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The Coming Class Wars

The forces dividing us are overwhelming those that unite us
Friday, February 10, 2017, 8:15 PM

In the modern era, the phrase Class War is rooted in the socialist/Marxist concept that the conflict between labor (the working class) and capital (owners of capital) is not just inevitable—it’s the fulcrum of history.  In this view, this Class War is the inevitable result of the asymmetry between the elite who own/control the capital and the much larger class of people whose livelihood is earned solely by their labor.

In Marx’s analysis, the inner dynamics of capitalism inevitably lead to the concentration of capital in monopolies/cartels whose great wealth enables them to influence the government to serve the interests of capital. Subservient to capital, the laboring class must overthrow this unholy partnership of capital and the state to become politically free via ownership of the means of production, i.e. productive assets.

This Class War did not unfold as Marx anticipated. The laboring class gained sufficient political power in the early 20th century to win the fundamentals of economic security: universal public education, labor laws that prohibited outright exploitation, the right to unionize, and publicly funded pensions.

(The alternative explanation for this wave of progressive policies is that prescient leaders of the capital/state class ushered in these reforms as the only alternative to the dissolution of the status quo.  Labor reforms began in Germany and Great Britain in the late 19th century Gilded Age, and another wave of reforms were enacted in the decade-long crisis of capitalism in the Great Depression.)

Though the conventional view is that this failure of capitalism to devolve as expected proves Marx’s analysis is without merit, it can also be argued that the state-capital partnership was far more flexible than early Marxists anticipated: sharing enough of the wealth generated in the industrial revolution with the laboring class to enable a stable, productive middle class benefited the state-capital class by creating a new strata of consumers (of goods, services and credit) who greatly enriched industrial and financial capitalists and the state, which could raise unprecedented sums in payroll and income taxes.

Basking in the luxury of hindsight, it’s easy for us in the present day to forget the often-violent struggles between labor and capital that characterized the early 20th century: anarchists bombed Wall Street, and the Powers That Be sent in armed forces to suppress efforts to unionize entire swaths of industrial workers.

While the middle class of professionals, small business owners, traders and entrepreneurs can be traced back to the birth of modern capitalism in the 15th century, the emergence of a mass middle class of tens of millions of wage-earners with the purchasing and borrowing power created by stable employment was a unique feature of 20th century capitalism.

In effect, the middle class was the Grand Truce in the class war: the state’s imposition of regulations and a social safety net on unfettered capital resolved labor and capital’s primary conflict by sharing the output of capitalism’s bounty.

Many assets had to be put in place to enable this vast distribution of wealth to tens of millions of laborers: a cheap, abundant source of energy (fossil fuels—coal, oil and natural gas), an efficient, accessible transportation network, a financial system that could extend credit to millions of households, and a government with the tax revenues and resources to fund public works that were too risky or out of reach for private-sector capital.

In the latter third of the 20th century, the permanence of this version of state-capitalism was unquestioned: laborers would always be able to enter the middle class, and opportunities for advancement would always be open to those with middle class access to education and credit.

There was no compelling reason to believe this consensus was about to fray and potentially dissolve, and no reason to think that rather than being a permanent feature of advanced capitalism, the middle class was a one-off based on cheap energy, surging productivity and the boost-phase of credit expansion.

But now income and wealth inequality are rising sharply, and capital is pulling far ahead of labor, which is creating a vast and quickly-widening divide between the classes.

Class Warfare: It’s More Than Just Income

Fast-forward to today, and an unexpected series of class wars are emerging as this longstanding social contract frays: social mobility has declined, fostering a divide between the traditional working class (also known as the lower-middle class) which finds itself increasingly exposed to the corrosive winds of globalization and neoliberal policies, and the upper-middle class of highly educated professionals and technocrats who have benefited from these policies, securing protected employment in higher education, government and Corporate America.

Commentator Peggy Noonan’s influential essay described America’s nascent class war as pitting the protected class—those with secure pay and benefits —against the unprotected class of those with insecure employment and benefits.

In other words, the divisive economic issue is not simply the quantity of each class’s income and wealth, but the quality of their respective economic security. 

For example, if an unprotected household earns $80,000 in wages and $30,000 in benefits in a good year of full employment in benefits-rich jobs, and $30,000 in wages and no benefits in the following not-so-good year of zero-benefits part-time work, their average total earnings are $70,000 per year—a very respectable middle class income.

But compare the difficulties posed by losing healthcare benefits and getting by on a $50,000 decline in wages vs the secure $70,000 earned year-after-year-after-year by a protected household.

Consider the anxieties burdening the insecure household of two workers who cannot count on having benefits and full-time employment, who see their savings or retirement accounts built up in good years drained in bad years. Houses bought in good years are forced into foreclosure in bad years.

To take another example: compare the security of a tenured professor in higher education with the insecure zero-benefits earnings of an “adjunct professor” whose annual teaching contract is subject to cancelation or modification every year of his/her career.

Not only is the adjunct paid about half the salary of the tenured professor, when the adjunct nears retirement age, he/she has no pension other than Social Security, while the tenured professor has an ample retirement package of pension and healthcare coverage. Both taught the same courses, but one faces a sunset of poverty or the need to keep working far past the conventional retirement age of 65, while the other can retire comfortably and continue teaching or doing research for satisfaction rather than financial necessity.

Class Warfare: Economic and Cultural

This widening gap between the Protected and the Unprotected is not just economic; it's also cultural.

The Mobile Cosmopolitans who secure protected positions have little exposure to the challenges of the unprotected, whom they typically interact with only as an employer giving instructions to maids, nannies, dog-walkers, waiters, etc.  Sociologist Charles Murray described this widening cultural gap in his 2012 book Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960–2010

Murray made the case that America’s cultural elite—the mobile, highly educated and largely urban upper middle class, i.e. the protected class—is a reservoir of the traditional values (marriage, attending church, setting goals, etc.) that are fading in working-class unprotected America.

Murray posited that various behaviors and associations characterize each class. The working class, for example, volunteers to serve in the U.S. military, while the elites are in civilian positions of power (for example, those who order the working-class volunteers into America’s permanent wars.) The working class attend NASCAR races, the elite class pursues cultural enrichment, and so on.

While many commentators view Murray’s conclusions as overly negative, the recent presidential election has heightened the cultural divide he described between Hillary Clinton’s “deplorables” (who President Obama chided for their attachment to “guns and Jesus”) and the self-described (and oh so morally superior) “progressives.”

(The word is in parentheses because I have suggested that these self-anointed “betters” are at best fake-progressives, as they support exploitive neoliberal policies that are anything but progressive.)

It’s painfully obvious that the economic division between protected and unprotected overlays all too well on Murray’s cultural divisions.

The upper-middle “progressive” class has the sort of social/financial mobility and security—both higher quantities of income and wealth and higher qualities of security--that are out of reach of most of the country's much larger number of unprotected households.

All the advantages that accrue to the upper-middle class—social mobility, access to higher education minus the crushing burdens of student loan debt, family and social connections that lead to lucrative careers, parents who can afford to give their offspring cars and down payments for homes—are accretive: each reinforces the others.

The intensity of life’s challenges is considerably different for each class. With higher income and greater security (such as having stable healthcare insurance), the protected class can afford to take better care of themselves; they have multiple layers of financial cushions against life’s inevitable difficulties such as layoffs, illnesses that require sick leave/costly procedures, auto accidents, etc.

For the protected elites, the intensity of these challenges is lessened by financial and social resources. Social connections lead to new employment in the same profession, gold-plated healthcare insurance covers most of the costs of illness, and ample auto insurance replaces the wrecked vehicle with minimum disruption.

Meanwhile, to the unprotected household, each of these difficulties is potentially devastating: a secure job may never be replaced, an illness may lead to bankruptcy, and the loss of a reliable vehicle may cripple the household’s ability to get to work and earn the money needed to buy another car.

The social contract of the 20th century established state-funded safety nets for those who experience layoffs and medical emergencies. But these programs were by and large designed to provide temporary aid to those who were “getting back on their feet.”

As the foundations of middle class mobility and security erode, these programs are now morphing into permanent, lifelong welfare systems. This is creating new social stresses and divisions.

The Pitchforks Are Being Sharpened

But this protected vs. unprotected isn't the only Class War that’s brewing.

In Part 2: The Class War Playbook we show why the shrinking resource pie—of cheap energy, of cheap debt, of labors’ share of the economy, of the low-hanging fruit of globalization—will soon cleave any mass movement into competing classes.

Our complex, interdependent civil society will spawn equally complex and interdependent class conflicts as a result. In short: there won’t be one class war, there will be many, raging across social, political and economic battlefields.

Understanding how these many wars will be waged is critical to surviving them intact.

Click here to read Part 2 of this report (free executive summary, enrollment required for full access)

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22 Comments

Michael_Rudmin's picture
Michael_Rudmin
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One aspect of class warfare

... is in dehumanizing others. When people say "forty five" as a method from "womens' march" organizers of applying pressure, I call it for what it is: dehumanizing.

Therefore, I insist that if they want to criticise Donald J. Trump -- and I do too -- that they should say his name.

This reminds me of the stories of how the Jews were named at subhuman by the Nazis; the mixed-nationality yugoslavian children were declared an abomination to be made into soap by the Bosnian leader (and similar things done by Serbs and croats); and how the Hutus were on the air naming Tutsis as cockroaches that needed to be exterminated.

I say no -- call it out, name it for what it is.

You know, in some cases the criticism continues, using his name. That's a good sign. In some cases, the people go silent around me. That's a sign that although they were acting friendly, in fact they were in their hearts planning evil.

AKGrannyWGrit's picture
AKGrannyWGrit
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Let's Noodle

Subservient to capital, the laboring class must overthrow this unholy partnership of capital and the state to become politically free via ownership of the means of production, i.e. productive assets

I whole heartedly agree with this sentence within the context of this article.  However, as I read this sentence my thought was "what productive assets" there are so few made in America products these days.  Rather I think the ownership of the "means if production", at least today, is our cognitive map.  Consider for a moment by controlling what a society thinks the means of production is controlled.  From cartoons, preschool, grade school, high school, collage, movies, games and the evening news we are told what to think. Opinion pieces are sold as "news" and alternative sites are spun as "fake news".  Control the cognitive map of a population and it's easier to control them and any minuscule assets that might be produced.

Just "noodling" on that sentence (love that term Chris how fun).

AKGrannyWGrit

Hotrod's picture
Hotrod
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Capital

Possibly the worst aspect of free trade is the free flow of capital, not goods, internationally.  That allows the pillaging of natural resources everywhere, with little or no environmental safe-guards in place and, more than likely, little compensation to the local populace. It also allows the labor segment to be bludgeoned by wage arbitrage. Capital can be a tool, but can also be a weapon.  Marx has been continually vilified, but he wasn't all wrong. 

sand_puppy's picture
sand_puppy
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Big Money Loves Illegal Immigrants

I watched the illegal immigrant debate rage in California over the last couple of decades.  Publicly most take the position that illegal immigration must be stopped.  But somehow legislation with teeth just never seems to actually happen.

The Big Money ("Capital") farm owner depend on tens of thousands of illegal immigrants to pick the lettuce.  They work for low wages, don't require social security taxes or workman's comp payments, and cannot  complain to any authorities about anything, as they are illegal.  No health insurance, no retirement program.  Very cheap uncomplaining laborers.

The entire nation "benefits" from these underpaid illegal immigrants and the price of lettuce nationally reflects this low wage work force.

The Mexican field workers send money home to their families, so it works for them and supports Mexico.

newsbuoy's picture
newsbuoy
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"That Was Zen, This is Dow"

newsbuoy's picture
newsbuoy
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Illegal Immigrant, Euphemism

That is so, "politically correct"

11pascal11's picture
11pascal11
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illegal immigration

multicultural diversity will solve the problem...it is simple.

davefairtex's picture
davefairtex
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WS on H1-B visas

Saw this piece referenced elsewhere. 

http://wolfstreet.com/2017/02/06/corporate-america-opposes-trump-h-1b-visa-reform/

H1-B visas are a way for tech companies to import cheaper tech workers from India.  In the old days the visa applicants were probably individuals, but now there are entire companies in India that specialize in sending H1-B visa workers to the US.

Who wins?  I'm glad you asked.

Not US tech workers, whose wages are depressed by the contract-newcomers.

Capital wins, of course.  Corporate profits increase, because labor costs decrease.

I'm not for "redistributive Marxism" or for workers seizing capital, or anything silly like that.  I'd just like the structure of our current system to be more fair.  Its far too easy - by design - for capital to float around the world looking for the cheapest labor cost.  And for those jobs that simply can't be offshored (oh, the horror), then the companies pass laws to make it so that cheaper workers can be imported from elsewhere in order to hammer down labor costs locally.

Either your job gets off-shored (and you lose), or a foreign worker is explicitly brought in by a foreign contracting company to replace you at a lower salary (and you lose).

The whole business is just designed to work this way.  Capital wins, labor loses, and corporate profits go up - along with executive salaries and shareholder ROI.  That's what the companies get from all those campaign contributions.

And the fun part, of course, is that you're called racist if you think this is a bad idea.  And that, too, is by design.

charleshughsmith's picture
charleshughsmith
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means of production = social and human capital

As is often discussed here, capital comes in many forms, and Peter Drucker reckoned the means of production in today's economy is largely knowledge. (We all need energy of course... but that is a remarkably modest share of the economy at present). So for labor to "own" the means of production means having the skills and tools needed to generate high-value goods/services via self-employment. 

Part of the suppression of competition mentioned earlier is the barriers to self-employment keep getting higher--more regulations to follow, steeper penalties for those who don't comply with the regs, higher junk fees, unnecessary licenses (for nail salons, etc.), more complex taxes,and so on.

Despite this, self-employment is still possible, though our educational system teaches essentially nothing about entrepreneurial values, skills, mindsets, etc. Still,we can learn all this on our own, and become far less reliant on Corporate Overlords and the state that protects them.

charleshughsmith's picture
charleshughsmith
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means of production = social and human capital

As is often discussed here, capital comes in many forms, and Peter Drucker reckoned the means of production in today's economy is largely knowledge. (We all need energy of course... but that is a remarkably modest share of the economy at present). So for labor to "own" the means of production means having the skills and tools needed to generate high-value goods/services via self-employment. 

Part of the suppression of competition mentioned earlier is the barriers to self-employment keep getting higher--more regulations to follow, steeper penalties for those who don't comply with the regs, higher junk fees, unnecessary licenses (for nail salons, etc.), more complex taxes,and so on.

Despite this, self-employment is still possible, though our educational system teaches essentially nothing about entrepreneurial values, skills, mindsets, etc. Still,we can learn all this on our own, and become far less reliant on Corporate Overlords and the state that protects them.

Mark Cochrane's picture
Mark Cochrane
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A bit off the mark

Charles,

I think that you miss-characterize the tension between 'upper' and 'lower' middle class since people usually think in terms of being middle class or not, not where in that structure they lie. That distinction is the purview of economists and academics. Regardless, there is no 'protected' class in the middle class, there are only those who have fallen down the rabbit hole and those who are slipping ever closer to it.  Everyone below some of the upper echelons (1%?, 0.1%?) is dealing with increasing financial stress as expenses go up and up while uncompensated inflation erodes the relative purchasing power of incomes. So it is not a question of arriving at some magical 'protected' level, there is only the question of who is next to fall out of financial security. This can happen faster than you might think even for those in the proverbial 'upper' middle class. The American way is to generally live at the highest level possible so if you make more you buy a bigger house, a more expensive car etc. Therefore, if you lose your job, even if you have a little nest egg hidden away (most don't) you will burn through it very fast and fall off the proverbial financial cliff in a hurry. Also, by definition, those jobs at the higher levels are fewer and further between. Getting another one isn't necessarily easy and could likely require moving to another city/state. Nobody is the 'lower' middle class is going to cry for them though.

Also, I don't know where you get your information on how higher education works. Being adjunct often doesn't mean you get paid at all. You just get to have your name attached to a university so that you can potentially teach or do some research without their having to give you benefits. If you do get paid for 'teaching the same classes' that isn't at all comparable to the job of 'tenured' faculty. Tenured faculty get to teach, they then also need to advise students, they are also increasingly expected to bring in more and more research dollars to the university, plus they are supposed to do 'service' for the university (endless committees), profession (endless editing and reviewing), and local/national/international (broad spectrum time sinks). On 'average' the tenured professors work 52 hours a week. Support is continually whittled away while expectations for production are ever increasing, and just like everyone else the benefits get worse and cost more year after year. I won't bore you with the hurdles to getting academic tenure but even that little plum of supposed continued employment until retirement can be undone as needed by redefining your position or department out of existence. In principle, tenure, like pensions, sounds great but in practice all of those supposed guarantees are just smoke and mirrors when the money runs out. Full disclosure, I am a 'tenured' professor.

Sorry to be carping at you here as I generally enjoy your writing.

For those interested:

The Truth About Tenure in Higher Education

MYTH:

Tenure is a lifetime job guarantee.

REALITY:

Tenure is simply a right to due process; it means that a college or university cannot fire a tenured professor without presenting evidence that the professor is incompetent or behaves unprofessionally or that an academic department needs to be closed or the school is in serious financial difficulty. Nationally, about 2 percent of tenured faculty are dismissed in a typical year.

If it is difficult --- purposely difficult --- to fire a tenured professor, it's also very hard to become one. The probationary period averages three years for community colleges and seven years at four-year colleges. This is a period of employment insecurity almost unique among U.S. professions. People denied tenure at the end of this time lose their jobs; tenure is an "up-or-out" process.

During the probationary period, almost all colleges can choose not to renew faculty contracts and terminate faculty without any reason or cause. Throughout this time, senior professors and administrators evaluate the work of new faculty-teaching, research and service before deciding whether or not to recommend tenure. The most recent survey of American faculty shows that, in a typical year, about one in five probationary faculty members was denied tenure and lost his or her job.

Faculty members remain accountable after achieving tenure. Tenured faculty at most colleges and universities are evaluated periodically-among other things, for promotion, salary increases and, in some cases, merit increases. Grant applications and articles for publication are routinely reviewed on their merit by peers in the field. If basic academic tenets and due process rights are observed, this kind of accountability is wholly appropriate. A finding of incompetence or unprofessional conduct can still result in firing.

treebeard's picture
treebeard
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Class War

Perhaps the class war was temporarily masked by a "successful" war on natural resources which is currently presenting diminishing returns.  Tenant farmers were no longer required to haul sacks of grain up a flight of stairs to present to their "lord" in his chamber, who would give them back just enough to keep from starving in the winter.  There was a world of industrial production powered by fossil fuels to make up the difference.

Greenspan did talk about increased worker insecurities vital role in maintaining a cap on inflation and maintaining an expanding economy, while out of the other side of the mouth talked about debt conscious workers spending less money.  As the EROEI drops like a stone, the old game comes to light again. I agree, open boarders main purpose is the suppression of wages, which has been painted with political correctness as a cover (which the now nonexistent "left" has bought hook, line and sinker).

Regulation, spun as an enemy of the economically minded, is a multinational war against the small business, pitched as lefty protections on the environment and the working poor.  How things have advanced since the early days of the Creel Committee. Totalitarian states control with the gun and the boot, "democracies" with propaganda.

The divide and conquer games of the empire are finally coming home.  Religious lines don't work here particularly well, we are in the whole a non-religious nation (with one prominent exception, which is being exploited in spades).  And of course the race card always works well, but not as well as in the past.  But it seems the meaningless red and blue meme is being exploited in the full.  Hopefully we will be able to transform this.  The reality is we are a purple nation.

LesPhelps's picture
LesPhelps
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sand_puppy wrote:I watched

sand_puppy wrote:

I watched the illegal immigrant debate rage in California over the last couple of decades.  Publicly most take the position that illegal immigration must be stopped.  But somehow legislation with teeth just never seems to actually happen.

The Big Money ("Capital") farm owner depend on tens of thousands of illegal immigrants to pick the lettuce.  They work for low wages, don't require social security taxes or workman's comp payments, and cannot  complain to any authorities about anything, as they are illegal.  No health insurance, no retirement program.  Very cheap uncomplaining laborers.

The entire nation "benefits" from these underpaid illegal immigrants and the price of lettuce nationally reflects this low wage work force.

The Mexican field workers send money home to their families, so it works for them and supports Mexico.

l will readily concede, that there are some benign illegal immigrants, in the US.  But, not all 12+ million illegals, in the US, are as you describe.  Some are simply not benign.

But I can't easily get past illegal.  It would never occur to me to try to enter Mexico, or Canada illegally.  If there, it would never occur to me that they did not have a right to export me.  Nor would I be comfortable voting in their elections.

TechGuy's picture
TechGuy
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DaveFairTex Wrote: {The

DaveFairTex Wrote:
{The whole business is just designed to work this way. Capital wins, labor loses, and corporate profits go up - along with executive salaries and shareholder ROI. That's what the companies get from all those campaign contributions."

I suspect that even the ofshored labor is going to get shafted as companies shift to automation and cloud based services. Fewer workers will be needed. The only way to keep on top of it is to be apart of the automation/cloud movement (ie Automation Tech Engineer), or go into management (managing automation/cloud services). Over the next 10 years I would guess 1/3 of all US jobs will be replaced by automation. 

There is something to be said about the trend of automation, since the West facing a demographics cliff, especially when it comes to skilled workers. There is going to be a experienced Tech/skilled labor shortage as boomers retire and there is too few Gen-Xer to fill the gap. Unfortuanatly the Millenials simply don't have the interest in Tech Jobs that require long work days. 

"H1-B visas are a way for tech companies to import cheaper tech workers from India."

The issue is with H1-B workers is that they never stick around. They only stay as long as they are learning something useful. Once they obtain a new skill they jump ship for a better job. This is causing a major headache for companies, since it can take 3 to 6 months before a tech worker begins to pay-off since it takes time for new workers to learn system configurations and company procedures. 

One of my major clients has replaced most its IT staff with H1-B workers. They are terrible and causing productivity loss because of high turnover rates and are only able to do simple tasks. Because of this, the company now turns to dometic consultants to implement new projects and system upgrades. I am not sure if there is any long term savings because the consultants can cost 3 to 4 times more than salary workers and the high turn-over rate requires constant re-training of new workers. 

That said, I think a lot of US companies are in trouble. They been borrowing trillions to fund stock buybacks, and sales of goods & services is completely dependent of consumers have access to cheap credit. 

thc0655's picture
thc0655
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I have an idea...

redcloud's picture
redcloud
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H1-B Visas

I work in the tech industry in the Bay area.  I'd say about 2/3 of the team I work on are foreign nationals, some contractors and some permanent employees.  Over the six years I've been there this has increased from about 1/2.

Hiring contractors is usually done through agencies.  Based on the nationality of the vast majority of the contractors that come through I'd say the agencies have a direct pipeline from India.  The contractors are a clear win for the company: don't have to pay health insurance, vacations, and other benefits; don't have to deal with W-2 and other paperwork; easy to let go of if they don't work out; and probably a much lower cost than permanent workers, especially if they come from a 3rd world country. 

The permanent employees, I believe, make salaries pretty close to the native born.  I say this because the company is required to post the details of any position it is recruiting for on a bulletin board in a common area.  I read these and the salaries are pretty much in line with what I would expect for the positions described.  But even these workers represent an advantage for the company since they tend to be younger (thus less health insurance costs).

The other advantage of H1-B especially, and foreign workers in general, is that they are less likely to rock the boat.  I see this all the time.  In meetings they hardly ever ask hard questions.  They don't complain about bad coding practices and standards, mismanagement, overwork, idiotic directions from management (read Dilbert).  I.e. they're more compliant, and a lot of managers like that.  I'd add less likely to negotiate hard for a salary increase, but my company is structured so that there is literally no negotiation possible.  It's a formula based on the company's and division's performance.  But this is probably a factor in other companies.

I suppose part of the reason for these behaviors is that they don't want to lose their job.  But another part is cultural - more respect for and compliance with authority, even if it makes no sense, aversion to risk (understandable if the downside of risk is pretty bad), inexperience with a less rigid organizational structure.

It's hard to know what to do about this issue.  It's similar to the outsourcing of manufacturing.  We can stop it, or limit it, but then we as individuals need to be prepared to pay a lot more for the products we buy.  The same with tech workers.  They create the software and hardware.  Those development costs go against the bottom lines of the tech companies that make your cell phones, TVs, computers, toasters, etc., etc., etc.

The article Dave references is very good, especially the comments.

darcieg76's picture
darcieg76
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I'm not sure that we

I'm not sure that we can assume our life circumstances are similar enough to those of people who come here illegally to also assume that, just because *we* can't imagine illegally immigrating to another country, that others don't have valid reasons.

As far as voting in our elections, my main source for information about whether substantial voter fraud exists is Brad Freidman, whom Chris interviewed a while back about the necessity of hand-counting paper ballots. I know he's been focused on this issue for years, so I'm inclined to trust him. He maintains that there is no real voter fraud to speak of and that election fraud, made possible by exploitable voting and/or counting software, is the real problem. Do others here have information they believe is credible to suggest otherwise?

Thanks.

Snydeman's picture
Snydeman
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darcieg76 wrote: I'm not sure

darcieg76 wrote:

I'm not sure that we can assume our life circumstances are similar enough to those of people who come here illegally to also assume that, just because *we* can't imagine illegally immigrating to another country, that others don't have valid reasons.

It is this basic inability on the part of many, many people to imagine that other people's circumstances, motivations, and/or choices could possibly be different from their own that is at the heart of our problem in this nation. Empathy, the ability to look outside oneself and grant that other individuals see things differently, the wisdom to know that the things that make up my life and my experiences aren't universal...these are crucial to any community. Sadly, they are lacking at the highest levels on down. 

That meme shows a white, middle-class family that is well-fed and presumably happy, which is the antithesis of the kinds of people who would leave their home nation and home communities and risk everything on a trek to another nation.

Wisdom and intellect, people. We need both. 

Snydeman's picture
Snydeman
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thc0655 wrote:Yeah. That's

thc0655 wrote:

Yeah. That's totally what Syrian or Latino immigrants look like, and absolutely encompasses their motivations for coming here.

/shakes head

I sympathize with the idea of controlling illegal immigration, but these kinds of stereotypes and falsehoods get us nowhere.

Quercus bicolor's picture
Quercus bicolor
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 19 2008
Posts: 416
yes, not helpful or funny

A little context:

The image we see is of a middle class American white family that has benefited from fact that the global economy of recent decades has funneled huge amounts of labor, raw materials and capacity to absorb pollution/environmental damage from other parts of the world to the United States.

The people coming here from other countries have paid the price of us living so large in low wages, degraded environments and depleted resources for which they have received only a small portion of the benefits. 

Then there's the violence we have exported to keep this whole game going.

In their view, coming to the U.S. to get a piece of the action for which they've paid the price is very attractive.

Sure, we can ignore the source of much of the wealth and look at it as a simple attempt to keep what is rightfully ours.  But this is essentially ignoring our national shadow.  Ignoring the shadow comes at a huge price.

I'm not saying just let them all in. I am saying that in coming to a decision about a good course of action we must not ignore our shadow.

thc0655's picture
thc0655
Status: Diamond Member (Online)
Joined: Apr 27 2010
Posts: 1286
Looks like that poster struck some nerves

Snydeman, it seems to me you're accusing me and the anonymous author of the satirical poster I posted of promoting stereotypes and falsehoods:

these kinds of stereotypes and falsehoods get us nowhere.

An exercise in hypothetical lifeboat ethics sure is a lot more civil than being in a real lifeboat with actual shrinking resources and real suffering and death like we are all now in.  I attempted to inject some humor, and therefore some release of tension, with the poster I found On The Line.  The poster presents a provocative alternate point of view, I'd say.  It might even generate some useful thinking and discussion. For you to accuse me of promoting falsehoods and stereotypes indicates to me more about the rawness of your "nerves" than it does anything about me.  Furthermore, it's a freakin' satire in which I don't see  stereotypes or falsehoods any way.  To perceive falsehoods and stereotypes in that poster (and in me) would seem to me to require at least two assumptions and two leaps of logic, neither of which I harbored or intended.  Quercus illuminated some of his assumptions and leaps of logic.  And I would say whether something is helpful or funny is very much in the eye of the beholder and not an objective fact of which Quercus is the arbiter.

You guys aren't about to call me deplorable and xenophobic are you?

I have an idea!  Make the me Immigration Czar of the US and give me absolute power and discretion (ie. couldn't be overruled by the Ninth Circuit Court).  I would be glad to grant entry into the US for most of the applicants, as long as I matched their numbers with natural born American citizens who are a drag on the rest of the country.  For every immigrant I let in, I'd eject one current citizen thereby keeping our population the same size while drastically improving its "quality" at the same time.

If not that, why don't we copy the immigration policies of Mexico, or Japan, or China?

Lifeboat ethics on a real lifeboat are tough.  Let's not make them tougher by how we treat those currently next to us in the lifeboat.

"Welcome to the Hunger Games. And may the odds be ever in your favor."

Quercus bicolor's picture
Quercus bicolor
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 19 2008
Posts: 416
Sorry thc, I went to far.

Thanks for reframing the issue.   I can now see that the provocative and funny image got me thinking about this.  My point about the one-sided nature of the immigration issue still stands, but I apologize for and withdraw any judgment about the image's helpfulness or your intent in posting it.

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