How Did America Get Into This Mess? Y2K
Now, we ran into the Y2K problem. It was still 1997. But now the corporations, the government, the financial institutions, and even NASA are getting worried. Why, because on December 31, 1999, at exactly midnight, the calendars worldwide had to roll over to the year 2000. The computers were not programmed to do that. Let’s face it; they themselves have not been around for a hundred years yet. So, there was a strong desire to get computers and clocks on computer timers programmed to roll over from the 1900’s to 2000’s and thru 2099.
This was a mammoth task, it had never been done before and the powers that be knew it would be an overwhelming project. This needed to be done worldwide, so you can see that this was probably one of the largest global endeavors ever and everyone needed to complete the project by December 31,1999, Mid-night.
Programmers from every city in the country were hired to work on this project. By 1998 it was decided that we needed more programmers, but where do we get them? America went to India and hired programmers from India. Many were brought back to the US on special visas, just to work on this problem. There is a large segment of India’s workforce that is college educated. Many had attended college in the USA. These programmers were highly educated and many had Masters degrees. The pay scale in India was not as high as ours. Annually they may have been paid $12,000 to $15,000 in India while Americans with the same qualifications were paid much higher salaries in the USA.
Remember these were desperate times. There was a deadline. So, we hired in many cases more highly educated people from India than we had access to in the US and these employees were satisfied with being paid less than American programmers.
Well, Y2K, December 31, 1999, mid-night came and went without a hitch, it turned out to be a non-event.
I feel that after the American corporations, NASA, the Federal Government, and others in private industry worked with these highly educated, hard-working employees, opinions on out-sourcing changed dramatically. Corporate management, government contractors etc. were very pleased with the Y2K results and they had become friends with many of these foreign employees from India after working side-by-side for two or three years. Corporate America decided that they could save money by hiring cheaper labor for computer programming, and service oriented jobs etc. by out-sourcing to India.
Many workers in India are highly educated, and earn far less than their counter-parts in America. And so, it began; out-sourcing was implemented on a major scale and like a snow-ball rolling down a mountainside, it picked up speed, actually we started losing jobs, in this country, at a warp speed pace.
Certainly those workers who were employed at companies that were out-sourcing jobs were aware of what was going on. They told their friends, families and anyone else who would listen. At first, no one did listen, but soon, the labor unions were complaining about losing jobs, employees complained, even cities were getting into the act. Some American companies were closing shop in the USA, and moving their operations over-seas. And worse yet, some city governments were moving their administration work over to India.
I mean if there ever was under-handed dealings in government this was definitely part of it.
Jobs that were supposed to be part of America’s new future after all the out-sourcing of manufacturing jobs; service jobs, went to India, and nearby Asian countries for much lower salaries than it would cost to have the work done here in America.
On an average, between 1997 and 2001 we lost approximately 40,000 jobs/month to out-sourcing. That number increased after 911. Labor unions complained, American workers complained, but bottom-line we priced our-selves right out of the American work force.
Now, the fact that Americans traditionally were always loyal to American corporations; they worked for a company, promoted their products by word-of-mouth advertising, and also by buying their products, did not seem to phase Corporate America. Hey, they were in business to make money, not be your friend.
Well, that’s how it turned out. But it wasn’t always like that. I remember when I worked at one of the auto companies many years ago. If you drove into work in the competitions car, it would be mentioned to you. No, there were no rules that said you had to buy the car that your company produced, but you were told that it would be “nice if you did”. Most Americans, who worked for an auto company, were loyal though, and most bought the cars that their company built.
But, hey, loyalty only goes so far. The American workers were always loyal employees. The same cannot be said of Corporate America and even our Congressmen.