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Should we only be concerned with the Structural Engineering Profession?

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When discussing the Out-sourcing, H-1B, H-2B, L-2, NAFTA or GATT issues it seems that the majority of those who responded are only interested on the impact it has on the structural engineering profession. However, the structural engineering profession can be one of the dominoes that falls when development in the United States becomes affected by the movement of multi-national companies to lower labor markets.


I’ve also found that if the engineer is unaffected “today” then he or she does not consider the possible threat and becomes apathetic to the issues. In my experience, the results of the lack of pre-planning and understanding by American employees, investors or those who feel that they can’t stop “Globalization” is that they become affected and in time must either reduce costs in order to stay in business or seek another profession. One friend asked, “Why is it right for my Barber to be making more money than I do considering my level of education?” (I paraphrased). The answer is because his job is in greater demand than yours and while you might be subject to out-sourcing and any of the other Multi-National rules that we call Globalization, his job is secure as long as people don’t shave their own heads or let their hair grow. Personally, my wife has cut my hair for twenty five years because my hair is curly and unruly – making it fairly easy for her to chop away without must affect (whoever, the distance between hairs has quadrupled in the last twenty years and I have to be careful to what angle I project).


My point is that we need wake up to what is happening throughout the world, try to understand who gains and who loses and discuss it in an open market to seek creative solutions. The ultimate effects do not lower the price of a car sold by GM, it increases profits paid to shareholders. Many of them are Americans but few of them are autoworkers. The point is that if this is a domino effect, then what happens in most businesses that lay off employees will have an effect on future projects that hire engineers and may make it feasible to make that project work only if labor is outsourced. We need to look past Structural and Civil engineering and follow the dragon along the long bumpy tail. At the mouth of the dragon is not the laborer – he is the backbone. At the mouth are the few that represent the upper class in this country who tend to benefit the most and who have the greatest influence on government.


I am a firm believer that the economic trends are not uniform throughout the United States. Today’s paper reported that Riverside and San Bernardino County in California are the only two counties in California unaffected by lower housing starts and sales. Yet, couldn’t the firms in these two counties draw upon an employee base in other areas of the state or county to support specific projects? If we do, we also obtain the tax deduction for what we pay consultants in the cost of doing business. I believe we have the resource to accomplish this without seeking H-1B employees in Riverside or San Bernardino. Salary base is also different throughout the country – making some areas more desirable potential labor markets than others.


Why must we wait until it is too late to seek alternative solutions who what those in government who have financial conflicts of interest due to their investments if not family business that favor what they believe the large company wants rather than want the employees of those companies want?