Wednesday, July 30, 2003

The Working Life

One of the big news items today was the announcement that ten percent of all the high tech or computer related jobs in the United States, shall be gone by the end of 2004 according to Reuters News. Of course, this is distressing news to those in that industry. I have been unemployed (some members of my family contend I've never really been employed!) and have faced the hardships and insecurity it brings. My sympathies are with those that find themselves in that position.

However, there is a caveat with my sympathy. Twenty-two years ago I was working as a reporter for a small paper in the Upper Midwest or what is sometimes referred to as the "Rust Belt." During the heady years of the Reaganista regime, we watched the de-industrialization of America from our front row seats. Some cities in Indiana reached 1930's levels of unemployment, with many more exceeding twenty percent, which is still far, far worse than the current level of 6.4%.

While covering plant closings, interviewing in union halls, and sitting in the living rooms of working people who were seeing their way of life being wretched away from them, I often heard educated "professionals", much like those who now find themselves on the chopping block today in the "high tech" industry saying things like; "Why don't they move to where the jobs are? (I guess it never occurred to the individuals saying such things that people rarely buy homes in areas where there is twenty percent unemployment). Or my favorite, "they priced themselves out of a job." And, of course, the ever popular, "they need to educate themselves to have transferable skills ('transferable skills' was one of the hot catch phrases of that period.)

It seems that in a very short period of time, many of those who had admonished "Joe Lunchbucket" and all the attendant class bias that went with that, are going to finally have an opportunity to see just how transferable their skills really are.


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