In the mirror

Among Dylan’s many memorable lines is “you don’t need the weatherman to tell you which way the wind is blow-in”.

Even without the weatherman, we can feel that things are at a boiling point.

Like in the movie “the Network”, people start to open their windows and bell out “I am mad like Hell, and I won’t take it anymore”.

Except this time, instead of opening their windows, they opened Windows and Adbuster, which called for Occupy Wall Street (and McToilet on Wall Street).

A leaderless protest against figure-less forces that have worked against them e.g. commoditization, globalization, or automation.

Their 60’s counterparts wanted to rage against the status quo.

Conversely, “occupiers of Wall Street” just want to have an occupation that pays a little more than “nickel-and-dime”.

The wind is blowin but not in their favor (Andy Rooney has just retired leaving one vacancy for roughly 2 Billion people who recently joined the rank of the Middle Class).

Instead of “Hell No, We won’t go”, they are now yelling “Hell No, PLace To Go”.

India? China? Brazil?

To land a job in  BRIC‘s countries, one needs a crash course in language and culture.

(I resent the author of a recent Economist’s article, ridiculing “poor English” in Vietnam. Cheap shot at best, and colonialistic at worst.

Go ahead and try to learn Mandarin).

Employers look for those with soft-skills that couldn’t be outsourced such as critical thinking, communicative and collaborative skill set across the cultures, but also to pay them at blue collar wages (high skill/low cost) since employers themselves are caught in a competitive race to the bottom due to outsourcing, offshoring and now re-shoring. Damn if you do, damn if you don’t.

Currently a jobs bill which runs at $200,000 per job is on the table.

Foreign students said “No thanks” (even when their HB1 visas were extended) and went home after graduation (BlueSeed is trying to dock a ship out in Seattle Waters to go around this rule).

At first, I thought it was because of the wives (who couldn’t find spices in groceries stores) who pressured their expat husbands to return (let’s stay to India and Singapore) – Japanese executives wouldn’t choose to work here in the US for fear of derailing their career tracks – But, I found it’s more of a pull than push force that they chose not to stay around (follow the money i.e. emerging domestic markets).

In “It used to be us”, the author of “The World is Flat” himself is baffled by his own themes (globalization and IT revolution).

Now, even call centers got automated (outsourcing next level, to automation), so high-value representatives can proactively chat with callers.

We are all caught off- guard: a job loss here, a dead-end career there.

Before we know it, we blame it on Wall Street (partly true, but not the whole picture – the same way India’s service industries and China’s manufacturing industries got the blame for our Lost Decade, or the Japanese lean -semiconductor- manufacturing in the 80’s or the Vietnam War for taking the Johnson’s administration’s eyes of the-Great Society).

But the story is more complicated than that. The solution seems to be multi-pronged because the problem is multi-faced.

Jack Ellul already touched on the idolization of “technique” back in the 60’s. Now, techno-fundamentalism is pervasive in every faced of life (what could be digitized, must be digitized – Larry Page was quoted to say : “let’s have a million engineers” to outrank or outPagerank Microsoft’s 25,000 strong army), forcing “human” to reflect and re-think about what it is that makes them marketable (the human touch, emotional intelligence etc….) in the 21st century.

No wonder we feel short-changed (too many of us chasing too few opportunities at the bottom – even high-paying construction jobs are no longer there on this side of the housing bubble). At the top, one will take a CEO job, like at HP, but for only $1.00.

It reminds me of Newsweek which was acquired also for $1.00).

This Halloween we will be in default costumes, that of homeless men and jobless women (carrying huge luggage, or brief case).

It’s time to revisit Native Americans on the occasion of Columbus Day (to press restart).

It’s time to reinvent  the American Dream. We don’t have to look too far, since the cause and the cure for today’s malaise and misery are right there, in the mirror.

I hope they keep the mirror squeaky-clean there at the McDonald on Wall Street for our protestors’ comfort and convenience.


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