08 May 2004

What a day. It's amazing how you can lead a fairly boring life and then once and a while you have those days where it feels like everything turned upside down. Lucky for me all the news was good :)
Apparently Ben Affleck and Ted Kennedy are joining forces to campaign for higher minimum wage, which please tell me, seems weird to at least one other person. I mean, I don't *think* it works that way: a couple of mildly famous people walk around Washington with their bright idea and absolutely no clue about say... economics or.... fiscal policy. Interesting to note that we're in a mini-recession right now and job creation isn't quite rebounding - the majority of the recent increase was in temp and part time work (not a strong economic driver) - and consumer spending hasn't dropped, which means people are increasing their debt levels. Now, the way to fix the economy would be to reinvest in growth industry and for people to stop spending money they don't have (which seems really obvious - if you don't have the money, don't buy stuff you don't need). Anyway, raising the cost of labour is 1) not going to keep labour in the US, it will drive it overseas and 2) not a good idea unless we see a concurrent rise in productivity or we're paying without getting any production. If they really want to help workers, why don't they campaign for more skill building (ie education) so our population is more employable and capable of innovation?
In case some people haven't been watching, there's a trend developing to start outsourcing what were traditionally considered "safe" jobs - programming, customer service, call centres, and the like. Those jobs are now more productive overseas, which means to stay ahead of the economic curve, we need to find a new niche. When economies develop, nations need to stay at the frontier of their capabilities: we used to be a manufacturing hotbed before those jobs moved overseas (Taiwan, China, Malaysia, etc). Now, we're watching soft IT and service jobs move offshore. Other economies have reached that point in development, and we've grown past it. So what now for us? What do we do? We innovate. We think of it, we improve it, we design it, we revolutionise it, and someone else builds it. Our new job market is not in implementation, but in creation. What is the number one thing that will drive this trend? An educated population. Which once again brings me back to Ben and Ted. We don't need higher minimum wage, we need better education for all ages.
I'm getting off of my soapbox now.

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