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Always Less For The Workers – Always

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Is innovation not considered competitive? Apparently the World Economic Forum (WEF) — a group consisting of 11,000 business leaders in 125 countries — doesn't think so.

In the 27th annual WEF survey of international business competitiveness, the United States fell out of first place, landing in sixth place behind Switzerland, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Singapore.

At least the business followers of Bush managed to stay in the Top Ten, surpassing Japan, Germany, Netherlands, and Britain.

What was it that cost the U.S. the lead? To keep it simple, it was the fiscal irresponsibility of the Bush Administration. The WEF doesn't like high American budget and trade deficits, the 'disappointing' response to Hurricane Katrina, government corruption, and a decreasing talent pool for employment due to immigration restrictions.

How's that again? "A decreasing talent pool due to immigration restrictions"?

Do excuse me if I am not amused by this assessment.

America has traditionally been the nation of innovation, creating a great number of the technologies the world takes for granted today. Sticking to just some of those invented in the Twentieth Century, Americans created airplanes, television, the transistor, integrated circuits, the atomic bomb, lasers, rockets, and the Internet.

In addition, American technology made it possible for humans to reach the moon, walk about on it, and return safely — much of which was televised live back to the Earth for all to see.

And yet, because American workers haven't been economically-debased enough, America is less competitive than five other nations?

Maybe America should be noticing that #1 Switzerland's Swiss Reinsurance Co. is terminating about 2,000 of their employees worldwide after their purchase of General Electric Co.'s GE Insurance Solutions. They feel that out of a combined work force of 11,500, there have to be redundancies that can be trimmed from the staff. Based on initial estimates, only about 21% of the cuts will occur in Switzerland. The remainder of the job cuts are:

* 35 percent in the Americas
* 34 percent in Europe (excluding Switzerland)

* 10 percent in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.

These job cuts are expected to save Swiss Re at least $300 million — or an amount averaging $150,000 per terminated employee.

Damn, they pay well!

But don't expect to hire in there, or with any other foreign-based employer any time soon. They are 'separating' American workers just about as fast as our domestic employers.

Americans working for foreign firms increased 43.1% during the Clinton years of 1994 to 2000, reaching a peak of 5.66 million workers. But since Clinton left office and Bush took over, the number of Americans employed by foreign companies dropped each year until 2004 (the latest available figures) to 5.12 million, a 9.6% decline.

Worse yet, these lost jobs paid better than equivalent American jobs (imagine that!). In 2004 — again, the latest available figures — these jobs paid an average of $63,428. American companies paid one-third less on average, or about $42,287.

Could it be that one of America's larger employers helped bring down American competitiveness?

Wal-Mart — one of the more stingy domestic employers — just recently increased the insurance premiums for the 47% of their employees who actually get medical coverage. It's part of a new program designed to make their shoddy coverage 'more affordable'. Existing plans, which cost more and offer better (if still inadequate) coverage, are no longer available to new hires. The other 53% remain uncovered by any medical insurance.

The coverage itself is a joke, with spousal coverage premiums alone as high as $75/bi-weekly, which would be a huge bite out of a full-time minimum-wage pre-tax bi-weekly salary of $412. Few Wal-Mart employees will be able to afford that!

About the only recourse for American workers is to have no life other than that spent working. Remember the single mom in Nebraska with a mentally-challenged son and two daughters who worked three jobs? George Bush feels that 'fantastic' situation is 'uniquely American', and based on the progress of his economic policies, it is the future most of us in the American work force can expect.

Hey, maybe Home Depot still has room left in their parking lots for more day laborers! I can sleep after my graveyard shift stocking Wal-Mart's shelves until someone comes along to hire me, or until it's time for me to report to Taco Bell! Then I can eat before I report to McDonald's for my shift there. Luckily, Starbuck's is just across the mall parking lot, so I shouldn't be too late for my shift there.

I'll call home before I go back to Wal-Mart tonight just to let my family know I haven't died — yet.

Competitiveness? I got your competitiveness — right here!

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About pessimist

  • There are a couple of strange misconceptions in your article. Let me help you out.

    a decreasing talent pool for employment due to immigration restrictions.

    How’s that again? “A decreasing talent pool due to immigration restrictions”?

    It’s not clear that you understand that this refers to our restrictions on immigration from relatively advanced countries – like those in the EU and east asia, which keep educated and relatively highly paid workers out of the country based on quotas. There’s no connection to our illegal immigration issues.

    Then there’s this:

    The coverage itself is a joke, with spousal coverage premiums alone as high as $75/bi-weekly – which would be a huge bite out of a full-time minimum-wage pre-tax bi-weekly salary of $412. Few Wal-Mart employees will be able to afford that!

    First off, no job at WalMart starts at minimum wage. Depending on where you are their full-time positions start at between $7 and $9. And as for that $150 a month spousal insurance premium, that’s considerably less than I pay for spousal insurance. Sounds like it might be a good deal.


  • Nancy

    One thing I’ve noticed is whenever there’s a re-organization to shake out the redundencies, so to speak, NO ONE at the TOP ever gets ‘shaken out’. The hogs with their snouts in the corporate trough never get the axe – just the small fry that actually do the work & bring in the bacon for the corporations. No wonder American corporations are constantly having to retrench. They’d do a helluva lot better if they’d start axing the executives & management – especially at the top – where all the big bucks are spent. Get rid of one CEO, and you can afford to keep 1,000 or more workers who actually produce something for the company instead of draining it thru golden parachutes, stock options, and excessive recompense.