Sen. Elizabeth Warren at the AFL-CIO Raising Wages Summit

This speech is the one I referred to in my previous post Elizabeth Warren Delivers Scathing Speech On Trickle-Down Economics.  When I made that post, I did not have access to the video below that has just been posted on YouTube.  There are sound problems here and there in the video, but most of it is very easily understood.

Elizabeth Warren has the transcript Senator Warren’s Remarks at AFL-CIO National Summit on Raising Wages on her Senate web site.  The AFL-CIO has a web site about the AFL-CIO National Summit on Raising Wages,

Jeebus criminy, people, what part of her talk are you having trouble understanding? She has been saying many of these things since before she started running for office. However, she now talks about the most current data, and the most current political situation. You can’t possibly want to vote for the wing of the Democratic Party that she identifies as equally at fault as the Republicans, can you? If so, please tell me why you are still hanging on to the myth of the third way?

She talks about how the economy is only working for the top 10% of income earners. I wouldn’t be surprised if most of the readers of my blog fall into that category. Well, here is some shocking news I have to tell you based on my 40 year career in industry. There is nothing magical about being in the top 10%. The people who are benefiting from the rise in the economy might soon be limited to the top 5%, or 2%, or 1%, or 0.1%, or 0.01%.

Here is where my working experience comes into play. when I first started to work, industry was just starting to outsource some manufacturing to Asia. At Digital Equipment Corporation, the manufacture of magnetic core memory was being done in Hong Kong, if I remember correctly. The engineers with whom I worked thought nothing of it. They were engineers. They weren’t hunched over a bench stringing core memory bits onto wires. Also at that time, the best educated people from those low wage countries were getting their educations in the USA and staying to work here and earn American wages. Outsourcing was for other people to worry about.

By the time I was about to leave DEC, we had a contingent of engineers working in Japan, and communicating over high speed internet connections with engineers in Massachusetts. Because of timezones around the world we pretty much had engineering going on 24 hours a day.

When I went to work at Gateway Design Automation, they had a small contingent of about 30 engineers working in India. I was much more involved with the foreign operation than I had been at DEC. We learned that Texas Instruments already had a mach larger contingent of engineers working in India. TI had a high speed internet connection to their workers, while we had a 9600 baud connection shared by our 30 engineers in India.

By the time Cadence Design Systems bought out Gateway and as I continued to work for Cadence, the number of engineers in India and the infrastructure to communicate with them greatly improved. As I moved on to Analogy, Inc. Synopsys Design Systems, and Mentor Graphics, more of the engineering work was going on all around the world. Many of the best of the engineers in India and China were staying in their homelands. They were getting great educations there, they had high quality work to do, they had great technology to work with, and they commanded much lower salaries. I even started to hear about American engineering students having to go to India to get some experience that was no longer available over here.

However, it was not only engineers that were in India and China. Soon there was a migration of a small amount of middle management there, too.

The lesson is that there is an alligator eating off the lower rungs of the economic ladder, and there is absolutely nothing to stop that alligator from eating more and more rungs off that ladder. It’s not that these other countries don’t deserve the progress they are making. The point is that we can no longer just assume that our life style is safe if we don’t invest in our future. Not investing has has worked for the last 30 or so years for the top 10%. We are in effect eating our seed corn. The days of this working are running out for people higher and higher up on the ladder.

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