The United States’ recovery from its current job slump will be greatly slowed because as the world economy improves for business the potential employers are exporting as much of their work as possible to foreign countries. That allows them to make their products cheaper and thus remain competitive with the current market. If they didn’t keep their products competitively priced they couldn’t be sold, and the company would soon go out of business while their products remained on the shelves and the workers would lose their jobs anyway. If someone else can do your job better and cheaper than you can, then the unpleasant reality is that you’d better find a new way to make money.
As American jobs go abroad, the lives of those other workers will be improved and eventually the wages and all other benefits of foreigners will be the same as Americans and vice versa. Americans presently comprise about 0.3 billion of the 6.9 billion people on Earth, so there are about twenty-three foreign workers available for every American job. Shipping costs are negligible for small items like iPhones manufactured in China by workers making $295 per month, and those cool items are here, in our stores, within a few days of final assembly. They can easily be flown here from the assembly lines over there. Some products, like those that can be shipped electronically, are instantaneous and virtually free to ship from distant lands, typically India, to here. — My parents told me, “Finish your dinner. People in China and India are starving.” I tell my daughters, “Finish your homework. People in India and China are starving for your job.” ~Thomas L. Friedman
So, an American worker might ask, how am I going to make a living? The simple answer is from the economic inertia that our still freshly exploited continent is providing to us. We simply haven’t filled up the land to equalize the population pressure existing in the outside world. That of course is rapidly changing as foreigners pour into America in search of a better life because of our still existing job vacuum. If someone doing a job for $300 a month in China can somehow get to America and do the same work, under better working conditions and make $3,000, it would seem reasonable for him to do everything possible to make the move.
American workers, on the other hand, would be crazy to go to China and do their same work for one tenth the pay. I use China only as an example, but there are many other countries where the disparity is even greater. Anyone living in Port-au-Prince, Haiti , after the earthquake, who had a remote chance of moving to the US should take it, because their life would be improved in every possible way.
On the other hand, American workers feel threatened by these foreign workers, both when abroad and when they are standing in the employment line. But I submit they shouldn’t be worried, they should be terrified. Why so extreme, you might ask? It’s simply because, if they are young, say twenty years old, and are dependent on their job to feed themselves and provide for their future family for the rest of their career, it means forty-five years of downward mobility. At the end of their working career they may be expecting a daily wage approaching the lowest paid worker anywhere in the world. Furthermore, as the world population expands and the resources upon which that population depends get depleted, the daily wage for the lowest paid workers will be well below today’s poverty line, perhaps even below the survival line. If that isn’t terrifying it’s only because the current American workers haven’t observed or imagined absolute poverty.
The best thing an American worker could do now is to buy a small, cheap house, which he can pay for as quickly as possible, so he has zero debts in ten years, and then lay up a surplus while there is still some opportunity to do so. He won’t be able to survive on Social Security, because even though the institution may survive, it won’t pay for rent and food by his projected retirement time. The present perks of the good life, like iPhones and HDTV, will get better and relatively cheaper, but the essentials like food and housing will get much more expensive, and driving an averaged sized current car from the suburbs to work will become impossibly expensive.
A word to the wise is sufficient, but fools need to be hit with a stick.
[Update from Yahoo! news: Future jobs won’t support decent living standard:]