July 29, 2005


IBM's plans for the middle class
by Jim Hightower

The internal memo is dated April 2005 and tagged: "IBM Confidential."

The reason for the hush-hush treatment is that this document is written confirmation of corporate America's intention to offshore our nation's middle-class future, shipping out the jobs in engineering, and other sciences that require advanced degrees and pay top wages. IBM, the world's largest information technology corporation, has become the leading practitioner of shopping the globe for the cheapest high-tech workers, knocking down the wage floor to the lowest common denominator.

Because of the wrenching economic, social and political impacts this will have on U. S. society, IBM has not wanted to concede publicly that undermining middle-class opportunities is a corporate goal. This leaked memo, however, confirms that while the top honchos are cutting 13,000 of these high-tech jobs in America and Europe this year, it will add 14, 000 in the low-wage tech centers of India.

Experienced software programmers in our country earn maybe $75,000 a year, creating a sound middle-class base for our economy and communities. But the hell with such democratic notions of the Common Good, say the profiteers — we can replace American programmers with ones from India who'll do the work for $15,000 a year. That's $60,000 per job, per year, that the corporate and investor elites can take out of the middle class and put in their own pockets.

Adding insult to injury, a top IBM executive says that the corporate rush to India is not merely a chase for the cheapest workers, but "It's mostly about skills." He then proceeds to lecture America's high-tech workers: "You are no longer competing just with the guy down the street, but also with people around the world."

And there you have a sparkling clear statement of what corporate America thinks of you and has in store for you. How do they think they'll hold a society together when they knock down all of our wages to $15,000 a year?

Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Let’s Stop Beating Around the Bush, on sale from Viking Press. For more information, visit www.jimhightower.com.


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