“They take our jobs”


That is the mantra here, in the US. We hear a lot about it on TV and come across many articles supporting it. No, I am not talking of it in the present context of the economy going into recession, but this has been the popular opinion for a while.

[Here, ‘they’ refers either to the immigrants in the US or aliens to whom US companies outsource local jobs and ‘our’ refer to the citizens.]

To think of it, the argument sounds reasonable – globalization has created this situation wherein companies take advantage of low cost labour thereby neglecting the employment and welfare of its own people.
Thousands of Americans have lost their jobs to immigrants and alien companies.
Who is benefiting? Who is to be blamed? Who is losing? The answers seem obvious but they are not.
I just finished reading this book, ‘They take our jobs’ by Aviva Chomsky.
The author has done a very comprehensive research to find out the facts and point out the myths and misconceptions of the reality. Though I’ll be jotting down some of the points here, the book is certainly a ‘must read’.

In the early 20th century, the Government collaborated with businesses to help find ways to reduce cost of production and increase profit margins. When local labour unions grew stronger and workers gained more rights, the businesses started looking at options of bringing in workers from other countries or shifting some work to countries that had cheaper labour costs. Immigrants didn’t fall under a labour union and didn’t have the same rights as citizens. So businesses could successfully reduce cost of production and increase their margins and the final consumer always got the benefit of low prices. Immigrants are also reasonably happy, because whatever they earn in dollars will mean more money(after conversion) to their families back in their countries.

Then there are the fallacies that immigrants don’t pay taxes and drain money from the US economy to their own countries in the form of remittances. The author points out that the immigrants who don’t pay taxes are the ones who are mostly hired for informal service jobs, like cleaning, baby sitting etc, for which they are paid less(lesser than the minimum rate prescribed by the law).
The author argues that remittances to other countries is a complex point and needs to be looked at from a global point of view. Spending of foreign remittances can have local and global effects, since, nowadays many products or raw materials used for products and even processes may come from different parts of the world. Remittances may also have a long term effect of more migrations or reliability on immigrants in order to afford the rise in cost of living caused due to remittances.
There are of course, a lot of illegal immigrants but most of these people are engaged in low paying jobs like textile factory workers who have fewer rights in the country and are paid less for their work, in turn reducing the prices of those products. So who’s winning? Who’s not?

Chomsky’s book is very informative, factual and brings out the logic behind many false notions. She has discussed 21 myths in a very constructive manner.

Understanding the complexities of this huge, multicultural American economy is certainly not easy. But this book is a no doubt a good start to understand it the right way.


PC, our phenomenal FM

 I am so glad my friend Suchitra and I have these discussions outside work; discussions about work itself, friends, fun, nations-economies-investments-shares(in our own sweet way), cricket, movies, family and recipes. We agree, disagree, exchange online articles and videos and at the end of the day, its interesting because our chat history turns out to be truly historical !!

Today’s chat history was a milestone because we had this heated discussion about India and America, our economies, politics, culture and almost every other broad aspect we could think of(rather, using every keyword we have come across in our textbooks(i of course used google too)). It got really interesting because we were mostly disagreeing with each other and in the meantime many points came up. And while exchanging all the heat, cold and warmth Suchitra sent me this youtube link – an hour long interview of our Finance Minister, Mr. P Chidambaram by an American interviewer, Charlie Rose interview taken circa 2005.

Its been 6 hours since we ended our discussion and I have already watched this interview thrice, and i wholeheartedly feel it is a must watch for everyone. One hour of time spent on this interview is totally worth it, and i have two points to justify this. But first, watch the interview –

You would probably have guessed by now

point 1 – PC’s communication skills, articulation, confidence, eloquence and clarity

point 2 – the magnitude of content, simplification of economics, relativity of issues, representation of facts and reality

I found it phenomenal! Didnt you?