Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Last Days of Labor Power?

Here at Next Level Purchasing's headquarters, we are situated right next to an elementary school. As of Monday, the teachers of the Moon Area School District are on strike. So, within a few steps of our building are teachers holding picket signs.

I guess that's their god-given right or something. But, in this economy, one can't help but want to tell them that they should be happy that they even have a job.

Naturally, I resisted that temptation. One of the reasons - other than me being a gentleman - is that perhaps they should enjoy what I think are the last days to enjoy the privilege to walk out of work.

The employment picture is ugly, with the US unemployment rate hovering around double digits for what seems like almost a half-a-decade. Sure, a forecasted economic rebound will help that a little bit. But is anyone else seeing the forces that seem to suggest that we'll never recover the jobs lost since December 2007?

The forces I'm talking about include:
  • The fact that, if something can be bought less expensively from outside of the US, it eventually will be bought from outside of the US
  • The Federal and State minimum wages make hiring workers for low-value tasks prohibitively expensive
  • The automation and "Internetizing" of certain things is an irreversible trend

I think that this third point affects teachers the most. Online education has only grown. Next Level Purchasing is proof of that.

Where once purchasing departments were relegated to the best training they could find in their location, now they can choose the best purchasing training in the world. Think of the possibilities for childhood education. Instead of hoping to get the best teachers in the region for our schools, we someday may have access to the best teachers in the world. The geographic barriers to the best education will be removed, which would require a lot fewer teachers.

Additionally, I think that as more markets open up - there are more non-US countries than India and China, you know - we're going to see a world where there is more parity in the standard of living between countries. That means that impoverished countries will become more like the US and the US will become more like impoverished countries until there is more of a balance, relatively speaking.

None of that is good news for US labor.

So instead of giving those picketing teachers with their no-value-proposition-signs (e.g., "New buildings need teachers" WTH?) a piece of my mind, I say to them "Enjoy the last days of labor power." These will be remembered as the good old days someday.

To Your Career,
Charles Dominick, SPSM
President & Chief Procurement Officer
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.
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