back to article Top CEOs agree: US is down the crapper

The leaders of Cisco, GE, and Xerox are worried that the US is losing its competitive edge, and that it's high time to stop grandstanding and do something about it. "I'm optimistic, but I think that's partly because that's in my DNA, but I think we're at an inflection point, unfortunately," warned Cisco chairman and CEO John …

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  1. Tom 35 Silver badge

    Say the poeple who

    out sourced everything to China to boost their stock options.

    1. Catroast
      Grenade

      A Symptom, Not The Problem

      Outsourcing is a symptom, unlike what a lot of Leftist people believe. This happens when a political environment makes a hostile business environment, especially when we have a bunch of non-working low-life college cronies seethingly spitting and hissing that corporations are the cause for all the ails of our society.

      The US has had education steadfastly in the hands of the Leftist Academia Machine and look where it's gotten us. We focus more on Pop Culture Lady Gag bullshit instead of important things like math and science. We dumb down our children and tell them that their answers are correct when they are not. On top of that we take power away from parents by telling them their children are property of the State when in school and then frustrate them with tons of homework and blame it on parents when their children don't perform well.

      If I was a big corporation in the US, I would definitely outsource and say F-U to all you whining miscreants who don't contribute anything useful to society.

      Let the down thumbs roll in.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Hold on there...

        ...who exactly is 'seethingly spitting and hissing'?

        You seem like a typical Ayn Rand, Milton Friedman apologist who has to introduce the bullsh*t left / right paradigm in order to say anything?

        Central Banks, Corporations, Debt, Government... what is the connection? Answer this and I think you may just see the world anew little goyim!

      2. Magnus_Pym
        FAIL

        Free market in education?

        Any technology based country needs technologists and currently the US is not producing enough.

        The free market in education leads to universities offering courses that attract high fee paying students. This skews the system towards privileged but dumb over the poor but bright. It also pushes courses for the rich and rapacious over the gifted but disaffected. In other words it pumps out sports scientists and lawyers instead of pure science graduates and engineers. If you give people free choice they will choose the glamour or the easy option especially if the doting parents are paying.

        Throwing out trite 'sound bites' does not make you sound informed. Your feeble attempts at political argument only go to prove what the article is saying.

      3. CheesyTheClown Silver badge
        Flame

        I'd say well said, but...

        Frankly, I found myself challenged to follow your thought process. I had to read your statement 3 times before fully understanding the angle you attempted to take.

        I haven't lived in the U.S. for the past 12 years, instead I live in Norway where the educational level is among the top in the western countries. I feel that people here still have a long way to go before reaching acceptable levels of education.

        I grew up in New York during a time when we were competing with the Soviet Union. New York during that time was the spear head of the U.S. think tank. Our schools were competitive in nature with high incompletion rates because our standardized testing the the state was almost designed to separate the Newtons from the Burger Boys. I personally had the benefit of attending and participating in a high school which was focused on International competitions of science and engineering. We held our own (and often won) against the best of the best in other countries. The kids in the surrounding high schools looked at us nerds and (when they weren't kicking our asses) we took pride in the designation.

        During the cold war, we competed with the communists. We competed with our friends the Japanese. We tried to make the best of the best starting at the beginning. Once it was clear that certain students had higher aptitudes for math, science and technology, we moved them into a position where we catered to their needs and gave them the support that they needed to truly achieve.

        Times have changed. This is 2011. These days instead of cold wars which were won with greatness, we instead fight the current wars with soldiers and weapons. We send hundreds of thousands of young, hopefully disciplined minds into battles with guns. Instead we should be exploiting their discipline and forcing them to learn. We should be turning them into leaders. The U.S. military has a long tradition of hosting some of the finest higher education academies. It has been many many years since they have built another. The U.S. should actually exploit their standing, fix the G.I. bill, add new academic institutions populated by disciplined military men and women and make promotion, even within the lower ranks dependent on their achievements in these institutions.

        There is war worth fighting now. This is a time when we can fight a new battle against a much bigger and much more powerful opponent than the Soviets ever were. We're voluntarily letting China get stronger every day without doing anything about it. We're simply submitting to their superiority and letting them just take over. We don't need to hate this enemy. We need to respect them, learn from them and fight back. This isn't just for the U.S., China is a big enough opponent that the entire western world needs to address them. They're kicking our asses and we're diluting our currencies and markets by printing new money to pay them. It's as if we want to brag about the greatness we once had and not bother doing anything about it anymore.

        The government should sponsor grants to start small manufacturing facilities. Walmart should sponser startup companies that are willing to produce items IN America. The Big Box Marts should work hard to try and help establish suppliers of products within the country. If Americans are complaining about losing their jobs to other countries and complaining about letting Latin American immigrants stay and do things like pay taxes, we should make the jobs in the U.S. and we should make the two problems coincide. For the first time in a long time, we have legal workers in the U.S. willing to work hard for low pay. We should build factories and let more of them come in. They'll work hard to provide a better life for their children and help get manufacturing to happen in the U.S. again.

        The Chinese went from nearly 0% English literacy to close to 30% English literacy in 15 years. They literally hire American families to come live in China and speak English to make the language more natural to their citizens. In fact, English is quickly becoming a language within China that allows people who speak different Chinese languages (there is no such language as Chinese) to communicate more clearly instead of trying to use a common Chinese tongue. Because of this, within a few more years, they'll be able to start taking over jobs like call centers and such as they will probably be the largest English speaking population in the world.

        Yet, the majority of Americans, a group of people who rarely identify themselves as American but instead as English, Italian, Jewish (we don't like saying polish, russian etc.. for some reason), Irish, etc... are happy to sit back and talk about the greatness of American and all our former accomplishments while all the new accomplishments are being made by other countries.

        The biggest problem isn't the government. The problem is the people. The people sit on their asses and wait for the rewards they deserve. The government can only do so much. If you want to blame Obama for not fixing the job market, the financial market etc..., then you're an idiot. The president has so little to do with that, it's not worth mentioning. If you want to blame him for anything, blame him for not given tough love. He should have sacrificed his political career and stood up to American and said "We used to be great. Now we suck. It's time you stopped waiting for the White House to fix your problems for you. We can't. If another politician tells you otherwise, he's lying or doesn't understand how it works. We can help, we can try to motivate, but IT IS YOU that has to fix the problem. If you can't find a job doing what you do, find a job digging a ditch. If it's so far beneath you that you'd rather sit on a couch and wallow in your sorrow as opposed to earning your on living, YOU ARE THE PROBLEM!". It's time America learns that there is no such thing as "beneath me". There's "I have money to eat" and there's "I don't have money to eat". If you think something is beneath you so you won't demean yourself to doing that and instead will live on unemployment, well then whatever it was that is beneath you might have been too good for you instead. Remember, ditch digger is A STEP UP FROM BUM!

        If you and the 5,000 people around you are being bums because "that job doesn't pay enough to feed my family", you need to work harder. Take two jobs. Start cooking your meals instead of buying boxes of them. If you're going to claim the greatness of America, you have to contribute to it, not burden it. The prices of food will eventually deflate in that area to a reasonable price since the market won't bare the higher prices. This is one place the government CAN help. They can offer temporary tax exemption or even support for anyone who "took a job that's beneath them" while trying to get back on their feet again.

        Unemployment in America is 9.4%. Assuming 60% of the country is eligible to work (right age, right health etc...) and that there's 350 million Americans, that means that there are 5.3 million people who apparently aren't working. They're burdening the system by leaving perfectly good menial labor jobs open while simply collecting money that is set aside for when jobs can't be found. So instead of producing and contributing to the system, they're burdening it and slowing the economical recovery. That's A LOT of burden.

        Blame the government for it, blame whoever you want for it. You can blame TV, the Internet, the Chinese, the Indians. You can blame everyone. But do it while you're fixing the problem. If I couldn't find work as a computer programmer, I'd look for work wherever else I could. Even if it meant digging ditches during the day and flipping burgers at a restaurant at night to make ends meet. If I couldn't find work here, I would pack my shit up and go somewhere I could and come home to see my wife and kids on weekends. Talk with them over skype etc...

        The only way I see of fixing this problem that is sure to work is another war of the nations. China vs. the rest of the world. The Chinese are kicking our asses. It's time we stole their best workers. It's time we educate our kids. It's time we compete. Instead of just sitting on our asses hoping that we'll recover from this someday. It has to be getting boring for the Chinese too, they're competing and instead of giving them a challenge, we're just watching in awe while they kick our asses.

        Lady Gaga, no matter how awful she is when you turn the volume on the TV on is not the problem. She in a way is what America is about. She reached for the sky and grabbed the stars while she was there. On top of that, she worked her ass off (probably literally at the gym) to do it.

      4. DrXym Silver badge

        @Catroast

        What planet are you from? Science academics regardless of political persuasion would be absolutely delighted if the curriculum was more focused on scientific, technical and engineering skills.

        The rest of your rant ignores the simple economics that Chinese workers get paid peanuts, their companies steal intellectual property and palms are greased in government to turn a blind eye to the worst excesses of companies and their work conditions. Simply put, it's cheaper for corps to outsource than it is to stay put.

        How the US reverses this is to open to question, but it education would certainly help in the long term, as well as some kind of economic recognition for corps who don't offshore their production or accounts for tax avoidance.

        1. maclovinz

          @CheesyTheClown

          That.....was.....awesome.

          I'm glad I am not the only one that realizes that a certain "side" has nothing to do with it!

          ...and now I get called ignorant! XD

        2. Ammaross Danan
          Go

          Honor and Self-Worth

          "He should have sacrificed his political career and stood up to American and said "We used to be great. Now we suck. It's time you stopped waiting for the White House to fix your problems for you. We can't. If another politician tells you otherwise, he's lying or doesn't understand how it works. We can help, we can try to motivate, but IT IS YOU that has to fix the problem. If you can't find a job doing what you do, find a job digging a ditch. If it's so far beneath you that you'd rather sit on a couch and wallow in your sorrow as opposed to earning your on living, YOU ARE THE PROBLEM!"."

          Living in an area with lots of government-assisted housing, I see this all the time. There's plenty of people just lounging around milking money from "the system." Why? Because at a certain income level, one can make more money from the government than by flipping burgers at two jobs. All for doing nothing. Not only that, but if you do take that burger job or ditch digging job, you lose your government incentives and actually take a "pay cut" as it were. The government social system is encouraging "bottom-dwellers" to remain there. So, although I fully agree with the above quote, the current edu-work fail is very intricately linked with many other "problems." Most of it comes down to "if there's an easy way out, the majority will take it." This is the failure. A society where it's acceptible to "dishonor your family" by being lazy. Perhaps that is why the Chinese are winning: they have a strong self-worth and even that is moot against your family's honor.

          That is all.

        3. Charles Manning

          @DrXym: You misunderstand

          "Science academics regardless of political persuasion would be absolutely delighted if the curriculum was more focused on scientific, technical and engineering skills."

          The universities are not driven by the engineering departments. They are driven by beancounters and the touchy-feely brigade which make up the vast bulk of most university departments. The desires of engineering departments generally fall on deaf ears. Even places like MIT are overrun with social sciences, arts, etc.

          Running a history department is far cheaper and easier than an engineering department and thus providing soft courses is far more profitable and appealing. A history department does not have to compete with industry for good people (what else can a history PhD actually do) and does not need expensive equipment, lab space etc.

          This is a problem even in countries where universities are highly subsidised and the orhanisations are funded according to student numbers. Way easier to make the numbers add up by promoting arts, media studies etc over engineering.

          "Chinese workers get paid peanuts". Or alternatively, an American worker wants ridiculously high wages without providing the value.

          It is easy to go for the USA vs China case, but consider too Germany. German workers are not being paid USA level wages, but I bet they're providing high value.

        4. Yag

          wow

          A great post, applicable to many countries in the world - especially mine, where unemployed associations & syndicates are working their ass off... to get a state-paid bonus for Xmas on their unemployment benefits and income supports.

        5. Kevin Bailey

          Nice theory...

          ...about digging ditches etc.

          Pity it doesn't work in the real workplaces in US/UK.

          Yes - you can dig ditches - for a pittance. And no matter how hard you work and how much initiative you show you'll never progress. You'll dig ditches for a pittance for the rest of your days.

          I've never worked for a company yet which cares about it's staff - get as much out for as little pay as possible is the norm. Show any initiative and your manager will see you as a threat to *his* job.

          The only way to progress is to ass-lick, lie about your colleagues etc - i.e. the usual way up the corporate ladder. I've seen that, got the t-shirt etc in many different comapnies. Anyone who is any good (or has any integrity) will get frustrated and leave and try to set up on their own.

          BTW - not people on welfare are dumb - some are very smart. Smart enough to realise that it's better to claim as much welfare as possible and supplement this with cash only work such as drug dealing. Much easier life and you're not being taken for a mug by some t*** in a Merc.

          Or what we do is to work for ourselves - which is what you have in the UK. Hundreds of thousands of one-man-bands working all hours. All doing, admin, tax returns, VAT etc. Completely inefficient way of running an economy. The main winners are accountants.

          What to do?

          Well - double the minimum wage would be a start. But the CBI would pull out all the caught-with-ladyboy photos and put a stop to that.

          Encourage co-operative type businesses with grants, tax-breaks etc. Politicians would need to find some initiative and guts to stand up to the business lobby (also known as their mates from the club).

          In the meantime, the asian companies seem to have a holistic approach to business - i.e. they all work together towards a common goal (profit).

          The western way of thinking is stuck in the nineteen century - and it's looking very outdated these days.

      5. hitmouse
        FAIL

        LEFTIST?

        Because the right-wing religious twits keep passing bills to force evolution and other scientific theories out of textbooks, or to halt research in stem-cells etc? Because they believe prayer is more important than knowledge or actually solving an issue?

      6. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        A Symptom, Not The Problem

        Firstly - "the problem". So there's just one problem, huh? And solving that one problem will sort everything out? Wow /that's/ convincing.

        > If I was a big corporation in the US, I would definitely outsource and say F-U to all you whining miscreants who don't contribute anything useful to society.

        But you're not a big corporation in the US, you're just another whining miscreant with an opinion. Welcome to El Reg Comments!

      7. JEDIDIAH
        Flame

        Revenge of the Jocks

        > Outsourcing is a symptom, unlike what a lot of

        > Leftist people believe. This happens when a

        > political environment makes a hostile business

        > environment

        Yes. Because a country where Republicans have considerable influence is "hostile to business". This is such a load of bullsh*t. Republicans are the original party of big business. That is why they were originally founded in the 19th century. Any association with civil liberties of the common man is historical accident.

        With the American attitude towards intellectual persuits, especially "nerdy stuff" it is little wonder that the US falls behind other countries. We need immigrants from other countries (like Pakistan of all places) just to help balance things out. Outsourcing jobs that require University training certainly doesn't help.

        The creationists in middle America don't help either.

        Who can blame anyone for avoiding areas that have a social stigma attached to them as well as dim future prospects?

        1. Glenn Charles
          Flame

          nah...

          Just make those damned Americans study, and study the right things. If they don't put them in jail or kill them. It's a free country, after all!

          --G

  2. thecakeis(not)alie

    I've been saying this for a very long time.

    It's nice to see people so far above my pay grade finally agreeing in public. You screwed up America...and this Tea Party crap isn't helping you fix it at all. It’s time to invest in education, health care and social services whilst dramatically cutting back your military expenditures. It's time to diversify your economy and regulate high-risk industries such as the financial sector. It's time to actually have a manufacturing base again. It’s time to put in place stringent limits on lobbying and “political donations” and it is time to rationalise your immigration and foreign affairs policies.

    In short: it’s time to grow up America. I only hope you aren’t so far gone that it takes you another civil war to do so. As it stands, given the political polarisation and the amount of violent vitriol in your country, I fear that may well not be far off.

    1. Catroast
      Stop

      Yes.

      Because pumping more money into our Education system and healthcare has worked so well in the past. It's time for a new direction. All my life I've heard teachers crying and striking over pay and still this goes on. Because these things have been subsidized, education and healthcare costs have steadily gone up, and quality has steadily gone down.

      Humor me one moment. What if pumping money into a problem doesn't make it get better, it just makes it more dependent? Come on. Imagine with me.

      If any of you have done this in real life with a needy relative and you found out that it didn't fix their problems, but only made them more needy, stand with me now.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Catroast: I know you are just trolling, but hell, I'll bite....

        Your problem* seems to be that spending money on education is not the right way forward, however this whole article is effectively an opinion piece on how the US education system is lagging behind many other countries.

        A quick look shows the top 10 countries in reading and maths to be:

        S. Korea / Finland / Hong Kong / Canada / New Zealand / Ireland / Australia / Liechtenstein / Poland / Sweden / Taiwan / Netherlands / Switzerland / China / Japan (more than 10 listed as this is from individual tables for reading & maths with duplicates removed)

        Now, I don't know anything about the South Korean, Japanese & Taiwanese education systems, but all the others are most certainly left of centre heavily state subsidised systems.

        So, humour me one moment. What if one consistent factor in 85%+ of the world's top education systems is pumping money in and establishing a high degree of state control? See a pattern there?

        Some things do need money spending on them. I have a car which would suit me far worse if I stopped pumping money into things like fuel, servicing, insurances, repairs etc. Equally with all of those out there with "needy" children, they need things like clothes, food, books and so on.

        Damn you parents for making your children more needy rather than either making them fight with the stray dogs for scraps of food or simply dying of hypothermia and malnutrition.

        *By this I mean the thing you are primarily taking umbrage at, not your obvious deep seated psychological issues.

        1. DJUNIX
          Linux

          So how far do we go?

          We need to spend money in our classrooms so that our children have the best tools and teachers available to them. I think everyone could agree on that. I think many times though we just spend money and not analyzing what works and what doesn't. I for one rather see some competition in the schools just like in the public sector. If you're not producing, you're gone, if you do produce, then you're rewarded.

          So for those teachers who can inspire their students and innovate new ways of teaching, I rather see them get paid much more than some teacher just getting a pay check. Also, just like the pubic sector, if you aren't producing why should you be protected by the teacher unions? Instead the teacher unions should get the teachers not producing and help them find ways to improve. Those teachers who still can't get their students pointed to the right direction, will maybe the best solution is to help them find another field of work since I rather have new blood than a teacher who just has tenure and can't teach.

          Also, I know its a hot button with many, but maybe school vouchers for children in school districts not performing is another solution. If its students scores are where they need to be, then I'm ok with it. Heck I'm ok with anything that gets results. If not school vouchers, then whatever works. I'm just tired of just spending to solve the problem since obviously it's not helping.

          But that's my 2 cents ... better go and be productive today!!

          1. thecakeis(not)alie

            @DJUNIX

            How far do you go? All the way around the world!

            America needs to get over itself. Realise that some time in the past 100 years it stopped beign top dog. This bullshit "not invented here" syndrome that is so pervasive in that country needs to end. Do you want to know what you should do? Really?

            Send some government advisory teams to other countries (Canada, France, Germany, the UK, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Japan and South Korea are good starts.) Here they could learn about the different approaches taken by these countries to public education and public healthcare. They could learn how and why education and health care are both CHEAPER and MORE EFFECITVE in all of these countries per capita than anything the US has to offer. These advisory teams could bring this information home, compare notes and then the US could IMPLEMENT some of it.

            Basically, the US needs to admit that the rest of the world did what the US did, figured out pretty quickly it didn’t work and then MOVED ON. You aren’t the pinnacle of sociological and political advances and you haven’t been for a very long time But you know what? I’m wasting my keystrokes here. If you don’t understand why public health care, education and social services are important then you likely never will.

            It is like convincing a die-hard Christian that the Bible isn’t to be taken as the litteral word of God. You could point out parts where the Bible blatantly contradicts itself until you are blue in the face, they will never waver in their faith. Americans are the same. You have been indoctrinated for so long by the greatest shysters in all of human history. You actually believe with your heart and soul not only that America is “the greatest nation in the world” but also that your sociological, economic and political approaches to everything are superior to any others in the entire world.

            It’s bunkum. It’s a pack of horrible lies that you are so utterly dependant on you honestly can’t see the truth plain in front of your face. Do you understand what you look like to the rest of the world? An American trying to convince someone with a proper education and a little bit of worldliness that the US of A is the pinnacle of human achievement is like watching a Scientologist fervently and with great passion try to convince me that thetans are responsible for all my sins. It’s ridiculous. You want to help these people; educate them about the world beyond the cult they’ve joined…but you know it’s utterly, utterly hopeless.

            Most modern countries in this world have managed to do the things the US claims are impossible. They have managed to put in place stable health care systems, education systems and social services that cost less per capita to run that anything the US has. What’s more, even with the slightly (and honestly only really slightly) higher taxes these countries pay, the average citizen of these countries spends less on government services of all kinds in these countries than does a US citizen. The only difference is that we pay our fees in taxes and spread the load whereas you pay your fees on a per-incident basis that in many cases can and does result in utter destitution.

            But hey, why bother trying to convince you folks of anything. HAIL XENU, America. Hail Xenu.

      2. thecakeis(not)alie

        @Catroast

        Spoken like a true American!

        I, on the other hand, am Canadian. Like any denizen of an actually civilised country, I am well aware of the benefits that a public education system and a public health system can bring to a country. I am sorry you are incapable of taking off the blinders and discarding your personal greed/fear of losing what precious little you have in order to see it. Ah well. It’s not my country, so I’ll just point and laugh. You brought it on yourself America! Raising people like Catroast to believe this kind of tripe is exactly what got you where you are.

        There is nobody to blame excepting yourselves.

      3. Veldan
        Megaphone

        @catroast

        While on some levels i agree with you. I think pumping money is the answer, it's more a matter of pumping it to the right places.

        My mother is an assistant principle and has worked in and around public education systems. The biggest concern she has always stated with the system in our own country (Australia) and even what she sees of the American system is that the money being pumped in very rarely leads to the hands of the teachers.

        Teachers in the US and Australia in public schools are severely underpaid and overworked. This tends to scare skilled and talented people away into careers where they will make better money.

        I know this isn't the only issue but it is a rather key one, the lack of male teachers (not a good thing for young male students btw) has a lot to do with there not being enough money to properly support their families. This breeds gender inequality AND a lack of different skill sets into the education system, on top of the natural bias towards women to deal with children and teach.

        Unfortunately, like some are suggesting here, measuring definite "scores" for schools is not the way to go ahead. Some schools will perform worse no matter how good the teachers and no matter how much money you give them.

        At the end of the day the students are the people who make the choice to succeed or fail. I've seen students with all the best opportunities and teachers fail and those coming from country schools who have 1 teacher for 4 different grades (yrs8-12) and no enough money for most facilities get some of the highest scores around.

        Good teachers, good facilities and a good environment just help those who achieve by their nature, achieve more. Those who refuse to achieve, will continue to do so.

        (as a side note, this "will to achieve" is usually from the parents work ethic, which in lower socio-economic regions is usually lower, thus bad neighbourhoods usually equals bad school results, not technically bad schools)

    2. BioTube

      The financial industry doesn't need 'regulation'

      It needs to stopped being subsidized. One reason the bubble was so bad was because all Wall Street knew they'd get bailed out when things went south(ex, LTCM), so it was actually a low-risk industry to insiders. Knock off the corporatism, relax regulations to let smaller businesses compete(did you think Big Business pushed for those out of the goodness of its heart?) and cut unemployment benefits(get people interested in working, rather than mooching for eternity) and the economy will recover. Education also needs to be depoliticized, though what exactly that'll take is an exercise I leave to the reader.

  3. Darling Petunia

    lionel_ritchey@yahoo.com

    U.S. CEO's might reflect on their decades of off-shoring jobs, as well as filling U.S. tech jobs with HB-1 Visa's so they boot them on a whim . Jobs, skills, and technology lost to inflate their earnings. How much hard technology have these CEO's sold-off to China? (such as specialized tools for building aircraft, processors etc.) Pleasing the major stockholders has a cost.

    1. hitmouse
      Unhappy

      H1B

      I interviewed for a US software firm for a couple of years. It was so difficult to find American college graduates with half a clue or indeed any interest in actually building a career. They might turn up to interviews and go through the motions, but their practical knowledge was very poor compared to overseas graduates _of the same age_.

      You'd have to invest five years or more completely retraining the locals.

      1. Saganhill
        Alert

        And?

        Retraining? Whos fault is that? We have a generation('s) of kids in the USA who dont see education as a necessity. They see it as an anyoyance. They want the end results of an education without actually doing it. And whos fault is this? Media? Parents? Politicians?

        They want a 300K home with all the trimmings but only want to work at a 7-11 or less. I know one guy personally who has never made more than 9 bucks an hour because he doesnt want the responsibility of a job that pays more. Nothing wrong with that, but he is subsidised by me and other tax payers for his lack of ambition. He knows he can get a government handout when things are tough for him.

      2. maclovinz
        Happy

        Practical Experience

        This is why I don't bother with most job descriptions that claim I HAVE to have a 4 year degree (mandatory).....

        If they want someone with 4 years of drinking on their parents' dime (NOT ALL DO IT, I KNOW!!!) then fine, they can have 'em.

    2. hitmouse
      FAIL

      Stationery

      Aren't HB-1s pencils?

  4. Stu 18

    trite and prob wrong, but open to different views

    When I think about modern tech - win 7, xbox 360, iphone, ipad - it is all about consumption.

    When I was at school I typed programs out of magazines I didn't understand on to computers as part of the learning process. Now days, there is no way to compete with games like Halo, so kids I've met can't think of anything more boring than programming.

    The machines and OS's of today aren't designed to learn how they work, win 7 is a mess of files jumbled all over the place and hidden from view by deafult. They are 'designed' for ease of use, but misstake hiding all complexity via even more complexity as a good thing. Why bother learning it at all.

    Add to that, many teachers it has been reported don't understand the technology beyond, put the disk in and click setup microsoft. It will all change next year anyway, so how can they 'keep up'.

    Where is the adventure, excitment, doing things better, achievement in engineering anyway - it will never compete with lady gaga, but now all we hear is, if you did work at it, figure out something amazing and stand to earn your fortune, some big company or troll is going to steal it from you legally in a patent war. Why would you encourage anyone into a job like that.

    Or think it out, then get made redundant because we'll find someone cheaper to do it instead, and the 'company' doesn't consider off shoring to cheaper economies is the modern version of the slave trade.

    I don't agree with the why bother mentality of today, but I certainly understand it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      express yourself no matter how stupidly

      Agreed. Before digitalitis took all the air out of the world, when you did something, it kind of had to work. Might not work the first time, but if you were any good and had any ambition, you made it work. And that's how you got your jollies. Whether it was a model of a biplane or even a Basic program. Now you just too whatever the Hell on the Net and hope that it "goes viral".

      I realized in college that what the diverse group had in common, was that we had all done things; built a race car, written something, learned to play Beethoven well, blow our fingers off with homemade explosives, something; i venture to say that doesn't happen anymore.

      But of course, that's of a piece with modern industrial needs; we don't need a zillion engineers to design radios any more, we need one engineer to design the radio chip and a zillion monkeys to do the hack work of making a radio out of the chip.

    2. Geoff Campbell
      Pirate

      Job security, I call it.

      Those of us of a certain age (I was going to say "old", but I guess I'm not the oldest hereabouts by quite a margin) had the good fortune to be born into a Golden Age for computing. We got easy employment when we were young, because our elders didn't understand the new technology. And now we have easy employment as we age, because our juniors can't be bothered to understand the new technology.

      It also means my two daughters should be able to conquer the entire planet with nothing more than a small fruit knife in about twenty years.

      GJC

    3. maclovinz

      Patents Stifle Innovation

      The other reason why people are afraid to/don't mess with things, is because they are afraid of legal repercussions, and multiple other things, like the FBI knocking down their door just for wanting to know a bit more.

      It's supposed to be more about understanding new things, not the money to be made, which is why I hold Woz in the highest regard, and Jobs, well, not so much.

  5. Steve McPolin
    Grenade

    corporate partnered education would be great.

    Has anybody produced a little graph to see how this corporate largess has helped the education system? Didn't think so. Dumping excess crap on schools for the tax deduction just deprives schools of the better things - like pencils, crayons and paper.

    Weeping CEOs conjures up such great imagery - perhaps of Crusty the Clown whining over the failure of his latest inane scheme.

  6. Erik4872
    WTF?

    They're not really seeing the whole picture.

    As an American vwith the attention span to read the entire article, I can see a few grains of truth in it. The evidence is there when my employer tries to hire candidates for IT systems integration work. It really is difficult to find qualified people -- and that's not a ploy to hire H-1B workers. The job description is basically "expert troubleshooter who can learn fast, loves being a lab rat, enjoys the torture^Uchallange of making developers' bug-ridden messes^U^Umasterpieces work in the real world, and deals effectively with a huge variety of different people." (And yes, it's a lot of fun for the right sort of twisted individual.) Most of the people I work with are foriegn-born, and it's very difficult to recruit suitable natives. The pay is decent, and the hours are amazingly flexible most of the time, so I don't think that's it. I think the pool is just low.

    So, what do I think the CEO Peanut Gallery has right? I do think the education system is a little messed up, or more accurately, we don't place enough emphasis on education. Developing countries have hugely competitive higher education systems simply because education is the difference between working for a multinational in Bangalore or Beijing, vs. spending your life as a subsistence farmer. I also think that artificially reducing immigration makes a talent shortage worse, but an active giveaway like the H-1B visa just depresses wages for those of us who did the right thing and got educated.

    However, here's where I think they miss the boat. In order to incentivize people to get a good education, there needs to be a clear career path laid out for them. You can't say "we need more scientists and engineers" on one day and then close your R&D facilities in the US because you can pay Chinese Ph. D.'s 10% of what your US Ph. D.'s make. Education in the sciences and engineering is tough -- it takes a lot of effort, time and money to get through school. I'm in the unenviable position of getting older, and am dreading the day our corporate overlords decide we're too expensive to house in the US anymore. It's a negative feedback spiral from both ends of the spectrum -- older workers who spent the time educating themselves get tossed out, and tell their children that they should spend their brainpower on finance, project management or some salesy-type job. In addition, getting rid of the entry-level tasks means no one who is interested has a place to start and learn the trade, thus amplifying the tech shortage these CEOs are talking about.

    If I had these guys' ears for a few minutes, the one thing I'd tell tham is -- if they want talent, innovation and growth, they need to provide a stable jobs framework. If people aren't constantly worrying about being laid off, or whether the huge investment in their educations will pay off, you'll see a return of interested American science and engineering grads. Keep some entry-level positions onshore with the intention of allowing people to grow their skills. And most importantly, think beyond next quarter and realize that your experienced workers are not 100% liability -- that experience counts for something!

    1. Naughtyhorse

      absolutely

      or to put it another way, it's all the markets fault

      (whoah!!! y' cant say that :-D, are you some kinda commie etc etc etc)

      flexibility and short term-ism, theres your problem, right there

    2. John H Woods Silver badge

      Exactly correct...

      ... and this is why there are more sports therapists than engineers. You can't outsource sports therapy, so anyone who is any good can always get work where they live. However, someone who is an ace software engineer can easily be out-competed by someone on the other side of the world.*

      I don't want to be telling my son that plumbing is a better career option in the UK than software development, but unfortunately it's the truth, and until your toilet can be remotely unblocked from China, it's going to stay that way.

      * In my experience, the competition is only on price, because outsourced software is rubbish. Not because of the quality of the people doing the coding, but because of the increased disconnect between the recipients and producers of the system: managing complex and changing requirements was hard enough when teams were small and co-located.

      1. Charles Manning

        You are assuming....

        Your argument only works because people are too squeamish to fiddle with plumbing and are prepared to pay huge for plumbers.

        You're assuming that in the future people in the UK will actually be able to afford toilets and can afford to pay someone to do the unblocking.

        If the economy **really** goes pear shaped then people will start doing their own plumbing again.

        Far better is to build a well rounded set of skills and be open to career change down the road. I currently have a fencing contractor doing fencing (I could do it myself if I had the time, but choose not to). This guy is also a commercial pilot flying for a national airline. He has been fencing and flying for the last 20-odd years. At the moment the pilots are flying less so he spends more time fencing.

        Perhaps your son could become both a plumber and a programmer.

    3. Identity
      Black Helicopters

      This kind of myopia may not be a *wholly* American disease, but...

      To paraphrase Harlan Cleveland, we're trying to solve twenty year problems with five year plans staffed by two year personnel with one year appropriations based on quarterly results. It's no wonder we're heading for disaster — our priorities are hopelessly screwed up. In fact, we barely have any! This country seems to "function" on what I call bumper-sticker thinking (as in, it's not a philosophy if it doesn't fit on a bumper sticker). Demagogues are quick to offer sound bites (which by the way, a recent study shows are getting *shorter*!), but long-range problems require long-range plans AND implementation. Meanwhile, our short term needs and wants trump them (Can't deprive fishermen of jobs, so [according to Pew research] over 92% of large ocean-going fish are extinct. Can't have 'furriners' takin' our jobs — keep 'em out, so immigration raids deprive farmers of labor so apples rot on the ground as no Americans want to work so hard for so little (and pay raises are out of the question due to international competition). Can't pay so much for goods (or lose profit) so offshore manufacturing to China, et al, and then complain about where all the jobs went.)

      Frankly, the lack of a sense of irony from CEOs who helped fuel the current state of affairs would be laughable if it weren't so dire. Negative feedback loop, indeed!

      My own crackpot scheme (once we've managed to destroy society and maim civilization beyond recovery — which we're working hard to do — is to try it without money. Money and profit has added an irrational secondary (but controlling) layer to human activity that is inimical to survival and sustainability. As Douglas Adams put it, "On the planet Earth, happenings of humans revolve mainly around little pieces of paper – and these little pieces of paper had a lot to do with the happiness and sadness of humans, which is strange because the pieces of paper were neither happy nor sad. In fact, the most they did was suffer in silence as they were passed around, torn, and occasionally used to light cigars."

      There is a long argument to be made about why incentive and competition a) don't work like it says on the box and b) should be as passé as Westward Expansion (which also worked and favored progress — for a while.) So as not to go on for pages and pages, if you want to see my reasoning, go to http://www.lulu.com/product/file-download/the-root-of-all-evil/6525035

  7. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Good job the problem is only in the USA

    I mean Britain would never fall into the trap of keeping out foreign expertise for purely political reasons and thanks to our students getting exponentially better grades each year our universities can hardly cope with the numbers of brilliant scientists and engineers.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Coat

      Yeah!

      We have engineering course students who cannot add fractions, and need a year's remedial maths before they can even understand what their subject is about.

      It's the one with a Ready Reckoner (remember those?) in the pocket.

      1. Naughtyhorse

        irony

        something to do with metal?

    2. Paul_Murphy

      Hold on...

      Is that sarcasm?

      It's so hard to tell anymore ;-(

      Having a daughter who would really like to go to University next year, but has to attend a college course instead to teach her how to do things that her school couldn't, but the university expects her to know, really brings home some of the silliness that the current system exposes.

      I say that we should bring back polytechnics, and ensure that they are seen to be more useful to the country than universities.

      We also need to break the problem that an advanced education is determined by income (or, more correctly, expenditure) - it should go to those that deserve one.

      Education is by far the best determinate of a countries long-term prospects, if clever people are not able to flourish then the country will not be able to compete.

      Oh - and another thought .. what happens when the workers in the 'cheap' countries manage to organize themselves and get their pay and conditions improved?

      Maybe one day when the whole world is well-educated and paid the same then all talk of out-sourcing will disappear.

      1. annodomini2
        Go

        You missed the main issue

        The reason these young individuals end up in this position is the dumbing down of the courses so that politicians can guarantee their year on year grades increase.

  8. Charles Osborne
    Pirate

    Still with the Supply-Side voodoo?

    What, Neutron Jack, Jr. can't depress salaries quickly enough?

    And when we Yanks say "education" we mean "training." Not well-rounded, well-read with in-depth knowledge, but well trained in using the latest tools. Classical language, literature -- you know, the stuff you folks on the other side of the pond think (thought?) important -- not so important here.

    Sorry, but the education system over here is rotting because teachers can't live on the salaries. Industry is collapsing because the most-recent-quarterly-profit hucksters have gutted the production infrastructure. And young people see how the industry values its workers.

    Are these generalizations? Yes. Not every business whores itself to Wall Street, but the lion's share is going to the pigs. And these leaders are correct: it is not sustainable. They should know as they are the ones pushing it into the sea.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Education Levels / Skills

    I sometimes write technical documentation, if the document is intended to be read in the USA, then I have to target the TECHNICAL documentation for a reading age of 12.

    12 ?? TECHNICAL ??

    come on, just how technical are 30 year old Technicians in the USA, something isn't gelling..

    By the way, I am a Specialist, a Specialist that has done, and could do more, good work in the USA and I know there is a desparate shortage of my skills in the USA because of how many Job/Want ads I get mentioning my skillset.

    However, I am UK born, and nobody will sponsor a Visa - Locals Only - so I get to work all over the world except the USA, I train the people and disseminate my Knowledge - except in the USA.

    I agree that first source for labour should be local, but if you don't find any with the skills after 6 months then maybe that should be a criteria for allowing an external(to the country) hire to get your flagging business on the move. Doesn't have to be permanent Hire, maybe 1 year or whatever.

    Where am I working now ?

    China...

    Where will I work next ?

    Anywhere except the USA and India.

    1. tony trolle
      Unhappy

      "reading age of 12." sad but true

      They leave high school really bright; then its downhill all the way.

      I can only think its the TV dumbing them down.

      I'm about to jump ship back to the UK

    2. LaeMing Bronze badge

      Yup.

      I had to outsource myself and my expensive publicly-funded education to China for several years too. In this case it was my own country who couldn't give me a job. As a school teacher. With IT specialisations including solid industry experience.

      Every week the papers ran stories of the government screaming out for qualified and experienced IT teachers and every week I was down the dole office with my list of job applications I didn't get because I was 'overqualified'.

      I am back home again now, but in a far better job than school-teaching, though only because I lucked onto an employer who explicitly wanted older hirees for dealing with a particular type of customer, and admits she was taking a chance with me even then (a chance that, I'm happy to say, worked out excellently for all parties).

    3. sandman

      Re:Education Levels/Skills

      The US software company I work for is full of really bright, highly skilled software developers, implementation guys, etc, etc. However, most of them are 30 plus. A hell of a lot of the more jumior staff aren't US citizens, but are mostly from India, various parts of the Far East and Europe (particularly the old Soviet bloc). The disparity is purely down to their technical education and hence ability. This is not a matter of them being cheaper, pay rates are the same.

  10. JaitcH
    FAIL

    Finally, it's sinking in - the U.S. is bankrupt financially and morally

    The global 'empire' of the U.S. is fading, just as those of the Romans, Greeks and British did before them. America needs money to work it's magic and it's credit has about hit the buffers.

    Previous empires left benefits be it long, straight roads, democracy or bureaucracy and right-hand drive. They also enjoyed a certain amount of good will and appreciation.

    What will the U.S, legacy be? Israel's Teflon coating thinning out, substantial drops in standards of living and far less effective sabre rattling, no more invasions and undeclared wars.

    Let's hope they realise it soon, so their demise can be orderly and minimise collateral damage.

    1. disgruntled yank Silver badge

      Bah.

      Learn to place your apostrophes, to distinguish Macedonians from Greeks, explain to me why the partition of the subcontinent was so beneficial, and I'll start to listen. But I suppose some might find right-hand drive beneficial.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Grenade

    Too many whack jobs in the states

    I used to live and work there but never again. Having a car accident and the first question was "Do you have insurance?" Then all those pickup trucks with gun racks and native born Texan bumper stickers on one side and Jesus saves or the fish on the other side.

    Going into a bar and seeing a sign "Check your guns and knives here".

    Too much religion and guns for me.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Analysis from Germany

    In my opinion

    A) The U.S. must collectively get off their high horse. Arrogance does not help to change things.

    B) Stop seeing the state as an enemy. The state is important for defence, finance, social security, health and education. Only the defence sector of the U.S. is somehow functional. As others pointed out, get the soldiers home and let them protect the U.S. from the inside. Give homeless a decent room to live and get for god's sake finance under control !

    C) Finance must be brought to heel or it will kill the U.S. as a country and state. Nationalize banks and all others "too big to fail", if necessary. Cut and control their payments and numbers. Disregard the bankster's siren songs. (siren/Oddyseys/Greece)

    D) Set up a Proper Worker Education System. It is Workers Who Make Audis, VWs, BMWs, Mercedes' and Airbuses. It will cost serious money.

    E) Get bright people into government. Those who know that banning USB sticks will not protect a huge database. Sensible Access Control, Logging ans INSPECTING logs periodically will protect the database. Just as an example. It's Kafkaesque - the U.S. had access control technologies in 1993 which are they not capable of using in the year 2010 !

    Germany's success is based on modest politicians who don't believe the "Money Will Fix Everything" slogan the banksters are telling everybody. Based on a well-educated populace who are proud to be a carpenter, a bakerman, a tool machine maker, a computer scientist, a chemist, a butcher with three years training. And we do not all want to get bankers.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      America Distrusts Government.

      "Stop seeing the state as an enemy. The state is important for defence, finance, social security, health and education. Only the defence sector of the U.S. is somehow functional. As others pointed out, get the soldiers home and let them protect the U.S. from the inside. Give homeless a decent room to live and get for god's sake finance under control !"

      You can simply forget THAT. America was FOUNDED on a distrust of government and the state. Basically, America has historically been a few steps shy of anarchy. And now, to counter your last line, there are too many people, and not enough ways to employ the: labor is one of the most expensive aspects of business, and business could care less about labor force; if they could get away with it, they'd automate EVERYTHING.

      There are definitely some who believe America is unbalanced beyond the point of redemption. No confidence in the government, no desire to fix things (because too many people don't WANT them fixed), and not enough political and monetary clout on the world stage.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Stop

        What I meant

        ..was not a bigger, a More Educated Government. David Packard was once deputy minister of defence.

        Why can't Bill Gates or Larry Ellison get into government ? Too busy doing charity in Africa while the Social Worker In Chief cannot fix his security ??

        Get a sense of Duty For Your Own State. Send the brightest to Ecole Nationale d'Administration, where they will learn what the role of the state and what the role of money is. You tried Ayn Rand and it nearly collapsed the world's economic system. You definitely need heavy doses of French administered. Being a Public Servant must be honorable, not just a job for those who are second-rate.

        1. Yag

          Mmmh...

          Around here, graduate from ENA are considered as being totally cut from reality...

          And the main reason for being a public servant is the job security.

          Well, yeah, i'm french, why?

      2. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

        Welcome to the bottom of the pile

        "There are definitely some who believe America is unbalanced beyond the point of redemption. No confidence in the government, no desire to fix things (because too many people don't WANT them fixed), and not enough political and monetary clout on the world stage."

        If the far right religious zealots are allowed to control America you'll become the new Afghanistan faster than you can ever imagine. The parallel is exact - corrupt big business, banks and politicians. I see no difference between the Taliban and amalgamation of the Tea Party, NRA and extreme right-to-lifers.

        Now think about that bunch running the USA and be afraid, very afraid.

    2. Davidoff
      FAIL

      Analysis FAILED

      Your analysis is flawed. But lets talk about your points in more detail:

      A) I can agree with that.

      B) I doubt Americans see their state as enemy, and most of them probably don't even see the government (which I assume is what you actually meant, as "state" would be the equivalent of 'Bayern', 'Niedersachen' or 'Baden-Wuerttemberg' in Germany). But the political and electoral system of the US is quite different from Germany (or most European counties, that is), with most direct relevant decisions happening on a state level.

      C) Nationalizing banks doesn't solve the problem, as even then losses would be put onto the taxpayer. What is necessary are tougher laws and restrictions for the financial market.

      D) While I agree that investing in education is necessary, the companies you list are a bad example, as the majority of jobs has been outsourced to short-term employment agencies which pay low wages and keep their staff on short-term contracts. And this is not limited to Joe Average who puts the seats in BMWs, it also includes most of the engineers that design the cars and aircraft made by those companies.

      E) This is nonsense. Yes, the US lost some information (and the fuzz they are now creating is even more embarrassing than the content of the cables they lost), but having worked with the Americans for many years I can tell you that they are very good into keeping actual secrets secret. You probably forgot about Rudolf Sharping, a former Minister of Defense of Germany, who told the press including live TV all about the secret plans of moving troops of the German Forces, including their route. Or the UK government who is used to loose data on USB sticks and laptops left in the public.

      BTW, in case you missed that: Germany's "success" is based on government-subsidized short-term employment, constantly decreasing real salaries, and an export politics on the back of other EU member countries. The German "success story" doesn't lead to appropriate wealth for its citizens, in fact the standard of living has been gradually declining for over a decade. But (to use your own words) what is really Kafkaesque is that many Germans still vote for the same retards that caused the mess, mostly the three major parties CDU/CSU, SPD and FDP, while others "vote" by not voting, thus actually empowering the parties they hate. Instead of making a change, they swallow the crap they get served by those parties and BILD (for non-Germans: 'BILD' is a newspaper, something like the 'Sun', just in really really bad; 'BILD' is used by certain politicians and basically dictates the public opinion).

      I suggest you do a real thorough analysis of your own country first.

  13. maccy
    Headmaster

    Calculus 101

    I agree that the education system in America is bad. How else could you get to be CEO of a major corporation (Cisco) and still not know what an inflection point is. It could either be a momentary halt in a growth curve or a momentary halt in a decline curve. But it can't mean what he thinks it's supposed to mean - i.e. a turning point, at which you decide to go one way or another. I guess he just thinks "inflection" is a cooler way of saying "turning", in which case he failed English too.

  14. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Ivor 1
      Headmaster

      Inflection?

      I know it can be spelt either way but I've always considered "inflexion" as the clearer spelling.

    2. Jimbo 6
      Headmaster

      IANAP, but...

      ..I was also under the impression that anything that is a prequisite comes *upstream* ("...we're not investing in some of the downstream efforts that we have to invest in, like education.")

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pay Your Taxes

    If these corporations actually paid their taxes then that money could go into education etc.

    1. kb9aln

      Taxes and two classes

      Amen. In the following, note that I am speaking of the U.S., although I am sure it applies internationally in some cases.

      I find it funny that the CEO of GE, long known as a corporation that exploits loopholes in the tax code, is complaining that the educational system, which is paid for through taxes, is broken.

      I don't know about the other two companies, so can't say anything about them specifically. In all cases, all of their actions (including their donations to educational causes) are done in the name of share value. Everything they do or attempt is done in the name of profitability.

      That includes off-shoring, R&D and the big daddy - political influence, mostly right-wing in nature. On the one hand, they want people to acquiesce and believe the tripe that comes out of their PR office and the mouths of paid-for right-wing commentators. On the other hand, they want highly trained engineers and executives who can think for themselves and "innovate". It seems that in the best case, one hand of the company does not know what the other is doing. In the worst case, they'd like to see two classes of people - dumb and gullible consumers versus the well-educated people who work for their companies.

      I think that this is unlikely to change until we stop hiring incompetent educators and change the way that students think. It all begins with the educational system and how it trains future political and commercial leaders. It is not doing too well these days, and hasn't for some time.

      It's past time for us to start reassessing our ideas concerning profitability and what constitutes profit. Sometimes enacting corporate policies that rather than go for the absolute highest share price, go for a little less monetary profit and provide a benefit to society. Which in turn benefits the corporation.

      That and start to do some meaningful and sensible regulation of these corporations. Not ill-conceived and stifling regulation. But something that holds the massive power of the multinationals in check.

      But this is clearly a pipedream. Money holds more sway than morals, it seems. Sad.

  16. Jimbo in Thailand
    FAIL

    Third world America...HERE WE COME!

    Yes, the US education & immigration systems are indeed broken, but by letting in more immigrants to study within the same broken education sytem will magically solve the problem? Yeah right!!! What the HELL has that effing idiot Chambers been smoking??!!!

    Chambers is right about one thing. The US does suffer immensely from a counterproductive immigration policy, just not the way his tiny brain can comprehend. The long standing US immigration policy has on one hand discriminated against qualified applicants from most countries while allowing 20 million mostly uneducated illegal aliens to just cross the border and become a huge burden to America's infrastructure in every possible way. None of these individuals' backgrounds are checked so what we really have is an influx of murderers, rapists, homicidal maniacs and drug dealers among the masses. Many never pay taxes so America's infrastructure has been steadily declining as a result. And the recently adopted oh so politically correct term by the BS American press now refers to these illegals as "undocumented immigrants". That term is a HUGE slap in the face to all legal immigrants who tolerate the long beaucratic process to work, study, or become naturalized American citizens.

    Also, crime rates have skyrocketed across the US as a result. There is now evidence of Hispanic gang activity in all US cities where illegal populations are established including my hometown, a moderate size city in the Southeast. And, the Mexican drug cartels have extablished major distribution points throughout the US including, again, my hometown.

    Healthcare costs have also spiraled out of control in part because hospitals can't turn away these illegals so the costs of their free healthcare is passed on to everyone else. These same illegals refuse to assimilate into the American culture. Over the years so many have refused to learn to speak English that now America is not only becoming bilingual, but a country where in the future English will be the second language. Go to any of the large builders' supply stores, such as Lowes or Home depot and 99% of the packaging has Spanish and English. Some packages even have Spanish presented first with English listed second! Ironic that English has singularly become the world's universal language, but is losing ground to Spanish within America's own borders.

    People who think like this moron Chamber is exactly what's wrong with America today. The really sad part is that no one is doing anything to change America's self-destructive course. Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats have done anything except contribute to the problem. Why? The wealthy Republican segment of American society has long enjoyed the cheap Hispanic labor while the insane liberal philosophy of welcoming with open arms the illegals no matter the cost has been to the detriment of America's future. Are the corporations helping? Not on your life. Not only do they outsource American jobs at every opportunity and with zero tax penalties that their bought and paid for stooges in Washington D.C. provided with favorable legislation, they usurp precious university assets including faculty and graduate students for their own research at a fraction of the cost if performed outside the university arena. This most certainly has a negative effect on the quality of education. In addition, universities are more interested in pressuring the faculty to write and present papers to their peers and publishing books than teaching their students.

    The bottom line is that America has indeed lost or given away virtually every advantage it once enjoyed including leading technology, manufacturing expertise, and education. It's only a matter of time before it becomes a third world country. Just a matter of time.

  17. DrXym Silver badge

    Perhaps it's time to impose some tariffs or something

    Go into a Walmart, or a Best Buy, or any store that sells hardware and virtually everything is made in China. Every TV, every phone, every knick knack is stamped made in China. As production goes out, so too does the knowledge leaving the US a consumerist husk surviving on past glories.

    If the US wants to reverse this trend its going to have to move production back onto its own shores. If that means imposing tariffs on certain goods, or incentivizing companies to stay put with tax breaks, or ring fencing the export of certain technologies then that's what it's going to have to do. China might object but at the end of the day, if the US (or Europe) is economically weak then they suffer too and perhaps it's time to start restoring some equilibrium.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      @Jimbo

      "Healthcare costs have also spiraled out of control in part because hospitals can't turn away these illegals so the costs of their free healthcare is passed on to everyone else. These same illegals refuse to assimilate into the American culture. Over the years so many have refused to learn to speak English..."

      1. your country relies upon and exploits these people and tries very hard to stop them from integrating. I suggest you read this, for example and pay attention to the statistics therein:

      http://www.economist.com/node/17722932?story_id=17722932

      2. to paraphrase a famous quote: English? The Americans have n't spoken it for years.

      3. bilingualism in two of the most widely spoken languages in the world should be an opportunity to be grasped greedily (or perhaps you were not aware that a large markeet to your South is quite good at Spanish, even if one of your foreign ministers thought it was Latin).

      4. crime is nothing new in most of the cities and towns of the USA, nor is outsourcing it! You are against drugs? Stop your people from buying them.

      1. Galidron

        Comment on Crime

        The interesting thing is Crime rates have been falling since the 80's, but people still insist otherwise.

    2. Yag
      FAIL

      Other place, same speech

      Your diatribe is oddly similar to the one around there - only replace "hispanics" by "north africans". The only difference is on the language, there is no widespread arabic packagings... yet

      Also, there is the same issue in north africa - Those damn chineese immigrants are coming and stealing their jobs!

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    The free and open labour market.

    Surely these CEOs have only the best interest of the American people at heart.

    They would never dream of having EVIL thoughts like...

    let's relax immigration controls in order to flood the labour market with well educated engineers to create a surplus on the job market that helps to reduce the cost of labour.

    Never.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    American companies do innovate

    However, the only way they can do it is by buying companies outside the USA. Look at the number of companies bought by American corps - most are outside the USA. This is where the innovation comes from, and the profits.

    I work (hence anonymous) for a USA company but in one of the UK offices. We are world leaders in what we do. All the people who work here are from anywhere but the US (Many UK, Asians, Italians, Eastern Europeans, Aussies, Chinese). No Americans, not even the managers.

    Our company has offices all over the world, including the USA, but if you want anything good done, it doesn't get done in the USA offices.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I suspect you may be a colleague...

      ...'cos that description fits my situation as well.

      (hence anonymous, so we'll never know...)

  20. Andrew Moore Silver badge

    "We have not changed the way we teach our children"...

    not true- What about the 'Not Child Left Behind' program (better know as the 'No Child Gets Ahead' program).

  21. disgruntled yank Silver badge

    well

    My parents' generation had a number of scientists, engineers, and nurses; they raised up a surprising number of lawyers & business types. It is quite possible that their offspring noticed US industry's way of treating technical staff badly. (Union Carbide, Boeing, I could go on.)

  22. william henderson 1

    "competitive edge"

    = we have run out of workers to exploit.

  23. Caoilte

    the problem is short-termism in business and government

    It's businesses which sell their IP down the river to China for a quick boost to earnings (no doubt linked to Executive bonuses). It's businesses which undermine the loyalty and pride that most employees want to have in their workplace just so they can save a few bucks that look good in one single quarterly earnings report.

    And then government goes and copies all the worst things about businesses.

    Why bother studying when it's increasingly just rote learning for the benefit of school league tables and of no benefit to your future career at all?

    Why bother healing people when you can get them more ill and then squeeze more money out of them (or in the UK: why bother healing people when the most important government target of the week is empty beds).

    These stupid targets are set by governments who think everything should be measurable just like in a logistics business or pizza restaurant.

    Only the Germans and the Chinese (and a few other smaller economies) have a systemic respect for the complexity involved in and flexibility required in running a modern country.

    And I blame big business for that because it was their policy to lobby for and support braindead governments less likely to oppose them.

    1. Davidoff
      Thumb Down

      China and Germany

      "Only the Germans and the Chinese (and a few other smaller economies) have a systemic respect for the complexity involved in and flexibility required in running a modern country."

      Yes, indeed, by exploiting their own people. To follow Germanies example this would mean the US would have to focus on exports, push short-term contract work (job security my a**e) and maintain decreasing salary levels (which is one reason why they would have to focus on exports, because with low salaries there is not much spending in your country). Ok, the US wouldn't have to rip down their social systems as Germany did (and continues to do) as it already is at a very low standard. But I'm not sure this is the path for a sustainable economy, especially when considering that Germany has lost many of its highly qualified workforce to other countries.

      And as to China, just have a look at the working conditions at companies like Foxconn and then think again if this is a path the US should really go.

      One thing to remember is that just because a coountry does well doesn't mean that it's citizens benefit from it.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Megaphone

    The real solution:

    No tests and no league tables until higher education (where institutions should be able to set their own independent entry exams if necessary). There is no reason at all to test a kid before then.

    It is plain to see that as our fascination with tests and league tables goes up, our quality of education always goes DOWN. With the great irony being that the league tables will ALWAYS tell you the opposite, that things are always in a perpetual state of improvement. Everybody knows that this is impossible, and that it is a lie, but we have set up the system to depend on it so the numbers will always be fudged UP, at any expense. The expense being our childrens' minds. And that is a great tragedy, a HUGE tragedy. It's time to wake up and look at what's staring you in the face. A broken system that was never designed to work in the first fucking place.

    If education was good, you wouldn't need tests. If education was good, you wouldn't need league tables. They are always an indication of BAD education. Of a broken system. If kids were learning real knowledge in schools; it would matter not what the test score says. But they're not. They can't fucking read, can't fucking write or count. Can't do anything but boast their position in the league table.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Excellent

    So, the 'leaders' of the free world (that is, the ones who dictate terms to the rest of us) have shot themselves in the foot, and will not be long at the top of the food chain.

    I don't have a problem with the US being taken down a peg, or a dozen pegs by their own stupidity...

    It'll allow the rest of us to not have to kow-tow to some idiotic inbred miscreant.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Reply to post: Excellent

      "It'll allow the rest of us to not have to kow-tow to some idiotic inbred miscreant."

      I seem to recall they have more than a few of those on the other side of the pond too. Don't they get fancy titles just to make sure that everyone knows they need to be kow-towing to them too?

  26. Saganhill
    FAIL

    Ya, who put the US in the "crapper"

    Putting blame where blame is due. These CEO's are to blame for putting the US in the crapper. They live in such a world that is detatched from the rest of society, they can't see beyond their greedy little noses.

  27. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    CEOs

    One big difference between the US/UK and Germany is the financial system.

    i have worked in public companies where the CEO has burned major projects and big customers because it was more important to have a positive message for a city analyst this week than a profit next year

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Terminator

    too late

    Yeah, Amerikan schools have given up teaching Math, too difficult. "Fractions ? which calculator button is that ?" Schools no longer teach Math, they just torture students until they pass Math tests or die. Electric shocks, waterboarding, beatings with chains, not allowing them to update their facebook pages or text during class.

    The students do not study Math because there are no longer any jobs in post industrial Amerika that require it. Amerika needs a job program that rewards study and achievement with well paying jobs, with security and benefits. Instead, the students get unemployment or WalMart. Can't even get a job in Emperor Bush's legions anymore.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    Education

    "I think education is the most important long-term change we need to do in this country."

    Well, that's no surprise. Half the world sees America as being full of agressive dummies who will do anything their president tells them. Dubya didn't help that image much, being a massive dummy himself...

    I once met the head of my department at an airport and he told me that he always pretends to be a Canadian when he is abroad. When I asked him why, he told me that he doesn't want to be associated with "dummies". I thought he was joking but I later on found out that he wasn't...

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    The US legal system is to blame

    If we need to be better educated it is about our legal system. :) Threats of lawsuits, patents, Intellectual Property ..etc are holding us back. There are a lot of smart people here, but if they will be thrown in the slammer and ruined for trying to bring something to market then what is the point? The company I am at has made a point that I have a bunch of their IP in my head and I cannot use it if I leave..etc. I need to find another job and press forward anyhow, threats or not.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tech competitiveness

    In any free economy, the number of tech grads responds to supply and demand. If CEOs want more STEM grads, CEOs will have to start hiring them and raising their wages. When CEOs complain about lack of tech talent, mostly they mean lack of tech talent willing to work for peanuts, while CEO salaries go through the roof.

    CEOs tend to be politically conservative hands-out-of-my-pockets kind of folks. Maybe if public education were funded at more than 75% of what it actually needs, we'd generate more good workers. But that would be a drag on business. Can't have that. So it's pretty much wishful thinking. "Somebody fix things! Just don't tax me to do it."

    I suppose we could go Communist and nationalize all the biggest businesses. Then we'd be like those countries who are able to spend what was "needed" on generating millions of partially-trained workers with so-called college degrees that amount to vocational training.

    The decline of American Business is really just the effect of CEO and vice president jobs being outsourced. We have plenty of engineers (enough to meet demand) What we need are better CEOs. Perhaps a crash program to develop smarter business leaders.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What?

    "As a country, the rest of the world is moving faster than we are"

    Might these CEOs be a bit better for some basic education?

  33. Manu T

    I don't wake up in the morning and say my preference is to actually employ Americans

    "but I don't wake up in the morning and say my preference is to actually employ Americans."?!?!?!?

    If you don't want to employ Americans then how are those same Americans buy the crap you stupid bitches make in china (thanks to Americans who invented the technology or products in the first place place).

    then there's: "China's not standing still."

    Yeah, thanks to western technology and inventions. Thanks to OUR technology, blue-prints and inventions that you greedy CEO's sell off to the highest bidder. Instead of using it to the benefit of American employers.

    This is the end of the western world. Not just the US. In Europe you hear the same story from similar high ranking CEO's. It's ALL about greed! Corporate greed. Chinese workers build the US/European invented-consumer products using crappy materials and horrible workmanship at piss-salaries. And then the same CEO's expect US/Europeans to buy the imported crappy chinese products. This scenario can't live on forever. Everybody knows that.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Physician...

    "I think education is the most important long-term change we need to do"

    I hear ya...

  35. Someone Else Silver badge
    FAIL

    Do as I say, not as I do...

    'Burns answered: "Because a large amount of my revenues are outside the United States, I have to build close to a reasonable market. It depends upon the market segment, it depends upon the technology I'm using, but I don't wake up in the morning and say my preference is to actually employ Americans.

    "My preference is to employ great people anywhere in the world ... I think that that question – which I get asked a lot – is one that does start the debate from the wrong perspective. It starts the debate from 'You have a choice between an American and a German, and you choose the German'." That's a false choice, from Burns' persepective – it's the market that makes the choice for you.'

    Burns is a fuckin' hypocrit.

    There...sorted.

  36. Harry Kay

    Education

    And if we are not careful, the UK will be going the same way. Education is key, as any fule kno.

    A motto in my old school said "A city's strength is not in its walls, but in its sons" (a word to the feminists - I suspect this was writtne in a less politically correct era). We are currently running on the momentum of those educated in previous decades, when education was taken more seriously - most of whom are now 45 or more. What happens as they retire?

    A further point - business's view necessarily tends to be short-term - the share price, executive stock options, need to fulfil shareholder obligations and expectations, avoid being ousted at the next AGM like a temporarily unsuccessful football maanger etc. Far sighted CEOs might plan on a strategic view of more than 1 or 2 years - but I suspect these are few.

    Governments, on the other hand, have to take a more holistic view of the good of the country, and over a longer time period - then communicate it properly so they get back into office after 4 or 5 years.

    These aims are likely to be in conflict - therefore handing over the Government to business interests is likely to lead to short term advantage (1 or 2 quarters), but long term decline. Sounds familiar?

    Possible solution to the business side of it - tie bonuses to the company's added value over 5 years, and only pay them then. Also get institutional shareholders to take a more active role - they are often pension funds who have to fund 30 year liabilities, so would, I should have thought, have some concern for the longer term.

    And legislate for disclosure of all political donations, lobbying, etc by business interests to political parties AND to individual politicians - so we can see who is buying whom

    1. LaeMing Bronze badge
      Flame

      yes

      A lot of people seem to miss that the reason big corporations behave like short-sighted arse-holes is that they are legaily required to (the fact that most CEOs are likely also arse-holes is probably a round-peg-round-hole effect). Some tweaking of the legal climate in which public companies operate would be needed. And on that day, Satan will call the central heating people for a quote!

      Problem can't be fixed because the people with the ability to fix it benefit from the problem.

    2. Davidoff

      Short-term strategies in business

      Usually it's stock-listed companies who work with short-term strategies as this is what the city honors. On the other side, privately held businesses tend to rely more on long-term planning.

      It's remarkable that most of the companies that did (and still do) well during the recession are privately held companies.

  37. Jerry H. Appel

    Public Education is Socialized Education

    To paraphrase Ezra Pound, GE shouldn't send its gas generators to a neighborhod jeweler for repairs. Public education in this country is for everyone. The test being cited, PISA, was given in China to a limited group. If you want to understand how screwy these CEOs are (out of touch with reality) ask them where their children go to school and ask them to provide jobs for the unemplyed, which they aren't, for the 22 percent of our children's parents living below the poverty line.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Dollar versus people

    Dollar will win until there is no dollar.

    No dollar option with increased certainty under Dollar first approaches

    It is just the way it works.

    All revenue streams are flowing towards a big country in the East and I reckon UK based banks can't wait to relocate but just seek a good enough excuse.

    The CEOs should be congratulated in making views known - maybe in a few years time such comments will only be available via WikiLeaks?

  39. MrColdWaterOfRealityMan

    How obtuse can these "leaders" be?

    This situation was *caused* by the very CEOs who are now complaining. It's happening because:

    1) Outsourcing put domestic technical jobs at constant risk.

    2) Outsourcing suppressed salaries.

    What would *possibly* motivate an intelligent, rational person to pursue a career where their salary will be permanently capped by offshore labor rates?

    Lack of education in science and engineering cause outsourcing, which suppresses salaries and increases job risk, which leads to a lack of interest in science and engineering degrees. The death spiral started when outsourcing started in a big way. If salaries were higher and managers actually hired domestic talent, there would be interest and motivation. As it stands today, you'd be better off using your brain to be a financial whiz, a doctor, a lawyer or *anything* else but an engineer.

    And it was all started by CEOs looking for a quick buck.

  40. Kevin Bailey

    This is also a problem of badly organised businesses...

    This is also a problem of badly organised businesses. They are mostly set up as little fascist dictatorships.

    In all the jobs I've had I've *never* been rewarded for working hard or showing initiative - managers have just seen me as a threat to themselves.

    So ditch digging is all well and good - provided you're prepared to do it forever and get paid shit no matter how hard you try. Not all those laying around on welfare are stupid - some are very intelligent. But unless they get rewarded for working hard then they're not going to be taken for fools. Best claim welfare and make cash on the side (for which the g'mint gets no tax obviously).

    Co-operative type businesses have proved time and again to be much better places for workers - government should arrange the tax system to encourage these types of enterprises.

    In the meantime - don't be surprised when large businesses are as corrupt and inefficient as Enron, Microsoft, GM,Goldman Sachs etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc etc.

    For one example - out of all banks hardly any has come out blameless for the current stupidity - except one, the Co-operative Bank.

    To labour my point - say I was on welfare - I could go and get a job at a supermarket. But since most businesses have absolutely no idea how to identify hard-working, intelligent staff I would be under the usual type of manager who would do their best to make my life a misery.

    The only way to get promoted is to play the ass-lick game. I.e. to pretend to be as dumb as your manager is - but to laugh at all his jokes and pretend to be his friend. Make out your like him and not one of 'them'. Sickening those this behaviour is I've seen it plenty of times - and guess what? it works.

    So you end up with management which is full of dumb, lying, SOB's with no backbone, no moral backbone who are all more interested is ass-licking to the ones above than actually trying to be good at their job.

    I don't know how the Chinese are organised - but it won't take much to out perform western corporations.

    Britain is in it's own world of pain - but the US has a couple of other problems creeping up. Hollywood films are becoming dull, and porn is now free.

    1. LaeMing Bronze badge
      Unhappy

      The cooperative business model...

      ...is certainly more democratic than the facist-dictatorship setup of big companies. Which is why CEOs and their lackeys in govt. won't have a bar of it.

      Ideally, management is selected by the workforce, and a good manager will be valued and paid well if the workforce wants to keep them. You avoid all the rorts and golden-parachutes, as a manager who is demanding rediculous pay will be replaced by someone of equal competence asking less. And workforces who make bad management-selection choices are in danger of loosing their jobs when the company goes down, so they generally will do their level best to get and keep a good balance in management.

      That is the theory anyway, though shareholders in public companies stand to loose a lot of money from bad/overpriced management, but it doesn't seem to stop them keeping on instating bozos from the same overpriced tallent-less pool year-on-year. And the dumber the population gets, the easier it is to keep the entrenched system going.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Thumb Up

        @LaeMing

        "that is the theory anyway, though shareholders in public companies stand to loose a lot of money from bad/overpriced management, "

        You might like to keep in mind that most share (or stock holders) are *pension* funds run by a rather similar group to the companies they invest in.

        The idea of "stewardship" is pretty much meaningless. They will rarely *vote* despite probably between them owning 90% of any major publicly quoted company. CEO's and Boards have to have been *extremely* bad (profits down, *massive* losses, market share in the toilet) before they will take *any* action.

        Sometime in the late 70's or early 80's managers and Directors or VP's started getting the idea they *owned* the company (they are normally its highest paid *employees* and *part* owners) and pension funds *let* them.

        The share and stock holders are (in *theory* ) the checks and balance of Board excess.

        They have not been doing their job.

        Thumbs up for your post, not the results.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Megaphone

    @Davidoff

    With "state" I mean "government". Whether it is the federal or "local state" does not matter too much. Too many Americans rail against the government/state (whatever you like to call that collective thing) as if it were the impersonation of the devil.

    With "nationalizing banks" I mean taking over TOTAL control. Which also means wages, bonuses and payroll sizes/structure. The "free enterprise" banking system has proven to be infected by people who are total egotists, akin to bankrobbers who cannot be caught. If the only fix is a socialist banking system, so be it. Show them the torture tools and apply them. That's what I say. Other enterprises can and should continue to be fully private-controlled.

    Regarding temp-workers, yes they exist. But the "core" (at least 60%) of every major company are employees on a nice permanent contract with 30 days of vacation and an income level which lets them make holiday in Spain for two weeks every year. Excellent healthcare is part of everybody's life. Even the "temp" workers normally make enough for a modest vaction every year. Also, "temp" is often a mechanism to test employees for a year before giving them a normal contract.

    But yes, this is not a paradise, but the real world. You have to perfom or (ultimately) fall back on social security, which means decent housing, healthcare and 340 Euros to buy food and clothing. I am not saying this is perfect, I merely say this model is more humane than the American model.

    BILD: What you are saying is just hilarious. Some people don't want to spend serious money on newspapers and buy BILD. Others buy one of the dozens of other magazines from F.A.Z. to Focus. And you can get major Swiss, English and American newspapers (e.g. NZZ, Time, The Economist, FT) at a proper newsstand, also. If you want to read SPAM, feel free to buy BILD.

    The "Cablegate" anecdote was to illustrate my impression that gross incompetence is rampant in the U.S. government. The (alleged) fix to the Cablegate problem was to prohibit USB sticks and CD drives and "psychological assessments". No such thing as compartmentalization and access logging/log analysis was mentioned. The latter procedures control the dissemination of data at the source and are thereby most effective.

    Something much more damning could be said about the supervision of the financial community by USG. Last time USG failed, world war two resulted out of the financial chaos. We are working hard to contain the problem this time and we would be happy if America could sort out their problems before isolation from the U.S. is the only working fix for the rest of the world.

  42. Al 4

    Too expensive to be an engineer

    I mentor a FIRST robotics team and so discuss engineering with the kids I work with. Most of the brightest kids I know that would make great engineers want nothing to do with it. Why the education costs too much for what you get back. Instead they want to be lawyers or other jobs where they feel they can make the money back faster than in engineering. Just recently I remember reading how colleges were racing the price for engineering degrees. If anything this country should make those the lowest costing along with general practitioners and teachers. If you want students with degrees in certain fields you don't make it more expensive and harder to get you make it cheaper and easier to get. That is of course for the students that do their work and not want just a free education ride. This is why towns are sponsoring doctors in the Midwest these days. In return for helping to pay the doctors education they get a doctor for a number of years. This creates a situation where they re more likely to stay because they don't graduate with a large burden of debt.

  43. JP19

    Captain Obvious

    Quit pissing all the money in the war machine. It's that simple.

  44. Davidoff
    Thumb Down

    @Aebblwoi

    Americans are not afraid of the government (and even less of their state, as this is the level they can participate and which has the most direct influence to their lives), they just want the government to keep its nose out of their business, which is something completely different. This is also the reason why the US government could introduce procedures and regulations that violate human rights and even the US constitution. They probably should start to pay a bit more attention as to who is sitting in Washington, though.

    Nationalizing banks is a bad idea. I'm all for a bit of socialism (especially when it comes to public services like transportation where everytime such a service has been privatized this lead to lower service and higher costs), but it's not purpose of the government to own everything (which is how most East European countries used to work, and all of them failed), it's purpose is to regulate where necessary. The reason why the banks could get away with what they did is because the governments (the US one, but also the governments of most other countries) failed to properly regulate the financial market. Of course, if a US president puts in a member of the banks as the one who should control them, then this is prone to fail. Governments (not only the US one!) should implement a proper, independent and strong authority to regulate the financial market, and this should include salary levels, bonusses and such. It should also have the power to impose sensible fines and requirements on those banks that don't follow.

    As to temp workers, sorry but if you really believe that 60% of workforce in the companies you named consists of perms with high salary and 30 day of vacation then you're delusional. As German I happened to work in/with some of the companies you named (yes, in Germany), and two years ago the non-management workforce consisted of 70-80% temps, working for workforce providers which had 6months (production) to 12months (development) contracts for providing their service. Often the contracts were renewed, sometimes the provider was replaced with a cheaper one. The result was that the majority of the non-management staff had close to none job security, the fluctuation rate was very high, and the chances to be taken over into permanent employment was close to nil (in a 3 year period, out of 80 temps only two were taken over as perms). This was on other sites, onsuppliers, and even with competitors.

    But lets talk about the "excellent" German healthcare system, provided by AOK, TK and other public healthcare providers, which every year provide less and less service for the money you pay them from your salary (of course private healthcare is available, but as it comes with a minimum salary requirement which is way above the average pay to prevent people from fleeing the public system you have to have a very good salary to be able to change to private health insurance). An "excellent" healthcare system where a simple box of Paracetamol tabletts, which can be bought in the UK for 19p in every supermarket, costs 3.70EUR in a pharmacy because they have the monopoly for selling drugs (including also the over the counter type of drugs which in other countries can be bought cheaply everywhere). A system where you pay for many medications yourself (or extra pay quite a bit more than the £7.50 you pay in the UK). Is your girlfriend/wife on the pill? If so, then the box of tablets (which btw is free in the UK) can easily cost between 20-35EUR in Germany. The extra charges you have to pay are constantly increasing. On the other side, especially with public health insurance, there is limited or even no access to many new diagnostics and treatment methods. Ever seen how prostate cancer is diagnosed in Germany? The procedure involves shooting (yes, shooting) two steel rods in your prostate through your bowel. Not only is this procedure extremely painful, it is also highly risky as it carries bacteria from your bowl into the prostate and other parts of the body, often causing infections. Also, this procedure comes with a high risk of resulting in incontinence and erectile disfunction. Most other countries use less butchery methods to diagnose prostate cancer, but not Germany, as this is still the standard method there.

    You have to be very naive or live in a shell to believe the German health care system is "excellent". The only advantage over the UK system is that you often have access to specialists much quicker than in the UK, and the hygienic standard is generally (not always) a bit better (although the NHS has improved a lot in recent years).

    As to my comment of BILD, I'm well aware that there are many other magazines available in Germany. However, BILD is the most read newspaper and it decides the public opinion, something which is used extensively by German politicians). Just have a look at the current attitude (I'd call it more a war against) jobless people and people requiring benefits (Hartz IV).

    To cablegate: yes, it is embarassing (but I said that already), and the current reaction of the US government is riddiculous (I also said that already). However, it's hardly appropriate for Germany or UK (and many other countries) to hold their heads high. As I said, the US is quite good in keeping its real secrets secret. Those dealing with these real secrets (like the NSA) use a different system where access is much more stringently controlled. And this system usually works.

    I agree that the US should get its issues sorted out (stop with the silly focus on terrorism, stop putting industry lobbyists into the government and other important positions, stop giving tax breaks to billionairs, and stop creating a mess in the world and in countries the US don't understand; start investing in education and infrastructure, start promoting entrepreneurship, start inviting the brightest and most talented as it used to be). And when we're at sorting things out, how about Germany stops pushing its own economy by exploiting other EU countries? After all, German export politics played a big part in the problems countries like Spain and Greece currently face.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      At least you have access.

      For many Americans, medical access, which should be as essential as a military (since both defend and protect Americans), becomes a dilemma. There are those who have to decide where their money goes (food or pills) because they can't afford both. And I'm not just talking about those without any insurance (because they're declared uninsurable or the like) but those for which the price of medical care, *even with insurance*, would be crippling.

  45. Daniel B.
    FAIL

    Jocks vs. Nerds

    Geeze, maybe the problem is that US High Schools are more concerned about churning out sports jocks while good students are just cannon fodder for jockies to kick around?

    At least that part of Farenheit 451 does seem to be prophetic. It should be *nerds* the ones being seen as heroes, not the jackass who puts down 5 touchdowns and loves to beat the living shit out of weaklings.

  46. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Joke

    t it looked *so* good in the quarterly profits figures.

    We cut R&D (Risky, no short term return) Profits UP.

    We cut pension contributions. Profits UP.

    We cut low price meals. Profits UP.

    We cut out all dining facilities (except that little one for senior management). Profits UP.

    We out outsourced nearly everything to someone else. Profits UP.

    My bonus. Way UP.

    In the race to the bottom, we *are* the leaders.

    What. You mean part of a businesses objectives is to remain *in* business?

    Guess I'll just have to petition the government for some (corporate) welfare.

    Why should I suffer for the mistakes of.

    Oh...

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