"The Company Men": What happens when outsourcing moves up the job chain?
ManufactureThis has taken a particular interest in the new movie 'The Company Men,' not least because it accurately depicts what happens when entire factories and industries close down.
The stereotypical perception of jobs being outsourced has typically been focused on "low-end" blue-collar factory jobs that shift to "low-wage" countries like China. Ironically, and as The Company Men astutely recognizes, it is now the higher end, white-collar jobs that are being lost as America's productive base continues to disintegrate.
A good example: thanks to massive subsidies and a host of predatory trade actions, China has overtaken the U.S. in many high-tech sectors. As a result, the computers and electronics equipment industries saw 26% of their jobs lost to China between 2001 and 2008. What this means in "real-world" terms is that hundreds of thousands of suit-and-tie Silicon Valley executives and researchers have been laid-off. Not exactly what the public has come to expect.
The Company Men is a welcome movie, then, because it sheds new light on the subject. Ben Affleck plays a successful, Porsche-driving, golf-playing executive until one day, his company's division is "consolidated," leaving him and his co-workers, including Tommy Lee Jones, to try and pick up the pieces. How then do these downsized executives find new work during a recession while trying to support a wife and two children, and pay a hefty mortgage?
The movie gives a realistic portrayal of the stresses and difficulties that ensue.
One hopeful point, though, is that the same factory that has closed can always be reopened. What's needed are determined workers and businessmen, and a level playing field wherein China can no longer gain an advantage by illegally manipulating their currency and blocking U.S. exports to the Chinese market.
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