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July 04, 2011


Lee Nackman

First of all, thank you for your insightful analyses on this very important topic. I have a few questions related to other aspects of the employment problem:

1. Is there any data and/or analyses of whether the United States's growing income distribution inequality affects employment? For example, one could imagine that concentration of wealth could lead to increased consumption of tradable goods and services and a decrease in consumption of non-tradable, leading to reduced
US employment.

2. In the last few decades, "shareholder value" has become the main measure of executive success. Has there been any discussion of ways to add employee well-being to this?

Thanks again for your thoughtful writing on this topic.

Bud Byrd

Dr. Wladsky-Berger, hopefully without appearing to be too much of a suck-up, it is obvious to me and undoubtedly to others who may read my comments, that you are much more skilled than I on world affairs. I very much appreciate (actually envy) the access you have to the world stage and the depth of intellect and persuasion that you are able to exercise in interacting with business, government and most especially education play-makers.

With the above preamble, you seem more optimistic than, I, with my limited opportunity to interact with these same elements of the American and global communities. I am skeptical, but I sincerely hope that your apparent optimism prevails; that in the current polarized climate, our political and business leaders will be able to turn our country around; and lead America in finding its way back to the level of greatness (for all our people) that many of us enjoyed throughout the second half of the twentieth century. I am hopeful, but I remain a doubting Thomas.

With growth and profit the signal elements of the business executive's performance and thus his or her compensation and longevity, it is inevitable that jobs and production will seek the most effective and efficient sources of labor, skilled and unskilled. In the global marketplace, off-shoring (from the US and other developed countries) of high-wage country jobs is the most logical of business choices.

Added to the obvious choice of business seeking the lowest cost source of competent labor is the fact of markets moving to other countries as well. How can a global company survive in a local (non-US) market if it does not move its jobs, its production into these global customer markets? In fact, with regard to the production of many global companies, one can legitimately argue that US workers have no vested rights (business, moral or legal) to many of the jobs of the international (global) company. Many products are designed, built, sold and delivered ...all outside the United States by companies with good old US names and incorporation papers. Can this work and the associated jobs and production be jobs and work that rightfully belonged to US workers? I don't think so when viewing a global company.

When our products and services do not demonstrate the best value, the products and services of others will win the market. Obviously, that is true whether a domestic or foreign market. Without protectionism, overpriced and/or undervalued products and services will not allow a company to prosper, here or abroad. It's a simple business equation that moves our jobs off-shore.

To bring the jobs back, we Americans must be innovative in improving the education of our children and working adults. We must use technology, new business processes and practices to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our production, delivery and the infrastructure to move our products and services to market. Additionally, we must have a government that is supportive, efficient and effective as we remake our education, financial and business infrastructure.

So where do we start?

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