RE: Short-sightedness and Corporate Anorexia & Bulimia (WAS once VS when and low pay)

Subject: RE: Short-sightedness and Corporate Anorexia & Bulimia (WAS once VS when and low pay)
From: "Thomas Eagles" <tekwriter -at- sympatico -dot- ca>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 26 Jun 2002 11:35:53 -0400


Shannon Luce responded to someone else,

> Personally, as a technical
> writer/editor, I find those questions and resulting threads
> much more valuable to my job than this drivel about pay and
> joblessness.

Why is discussion of pay and joblessness drivel? What could be more
valuable to your job than being employed?

PERSONAL ANECDOTE: *Partly* as a result of the cost savings of moving
jobs from North America to (in this case) India, in a program that
<company X> called M2I (move to India), I and thousands (yes, thousands)
of others lost their jobs at <company X> in 2001. A <company X> branch
office in Nottingham, England closed altogether. So, too, a branch in
Burlington, Ontario. And others. <company X> was very open about the
cost savings that moving to India would accrue, and they encouraged
their workers in North America to accept the move. Some of the M2I
promotional e-mails from the Indian CEO of <company X> read like Soviet
era propaganda, akin to this:

"We at <company X> want to WIN! That's why we hired
WINNERS! Winners who want to make sure we continue
to WIN! You can be part of that WINNING STRATEGY!!!
Or your job can be outsourced. Choose wisely and be
part of the <company X> WINNING strategy!!! Act fast
to be part of M2I before it's too late!!!"
<I paraphrase>

Quotes, in promotional e-mails aimed at gullible morons, from some of
the "winners" who M2Ied:

"I was happy to add to the strategic effort to pad
the CEO's wallet. I am grateful to be part of the
solution instead of part of the problem. I will
throw my 'body' on the 'coffin' when my company is
finally buried. Until then, at least I have a job,
unlike the losers who refuse to M2I."
<only slightly exaggerated>

Other "cost savings" at this company involved accepting share options in
lieu of salary (cash for options, or C4O). When I joined that company
the stock had just split and was trading at nearly $100. At the time of
C4O, shares were trading at just over $4, and were being offered in lieu
of salary at somewhere around $15 or $20 per share, depending on when
you signed up. Good luck exercising THOSE options! Today, the stock
continues to fall, and it seems inevitable that it will drop below $1.
It is indeed hard to feed your kids with worthless stock options, eh?
D'OH! But you're lucky to still have a job, right? Of course, C4-owe
(cash for options) was purely 'optional' and not forced on anyone (and
legally couldn't be). Then again, I didn't participate and was
downsized, so I don't know how 'optional' C4O or M2I was for me. I also
made a fair bit more than 40 cents per day, so that meant my job could
sensibly be M2Ied since I refused to take C4O.

But think about it: how many North Americans move to third world
countries versus those from third world countries moving to North
America as immigrants or refugees? There are obvious REASONS for that,
some of which include greater freedom, democracy, and vastly higher
prosperity here in the West. At least that is still the case today...
perhaps not for much longer, if M2I becomes a popular trend.

When stock prices drop, companies choose to downsize or relocate jobs
(their largest business cost) to countries with cheaper labour. I don't
begrudge the countries receiving the relocated jobs; they need to eat,
too. I do blame Western corporations for their short-sightedness,
though. If people aren't working, how can they afford to buy the
products their companies sell? Witness Nike, GM, Chrysler, Ford, VW,
Sony, and countless other corporations taking jobs out of Japan,
Toronto, San Jose, Seattle, Detroit, or Germany and putting them in
Mexico, the Phillipines, Korea, Indonesia, and other less advantaged
locales with comparatively devalued currency. Why? Because labour is
waaaaay cheaper. There is absolutely *NO* other reason for doing so.
Cost savings. How many Mexicans (realistically) can afford to buy a
brand new VW Passat? Not nearly as many as in North America, where most
of them are exported to.

But that's free enterprise, right? Well, I hope you still feel that way
when *you* can't feed *your* kids. In fairness, I'll admit that Canada
is benefitting from this as well since our dollar is worth somewhere
between half and two-thirds of a US dollar, and thus a tech writer in
Markham Ontario making $50,000 to $75,000 CDN is really only making
about $35,000 to $50,000 USD. And cities and provinces are tripping over
themselves to offer tax breaks and sweetheart deals to companies to move
to their region. Same goes for state-vs-state competition in the United
States. Not to digress too far, but in the sports world, the same thing
applies to cities that offer a free stadium to teams that will move from
their current stadium to the new city. And to hell with the fans in the
original city or the tax-payers paying for the new stadium.

FWIW, the other reasons for the thousands of downsized jobs at <company
X> include

CORPORATE ANOREXIA: shedding staff to convince the stock market that
<company X> was doing something about their obscene corporate "fat"

CORPORATE BULIMIA: gobbling up other companies only to "purge"
undigested components shortly afterwards

...All done for the sake of the share price and what the CEO and other
major shareholders could take OUT of the company profits at the end of
the day.

Free trade is great when it is practiced on a level playing field. But
both sides of the agreement have to have proximal standards of living or
the jobs start to flow out of the more prosperous country and into the
other. Canada, Mexico, and the USA have been prospering under a free
trade agreement for more than a decade now, and it's been successful for
all involved. However, the flow of jobs out to third world nations is a
troubling trend that is short-sighted. Today's share price is the only
concern for the Board of Directors and CEO. I *am* a believer in free
enterprise - letting the market decide. However, it's not the market
telling the CEO to move the jobs to India to pad the profit margin; it's
greed and shortsightedness. The CEO needs to keep his penthouse office,
limo, and corporate condo in Hawaii, so he does the easiest thing: lays
off staff or moves their work to a location where the biggest cost
(labour) is almost free. The only solution is to vote for political
parties who reward the better corporate citizens and punish the greedy,
inhumane ones, and vote with your wallet when you choose between
competing products.

Worldcon, I mean Worldcom, Enron, and (in Canada) Bre-X are just other
examples of the fraud that big business is commiting in the name of
profit and free enterprise. Free enterprise, democracy, and capitalism
are concepts that I would voluntarily fight for -- I'd go to war to
protect my way of life. However, there needs to be accountability,
leadership, and some concern for the human impact when books are cooked
and jobs are lost because corporate leadership was only looking at the
bottom line in anticipation of a disastrous fiscal year. The growing
cynicism of the populace is vindicated when stories like Worldcom,
Enron, and those in the world of politics become front page news. People
withdraw from the process when they see that their input is not valued.

Hope nobody was offended. The above is all based on common knowledge and
common sense, if I may say so.

TTFN.

Tom

<cc. Todd, Andrew, Dave, and Mur>



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