Monday, March 18, 2013

Technology of modern unemployment

We live in a world of relentless fictions. Technological innovation at one time drove employment higher as new things gave new opportunities but the reality that isn't being properly discussed is that has not happened with the modern Web Revolution.

The modern web is a wonder, but massive numbers of American are unemployed or underemployed.

And the US Government has shrugged.

When Henry Ford helped usher in the modern age by pushing the assembly line and his vision that cars should actually be affordable for the middle-class, he had an understanding and a vision that helped with technology to better the lives of millions of workers.

Remarkably he felt that workers should get a fair wage and cars should be priced so that the middle class could afford them, which helped sparked a modern revolution.

Today's tech executives cannot say the same.

It's not clear what exactly is necessary.

What is clear is that it's not being done. Where is our Henry Ford?

And it irritates me when tech people push for more high skilled immigrants to this country who might better help themselves and their native countries by using those skills there, knowing full well there are lots of high skilled workers already here.

So why do they like high skilled immigrants so much?

My guess is that Nikola Tesla one of the greatest inventors of all time gives a sad clue.

More than anyone else he ushered in the Age of Electricity in heated battles with Thomas Edison, who was born here, who is also given that credit, over AC versus DC current. Coming to this country from what is now Croatia (gotta love the Wikipedia for quick research) he worked for Edison until a bitter dispute over $50000 US, where one may wonder if, um, he was simply exploited.

Rather than work for someone whom he thought cheated him, he left Edison. And eventually was digging ditches for a living.

He managed to rise above it all and return to technology. But I fear few immigrants in such situations do.

Tesla was a remarkable person--one of the greatest in human history yet he was nearly crushed regardless.

A lesser person may have simply been crushed, or even more simply: kept working for Edison no matter how he felt cheated.

I grew up in the United States. I am aware we project a wonderful story about life here and once a foreign born immigrant gets here they may find that our movie and television stories are what we say they are: fictions.

But once here, you can still work.

In fact, you have to work. Or you will figure out quickly how bad your life can be here if you do not obey, and do not stick with your employer who got you here.

Foreign workers who do come to the United States need to be prepared then, just in case, with options in case the worst case happens. Don't just follow a dream. Be prepared for a nightmare, just in case.

But I grew up here. I already know that we are surrounded by fictions.

James Harris
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