State of Greek: Interchangeable Parts

I had promised to return and finish the State of Geek series, but I haven’t been in much of a mood for it. I have such mixed feelings about ‘geek’ lately. I am once a geek, but I am also not a geek — one foot in, one foot out.

The good news about the job market would seem to preclude these writings because, as it seems, the problems are all gone — hail, hail, the jobs all here. But you know, and I know, these jobs are not geek jobs. No, the hot degree now is in Business — the degree we laughed at when we trotted out into the work force with our hot and heavy tech credentials.

(Where were the laurel leaves and the whispered, “Thou art mortal. Thou art mortal.” in those days?)

America has become a service economy, which means we export raw material and import finished product and most people are employed facilitating this whole process. But among the moving parts, don’t count on tech or manufacturing. And the smug bunch holding up their biotech degrees? Remember those laurel leaves — you’re next.

All in all, this is not a healthy situation for a country to be in, but it is a short-term cost effective solution for corporations barely able to keep up with their bonus payments and still show inflated profits each quarter.

Still, I am less a geek now than I am a writer or photographer. Why should I care that the geek jobs go overseas? You might say my geek job caught that ship two years ago, and two years is a long time to stand on the pier, waving Bye bye. Bye bye.

Then I read stories such as a recent one in the Mercury News (thanks to Head Lemur and Ralph Poole):

Avinash Vashistha, managing director at San Ramon-based offshore consulting firm NeoIT, loves telling the story of asking a Silicon Valley executive this year which jobs he could offshore.

“Could you move this person’s job?’’ asked Vashistha.

“Oh, no,’’ the executive said. “I couldn’t move her job. She’s been here for 25 years. It would take eight people to do her job.’’

“Very well, we’ll hire eight people to replace her,’’ Vashistha said.

NeoIT calculated that the company could hire eight people to replace that one longtime employee and still save 20 percent by moving the entire division overseas, Vashistha said.

There is become two types of people in the world — those who control and those who work. When we, who work, become nothing more than cheap, non-differentiated interchangeable parts to those who control, then there’s a lot more at stake than some geek jobs in the States.

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