Mid-week mandatory reading

| February 24, 2010

Eric S. Raymond, author of “The Cathedral and the Bazaar“, has a thoughtful post on his blog this morning on how the current recession is impacting his circle of friends, two in particular. Here are the key paragraphs:

When I look at these guys, though, I can’t buy the explanation most people would jump for, which is that they simply fell behind in an increasingly skill-intensive job market. Thing is, they’re not uneducated; they’re not the stranded fruit-picker or construction worker that narrative would fit. Nor does offshoring explain what’s happened to these guys, because their jobs were the relatively hard-to-export kind.

No. What I think is: These are the people who go to the wall when the cost of employing someone gets too high. We’ve spent the last seventy years increasing the hidden overhead and downside risks associated with hiring a worker — which meant the minimum revenue-per-employee threshold below which hiring doesn’t make sense has crept up and up and up, gradually. This effect was partly masked by credit and asset bubbles, but those have now popped. Increasingly it’s not just the classic hard-core unemployables (alcoholics, criminal deviants, crazies) that can’t pull enough weight to justify a paycheck; it’s the marginal ones, the mediocre, and the mildly dysfunctional.

In other words, established ‘liberal’ policies actually hurt those whom the liberals would most like to protect. Read the whole thing.

Wayne Holder, a high school friend and my boss at Oasis Systems/FTL Games nearly 30 years ago, talked once about how he was a radical liberal through college, then turned hard-core conservative once he started his own business and had to hire people. He complained about the increased costs and legal/regulatory consequences of each new person he hired — and this was back in the 1980s! I can only imagine what it’s like today.  ..bruce w..

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Category: 2010 Election, Business, Economics, Main

About the Author ()

Webster is Principal and Founder at Bruce F. Webster & Associates, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at Brigham Young University. He works with organizations to help them with troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan. He can be reached at bwebster@bfwa.com, or you can follow him on Twitter as @bfwebster.

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