NLA Discussion: Politics of Literacy in the USA, Part II
AndresM at nmail.epcc.edu
Mon Sep 28 11:53:25 EDT 1998
As Andres put it, "the
global economy sucks for poor people." I don't know the extent to which
Andres' assertion is true or not, but if it largely is, it does pose
certain problems for the worker role map.
George, et al:
I know that this is kind of beyond the point, however, I am attaching an
article that I wrote on globalization of the economy and welfare reform
for our local newspaper. This is largely a perspective of the impact in El
Paso. I know that I am preaching to the choir.
Welfare is intended to offer financial relief to individuals and families
during times of economic hardship. However, with welfare reform,
welfare benefits are becoming lesser and more restrictive, while jobs
are becoming more elusive.
Current unemployment in El Paso is approximately 11%. This
means that there are 30,000 jobs less than people needing employment.
In addition, with the globalization of the economy and the resulting
international trade agreements such as NAFTA, the jobs that do not
require high level training are going overseas. In other words, with
globalization of the economy, US workers will do high skill work, while
pre-industrialized countries will provide the entry level workforce.
As entry level jobs move overseas and unemployment increases,
higher level jobs are becoming the entry level jobs in the US. As a result,
corporations in the US are now able to afford higher skills at entry level
wages. Furthermore, with rapid changes in technology, the higher skills
needed for the current cadre of jobs will become obsolete in the next
few years. Economic models predict that by the year 2,000, workers will
need retraining and switch jobs seven times in their employment lifetimes.
What does this mean for our local workforce? Nothing good that I
can see. Historically, corporations needing low skilled employees came
to El Paso searching for undereducated workers. Thousands of El
Pasoans have worked in entry level factory work for the past four
decades. These workers have helped many companies to develop, grow
and flourish. As these companies are going overseas, the workers are
being left without employment. During the last two years, over 7,000
individuals, mostly women over 30 have lost their jobs. To add to the
burden recent policy changes are making welfare more inaccessible.
The government has not placed the blame on the welfare state on the
lack of jobs, but on individuals who cannot become economically
independent. The government has, furthermore, decided to reduce
dependency on welfare. Presently, welfare recipients are required to
obtain employment in very short periods of time. Moreover, US residents
have simply been disqualified from obtaining welfare. All this, without an
increase in the number of jobs and the added increase in the skills
required to obtain the few jobs available.
What can we do to prevent all this? First, we must demand that
welfare policies be consistent with economic trends. If economic trends
will reduce the number of available entry level jobs, then, welfare must
increase- rather than decrease- until the availability of jobs matches the
demand. Furthermore, economic globalization must be challenged.
Economic globalization is welfare for the corporations. Corporations will
have an easier chance to take advantage of the poor and
disenfranchised all over the world. In the meanwhile, the US government
is making it more difficult for the poor to obtain welfare.
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