Engineering Careers Blog

Engineering Careers

The Engineering Careers blog features news and information about job placement, personal and professional development, and industries and locations that offer opportunity.

Previous in Blog: Eight Ways to Manage Stress   Next in Blog: Tough Choices Have Real Consequences (Part 2)
Close
Close
Close
15 comments

Tough Choices Have Real Consequences (Part 1)

Posted May 31, 2009 4:45 PM by DrDoug

What I am about to say may rub some CR4ers the wrong way. Please understand that I'm going to share my personal thoughts about a delicate and emotionally-charged topic that may already be affecting your engineering career.

My intention here is to get people to think about things differently. It's not to offend anyone in the process. When people get emotional in their discussions, the focus and purpose often gets lost.

A Sense of American Entitlement

I know that many of you are veterans and proud Americans. But the world has changed – at least the economic world. Growth and opportunity is not exclusive to America.

There is a sense of entitlement in the United States that has been reinforced over the years. The belief that Americans are entitled to more money, better jobs, better homes, better food and better lives than everyone else is something I suggest we take a careful look at. The alternative is to assume that is has and should to be that way because that's the way it was in decades past.

Again, my thoughts here are not intended to offend anyone. But I would like you to reflect and consider the possibility that what was, no longer is - or at least not in the same way.

The Reality of Change

Change is good. It allows people to reconnect with their purpose and with their lives. Change is also painful – especially at the beginning, which is where we are right now. Instead of getting mad or emotional, you can choose to find inspiration. You can, I can, we all can - and we should.

I am not an expert on defining the meaning of being American. But I do believe that somewhere in our prosperity, people came to assume that being an American entitled a person to success. I think the real message got lost in translation. Being an American (as I understand it) was and is about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Can you be American and live/earn your living in a different country. Yes, of course. And you can be from another country and live/earn your living in America? Again, the answer is yes.

The painful reality in these economic times may be that the "best" career opportunities are not exclusive to America. That may be a painful reality to accept, but it's a reality that America helped to create.

IBM and India

Should someone, at his or her own expense, relocate to India to take a job with little or no guarantees? Well, I'm not an expert on what's happening with IBM and its foreign business development. But I will say that you should always be open to assessing the risks and rewards in any situation and, if need be, moving to where the work is. Either way, just be prepared to accept the consequences of your decisions.

Do we have any U.S.-based, American IBM engineers here on CR4? If so, these colleagues may be thinking, "Forget that! I'm not moving out of the United States for work. I won't leave my friends. I won't leave or relocate my family. Especially if I have to pay for the move out of my own pocket."

I'm not here to say whether that this thought process is right or wrong. Everyone is entitled to his or her beliefs, and it's that person's choice to move or stay put. And, again, a person should be prepared to accept and deal with the consequences associated with either of those decisions.

Editor's Note: Click here for Part 2 of this series. It becomes available on 06/01/09.

Reply

Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.

Comments rated to be Good Answers:

These comments received enough positive ratings to make them "good answers".
Guru
Popular Science - Weaponology - New Member Netherlands - Member - New Member Fans of Old Computers - Commodore 64 - New Member

Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Japan
Posts: 2703
Good Answers: 38
#1

Re: Tough Choices Have Real Consequences (Part 1)

05/31/2009 10:48 PM

Moving to another country is a choice everyone has to make for themselves, and off course if the company wants you to move they have to pay for it.

__________________
From the Movie "The Big Lebowski" Don't pee on the carpet man!
Reply
Associate

Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Australia
Posts: 54
Good Answers: 5
#2

Re: Tough Choices Have Real Consequences (Part 1)

05/31/2009 11:12 PM

Hi Doug, very interesting topic. I'm not American and have only been there once. One observation I'd like to make about America that I think Australians and Europeans generally share, is that while the OPPORTUNITY may be there for the better job, home, food, etc, for many Americans, it is simply not within reach. It may be your skin colour, upbringing, or the intelligence/drive you were born with: if these factors aren't right you can end up living on the streets. I never saw so many homeless people on the streets as I did in San Fransisco. (Mind you, I've never been to a "third world" country.) And your jail population is incredibly high.

As for moving to India for a job - this has me mystified and I am not familiar with what is going on in that situation, but for me the short answer would definately be NO!

My parents moved from Europe to Australia decades ago and while it worked out ok in the end it is not a path I could recommend to anyone. Home is home and home is best.

__________________
Frankston
Reply
Guru
Popular Science - Weaponology - New Member Netherlands - Member - New Member Fans of Old Computers - Commodore 64 - New Member

Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Japan
Posts: 2703
Good Answers: 38
#3

Re: Tough Choices Have Real Consequences (Part 1)

05/31/2009 11:50 PM

allready the first here in Japan but no part 2

__________________
From the Movie "The Big Lebowski" Don't pee on the carpet man!
Reply Off Topic (Score 5)
Guru
Engineering Fields - Marine Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Australia
Posts: 1630
Good Answers: 19
#4

Re: Tough Choices Have Real Consequences (Part 1)

06/01/2009 3:03 AM

Hi Doug,

My situation was similar to Frankston, my parents came to Australia when I was but a pup (10 years old), in 1950. Not that I had any say in it, I think it was a great move, although I may not have at the time.

Whilst serving time at Her Majesty's pleasure, in the Grey Funnel Line (Royal Australian Navy), I visited many South East Asian countries, New Zealand, New Caledonia, New Guinea, Solomon Islands, UK, Germany etc............there was always one thing, that after these tours of duty, I was always glad to get back to good old Australia.........after seeing how the other half live.

I have never been to the states...........I hope to rectify that next June..........if work commitments allow...........fingers crossed, they will.

Although I had a recent offer to change jobs for an extra AUS$100/day (interstate), I was not interested, after all, my children and 9 grand children are all in Adelaide, South Australia.........I am also 69 in 2 months, but I do not really think that I would have accepted the offer, had I been younger.

Like Frankston, why would anyone want to move to India, China, Middle East, etc. just for the sake of the almighty dollar........no thank you............some of the places are not even nice places to visit, let alone work there.

There's no place like home............

__________________
TO BE. or NOT TO BE. That is the question!! The Bard
Reply
Power-User
India - Member - ROBOTICS Engineering Fields - Marine Engineering - New Member;I believe in integrating several disciplines of engineering.

Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: CHENNAI, INDIA
Posts: 302
Good Answers: 6
#5

Re: Tough Choices Have Real Consequences (Part 1)

06/01/2009 3:23 AM

Hi Dr.Doug,good

I am Dr.Ram (www.artecrobotics.com). Congratulations on a very frank self evaluation by an American-which is typical of Americans in general-and that's what makes America a great country.Now, you are right that America has enabled development of the free world (even while enriching itself).This very development is hurting America and is likely to hurt it even more in the near and foreseeable future, unless America re-invents itself-as it is always wont to do!!

The present generation, post the "Baby-boomers" are not as good as needed, because there is no incentive to do anything as Americans have already arrived in Utopia. Let them take it easy and allow the rest of the world (the tortoises) to catch up, when like the proverbial Hare, they can start bounding again.

This is not a matter of worry at all.

The only thing the rest of the world may want of the Americans is to give up the gas-guzzlers and be content with 0-60mph in10 to 15 seconds instead of the 6 or 4 seconds. Enough damage (Global warming) has been done already.

Best regards

Ram

__________________
Design & Build HOMOPHILIC Suprahuman ROBOTS
Reply
Guru
Popular Science - Weaponology - New Member Netherlands - Member - New Member Fans of Old Computers - Commodore 64 - New Member

Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Japan
Posts: 2703
Good Answers: 38
#6
In reply to #5

Re: Tough Choices Have Real Consequences (Part 1)

06/01/2009 4:03 AM

The only thing the rest of the world may want of the Americans is to give up the gas-guzzlers and be content with 0-60mph in10 to 15 seconds instead of the 6 or 4 seconds. Enough damage (Global warming) has been done already

In 4 to 6 seconds is also possible with a electric car or gas economical engine

__________________
From the Movie "The Big Lebowski" Don't pee on the carpet man!
Reply Off Topic (Score 5)
Power-User
India - Member - ROBOTICS Engineering Fields - Marine Engineering - New Member;I believe in integrating several disciplines of engineering.

Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: CHENNAI, INDIA
Posts: 302
Good Answers: 6
#10
In reply to #6

Re: Tough Choices Have Real Consequences (Part 1)

06/01/2009 11:24 AM

Thank you. Yes. I had overlooked the "electrics"*.But then are these affordably available presently? GM (Government Motors??) should switch their production lines to these, instead of filing for bankruptcy!!

*Electricity is welcome, if the prime sources of generation are Renewables-Wind, Hydro, Tidal, Geothermal, Bullocks/Horses/Camels/Dogs/Donkeys/LLamas,Bio(Jatropha), animal dung,Bagasse, farm waste/Kitchen waste etc. and not fossil/Coal/peat/Lignite/Nuclear.

__________________
Design & Build HOMOPHILIC Suprahuman ROBOTS
Reply Off Topic (Score 5)
Anonymous Poster
#7

Re: Tough Choices Have Real Consequences (Part 1)

06/01/2009 4:29 AM

ALL HAIL GLOBILISATION, Since the mid 70s I have worked in just about every corner of the world, and yes I agree that in most of the developed counties we have less incentive to advance as we live in relative comfort, even if that comfort comes from the sacrifice and work from previous generations. If the developed countries want to keep there labor force in there own counties then they must be prepared to pay higher prices for goods manufactured in the developed countries. Should we impoverish the workforce in the developed countries down to the level of some of the developing counties just to make us more competitive? Good old unregulated capitalism, see what a great job it had on the world banking system.

Reply
Guru
United States - Member - Technical Fields - Education - Hobbies - Hunting - Popular Science - Weaponology -

Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Texas
Posts: 552
Good Answers: 8
#8

Re: Tough Choices Have Real Consequences (Part 1)

06/01/2009 8:34 AM

Interesting evaluation...Interesting comments. Being in correctional education I'm afraid I see the direct effects of the entitlement mentality. This is something my coworkers and I discuss frequently. Students in general and incarcerated students in particular, see the world as being against them. So many of my students have grown up on well-fare in section 8 housing that they don't even consider working and earning a living as a choice.

In regular high school, students and parents blame teachers for their bad grade instead of working hard. On top of that, they complain when the students have not learned what they should have because of grade inflation. During my time as a university teaching assistant, I saw the same thing at the university level.

Have you been out to eat lately? The entitlement generation is starting to take over. They are rude, inconsiderate and expect you to give everything. Consider the 20-something waiter that "expects" gratuity rather than serving you well for it.

I could really go on a tangent here, but our nation is in serious trouble. Until we do something it will continue....

__________________
David A Goodman
Reply
Guru
Engineering Fields - Marine Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Australia
Posts: 1630
Good Answers: 19
#9
In reply to #8

Re: Tough Choices Have Real Consequences (Part 1)

06/01/2009 11:01 AM

Hi DAG,

You did well...........they have a chip on their shoulder and consider that the the world owes them something..........we have them here in Australia as well..........they would not work in an iron lung and their feet in a barrel of yeast............the trouble is the government gives the too much money on the dole.............still if the government didn't do that the crime rate would increase.........like you DAG this is something that gets up my nose.

__________________
TO BE. or NOT TO BE. That is the question!! The Bard
Reply
Anonymous Poster
#11

Re: Tough Choices Have Real Consequences (Part 1)

06/01/2009 11:53 AM

Hooray! Dis heah proves it! Mah boy don't need to pay no tenshun to dat stupid engrish teacher no more. He kin go all the way to-a phd makin the same errors he jist got failed for.

"is" instead-uh "it" ... "you can" instead of "can you" (interrogative usage) ... "little" instead of "few" (with the plural "guarantees") ... "whether that" instead of "whether or not"...

C'mon ~ ain't it time we start a petition to git Macrosoft to de-bloat their products (to bring the price down) ... startin wit eliminatin the stupit spellin-&-grammer-chekker!?

-to-

Reply
2
Guru
Popular Science - Cosmology - New Member Technical Fields - Technical Writing - New Member Engineering Fields - Energy Engineering - New Member Engineering Fields - Electrical Engineering - New Member Engineering Fields - Control Engineering - New Member Engineering Fields - Electromechanical Engineering - Old Member, New Association

Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Lexington, KY
Posts: 1639
Good Answers: 72
#12

Re: Tough Choices Have Real Consequences (Part 1)

06/01/2009 1:20 PM

Dear Dr. Doug,

I think you are confusing a "sense of entitlement" with "distress over a loss of devotion". It is a bit more like when you wife cheats on you with another man. By design, any company (in any nation) seeks to be competitive by keeping their cost as low as possible. This strategy makes it tough for any competition. So, when it becomes reasonable to relocate in order to take advantage of lower wage earners, then "take advantage" is what they do.

A typical employer expects their employees to be automatically devoted to them because they are being paid. Never mind that the employee has to do some physical labor to earn that pay. But the reality is that managers are upset when the workers become disgruntled after some big shot figures out how to fatten his wallet by reducing benefits for others. And this is considered to be the low hanging fruit!

Consequently, when all the easy to reach fruit has been picked the changes become more invasive. But one of the biggest changes you failed to discuss is the obvious opportunity for growth by expanding the market. To do this, every customer must be able to purchase the same products at the same price. Unfortunately there is no world currency and there are no world wide standards of living......yet. So, one of the easiest and fastest ways to expand markets is to give jobs to those in developing markets so they can earn some money to spend. Then, after a while, they too will be able to buy the same products that Americans can, and at the same price. Unfortunately, that is a process that will take more than half a century if it ever manages to succeed at all.

But the problem is not really change. It is more one of the rate of change. The difference is like the difference between velocity and acceleration. Velocity is not what generally spoils one's day. It is acceleration or deceleration like the sudden stop one experiences shortly after jumping off a building. The acceleration didn't hurt, it was the sudden deceleration. So while the salaries and benefits have slowly been increasing over the decades, everything was great.

And yes, entitlement is a problem caused by a distorted reality. This happens because a lack of communication between parent and child or between boss and worker. The real problem here is that society (in America and elsewhere) fails to embrace responsibility as a virtue. Except of course when the police detectives or a judge and jury can prove an accusation. And if responsibility was respected it would be taught. Unfortunately responsibility also requires honesty. And honestly, too many executives in America make too damn much money for doing very little. So it is no wonder that the little guy dreams about more money and better jobs.....

Could I live in another country for a chance to make a better living? I can't think of any reason I wouldn't. Just like the wandering nomads in the African desert, when the food sources and the water hole drys up, it doesn't make a lot of sense to hang around and complain about it.

But again I think you missed the point. A lot of people are reluctant to leave their comfort zones. As a result, they are reluctant to change. And many times if they are unwilling to seek change then change will seek them. So it is more about attitude and flexibility. And just like staying healthy it pays to keep flexible. Humans in general prefer the easy life because it takes less effort. All species have this characteristic. Even in physics, matter generally seeks the lowest energy level it can maintain.

IBM is not alone by any measure is sending jobs overseas. As it currently stands, nearly 90% of the jobs at IBM have moved from the USA to India and other countries. While it may have saved the company for a while, it was a last ditch effort because they won't be able to repeat that kind of move again. Now, IBM will have to change and get back into the kind of developments that made them great. All they have to do is think of a product or service that everyone needs and can't live without. I suppose they will have to figure out how to make clean air and clean water as a product. Meanwhile the rest of us will be trying to reduce our contamination of the air and water before it becomes too thick to tolerate.

As to moving outside the United States, some of us are going to stay here to re-engineer the future. I have no fantasies about that. It is going to be more difficult than ever before. The average worker will have to be much smarter and more in tune with technology than ever before. The race is on, and it is world wide. The losers get the crummy service jobs and that is how it will be for the next 60 or more years. I first heard this prediction in 1988 at a seminar with a speaker who worked from the department of labor. Everything he said has come true. That doesn't make him a prophet, it proves his wisdom and understanding of capitalism and the population who has no idea how hard their father or mother had to work to give them what they have.

Here is a little food for thought. Fractal mathematics predicts that systems mimic each other because they are part of the natural order of things. A single tree in a forest, for instance, will represent several acres of land around it in terms of productivity. Now, contemplate this. Seventy percent of all species are parasitic. What percentage of humans live this way?

__________________
A great troubleshooting tip...."When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth." Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Reply Good Answer (Score 2)
Commentator

Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: New York
Posts: 81
Good Answers: 4
#13
In reply to #12

Re: Tough Choices Have Real Consequences (Part 1)

06/01/2009 2:37 PM

I have been reading and following your threads. I am glad that it has sparked some conversations across the globe.

I think an important element to consider is the casting of generalizations as we each make our point via free, open and respectful dialogue.

With that said, the following statement you made, "…And honestly, too many executives in America make too damn much money for doing very little. So it is no wonder that the little guy dreams about more money and better jobs....."

Yes, I understand the media has exposed many bad and greedy people. But that is always the case; the unique difference here is that this involves money. Big money. And our taxes. I am not defending anyone. I believe we each make our choices and accept the consequences of those actions…good, bad or indifferent. Yes, there are some bad executives as there are some bad teachers, some bad lawyers, some bad doctors, some bad religious heads, some bad politicians, etc.

However, to my original point of self-entitlement – America has created more well…America and now we are apparently paying the price that comes along with freedom to educate, create, choose, build, leverage and capitalize.

To say that "too many executives make too damn much money for doing very little" is, and I say this with all due respect, is quite a large scoping assumption. People are not born "executives." They work to earn that spot. Now, whether they are over paid or not is really very subjective isn't it? I mean, somehow, someway the supply-demand curve decided that specific salary package for that specific person. What is right or wrong at the time? Who knows. All we do know is that it was what the market value was for that job. Now the market value has changed and with it should our expectations.

Who is to decide what value really is? Should the teacher or police officer or fireman or military soldier get paid millions to do their job? Maybe. Should the professional athlete get paid tens of thousands? Maybe. Salaries are a function of whatever the market will allow. To say that one person should get paid more than another person really has everything to do with what society feels that person's contribution in that specific occupation is really worth and what the market will pay for it.

Do I personally think it is wrong for a teacher to get paid 40k a year to teach our children (our future) while a professional athlete gets paid millions to throw a football? Yes, but I don't make the rules (society as a collective soul seems to) – and it appears that more people like to watch and attend football games (which attracts sponsors and tv revenue) than they do to watch and attend events where the main attraction is teachers teaching at schools.

What is most compelling about America is the commitment to "Freedom" and more specifically freedom to choose. We all have that choice – yes, I know some have more barriers to overcome depending on where they live, how much money they have, etc; but that does not mean the opportunity is not there (as with some countries). We all can work and make the needed sacrifices to become doctors or lawyers or teachers or financial advisors or executives or politicians or whatever WE WANT. I put forth the possibility that what we are experiencing now is a correction to the system and it is the price for freedom to choose. Hopefully the global lesson our children and future generations will take from this experience is not to take it for granted because it can go out of control if not monitored and tweaked from time to time. America made a mistake. The world watches. We all are impacted by it. We all pay for it with our jobs or our taxes – what really matters, however is will we learn the lesson?

And to sum up my posts for part 1 and part 2, I would have to say that I am not so sure we will.

Thank you, "NoturOridinaryJoe" for your post. Excellent discussion.

Dr Doug

__________________
Helping you find your way to Great.
Reply
2
Anonymous Poster
#14

Re: Tough Choices Have Real Consequences (Part 1)

06/01/2009 6:41 PM

Entitlement? I don't think it is entitlement as much as an intuitive assumption that progress always happens and is always upward. In other words, most people have observed that (generally) the standard of living in America is better for each succeeding generation. Globalization has upset that applecart.

Globalization. One word that encompasses so much! One way to look at globalization is to realize that the American standard of living (and European as well) was so far above the Third World countries that out of compassion there needed to be an adjustment of some sort to raise them out of poverty. The problem is that there was no coordinated plan in trying to achieve this. Of course, without political engagement you can't expect that to have happened. But the reality, so far, is that letting "markets" decide how globalization has happened has resulted in a less than optimal process.

Free traders decry "protectionism". Yet many countries place tariffs on foreign goods coming into their country. I was speaking with a Chinese friend just last week who spent years here getting his PhD and now has taken a job back in China. He was back in the U.S. for a scientific conference and called to chat a while. I jokingly suggested he buy an American car to take back because there are some really cheap deals available. He said it would be too expensive. I assumed he meant too expensive to ship it to China. He said "No!" He explained that China imposes tariffs on all American made cars unless it is a car jointly involving both countries in its manufacturing. So despite the fact that American politicians champion free trade and warn of the dangers of protectionism, many other countries practice protectionism.

I'm in favor of globalization. I just think it happened in a haphazard way with little thought of protecting American jobs (especially in the manufacturing sector). If you are going to favor "free and open" trade, you are automatically tilting the see-saw of labor costs in favor of poorer countries where labor is extremely cheap compared to American labor. (Supporting the higher standard of living). We allowed American companies to relocate their manufacturing facilites overseas utilizing cheap labor. Other companies who tried to stay here and compete found it almost impossible to not follow suit and stay in business. Without tariffs on those goods coming back in the country competitors were hamstrung in trying to compete with the labor costs. A better way to have raised the standard of living around the world while preserving American jobs (and manufacturing) would have been to place tariffs on these companies products in the American market. Let them be sold more cheaply to markets where their price would be more in line with the standard of living. As it is now, too many Americans have been "sucked" in to this vortex. Wages have been stagnate because of global competition and cost of living has risen. Now, the "middle-class" frequents Wal-Mart more out of necessity than choice. They can't afford to shop at many other retailers. And the sad fact is that even though laborers in many of these overseas manufacturing facilities now have regular work to raise their standard of living, they are still paid much less than their American counterparts.

No, I think all of this could have happened in a better way. Globalization should have happened on the politlical front first and THEN a more coordinated plan of how to "share" manufacturing methods and facilities might have been achieved. There should not have to be a discussion of "better jobs" overseas. I think American jobs could have been preserved much better than they have been.

Reply Good Answer (Score 2)
Power-User
United States - Member - New Member Engineering Fields - Chemical Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 367
Good Answers: 10
#15

Re: Tough Choices Have Real Consequences (Part 1)

06/01/2009 8:17 PM

People have always been able to make money by traveling overseas. Most of the start up folks I ran into during various plant start ups were always coming back from some far corner of the Earth. It is a choice you make and it has impacts, both positive and negative for your life. In my opinion, they are mostly negative because it means time away from family.

Things have come and gone in the US and they will continue to do so. A lot of industry and chemicals have moved on, for example I don't think there are more than one or two magnesium plants left in this country. Maybe it is time for some other things to move on as well. Life will continue to evolve out of the control of everyone and it will mean that some rise and some fall, the trick is to not become obsessed with it and bring you down.

When people define happiness/success as whether or not they are rolling on 22s and have a 6 bedroom house with a cell phone that can call in an air strike, chances are that they are not going to be happy nor will they feel successful. It is tough to avoid all the materialism but in the long run I think it makes you happier.

__________________
Money doesn't talk, it screams in your face.
Reply
Reply to Blog Entry 15 comments
Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.

Comments rated to be Good Answers:

These comments received enough positive ratings to make them "good answers".
Copy to Clipboard

Users who posted comments:

Anonymous Poster (3); betomachine (1); D.RAMAKRISHNA NAIDU (2); DAG (1); DrDoug (1); Epke (3); Frankston (1); MOBI (2); NotUrOrdinaryJoe (1)

Previous in Blog: Eight Ways to Manage Stress   Next in Blog: Tough Choices Have Real Consequences (Part 2)

Advertisement