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Winning in the Global Economy - Will You be a Victim or Victor?
by: John Van Doren
Part II - American Dream or American Myth?

If you’re still playing by the “How to Achieve the American Dream” rules of your father and grandfather, then:

1. You’ve been downsized out of one or more jobs.

2. You company merged with corporation ABC and you’ve been rightsized out of a job to reap the “synergies” of the merger.

3. You’ve trained your replacement in Bangalore prior to your job being outsourced.

4. You’re working 60 to 80 hour per week and getting paid for 40 hours out of fear of either 1), 2), or 3) above.

5. You’re working under contract and think you’re an entrepreneur or a “consultant”, but you’re really just an “employee without health benefits”.

6. You’re recently retired from a large corporation with a “secure” pension that’s about to be decimated (defaulted to the federal government) so your former employer can continue to compete in the global economy.

The job churn I’ve just described is not just about globalization, however globalization and a digital world with high bandwidth has altered the playing field in corporate america and labor is now a commodity that can and will be acquired anywhere in the world. That either means off-shoring production and even R&D to places like Mexico or China, or digitally outsourcing high skilled jobs like software development to India.

You could argue that not every job is pressured by globalization and you’d be right. There are about 50 million private-sector workers (nurses, truckers, supermarket and other retail clerks, hotel and restaurant employees, construction workers, janitors, security guards, etc.) whose jobs can't be shipped to Beijing or Calcutta. However, these are not the high paying jobs you and I are talking about. The hard fact is that for more and more highly trained and skilled workers the labor pool is now global and you’re competing for work with a newly minted accountant, MBA, software engineer, or physics Ph.D. from India, Singapore, the former Soviet block, or China.

In the last fifteen years the global workforce has doubled in large part due to the embrace of market capitalism by India, China, the countries of the ex-Soviet Union. In addition, U.S. technical dominance and its share of science and engineering graduates at all degree levels is declining rapidly. In 1970 over half of world’s the science and engineering doctorates were granted in the U.S. Today, the European Union has already surpassed the U.S. and projections for 2010 show the EU producing twice as many science and engineering doctorates as the U.S. and if current trends continue, China will actually surpass the U.S. Bottom line, more justification for U.S. Corporations to move R&D and other science and engineering functions offshore.

So what are your choices? You might decide that you’re powerless and blame corporate greed and hope the government or “someone” will step in to protect your “sovereign right” to a high paying job. After all, you did all the right things, got that great education, made good grades, and worked hard. Well for one, corporations are not being greedy they are just seeking the lowest cost of doing business and competing as well as they can. If that is no longer in the best interests of the their “county of origin” labor pool, that is not their problem. Their allegiance is to the shareholder, that is how they are structured and financed. Think the government with save you? Think again, corporations accounted for a huge amount of the funds raised in the last election cycle and therefore own a good deal of political capital. Besides that, globalization in the long run is good for the world economy and for our long-term prospects of peace and prosperity. However, in the near term it’s going to be painful transition unless you wake up to the fact the the ground has shifted and you have to find a new way to achieve Your American Dream.

About the author:
John Van Doren is former turnaround and startup executive in the manufacturing sector. His is currently an independent entrepreneur devoted to redefining the American Dream {} in the context of a digital and global economy.

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