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Tough Choices Have Real Consequences (Part 2)

Posted June 01, 2009 6:01 AM by DrDoug

What would be the best decision for the hypothetical IBM employee we met in Part 1? Let me give it to you straight, as always. I have no idea. But I do know how to help that person go about the process of figuring it out. It all depends on that worker's specific goals, as well as an objectified risk/reward analysis about the upside and downside that will come with either decision.

Here's the core of what I'm trying to communicate to anyone who will listen – we Americans have grown to develop inside of a comfort zone surrounded by as sense of entitlement. As I explained in Part 1, being an American does not (in my opinion) entitle a person to a special level existence that is above all other humanity.

So should people who are unable to find work in the U.S. consider moving at their own expense to another country, if the goal is to obtain work and build a better life for themselves and their loved ones? Yes, they should consider it.

Role Reversal?

For a few hundred years now, people from countries around the world have done just that by moving to the United States. Immigrants have made this move at their own expense and with no guarantees. The difference now is that Americans (some at least) are forced with having to digest that potential reality and consider doing it.

Why is this so distasteful? Are Americans better than people from other countries? No, I do not think so. I believe that all people are created equal. But it's their choices in life that define them.

In the end, we get to make our own choices and we all should understand that with those decisions come consequences. Sometimes we must accept that we are going to be forced to choose between two very unpleasant things – and then the solution lies in identifying which choice is "less worse" for our lives and futures.

I hope you all accept this post for what it is… just my opinion.

Again, I have no intention to offend – but simply to stimulate thought among those who are reading this.

Thanks

Dr. Doug

Editor's Note: You can visit Dr. Doug online at www.DrDoug.com or by email: DrDoug@DrDoug.com. His next CR4 blog entry will run on Monday, 06/15.

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#1

Re: Tough Choices Have Real Consequences (Part 2)

06/01/2009 7:51 AM

What defines how successful an immigrant (native) will be?

1. The skills the immigrant has compared to where he immigrates to. This has happened within/outside the US where construction people relocate to build new projects, technical people to factories to build new aircraft or machines, ... A defined need.

2. The education level can define potential positions available. If the immigrant becomes a school teacher or college professor they now shape the education of the new host country. This may not be a desireable outcome, but is a melting pot outcome.

3. Funding and finances the immigrant can bring to the new country. The international transfer of wealth occurs all the time by individuals and businesses, to buy and build business, people "buy" there entry.

4. Luck, being able to have the right stuff at the right time for the right opportunity and the vision to assemble the pieces.

Each person may have a time/age dependent definition of success/goals and what they would "trade" to rebalance there scales changes...

Why would people immigrate from the US to India, when India's people are immigrating to Canada and the US ?

Canada has more land area then the US, as many resources as the US and 10% of the population of the US, our cultures and values are similar, they drive on the same side of the road, they use 60Hz electrical power, what could be better ?

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#4
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Re: Tough Choices Have Real Consequences (Part 2)

06/01/2009 10:52 AM

"our cultures and values are similar"

I disagree. And I believe most Canadians would. People from the USA look at us as similar but we look at USA'ers as very different.

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#7
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Re: Tough Choices Have Real Consequences (Part 2)

06/01/2009 12:17 PM

While I take your point about differences in (hah) our points of view, I think either of us has more in common with each other than we have in common with a lot of the rest of the world.

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#8
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Re: Tough Choices Have Real Consequences (Part 2)

06/01/2009 12:45 PM

I've been in all of the Canadian border provinces from coast-to-coast Vancouver to St. John's NF including to Fort Mc Murray, Gillam and Chicoutimi and many of them many times over the past 20 years doing business, filing Canadian taxes, working field service several places in Canada, with many friends and customers, have worked with Canadians in the US, ...

Based upon this knowledge I made the statement, there are many specific differences between the US and Canada, generally we have many common interests and standing side-by-side would appear almost mirrored.

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#18
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Re: Tough Choices Have Real Consequences (Part 2)

06/03/2009 10:04 AM

Due to the geography of our nations our populations are quite diverse. Therefore my statement is only a general one.

When I discuss this with people from the USA I get similar comments. I find it a very interesting perception.

And when I discuss this with Canadians I get the perception as I mentioned. We are very different.

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#19
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Re: Tough Choices Have Real Consequences (Part 2)

06/03/2009 10:27 AM

I have had similar experiences, what I see as an American as minor differences my Canadian friends see as massive differences.

And there might be merit ~ who am I to say?

But as an American I have noticed you have to get a Canadian really drunk before they will say anything that could be perceived as critical or rude. Very polite people. More fun drunk - I (I was going to say we and that may not be true) am really not easily offended (he says about himself - hah! that may not be true either!). But manners are deeply ingrained in Canadians.

But I spent a lot of time listening to CBC on Sirius and I can tell you we do see some things very differently.

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#20
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Re: Tough Choices Have Real Consequences (Part 2)

06/03/2009 11:15 AM

As an Indian engineer, I tend to agree with you, having worked closely with both American engineers and Canadian engineers. The two are indeed different. Canadians are conservative while Americans are more interactive.

Both the characteristics together are essential for successful project execution, especially when a lot of uncertainty and dangerous unforeseen situations arise. Ihave had the privelege of being the head of a principal contractor with the engineers (American and Canadian) being Consultants and equipment suppliers/Manufacturers representatives for a large mineralogical plant being put up in hilly terrain and inclement weather for most part of the project duration with a time-bound execution schedule.

Needless to say, that the project was a resounding success, executed ahead of schedule and below budget because of sheer co-operation evaluating the pros and cons in a very constructive way, accommodating both the conservative and innovative points of view. There were many world "firsts", untrumpeted. This was also the first time ever that a project got commissioned ahead of schedule and below budget in the history of India's industrial/technological progress.

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#14
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Re: Tough Choices Have Real Consequences (Part 2)

06/02/2009 5:05 PM

Same is true for the US. One major reason underlying migration is the population density and available land. The US has by far more available land then India, Europe, most of China. The places with available land and jobs are typical direction of migration, but people do not tend to move to overcrowded areas with high densities of labor (even if it is less skilled) to work for less money and live in worse environments. Why would so many Indians want to move to the US still if it was better to move from the US to India. Obviously something is much worse there than in the US. Plus India is just the current Corporate cheap labor state. As Indian labor wages are on the increase, Indonesia or Malaysia is probably the next cheap semi skilled labor market for these companies to relocate to produce mediocre to poor quality products (quality being relative to the standards at that time) that will sell at Walmart.

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#15
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Re: Tough Choices Have Real Consequences (Part 2)

06/02/2009 5:17 PM

Saw on a documentary the other evening - some province in China was being deconstructed as the furniture manufacturing had been underbid by Malaysians.

Very mobile world we live in.

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#17
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Re: Tough Choices Have Real Consequences (Part 2)

06/02/2009 9:14 PM

Because they're Canadians! watch southpark

are people these days not spoiled? how about adaptability? if you don't want work abroad get another job or re-educate yourself for another line of work.

people these days are to focused on status and materialism, one just has to adept, even if that means (gosh the horror) taking a job that is below your intellectual grade or less pay (there is always time to look for a better job)

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#2

Re: Tough Choices Have Real Consequences (Part 2)

06/01/2009 9:43 AM

"we Americans have grown to develop inside of a comfort zone surrounded by as sense of entitlement."

Coming from a family that all my ancestors arrived on these shores before 1750. I have been raised to feel no entitlement to anything. Taught that my own hard work should provide for me.

It is this willingness to go forth into the into the unknown. To make a better life for oneself and family. Is the quality in the person what has made this country great. The entitlement that you speak of is thanks to our government in the creation of its social programs over the last 50 years. When generations start to depend on their government for their welfare. They no longer have the drive to help themselves.

Are you asking if there is still this quality in Americans?

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#3

Re: Tough Choices Have Real Consequences (Part 2)

06/01/2009 9:51 AM

Trying to take this in the spirit as it were:

There is a fundamental decision to be made or approach to be considered, is one immigrating or is one going to work "expat".

Taking the previous poster's point, I do not think Americans seriously consider themselves "above" working overseas, I think it probably never occurs to them. As stated, if your country is a destination for immigrants, one rarely thinks in terms of taking your skills overseas.

Getting back to the decision; This is a fast-changing world, and many of the rules I grew up with are gone. Some of those affect mobility of workforces.

Years ago, professionally proficient and feeling restless I looked at places I could export my skills. While a great many of the countries of the world wanted me to come work, with as much knowledge transfer as possible, damned few wanted me to stay.

NAFTA, while not specifically mentioned, has made mobility up and down North America a lot easier, but I don't think the same freedom extends to the rest of the planet. In the US we have had a steady interchange of Canadian workers, and I had at times had offers to work up there. Mexico has no industry applicable to me so I ignored it.

But once one decides to head overseas, whatever the destination - as professionals (as opposed to Licensed Professionals?) there is still a lot of research to be done. One area I HAD done some research involved licensing - many countries have licenses for things Americans do not. One should seriously consider whether it is possible to qualify.

Another issue prior to the Age of the Internet, there were damned few resources for investigating the questions involved.

Recruiters (except at the uppermost levels of management) were sadly uninformed, neither knowing the regulations for working in the country they were recruiting you to work in, nor having resources to discuss the serious issues surrounding taxes both at home and abroad, services when abroad (most foreign social systems do NOT welcome you in), nor mostly even exchange rates and other issues.

The internet has changed many of these issues, but for my generation perhaps too late.

So even given that most nations do not want someone of my age as an emigree, if one is just working abroad - this issues are still myriad.

Are you wishing to be an employee - a consultant - a "contractor" - are these handled the same way over there as they are here?

I have rambled even longer than the OP - and I apologize.

But world-wide over the years, one of the most protected things countries have is employment, and they have frequently guarded it jealously. So no, I do not think it is arrogance that has kept Americans at home. I think we HAD been staying where we were allowed to work, and at the best pay rates we could get.

Has that changed? Maybe.

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#5

Re: Tough Choices Have Real Consequences (Part 2)

06/01/2009 10:54 AM

Is it just me or does anyone else read the underlying arrogance of these articles?

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#6

Re: Tough Choices Have Real Consequences (Part 2)

06/01/2009 12:07 PM

There is a role reversal indeed. A lot many Indian companies are employing Americans in America.

As soon as I became aware of the downslide of the US economy, I became depressed as nearly 70% of the "developing" countries are dependent on the great engine of growth that America is.

This thought process resulted in a brazen idea of offering employment to at least 10,000,000 Americans to work in India if they are willing to share what we have and take it on from there, as they'd bring in a magnificient work culture, drive and inventiveness that is so badly missing here.

Incidently, when we had 10,000,000 refugees from the erstwhile East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) into Calcutta (now Kolkata), we never even felt their presence in our midst. So bringing in 10,000,000 Americans wont make any difference to the population density in terms of any added "discomfort"; while they would be net contributors to India's material upliftment!!

There is plenty to do out here, notwithstanding the Mosquitos, heat, dust and indifferent hygene!

Any takers? We can do "brainstorming" on what we can do together.

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#9

Re: Tough Choices Have Real Consequences (Part 2)

06/01/2009 2:10 PM

The term "entitlement" has been tossed about a bit - here is a snip I took from another source:

In a recent survey, more than 150 companies were asked the question, "Why don't you hire an applicant who is capable of doing the job?" Read their responses, and keep them in mind when preparing for your next interview.

1. Poor personal appearance
2. Lack of interest and enthusiasm
3. Over-emphasis on money
4. Condemnation of past employers
5. Failure to look at interviewer while conversing
6. Limp, fishy handshake
7. Unwillingness to go where sent
8. Lateness to interview
9. Failure to express appreciation for interviewer's time
10. Asks no questions about the job
11. Indefinite response to questions
12. Overbearing, over-aggressive, conceited "know-it-all" complex
13. Inability to express oneself clearly
14. Lack of planning for career: no purpose or goals
15. Lack of confidence, uneasiness
16. Failure to participate in activities
17. Unwillingness to start at bottom
18. Excuses, evasiveness
19. Untruthfulness
20. Lack of manners, courtesy
21. Lack of maturity
22. Lack of vitality
23. Indecision

24. Merely shopping around

All these applicants were capable of doing the job - many of these do not impinge on the job, yet these were the reasons given for not hiring. Over half of these could be lack of cultural understanding: (ie: Failure to look at interviewer while conversing)

Probably half of these are completely out of touch with the times (ie: 3. Over-emphasis on money, 14. Lack of planning for career: no purpose or goal, 17. Unwillingness to start at bottom)

Whose sense of entitlement is the problem here? The American corporation broke the covenant with the professional worker years ago, yet they still think the worker should be enthralled with the possiblity of employment with them.

The statistics say I am going to work for you five years at most, or until you figure out how to out-source me. What the hell do you care about my career planning?

I'm starting to think the slacker kids have something going for them.

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#10
In reply to #9

Re: Tough Choices Have Real Consequences (Part 2)

06/01/2009 2:45 PM

This is excellent. Thank you for sharing.

Dr Doug

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#16
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Re: Tough Choices Have Real Consequences (Part 2)

06/02/2009 6:02 PM

Also notice none of those were items related to the skill level or competence of the interviewee. this is the problem with having management derived from the bottom of the work force just above the HR people they are working with to recruit personnel. all of the items indicated were interpersonal things that you may not want a Doctor, scientist or Engineer to be particularly proficient in at the expense of technical skills.

I have been to many interviews and never heard anyone ask any questions to evaluate technical proficiencies. I have heard questions like-" you are assigned a project that is over budget and way behind schedule. You do not have any resources av ailable to work on the project, and have a deadline to meet. How would you handle the project?", or "you are having a conflict with a co-worker who you must work with and it can not be resolved, How would you handle this situation?"

I found that the wrong answers included at least- "I personally do not believe projects should be behind schedule and over budget if the project manager was adequately competent, i personally account for project drift in my project schedules and try to accurately estimate costs. However, I would probably just have to stay late and get the work done myself." Apparently, this is not a good answer under a bargaining unit MOU with a large bureaucratic public agency.

"If i could not diffuse the issue and it was escalating or becoming a problem for completion of the project, one of us would need to be reassigned or quit." Apparently, they really didn't mean that it absolutely could not be resolved.

however, none of these types of questions have any bearing at all on technical competency to perform the job. (and we wonder how high school drop outs can forge degrees and get jobs as Doctors and such, it is because no one evaluates technical competency in the interviews any more.)

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#11

Re: Tough Choices Have Real Consequences (Part 2)

06/01/2009 3:50 PM

I believe that the long standing elements of success in America have been rooted two concepts: The freedom of career and educational choices, and the reasonable certainty that hard work and dedication lead to economic and social success. For many decades the Americans and immigrants who took advantage of these two concepts have benefited immensely. Their success resulted not because they were entitled in any way, but because they were humbly thankful for the opportunity. Many who did not understand or courageously employ these concepts missed the opportunity to be successful.

The "entitlement concept" is rooted in political manipulation to gain power and is counterproductive to long term success. If we are approaching the point where a majority of Americans believe they are entitled to a higher standard of living without earning it, it is the beginning of the end of a prosperous America. Sure, we would all love for everyone to have food, a home, a job, health insurance, and a happy retirement, but unless we earn them, we can never tax (extort) enough from the "haves" to support the "have nots" in the life style to which they believe they are entitled. I also believe that if we continue to curtail freedom and discourage hard work, we are headed for a rude and painful awakening.

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#21
In reply to #11

Re: Tough Choices Have Real Consequences (Part 2)

06/06/2009 10:50 PM

GA

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#22
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Re: Tough Choices Have Real Consequences (Part 2)

06/08/2009 11:43 AM

I was watching Bill Maher last night and the panel was talking about how in europe they have universal health care and it is illegal for Doctors to make a profit. DL Hughley, a over paid marginally funny comedian, began this who rant about universal health care because he thinks Doctor's are over paid to provide a service we should all expect to get for free, because it is something people need. I think there is a belief amongst certain sectors of society, Hollywood being one, that necessities should be provided to everyone for free, and those who work in those field should not see profit not matter the skill, level of education, or work required to get to a point where they could do the job. I think many americans do believe they are entitled to be totally cared for by the government, and then they could choose to do what ever they want for a living or do nothing, but no american should have to pay his way to survive. however, I think there hae been a number of periods where native born US citizenry have begun to feel they are entitled, and some stressor arose that caused and adjustment in societies perceptions. Such stressors remind everyone how delicate these resource were that they needed to survive, and people thereafter had some higher level of respect for the jobs and were more willing to pay for those professionals. I here quite often from older people about how in their opinion nurses are worth more than all these Doctors now a days, but i suspect that if we had some pandemic, that perception would change rapidly (at least amongst the remaining living people, as the ones whose minds did change would likely die off anyways).

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#23
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Re: Tough Choices Have Real Consequences (Part 2)

06/08/2009 12:02 PM

"I think there is a belief amongst certain sectors of society, Hollywood being one, that necessities should be provided to everyone for free,"

The word entitlement is a semantic hot button, and one which DR DOUG chose to use as evidenced by his boilerplate ....

Bucky fuller pointed out in one of his books that when necessities become commodities, it usually results in a form of public ownership, so that there is no profit "waste" (my words not his) increasing the cost to all. His example was public water works, and I would add sewerage as examples of this. So is medical care equivalent product of clean drinking water or sanitary sewers?

I guess if I need heart surgery, I'm not thinking that its a commodity... And neither do all the rich folks from around the world who come to Cleveland Clinic when its their health issue.

So Just because we all want something doesn't make it a commodity, But if we want to spread the available resources among all who want them, well, what will be distributed will be undifferentiated 'commodity service' not what we have experienced as "medical care."

Dr's earnings are not spectacular at all compared to the wages paid the thugocracies of the NBA , NFL, and The investment bankers who were packaging home mortgages. And the Dr. have an 8-10 year loss of opportunity in order to earn their right to practice. Plus pay the Extortion level malpractice insurance premiums because everybody thinks we're 'entitled' to "Perfect" medical procedures. The only real cost reduction that socializing medical care will give will be that in implementing it, they will make malpractice suits impossible. Thus lowering the parasitic costs that the legal system has been taking from our medical sector.

Good insights RCE.

milo

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#24
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Re: Tough Choices Have Real Consequences (Part 2)

06/16/2009 6:50 PM

Not to mention that doctors are professionals and frequently in partnerships thus business owners. They have to pay for all the staff, whether staff is busy or not. Many General Practioners and Family Doctors actually end up earning less than the RNs they employ, and the RNs have none of the liability (let alone the billing people who bill insurance and have trouble figuring that out).

Public works, for sewerage at least, on the other hand actually derived from a public health concern by local governments which they addressed, there really has never been a purely private industry there, as the public works have alway been a communal health issue (and most people do not want to pay unless everyone else pays as much or more for such, except when taxed). Priavte industry in Public Works operations, never tend to show an actually profit except when they are marginalizing the city owned improvements and facilities to reduce the maintenance cost on paper. Medical care is not really communal, it is individualize to each person, so there will always be a market for individual treatment. However, some people perceive it as communal except when it comes to the own immediate care, then they want the best they can afford and will generally pay a lot for it there (and later bitch about it as they had planned to by a new sea do or girl friend or whatever with that money). I suspect those rich europeans who could use their universal health care do not use it, because they believe the universal health care have reduced the quality of Doctors to provide service and they want better care.

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#12

Re: Tough Choices Have Real Consequences (Part 2)

06/02/2009 10:59 AM

In trying to understand entitlement better, I came across this article that states, "Entitlement signals a rejection of the very DNA of America. Our national genetic code, at least at one time, was patterned on respect for the common man and woman." Nowadays it seems that the common man and woman is looked down on, even by other common men and women. Appearing common is evidently so distasteful that Americans will mortgage their lives to the hilt to drive a new car and live in a big house in their desperate attempt to live above the common man and woman. And then from their precarious precipice of debt they can comfortably look down on the common man and woman - until their employer decides to move to a more profitable country - preferably a country without oppressive child labor laws, expensive OSHA requirements, and pesky EPA inspections that interfere with the high profit margins they are ENTITLED to!

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#13

Re: Tough Choices Have Real Consequences (Part 2)

06/02/2009 11:05 AM

What about IBM's sense of entitlement to the US market?

The guest in post #9 has good points

But on the other hand

In this world of employment at will, employees are expected to change schedules at a moments notice, embrace whatever the latest consultant is pushing [6 sigma, TQM, blah, blah...] even when it's completely clear mgt. doesn't buy in...... I'm willing to give up the most productive hours of my day [I'll be where I'm supposed to be , doing what I'm supposed to be doing, when I'm supposed to be doing it] & help keep whatever product going out the door.

Loyalty "it's not just for employees"

Management always makes more than talent. The people in charge of the money seem to somehow feel entitled to a somewhat more generous share of the profits. Meanwhile the ideas people & "thems that do" not being solely motivated by money are left to scramble after the crumbs that hit the ground LOL

Free trade should mean more than the rest of the world coming to harvest the low hanging fruit that are our market & the companies [IBM] converting the world's resources into a fat bottom line.

I welcome free & fair trade. Unfortunately I don't think we'll be seeing that anytime soon.

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#25

Re: Tough Choices Have Real Consequences (Part 2)

06/19/2009 3:57 AM

I think this blog actually goes farther than necessary. People in the US not only feel entitled to a job in the US, but in their home town in the US!

A couple years ago I found myself in an online debate at the ASME with a bunch of people who were complaining about how terrible engineering is as a career, no jobs, low pay, etc. I could not understand their complaints as in the Houston Texas area at that time we were starving for engineers and it was not unusual for senior level engineers to be making well beyond $100,000 US per year.

I finally figured out what the deal was. These guys were not willing to move out of their home towns (which had stopped being places with job growth) to go find a decent job. A quick search on Monster.com and they would have been on their way to a nice job with a nice salary. The only cost would have been living in Houston or Louisiana (which is not so bad actually).

I have found that flexibility is one key to career success (one of several). If you are willing to go where the work is, you will be in demand. That is why I am in Malaysia instead of Houston now, and that is why I have very little concern about keeping my job in the current economy. I am flexible.

I transferred out of the US with the company I was working for, and I am having a blast and doing quite well. But if you are in Detroit right now, I hear there are still companies hiring engineers in Houston.....

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#26
In reply to #25

Re: Tough Choices Have Real Consequences (Part 2)

06/19/2009 11:12 AM

Great insight Steve S!

milo

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#27
In reply to #25

Re: Tough Choices Have Real Consequences (Part 2)

06/19/2009 11:30 AM

There is that need for flexibility, though $100,000 a year for a senior engineer isn't particulalrly good pay for such a large metropolis. Standard rates around the San Francisco Bay Area are $90,000 to around $120,000 for associate engineers, Senior Civil Engineers tend to run you $120,000 to $160,000, and Principals are upto around 200,000. I think the payscale issue is relative to perspective. So if you were in some place like Oakland or San Jose earning $135,000 a year in previous job as a Senior Engineer, would you consider moving to Houston for a 30% decrease in pay or would you look locally. And, then there is the house to deal with selling, moving everything, uprooting the wife and kids (and she may work at genentech or somewhere and not want to change her job).

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#28
In reply to #27

Re: Tough Choices Have Real Consequences (Part 2)

06/19/2009 8:52 PM

Granted RCE, but that is part of my point. In the debate I was in, one of the things they were saying was that it is impossible for an engineer to make more that 100,000 US per year. As you point out that is patently untrue.

BTW I just sold my house in a nice close in suburb of Houston for $150,000. The house was nice, recently remodeled, 2500 sq ft, on an acre of land near a creek. I sold it for its valuation for taxes from last year (at the time of $150 oil) so it is not a housing crisis issue. Where in San Francisco would you get the same house for that price? No state income tax either. Cost of living in Houston is much less than most parts of the country.

Just saying that there is more to the move calculation than salary, and a pay cut in Houston might end up netting more in the bank.

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