Monday, February 02, 2009

A Two Faced Story

Greed has many masks but just one face. The news of TARP banks laying off American workers to replace with H1-Bs will provoke a lot of anger and righteous indignation (as can be imagined). The entire desi IT community (which is a large part of the H1-B pool) will be tarred by the same brush with the locals looking upon each one of us as the cause of all their unemployment woes.

It will scarcely cross their minds that we have widely varying levels of skills, education and talents so heaping blame on the collective is a pointless exercise. Our "Coming to America" stories are as diverse as we are as a people - and many of them are quite tragic. And that is just the desi half of the immigration story. The other half is fully made in America, and enabled by the very people who rile against it.

There is something fundamentally wrong about a system where the cost of the goods and services are out of reach of the average person, if all of those employed in producing them are local employees compensated adequately for their cost of living. Unless that problem is solved, American employers will be forced to seek out lower wages and operating costs just so their businesses can survive. While it begins as a fundamental survival tactic, greed is inevitable and is what pushes them to reach well past filling the basic need.

The suicide of rice farmers in India is also a consequence of corporate greed helped by a compliant bureaucracy. While this story is unfolding in very different circumstances half way around the world from America, the dramatis personae are no different. In both cases, the consumers are accomplices without whose tacit participation none of this would have become possible.

In a hypothetical scenario, the son of an Indian farmer dependent on GM seeds, might work unbelievably hard to pull his family out of the death spiral they are caught in, get an education and finally a job in IT. He may end up working in America for a third of prevailing wages in the IT organization of the very GM seed company that is driving his family and community back home to suicide.

This Indian "code-coolie" would be viewed by the local technology worker he displaced as the enemy. The desi in this equation would find it impossible to tell friend and foe apart. When all the masks of greed are peeled of, the face is revealed to be one and the same. It is the face that drives people to the edge of death and despair - with consumers being very much part of the problem and contributing to the perpetration itself.


KeepingItSimple said...

A very apt story of current times. Ironic isn't it ?

Nice write up. Keep it up.

Heartcrossings said...

KeepingItSimple - Irony it is indeed but it seems to escape people almost completely ! Thanks for stopping by.