Sunday, March 05, 2006

Outsourcing and teaching people new skills

Visiting Hyderabad, India, Bush said, "The United States would counter job losses by teaching people new skills rather than discouraging outsourcing."

Okay, maybe the definition of new skills will have to be broadened to include learning how to live on lower wages.

This may not be what Bush has in mind, but lower wage jobs, in America's service sector, are becoming numerous. This doesn't have to be all bad as something called "downshifting" can become a social movement.

Downshifting; leaving the rat race of high pressure, high profile work. Opting for what could be a spiritually more fulfilling path. Quality living. More time for friends, taking walks, exercise, volunteer work, art, study, reading, intelligent conversation, dancing, bicycling, what ever.

Can "new skills" include learning to live better with less consumption? I am afraid that is not what our president has in mind, but the way things are going, it's needed. Yes, high technology industry and American ingenuity can bring higher profile work to some people, but world trade points out that America has no monopoly on prowess. The world is becoming a more even playing field.

Part of learning new skills can mean learning to live with more grace and quality, not just measuring all things in terms of material wealth or consumption.

However, the cost of living; housing, health care; things for mere survival are too high in America. Rents and house valuations are way out of step with large segments of the job environment that is emerging in America.

If these costs can be brought down, we might be able to have the cultural renaissance that a little down shifting can bring.

3 comments:

People for a Shorter Workweek said...

So true (about housing costs). It is way outta line! Something has to be done so that Americans can enjoy the downshifting lifestyle without worring about how to make that house or rent payment.

Anonymous said...

It's hard to know how to provide both security and freedom in a society. They are naturally in tension, and they're both important. I know, as shown in your blog piece, that you put freedom over what most people
define as "financial security," and I think your attitude has a lot going for it. You put adventure over security. But it's probably more feasible for people like you and I who don't have children to live simply. Once you have a wife and children, there are
so many pressures to provide material things to them.
But maybe Americans really are going to have to learn to live more simply.

Robert said...

Good point. There are virtues in being single.