Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Harris Miller and the Demise of American Information Age Jobs

Increasingly we hear arguments that America needs additional technical and scientific workers. This is usually presented in articles which urge us to believe that “we” (American corporations) will lose our ability to compete if we (the elected representatives of the American people) don’t allow in large numbers of educated and skilled foreign workers to fill jobs here in the U.S.

Such claims are eerily familiar and rather ironic because Harris Miller has made such claims for more than a decade as a business lobbyist. Miller’s career was built on selling mythical high tech labor shortages to Congress and the public to justify the entrance of tens of thousands and then hundreds of thousands of foreign “tech sector” guest workers

Now, American tech workers are reaching the end of the road. The future of Americans in this field is in serious question. Magazine articles have been written about the situation but nothing will be done to change the trend because the political and business forces in control of our society don’t care.

We’re on the path to becoming a Third World nation. American corporations have decided that American “brains” cost too much. Labor cost savings mean more to them than an investment in quality. Only “cheap” brains are of interest.

Allow me to put a human face on this situation which alludes to the future of this country.

My young son talks about black holes, watches PBS “Nova” and does basic algebra. He’s exceptionally intelligent and I’m very proud of him.

My son might have become a third generation engineer but I consider this highly unlikely. I doubt that my son will do anything technical or scientific. This is a source of considerable regret and bitterness in our family. We haven't told him that his dreams have been stolen.

If my son attends college, it is unlikely that he will study any branch of engineering or anything scientific at all. You see, this work is earmarked for Third World workers now. “American brains” cost too much. American business and American politicians have decided that Americans will not have these sorts of jobs no matter their public statements. Actions speak louder than words.

The evidence indicates that most employers discard their American employees at the earliest sign of a cheaper foreign substitute. (Economists call this "labor arbitrage".) Wagering that successful completion of an engineering or scientific degree will lead to employment in such a field is foolish. The Bureau of Labor Statisitics tell the story of declining technical and engineering jobs for Americans...

American employers have given every reason to believe that anything that can be moved offshore will be moved offshore. They have poisoned the well in this country and they have the audacity to lie about “tech labor shortages” (Harris Miller’s special talent) while untold numbers of American high tech workers are unemployed, underemployed or discouraged from even seeking employment.

The numbers of Americans in IT are shrinking. (Perhaps this is why Harris left his job; there are fewer American jobs to destroy.)

Successive waves of outsourcing and the presence of foreign low wage replacement workers makes the white collar job market for Americans very tight. Tech workers are fleeing this disaster when they can. College students are avoiding professions which offer nothing but the threat of job loss to outsourcing or foreign replacement workers in the U.S.

Who should we blame for this situation? Politicians and business leaders certainly.

We should also blame Harris Miller the outsourcing lobbyist who has done so much to help ruin our high tech jobs sector for Americans. Miller’s conduct is disgraceful and as morally reprehensible as anything that Jack Abramoff has done.

It could, in fact, be argued that Harris Miller has done greater harm to our society than Jack Abramoff and that by way of comparison, it is a cruel irony that Abramoff is the one being punished by society. It is a commentary on the perversions of justice which reward liars and political confidence men whose despicable actions remain within the letter of the law.

When future generations look back upon the middle class society we have lost because of corporate greed and cynical politics, Harris Miller’s infamy will surely be a part of this sad chapter in our once great nation’s history.


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