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Re: OT- Can Americans Compete

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Subject: OT:  Can Americans Compete ?
From: "Caldwell, Stan" <scaldwell(--nospam--at)>
To: "SEAINT Listserv" <seaint(--nospam--at)>

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This is the title of a compelling article by Geoffrey Colvin in the July
25, 2005 Issue of Fortune Magazine.  It is an eight-page summary of the
current and future problems facing the United States due to the
ever-increasing globalization of products, capital, and labor.
Engineering and engineering education are brought up repeatedly.  It is
a thought provoking article that is a worthwhile read, even for people
like me who support globalization.  The solution, if there is one, lies
mostly in education. =20
Here is a link where you can read the article without buying the
magazine.  Don't procrastinate, the link might only remain active for a
short while.
Stan R. Caldwell, P.E.
Dallas, Texas
I am surprised after past refusals to accept the possibility that outsourcing, H1B or Globalization could possibly be anything but good for the United States economy. You concluded that education was the key issue, but the overall theme of this article is that this downward wage movement is unprecedented in US History. The key is not likely to be education since the cost of education is lower in countries like India and Asia than it is in America - the main reason why Harvard and other two institutions are buying top performing students over those who might qualify but whose well endowed families are receiving scholarships because of the competition between universities who claim students that have received privlidged education and who are being rewarded by scholarships regardless of the fact that their families can afford to pay the price of the education. 
One teacher in my granddaughter's high school class indicated his ideology that we should not promote or encourage students to attend college unless their grades are within the top 10 percent. Not only are the students not interested in college, but it is a waste of their parents income and a drain on the government funds. This is BS to me as it indicates an educator who is simply unwilling to take on the task of educating children - a challenge no doubt, but not much different than when we were in school.
I'm surprised at your posting of this article because you too have encouraged your companies use of non-immigrant status employees who can communicate in other countries that you do projects, but many of these projects are coordinated in the US with employees Halff has brought in on H-1b and other non-immigrant status. Your argument at the time was the lack of experienced and educated potential employees which I find difficult to accept in two of Texas's largest cities Dallas and Houston. At the point, you discounted the worry that some of us and which we described on this list - but an "I told you so is unfair at this time" and rather our concern is what to do. 
We have sealed the fate for many: Here are my concerns:
1. Wages are being pushed down
2. Families who hold two incomes are finding it difficult to make ends meet.
3. Employers are cutting back health care benefits by creating part time employee positions to eliminate full time status and thus removing their responsibility to help families with much needed health care.
4. These were not the concerns of our parents who, for the most part, were employed and were offered benefits. A medical savings plan is easily lost in one week within the hospital - my recent 1 week with surgery for an abscess cost over $120,000.00 and the bills are still coming in. If not for health insurance, we would need to take a second mortgage on the home and place ourselves into deep debt. We could never save up this amount of money in a private plan unless we had the ability to read the future and know which funds would provide a better than average return on our money.
5. The government has sealed the fate on millions who need to file bankruptsy for debt incured not by frivolous spending, but by medical expenses that were unforseen and unexpected and by those who could not afford or were not eligible for insurance because of existing conditions.
6. The US forgave debt in Africa and other countries, but make no effort to raise the living wage or reduce credit card interest to a few points above prime (which is what the credit card companies would pay). Instead, we get promotions to use the card and then are labled deadbeats when we are laid off and unable to repay the debt that follows us ad-infitium.
7. We insure illegals welfare to cover hospital debt. Without welfare my wife may not have a job, with it the rest of the country may not ever have a universal medical plan to cover those who can not afford it and at this time, if you own an asset you probably are billed for the visit rather than taken care of by the same welfare benefits that the illegals are covered with.
8. Where is the debt relief in this country? If our potential for earnings are not on the rise for most Americans and we have to compete unfairly with low wages in India, Asia and the future of Africa and some of Arab natiions, then why is it unreasonable to expect the United States to forgive Americans who can prove that their debt is not from frivolous spending. This can be done as Roosevelt did it when he devalued the dollar by going on (or was it off) the gold standard. If the G-8 represents the international Global future, then the earnings of investors should absorb the responsibility of the harm they do to nations like the US by moving industry out or forcing benefits and labor costs down here to try and compete with labor and human rights violations that exist in other countries?

There is more focus on Roe vs Wade and the conservative judges to replace the retiring supreme court judges than there is on the state of the economy in the United States or the problems that occur when jobs leave the United States on a daily basis. Many of us in this profession really don't care - we are well trained and we are smart enough to keep our work coming through the door, I will retire in a few years and not worry about my future - I'm one of the lucky ones - but should I simply turn my back on millions who are not as well educated or did not have the luck to be born into a family that cared about education and security? My grandchildren are not being taught as I was - the expectation is much lower and the United States Institutions are marketing to foreign students and those who can afford to draw the intelligent by compettiton as we are seeing with schools like Harvard. From our professional point of view, the money available to states to promote quality of cons
truction through education is reduced so that even our professional licensing boards no longer enforce the quality of our practice from serius error and end up causing the cost of construction to rise by comprimise of making more restrictive codes.

We've gotten off track Stan, and regardless of your love for your children and your pride of what they have accomplished, one of these days without your help they may find themselves out of work - replaced with lower cost foreign labor. Now that we got this far, you tell me what we should do to protect our families?

Dennis S. Wish, PE


Dennis S. Wish, PE
California Professional Engineer
Structural Engineering Consultant (Photo Blog) (Launch to Professional Discussion Blogs)


760.564.0884 (office - fax)

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