Jobless America: Yanquis Should Work Abroad

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in ,, at 8/11/2010 02:44:00 PM
It's time America faced the honest truth as its sunset years roll on and its megadeficits mount: like with the rest of its tarnished brand, it doesn't produce a whole lot of stuff the rest of the world wants. This fact is evidenced by the latest monthly figures showing an unexpectedly huge rise in the trade deficit. Despite the US "economy" being little improved since the height of the subprime crisis, the borrow-and-spend nation managed to pile up a nearly $50 billion deficit in June. Exports are contracting, not expanding; so much for Obamanite delusions about doubling exports in five years. Expect a massive downgrade to the (scarcely believable) advance estimate GDP figure of 2.4% annualized in Q2 2010 due to an again ballooning trade deficit.Instead, the wheels are truly coming off this directionless wagon. Truly, the sun has set on Pax Americana as very few will disagree when I say that its best years are well past it.

At the same time, there is an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal about how many vacancies there are in America despite such high unemployment rates. Apparently, there is a sizeable mismatch between skills needed to fill high-skilled manufacturing jobs in industries that may actually raise American export competitiveness and what is available in the job market. So, what you have left is a lot of middle-of-the-roaders whose training and preferences lie in useless fields like that I'm in where punters are a dime a dozen. (Ouch, the truth sure hurts!)

Facing this situation of jobless America, the obvious response would be to send more people to work abroad. Migration is a fact of life in many other countries, and even in the US itself people move to different states all the time. Still, the Yanquis are famously incurious about the rest of the world. In comparison to here in the UK where 71% of folks have a passport, only 22% of Americans do. Even in the fairly esoteric part of the blogosphere I ply my trade in, you will notice that a lot of concerns are domestic ones of interest mainly to whitebread audiences. Indeed, it may be a fair characterization to say that much US scholarship in international politics is often Just a Bunch of White People Talking to Each Other at US Universities and Calling It International.

In general, we have two stubborn facts: there are few jobs available in America, and the few that exist Americans either aren't trained for or do not have the skills to fill. I was thus struck by how these parochial preferences play out via the example of the Dubai-based carrier Emirates trying to hold job fairs in the US. Likely unknown to the vast majority of Americans only familiar with their crappy domestic carriers featuring antiquated planes, poor service, and massive government support since they can't hack it in the real world, Emirates is growing by leaps and bounds and even helps the US economy by ordering a whole lot of Boeing 777s.

Now, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to ply orange juice and crackers at 30000 feet, but still, amazingly few Americans tried to fill these jobs:
At Emirates, four cabin-crew job fairs the airline held in Miami, Houston, San Francisco and Seattle attracted an average of about 50 people each, compared to a global average of about 150 and as many as 1,000 at some events in Europe and Asia. "I would have liked to have seen more and would have expected to see more," says Rick Helliwell, vice president of recruitment.

The jobs require little more than a high-school diploma and fluency in English. They include free accommodation and medical care, and starting pay of about $30,000 a year. Mr. Helliwell speculates that Americans might be hesitant to move to Dubai, where the jobs are based. "Maybe they have less of an adventurous spirit" given the uncertainties they face at home, he said.
I can think of any number of reasons Yanquis aren't filling these posts: Palin-style Islamophobia, reluctance to leave the homeland, and snootiness about working as a flight attendant among other things. Sooner or later, though, reality will hit these folks--many of whom are perpetually on the dole: the American dream is a hopeless fraud. Some make it big in America, but for the vast majority, it is currently a land of next to no opportunity.

Something the whitebread commentariat routinely misses is that America's population is still growing with a replacement rate slightly north of 2.1 births per woman. By comparison, most of that in Europe (and Japan) isn't growing at a similar clip. Less population to support = less pressure to create new jobs. While this fact may augur well during normal times, at the present it simply means more to care for by more of those who can't find jobs. Short of an American one-child policy--something the US should seriously consider given its pathetic state of affairs--the solution lies abroad. Go East, young Yanqui, go East--and get a passport fer cryin' out loud.

UPDATE: As an example of limited American perspectives, this otherwise readable piece from the Atlantic on jobless America doesn't talk about work opportunities abroad.