What drives much of today's unemployment? I would argue that it's outsourcing. I see job outsourcing as much more than the inconvenience of calling your technical support or financial institution and encountering someone with a strong accent.
When I came to this country, back in 1980, America was a beacon for immigrants. Now, immigration is down. Even the seasonal workers from Mexico don't come in huge numbers anymore.
People used to say, get an education. Education is your way to find a job. That and experience. The time for this wisdom is gone.
I have a master's degree in engineering. I lost my full-time job eight years ago after 21 excellent yearly evaluations and after receiving 11 U.S. and four foreign patents -- one of them featured in The Wall Street Journal. Now I can get only part-time jobs in a totally different field. Talk about a combination of experience and education. Yet my job went to China. Someone in China either had a better education than I did or was paid less. If I were a betting man, I'd put my severance payment on the latter.
My neighbors, relatives and friends with a rich collection of degrees are unemployed. A friend with an MBA wants to see "the magical beast, the unicorn" that can get a job in this economy. He hasn't seen one yet. His potential job went to the Philippines or India.
Another friend of mine, who has had a job for years, works in what he calls a "control tower" of a big computer company. When an order for new work comes, the people in the tower don't even consider the American job market. They decide among China, India and South East Asia.
American manufacturing is long gone, but even the drug companies, the rare industry that still does a significant chunk of its manufacturing in the United States, outsources. Colleges outsource as well. Some states even outsource food stamps services. Outsourcing harms national security (imagine outsourcing the interview process for the applicants for intelligence agencies -- no need to imagine it; it's already done) and diminishes our superpower status.
Outsourcing leads to a jobless recovery. And a recovery without jobs is hardly sustainable.
With the middle class shrinking thanks to outsourcing and only two classes -- employed and unemployed -- left, is America turning into another banana ... er ... corn republic? Would the people in the control tower, their bodyguards, their cooks and maids, their doctors and the teachers of their children be the only people employed in America? Would they live behind razor-wire-topped walls in fear of kidnapping and riots, as their counterparts in Latin America do?
The executives have to realize that the impoverished American market is not good for their companies. As Henry Ford understood, "when you get rid of an employee, you likewise lose a customer."
As Patrick Henry would have said today: "Give me work or give me death." Employment is the foundation of America's future, so let's not rattle this foundation.
Mark Budman's semiautobiographical novel, "My Life at First Try," complements a successful career writing short stories for publications such as Mississippi Review, Virginia Quarterly and The London Magazine. Read his blog on Red Room.
To submit an op-ed or letter to the editor, write to email@example.com. If you intend your letter to be published, please specify that and provide your name and location (city and state).