Thursday, March 31, 2005

Part of Solution/Problem

In the Technology as solution/problem article, I was struck with the low percentage of career wages available in high tech occupations.

Looks like the data is a little old ("...created between now and 1995..."), but if our film we watched before spring break is any indicator, not much has changed. The young man who worked at HP is a perfect example. He made next to nothing working for a subcontractor (Manpower), while the former hippie dude in the office made big time 'bling' (sorry about that).

Fifty years ago, in the era of the living wage factory worker, someone on the assembly line, thanks to a political climate more favorable to organized workers, the New Deal and significant investment in capital, research and development, someone like the young Manpower/HP worker could earn enough to buy home (or perhaps a condo in the Bay area) and save enough for his kids to go on to higher education.

Wouldn't HP have more customers for their products if they paid a living wage and if they sent lobbyists to Washington to enforce better labor standards so that the competition couldn't cut costs by paying less for longer hours in less safe conditions?

I know the rapid change of the computer industry doesn't favor long range planning, but anyone can see that this low wage, no benefits work force is not sustainable for long-term competitiveness. What's more, it's immoral.

1 comment:

  1. I want to agree with your comment Matt and comment on the HP article that Greg posted above. From my limited point of view it seems that a company has brought in a new person to fix their struggling operation and they’re paying him a lot of money to do it. Aside from possible restructuring issues, doesn’t the most logical step seem to actually pay all the other employees higher wages so their quality of work will be greater? It’s frustrating to see that those in charge at HP (or anywhere really) are so money blind, they can’t even start with the simplest of solutions.