jobs in retail. People who know nothing, learnt nothing, and can do nothing. But, they got a Bachelor's Degree to show for it.

and then a guy from croatia (or another east european area) pops up and says, "i'd be glad to do that work for $15 per hour". $15 an hour - that's less than my nail-hammering construction worker brother makes.

is having the guy in croatia the same as having a team member in the next office? likely not, for many reasons (not all of them bad, btw). is the price difference between him and a fully burdened U.S.-based employee worthy of consideration for a future project? it depends on the project and capabilities of the company/manager, etc, to work with a remote team/member, but i'm betting the answer is yes for many companies.

Well, we are going to have to rethink our national desire to carry nonproductive people and provide them with expensive free housing, spending cash, and medical care. And, no, I don't mean the poor, I mean the old. Our socialist system raises expenses for everybody.

As far as a comparison of Indian workers versus Americans, I'm in the IT business despite my law degree and there ain't any Indians around that can do what I do. Unfortunately, managers don't understand that this isn't the military and a lower priced "manpower resource" isn't the same as a higher priced one if the higher priced one is significantly better or more intelligent than the lower priced one.

Additionally, we have to ask ourselves, "where is all this excess profit going?" If it's going to the common trough, that is one thing. If it's going into the pockets of management and executives, that is altogether another. The entire labor movement sprang up to prevent management, ownership, and executives from paying ridiculously low, "competitive" wages, and dividing up the spoils amongst solely themselves. Labor forced businesses to give members a larger cut of profits. This is what suppressed executive salaries and why the recent rise in executive pay is so godawfully out of whack.

Obviously, existing labor unions are fatally corrupt and obsolete, but the rationale behind their existence was to prevent the type of "exploitation" that is behind the outsourcing movement. However, the Chinese people do not see their own exploitation as a bad thing; they seem to welcome it. But, this is a similar notion as was/is held by the most recent immigrants into the USA. Central Americans are currently willing to underbid nearly any domestic wage rate because it's far better than they were accustomed to. This parallels the will of every previous wave of immigrants, who always underbid those already here. And, it's why the labor movement involved forced membership and often violence to prevent people from opting out. Once again, unions are like a socialist government forcing some to accept less and others to accept more in order that there be a more per capita equitable distribution of assets.

There was no money for toga parties for executives throughout the 1950s because the workforce and their pensions and other benefits ate up the bottom line. As companies have pared down these expenses, suddenly we have seen a dramatic increase in executive pay, benefits, jet airplanes, toga parties, loans, stock grants coupled with buybacks, etc. Unfortunately, the shareholders of these corporations have been caught up in the notion of growth stocks, of buying low and selling high as a means to accumulation of wealth, instead of profits and dividends, and have tolerated this nonsense. Hopefully, the corporate fraud scandals will put some sort of end to this bullsh!t.
 
Re: "In China today, Bill Gates is Britney Spears...."

liftshard said:
<snip>Well, we are going to have to rethink our national desire to carry nonproductive people and provide them with expensive free housing, spending cash, and medical care. And, no, I don't mean the poor, I mean the old. Our socialist system raises expenses for everybody.
agreed... we're beginning to do that but it's unpleasant and something most are avoiding for as long as possible - hard to wean people from "free". my feeling is "the system" should (at a minimum) provide support proportionate to the level an individual has contribued. i'm 52 and during the previous 25+ years, i have been a maximum level social security contributor; for the past 10+, i have maxed my 401/IRA contributions and (thanks to my wife, really), have been a diligent saver for "the future" (which ain't so far off, anymore :)

As far as a comparison of Indian workers versus Americans, I'm in the IT business despite my law degree and there ain't any Indians around that can do what I do. Unfortunately, managers don't understand that this isn't the military and a lower priced "manpower resource" isn't the same as a higher priced one if the higher priced one is significantly better or more intelligent than the lower priced one.
there's certainly truth in the current level of skillsets & drive across cultures, etc... there are a number of companies who have tried the outsourcing method for things such as customer-facing responsibilities, only to find their customer base unhappy with it, so end up reverting back to business as before... this doesn't appear to be the usual result, though.

Additionally, we have to ask ourselves, "where is all this excess profit going?" If it's going to the common trough, that is one thing. If it's going into the pockets of management and executives, that is altogether another. The entire labor movement sprang up to prevent management, ownership, and executives from paying ridiculously low, "competitive" wages, and dividing up the spoils amongst solely themselves. Labor forced businesses to give members a larger cut of profits. This is what suppressed executive salaries and why the recent rise in executive pay is so godawfully out of whack.
by common trough, do you mean the employees and shareholders of the company? to me, that's where it should go.

<snipped for brevity in my response... i've got to be somewhere, but appreciated your response and wanted to respond in kind).

There was no money for toga parties for executives throughout the 1950s because the workforce and their pensions and other benefits ate up the bottom line. As companies have pared down these expenses, suddenly we have seen a dramatic increase in executive pay, benefits, jet airplanes, toga parties, loans, stock grants coupled with buybacks, etc. Unfortunately, the shareholders of these corporations have been caught up in the notion of growth stocks, of buying low and selling high as a means to accumulation of wealth, instead of profits and dividends, and have tolerated this nonsense. Hopefully, the corporate fraud scandals will put some sort of end to this bullsh!t.
from your lips to god's ears.

hal
 
Re: "In China today, Bill Gates is Britney Spears...."

NsXMas said:
interesting story regarding Walmart / The World is Flat...

http://www.pensacolanewsjournal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050724/OPINION/507240314/1020#

what's your take...
(back from errands :) coupla thoughts...

when i read about the underlying issue (walmart's practices) in world is flat, i was surprised... but not shocked. and then as i thought through the issue, i got pissed because we've evolved into an environment (govt, biz, society as a whole) that allows (promotes?) these kinds of situations to occur. i think it's a shame and will have negative consequences for us as time passes.

from the pensacola paper:

"I might understand it if Wal-Mart said I ought to fire Mark because what he said wasn't accurate. But that isn't the case. Mark accurately reported that there are 10,000 children of Wal-Mart employees in a health-care program that is costing Georgia taxpayers nearly $10 million a year."
despicable.

from the paper:
"Shouldn't we talk about that?"
yes, we should. but it's quite likely that walmart lobbyists will cite the contribution they make to the US economy as significantly greater than this.

from the paper:
"When we stop listening to people on the other side of the fence, when we try to silence and even punish people for thinking differently than we do and raising facts and figures we don't like, well, we won't be red, white and blue anymore."
agreed. one of the greatest treasures we have as americans is the right to speak our mind.

like steve jobs who had wiley & sons booked banned from apple stores when wiley published "iCON", walmart can certainly decide who gets to sell in their stores.

thx for the link... what's your take on the issues raised in the article?
 
Re: "In China today, Bill Gates is Britney Spears...."

NsXMas said:
interesting story regarding Walmart / The World is Flat...

http://www.pensacolanewsjournal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050724/OPINION/507240314/1020#

what's your take...

It's true.

And, what's more, Walmart sells a TON of chinese crap. Everyone who buys there is contributing to the ascendancy of Chinese labor and outsourcing.

I DO NOT shop at Walmart. I will only go there if some hypocrite like my dad drags me there to buy something for himself. And, as I walk the aisles, I say, out loud, you are ALL outsourcing to China. And, people look at me funny. It never occurred to anyone that if they bought cheapass Chinese products that they were helping outsource?

Additionally, illegal immigration is tolerated for the same purposes. Illegals in many cases COST society much more than they contribute. They are the opposite of the type of people we are lamenting not having enough of in the original article, high-skill, high-education, high-tech. But, businesses profit heavily and shift the burden of health care and housing for them from the natural profit cycle onto the government, which adds overhead and fraud.

IOW, We the People subsidize illegals to do low wage jobs at aberrantly low wage scales. The profits from this are passed onto the executives in the way of toga parties, stock options (which are coupled with buybacks to prevent dilution of the share price), and jet planes. And, everyone else, We the People, society, pays the higher cost. We are socializing business models because certain business aren't tenable without below-legal wages. And, if profitable, paying health care costs from the public dole instead of from business profits amounts to a direct subsidy of the executives of the enterprise in question.

This is why everything is so much more EXPENSIVE now than it was even 30 years ago. Real costs have gone up dramatically. However, don't expect the tax structure to bail us out. The top 1% is already paying double a rate of taxes than its share of AGI earned. The income tax burden has shifted onto the rich, but this has more to do with the rapid escalation of earnings among this group than any fundamental shift in tax policy.

Perhaps if we plan to unionize the world, we can redistribute business wealth, but this is a long time from coming even if it does happen. There are more people than can live the "American Dream," and an impending inflection point in energy supply rate is going to bring sustained recession globally.
 
Re: "In China today, Bill Gates is Britney Spears...."

liftshard said:
It's true.

And, what's more, Walmart sells a TON of chinese crap. Everyone who buys there is contributing to the ascendancy of Chinese labor and outsourcing.

I DO NOT shop at Walmart. I will only go there if some hypocrite like my dad drags me there to buy something for himself. And, as I walk the aisles, I say, out loud, you are ALL outsourcing to China. And, people look at me funny. It never occurred to anyone that if they bought cheapass Chinese products that they were helping outsource?

Additionally, illegal immigration is tolerated for the same purposes. Illegals in many cases COST society much more than they contribute. They are the opposite of the type of people we are lamenting not having enough of in the original article, high-skill, high-education, high-tech. But, businesses profit heavily and shift the burden of health care and housing for them from the natural profit cycle onto the government, which adds overhead and fraud.

IOW, We the People subsidize illegals to do low wage jobs at aberrantly low wage scales. The profits from this are passed onto the executives in the way of toga parties, stock options (which are coupled with buybacks to prevent dilution of the share price), and jet planes. And, everyone else, We the People, society, pays the higher cost. We are socializing business models because certain business aren't tenable without below-legal wages. And, if profitable, paying health care costs from the public dole instead of from business profits amounts to a direct subsidy of the executives of the enterprise in question.

This is why everything is so much more EXPENSIVE now than it was even 30 years ago. Real costs have gone up dramatically. However, don't expect the tax structure to bail us out. The top 1% is already paying double a rate of taxes than its share of AGI earned. The income tax burden has shifted onto the rich, but this has more to do with the rapid escalation of earnings among this group than any fundamental shift in tax policy.

Perhaps if we plan to unionize the world, we can redistribute business wealth, but this is a long time from coming even if it does happen. There are more people than can live the "American Dream," and an impending inflection point in energy supply rate is going to bring sustained recession globally.
interesting that you mention you don't shop at walmart... neither do i, for pretty much the same reason(s) you cite - though i don't yell it out the car window as i drive by the walmart ;)

i was going to raise the illegal immigration issue but opted not to... that gets into my knickers, too.

hal
 
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