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Cheap Foreign Labor & the Computer Industry

[1]3,136 words

Seeing a computer on a desk for the first time was a life-changing experience for me. It filled me with something close to awe, and I wanted to master its secrets. My enthusiasm was undivided. I bought a programming manual and learned it forwards and backward, even though it would be a few more years before I’d actually get my hands on one of these new desktops. Little did I know that this epiphany would lead me to the depths of corporate hell in the years to come.

Then I went to college to study computing. It turned into a political education too; the indoctrination came as a surprise. Student radicals were quite common and pushy. Among the faculty, the humanities departments were getting highly radicalized. Critical theory and postmodernism were hip. I did have a far-Left upbringing, but got pretty sick of it by then. The campus Communist literature was mostly about race agitation and sounded rather like Al Sharpton’s dyspeptic rantings. (Where was all the stuff about economics, the proletariat, dialectical materialism, labor relations, and so on?) Marxism wasn’t what it used to be. The campus propaganda deluge didn’t win me back to the Left. Why would I want to have anything to do with it? The world they want has no place for me.

I’ve been working since I was eighteen. The jobs were anywhere from lousy to horrible. Many a time I wished I’d been a pipefitter or a welder instead, but that would’ve meant my education had gone to nothing. I’ll spare you the tales during that time of perverted bosses, backbiting, miserliness, jealousy, pointless bureaucracy, neckties designed to restrict blood flow to the brain, performance reviews that felt like colonoscopies without lube, and “kiss up / kick down” management.

One of those companies was a racial powder keg. Still, I managed to keep my head down pretty well, other than one badly-received joke after the O. J. Simpson acquittal. It was, to-wit: “What did two-thirds of the jurors have in common? They still believe in Santa Claus.”

Finally, I got my break

It took me a decade of “paying my dues” before I got hired on by a real company. I had become quite proficient at the computer hardware of the time. At long last, that got me into a real job with a well-respected company after I aced their system engineer exam. Since then, my career at the company took some interesting twists and turns. After that, I was rented out to other companies where our teams proved IT services. I became knowledgeable in systems administration. The company was very large, with ten layers of management above me, paid lavishly to push papers and act important. I never climbed the ranks, probably because I actually worked. (I still haven’t, despite good reviews and keeping out of trouble.) Still, it was the best job I’d ever had. I read an article in 1999 predicting that there soon would be demand for 25 million more workers in the IT sector. I’d gotten in on the groundswell of something big!

It was great going at first. Then the Board of Directors brought in a well-known crook as the CEO. The stories I could tell about him! The short version is that the company was bleeding money under his mismanagement. Meanwhile, he “earned” an exorbitant salary, about eighty times what people who get the job done make, except for the year when he got much more than that. Meanwhile, he screwed us out of our stock bonuses while helping himself to options deals. The next stunt was a permanent salary freeze, supposedly company-wide, but the secret was that management was exempt.

Then the mass layoffs began, again and again by the tens of thousands. I remember a few early rounds of this. Some suit would come in, a steely look of gritty determination on his face as if he were a colonel readying his troops for a tough battle, speaking of hard times and sacrifice (which of course he wouldn’t have to endure). As should be expected, none of the managers ever got cut. Some of them ended up supervising two or three employees. Too many chiefs and not enough braves! Eventually, I was swept away too, with someone following me to the door like a lost puppy to make sure I didn’t do anything naughty on the final trip out the door. A few years later, after utterly decimating the company, the CEO was finally ejected and received what those of that ilk call a “golden parachute,” a severance package about a thousand times what mine was.

After enduring all this, it was clearer than ever that capitalism is broken. The Left used to support trade unionism, but that institution largely has gone the way of the dinosaur. What was Clinton doing to rein in corporate corruption when he wasn’t preoccupied with creating sex scandals or managing their fallout? Nothing; he was globalizing our trade, the same thing the Bushes did. What are the alternatives? I simply can’t entertain libertarian-style free-market capitalism. Their belief is that “the market” eventually solves all problems. It sounds great in theory, but those kids just aren’t serious. There is one other alternative, an oldie but a goodie: fascism.

Then they came

Before this, I almost was able to jump ship to the company where I was performing services. It was supposed to be a done deal. Then at the last minute, some suit who “earned” three times my salary decided to pull the plug on me and my colleagues who were in the same position. Instead, our jobs were exported to some service firm abroad. Later, I chatted with my former supervisor there about what happened after that. My replacements were terrible at it. One time, every last one of them quit on the same day, but this didn’t convince the company to bring our jobs back. His take on the USA’s technological progress in the 1990s was the following: “All we did was help India and China.” Two billion people were experiencing a 1950s-style rebirth to their economy as ours stalled.

I was newly unemployed just in time for one of The Shrub’s recessions, the one in which his buddy Ken Lay of Enron suffered a convenient death almost as mysterious as Jeffrey Epstein. (Maybe the two of them are besties now, hanging out on a beach near Rio de Janeiro and groping teenagers from a nearby favela — who knows?) I did manual labor to get by, but it paid less than half my usual and the hours weren’t steady. It slowed my descent into financial ruin, though I was a hair’s breadth from having to live out of my car. Still, despite some very difficult working conditions and plenty of occupational injuries, I was tremendously relieved to be free of corporate bullcrap.

Nevertheless, I kept trying to get back into my original career. It was difficult to live in a tiny room that could hold little more than a bed and a desk, and meanwhile, the bills piled up. Things got worse after the landlady’s transsexual husband moved back in after “her” wayward adventures in the bohemian district didn’t work out. (Long story.) But positions in computing were very scarce; too few jobs and hordes of applicants. Many other companies in town had suffered downturns. After years, I was in very dire conditions, nearly to the point of starvation. There just wasn’t much else I could do. Petty theft, male prostitution, or enlisting to become a mercenary for Israel just wasn’t my style.

What happened to those twenty-five million jobs predicted to appear in our field? 

The jobs were there, just in other countries. 


You can buy Greg Johnson’s Here’s the Thing here. [3]

A new corporate fad had fully emerged in our field: foreign labor. Surely this allowed many overpaid suits to purchase another Hummer, or maybe a yacht or a private jet. Still, they don’t understand that the lowest price does not mean the best quality; proverbially, you get what you pay for.

This trend first hit home when my former girlfriend (who I’d lived with before I had to move in with Mrs. and Mrs. Tinkerbell) discussed the coders her company was bringing in from abroad under H1B visas. Their “outsourcing” body shop took away their passports upon arrival, crammed them like sardines into apartments, and paid them chickenfeed. She defended the practice on grounds of efficiency, but I told her if they were so good at the job, they should be getting paid like everyone else. This was exploitation. Although she’s a hardline liberal, she just wasn’t getting the point. Actually, the H1Bs weren’t all that great. Much to her frustration, many simple things needed to be explained, whether related to the job or to etiquette (like not urinating on the women’s room’s toilet seats). In the coming years, the H1Bs took her job too.

To make a long story short, after making over three hundred contacts (I still have the list somewhere), I finally did get my next break. Unfortunately, it was back to dealing with corporate bullcrap. This time, it was with only eight layers of management above me skimming off of our productivity. Again, I had to go back to flipping the bird within the safety of my pocket.

Worse, much of it involves consulting work to support the foreign labor that I had come to love so much. I paid my dues in the profession for this? Imagine a union member having to be nicey-nice to a bunch of strike-breaking scabs; you get the picture. I just wasn’t feeling it; especially after years of seeing them take our jobs and drive down our wages.

Simply put, dealing with them is a tremendous headache. The language barrier is the first thing. There are some who’ve lived abroad and had the immersion experience and obtained fluency. Yet the rest, constituting the great majority, has very limited English comprehension and tremendously thick accents. In many cases, it seems almost like a speech aphasia. Sometimes I must repeat myself four or five times. Getting an email address often is a painful ritual. Some don’t understand “What is your name?” which is the first thing someone learns in any language class.

I speak two other languages fairly well, and dabble in several more. It’s a pity they can’t learn another properly, even when they’re supposed to do so presumably as a job requirement. They have plenty of opportunities to practice at it. Most of them are from a country that was ruled by the British Empire for one and a half centuries, and this is the best they can do? The “efficiency” of dirt-cheap labor comes with a hidden price.

Would you want a doctor or a lawyer who couldn’t talk? Here’s how that would go:

Patient: I’ve been getting a lot of severe chest pains lately. What should I do about it?
Doctor: Yes.
Patient: Shouldn’t we run some tests or something?
Doctor: Hello? Hello?

Judge: Counsel, your client is charged with capital murder. Aren’t you going to make a closing statement?
Lawyer: Do the needful.

But this was the least of the concerns. Many of them are quite pushy, apparently a cultural trait. They might think they’re being assertive alpha types, but to others, it comes across as being overbearing and obnoxious. Some of them born into high positions in their obsolete hereditary class system tend to act quite entitled. Fortunately, it’s different here; the son of a banker isn’t considered better than the son of a machinist because of his birth.

There are some practical ramifications other than just having to deal with the attitude. They have some very creative interpretations of service contracts, for one thing. Often they won’t lift a finger to do their part like they should. That ends up costing our company quite a bit of money.

Worse yet, I found that many of them were no good at their jobs, which is why I and my colleagues have to do a lot of hand-holding. I’ve heard interesting stories about how “offshored” workers sometimes claim experience they don’t have to get employment. (One of this sort went to a bookstore and read up on database development all day, apparently too miserly to purchase the book, and then claimed he had been coding for two years.) I figure many of the people I spoke to daily had been weaving rugs a couple of months prior.

Over the years, it has got somewhat better. Most of them still can’t talk, but at least they quit snorting into the microphones on their headsets. (Maybe someone let them know we don’t like anyone breathing into our ears unless we’re in love.) By now, some of them got real experience and actually can do the jobs that in earlier times would’ve gone to Americans.

Yet things are far from normal. Information technology is an important profession. These days, production is dependent on it. If a critical server goes down, a department or even an entire company will be full of people looking stupid until it’s fixed. It’s serious business that needs competent workers, not ones who can be paid the absolute minimum number of peanuts. Really, even the most swollen-headed CEOs should be able to figure that out, but they don’t.

Wages are stagnant now that we have to compete with low-paid foreigners. (I’m beginning to wonder if I should’ve been a drifter instead of going to college and struggling relentlessly to build a productive career.) All told, I get to help incompetent, rude foreigners who talk like they’re sucking pacifiers. Mind you, I don’t hate the “offshored” workers and H1Bs. There are facets of their culture that I do admire, but that doesn’t change the fact that taking our jobs is not cool. Sure, they have to make their way in the world, but let them stick to things they’re good at, like driving taxis, managing motels, and running gas stations. The blame should go to America’s overpaid suits who prospered in our country and then sold out our workers. Greg Johnson [4] had a point about that, brief and to the point:

Globalization means creating a single world market for labor and goods. A global labor market means that working and middle-class wages and living standards in the First World will drop quite a bit, and wages and living standards in the Third World will rise a little bit, until we reach a global average which will represent the pauperization of all advanced industrial societies, East and West. But global economic elites will grow very rich indeed as they pauperize the First World.

These are the ones who must be called to account for their treachery. Let them blubber about how everyone was doing that; it should be amusing.

Long-term corporate trends

The workplace has changed much since my younger days. The only trend that I like is that they’ve done away with smoking in the office. The rest of the changes haven’t been so great. Telling off-color jokes was part of the camaraderie that helped us get through the daily grind. Anyone doing that these days risks an inquisition from the HR department. One little slip can ruin a career.

Other than that, lots of relationships used to form on the job. Colleagues get to know each other pretty well; someone with familiar habits and traits and reliability will tend to be a much better match than dating complete strangers. The Clarence Thomas business threw cold water on some of that, but the #MeToo business really put an end to it. A Hollywood Hebe acted like a slime ball, the actresses turned on him (including many who willingly participated with the “casting couch” stuff to get a role), and the whole thing snowballed into a feminist witch hunt. Now that it’s very dangerous to date at work, women will have to turn to strangers, like picking up random dudes at a bar or trying their luck with online dating. Feminism always ruins everything!

The injection of politics in the workplace is another alarming trend. The corporations with the greatest notoriety for politicization now control most social media activity and most web searches; how very convenient! The “wokeness” is reaching other companies too, even mine. It was picking up slowly in recent years, but last year we got a diversity session packed with the latest talking points cranked out by Ivory Tower types. The company has committed to an initiative of a domestic workforce with 25% blacks and Hispanics. Given their average IQs, it’s going to be pretty difficult finding that many who can hack the work. The ones we have now do know what they’re doing and are easy to get along with, but things might go downhill once we get a bunch of diversity hires.

Obviously, this new push came after George Floyd had a heart attack from overdosing on a stack of meth and fentanyl, unfortunately coinciding with his arrest. Then three months of rioting followed, leaving a string of burnt cities. Corporations then lined up in droves to shower BLM with donations. Doesn’t that just warm your heart?

I’ve had enough

Unfortunately, discussing these matters with Leftists is of little use. Since the 1980s, they largely stopped pretending to care about working people. Sadly, they’ve fallen under the spell of cultural Marxism. Instead of taking the side of the proletariat, they stand up for their precious minorities who can’t make it in our society, defend the rights of deviant men to use the women’s bathroom, protest the injustice of “mansplaining,” burn cities on behalf of a dead criminal, turn a few blocks of downtown Portland into a failed state, and all kinds of other nonsense. They’re no more than useful idiots, distracting themselves with this rubbish. Meanwhile, their real enemies are laughing all the way to the bank.

I certainly couldn’t get any of this published in a Leftist periodical or website; criticizing “diversity” is off-limits. Therefore, I must tell this story here of my lived experiences in how the information technology sector has been gutted by foreign labor. If the woke snowflakes in what used to be a serious movement no longer care about real Americans who work for a living, then only the Dissident Right is left to pick up the torch.

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