Are we not competitive or not stupid enough to be slaves?

IT Business

The answer to this question is relative to where you live and what your socially acceptable norms are. For example, the French look at Americans as people who are so fast paced and frenzied that never get to enjoy the finer things in life or have a 3 hour dinner – in fact most of Europe gets better benefits and far longer vacations than we do. And as fast paced and career oriented as we are, most people in Japan that are working over 300 days a year would think we are just lazy. And the factory workers in China don’t think shit because they have to put together an iPad every few seconds during their 18 hour shift.

Here is an interesting article that I hope you take a moment to read:

How U.S. lost out on iPhone Work

Now it depends which bias you read the article with. If you’re an extreme Republican, you’re probably thinking that Corning lost the glass cutting deal because of too many government regulations and insufficient labor force that is getting too many entitlements. If you’re an extreme Democrat, you’re probably going to point out that the reason China won was because government subsidized the plant, the housing and more. What our leaders (who let’s face it, are pretty much the same behind closed doors while pandering to different extremes in the public) would point out is that we’re not flexible enough and need more education to modernize our workforce, more (insert empty government promise) to entice private sector to compete more and create more jobs. So much for the fantasy.

The reality of the situation is that China won because of access to the slave labor force. They are not more flexible because of less government employment and regulations, they are more flexible because of a totalitarian government that calls all the shots. They are not smarter or more educated than us when it comes to manufacturing, but they are willing to work 18 hour shifts and live at work.

The whole article could have been summed in four words:


As long as I’ve been following the American politics, it’s always been someone elses fault that there are fewer jobs. In the late 90’s and early 2000’s, illegal immigration was taking away good American jobs like janitorial duties at Walmart, landscaping and unskilled construction. These days it’s the fault of corporations that are outsourcing the jobs overseas.

It’s always someone elses fault. And damnit, someone else needs to fix it.

The reality, however, is that we have it so good here and we’re unable to sacrifice or roll backwards in the “quality of life” department. When we are buying products and services we want the cheapest possible one – we’re ultimate capitalists. Yet when it comes to work, we’re the ultimate socialists – hours and benefits even if we don’t deserve them.

The way these conflicting stances are resolved is through shifting the labor and production to the area where costs are minimized and profits are maximized. Those that take the risk stand a chance of higher than average returns. Everyone tries to participate. For example, #OccupyWallStreet largely objected to the salaries and bonuses of the financial industry that bankrupted the US economy and was perfectly permitted to do so under the policies of President Clinton & Bush. Yet nobody points to the lack of responsibility of the general public that bought properties it could not afford, signed off on forged and misleading financial statements and only did so in order to flip the house and get money for nothing. Politicians blame state financial woes on overpaid high school teachers while the college graduates blame corporations that won’t hire an English or Architectural History majors with no experience to high paying jobs.

Nobody wants to do the hard work.

Internships and long hours are beneath us.

Steve Jobs is the devil for outsourcing and not bringing the jobs to America but the slave factories can’t crank out enough iPad’s to meet the demand. 

Self Selective Slavery

I blogged a while ago about the lifecycle of employee disenchantment. When an employee accepts a job they are excited – they are getting paid! But after the first few paychecks are spent, they are underpaid. God forbid they are a few minutes late to work and someone points it out – now they are both underpaid, unappreciated and harassed!

Most people immediately go to living beyond their means which ultimately always assures lack of happiness with their social status.

This is where it’s again someone elses fault – likely their bosses. Employees both know more about their job than their bosses (“I’m the one actually doing this after all, you don’t know everything I have to put up with!”) but also deserve better pay. To the degree that it may be accurate, it’s also true that the employees have no idea what their bosses, management or company owners have to put up with.

So they look for a new, better job. It’s always about looking up and ahead because everything else is instantaneously beneath us.

That is why those jobs will never come back to USA.

It’s not because of Obama. It’s not because of the corporations. It’s not because of the Wall Street. It’s not because of the regulations – and remember that those regulations are in place because of the abuses corporations got away with for decades that made us a great and overly entitled nation.

For example, general pro-business opinion is that regulations are bad. They limit corporations. True, but everyone wonders where the regulators are when the financial system implodes due to fraud, when the planes are slammed into highrises and when the oil rigs explode and destroy the environment. It’s of course always someone elses fault that the rules are not followed – but it’s the rules fault that we can’t compete.

No. It’s because of you. It’s because you want an iPad but don’t want to work an 18 hour shift at the minimum wage. It’s because you want government services but don’t want to pay the taxes that fund them. It’s because you want an acre of land but don’t want to pay $20 to have it mowed or do it yourself. After all, you’re better than that.

As long as we’re expecting to get out more than we put in the world of leverage will rule.

The Middle of ExchangeDefender

Own Web Now (ie, Shockey Monkey, ExchangeDefender, CloudBlock, etc) is a small technology company. We actually make stuff (we’re not just repackaging other peoples stuff) and some of our products have very long development cycles.

Truth is, there are very few high paying jobs here and they are almost exclusively reserved for people that are working on eliminating the low-end disposable jobs. Just because you’re necessary doesn’t mean that you’re important – so it’s on to you to become more important.

This is something that majority of people understand and accept as a norm. Majority of job applicants do not – which I think only serves as a qualifier for either their unemployment or looking for a job. Prospects with no employment history or entry level skills expect mid-level compensation and the responsibilities of an advanced engineer role. They are not willing to earn it off the clock and expect on-job training. They want clearly defined hours and no responsibility but they want the salary. They don’t want the pressure of timelines, SLA or due dates but they want the “flex schedule” and executive benefits.

As the CEO (entrepreneur) I look at every dollar spent as an investment and every dollar earned as a return. Over time, I look to maximize my returns – so I’m only willing to overpay for the personnel that does more work than they are paid to do. Over the long employment cycle we all benefit.

But what about the people at the bottom who choose not to invest, not to evolve and not to compromise?

That is why the middle class is dying.

Now to make this self serving.

At Shockey Monkey we look at the death of the middle class as a model for the eventual death of the middleware.

The solutions that were once too expensive, too cumbersome and too specialized were priced accordingly because nobody had a way to mass produce them, create alternate revenue streams or benefit from a consumer that was flexible on the training and high end customization.

Shockey Monkey is often unfairly pinned up against similar solutions because that’s the easiest point of reference. But those solutions were written for a single industry and over time became so specialized that it’s made them lack the flexibility to serve others.

When I look at Shockey Monkey I don’t see a budget ConnectWise, I see a process oriented system that can be used by lawyers, service shops, retail, architects, etc. My potential client base is not the dying technology middleman trying to optimize the response time between LPI noticing the problem and monkey being dispatched to fix it. My potential client base is everyone that corresponds with their clients via email, uses web site for marketing, needs a computerized way of tracking interoffice communication and hours worked, that needs to track clients and bill them for goods and services.

The era of unbalanced compensation due to location is over – and it’s nobodys fault other than our own. We reward competition and winners.. so long as that is the case, nobody will be willing to bail us out unless we are willing to do it ourselves.

P.S. Some people feel that the service sector is immune to this. I remember walking through Mirage in Las Vegas a few years ago and seeing folks gambling with a virtual blackjack machine that was basically a 42” screen displaying little more than a massive cleavage shot. Less than 10 feet away from a real life blackjack dealer. Most of the human interaction jobs (ie, service) will be replaced by the self service attendants – you already see it in the self-checkout lines. What if you wanted to go to the bank and interacted with a virtual banker working in China for $1/hour? Would you do it? Judging by the outrage that Bank of America faced when they tried to charge folks a few bucks for the privilege of a check card, you can’t fault them for cutting costs in other ways. 

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