As far as call center work is concerned many of the jobs could later be automated. These jobs will disappear as ayais (A.I=artificial intelligence) become smarter, or possibly a younger text message savvy generation manages the robot interfaces better than their parents.
Much call center work is work for work's sake. The fashion for privatisation of basic utilities creates many opportunities for overbilling disguised as incompetance, and the call center workers are essentially acting as gatekeepers and making sure that queues do not take place in public areas such as banking halls or the city offices of public utilities.
The internet has changed office topology. In the UK even quite small charity organisations may have a great beaurocracy. Parkinson's Law applies: pointless work absorbs more and more people. Health care becomes a market for rich suppliers to charge rip off prices while physicians act as gate keepers to determine who gets which scarce resources. Physician professional bodies do all they can to keep a lucrative career structure for themselves.
Centralised health databases can be a key to public health. China and India should be invited to contribute more. Maybe they could keep epidemiological information as well as accounting information and naturally the cybercoolies can keep track of us all in the new security measures required to protect us all from the evils of Al-Qaeda and internet stalkers.
The movement of skilled jobs to Asia is no accident. Twenty years ago places like India and Thailand tried to tax personal computers high, but that did not prevent Bangkok school students getting to learn programming on an Imsai PC back in the 1970s. In the UK the mainframe managers laughed at such a concept. Punch cards and offline magnetic tape input were the order of the day.
Airports in South East Asia were full of Indians hand carrying electronics back to their own country with it's oppressive taxation regime, which was probably a legacy of Mahatma Gandhi and paranoia based on mis-deeds of the Imperial past.
Something happened to India. Computers were exempted from pseudo anti-imperialist taxes on luxury goods, and cheap computers were available from Taiwan and Korea. Books were also available from Taiwan at such cheap prices that these are closely guarded secrets in places like the UK.
Off shore Taiwan bosts the highest building in the World. The Petronas Towers in Malaysia also beat most buildings in the World. The Taiwanese skyscraper survived a force seven earthquake during construction.
Computer component construction has been a feature of East Asia since the late 1960s. The Indians never achieved the same competance but India has always been the World's great exporter of English speaking scientists. The East Asians were never quite so good at English unless they lived in HongKong, or Singapore and these are commercial rather than scientific centers.
Something happened to India. Both Gandhis, mother and son, got swept away by terrorists. Bollywood (Bombay-Hollywood) created a counterbalance to Hollywood. The middle classes embraced information technology. Vishy Anand, the chess player, became famous. Cricket match fixing secured the economies of offshore betting syndicates. Amartya Sen became the Master of Trinity College, Cambridge.
Government by 'strongman', as in neighbouring Singapore, has not greatly impeded the march of these countries to prosperity. They are not greatly plagued by the separitist and anti capitalist violence which aflict Indonesia, Sri Lanka or the Philippines.
Singapore's seccession from Malaysia did not result in war. In both countries the trains run on time. Neither country would allow a politician such as Ian Paisly free to roam the streets. It's true the British improsoned Paisley in the 1970s, but he was not given the same treatment as Bobby Sands, who also got elected as MP.
Much of India's political class must have seen Malaysia and Singapore as places to emulate in the drive towards modernisation.
The rich man asks "How can I attain enlightenment" ?
The poor man asks "How can I be rich" ?
Just like many doctors prefer private patients that speak politely and don't smell, so many gurus and spiritual leaders like well to do customers who have already made a fortune and are seeking a career break. Not all gurus or spritual leaders can get these customers. Some end up as little better than beggers casting horoscopes under a concrete flyover in an urban jungle.
In the mean time the Anglo-Saxon business classes went for other gurus. Management consultants who can draw the last iota of profit from monopolies and cartels are immensly influential in corporate life. Most of these anagement consultants are the 'Sacred Cows' of the West. They are eager to help the capitalist corporations maximise profits through the use of operational research to better manage tanker fleets, refine oil, load spaceships and design communication networks but the techniques should not be tried out by third world governments.
Salvador Allende saw that socialism in Chile could be vastly enhanced by data sharing and online computing. Stafford Beers, a British consultant knew that the cybercity was possible. Man had just landed on the moon, and many universities, businesses and utilities already had decent computer networks. Stafford Beers believed what he was saying and tried to make it work. He regularly visited Santiago and his project was abruptly terminated by American backed military action against Salvadore Allende's presidency.
Reactionary people complain abaut 'multiculturalism' but of course the acquisition of exotic slaves for construction labour and sexual services is an ancient human practice.
One English politician described 'Chicken Tikka Masala' as a British National Dish. This is a fair comment on the fact that much English food is lousy, rather than that the English have a mature attitude to foreigners. France and Italy are better places for food. Both countries have large rice growing areas, and Asian influence on the local cuisine.
Multiculturalism means different things to different people. To some the idea seems an unwanted invasion. To others it means opportunity. There is the possibility of life long friendship. When people are poor and oppressed they may not be able to appreciate the opportunity. The wealthy will think they are socially progressive when they employ dark skinned people as nannies. They easily overlook the master servant relationship.
It is also possible to characterise enemies of multiculturalism. First and foremost stand the racial purity types whether they are Hitler admiring Nazis, militant Hindus, Taliban, or Zionists. In fact almost all people who believe in an exclusive religion where some will be saved and others condemned are potential enemies of a multicultural society.
In practice the extreme racial purity types can cause racial mixing because these people create refugee flows if they attain power. When you hear people speaking negatively of 'multicultural' societies then you know these people and their friends should be kept out of power.
The Koran claims that there are different races in the world to please mankind. There is no ambiguity. Faisal Bodi, an islamic commentator, writes that the old Hapsburg Empire up to 1918 was a fair example of a multinational empire, and a useful resource for understanding multicultural societies.
The landings and stairways of low income flats are full of hard drug dealers anywhere from the deindustrialised wastelands of South Yorkshire to 'Les Grands Banlieux de Paris'.
The French react to the problem by jailing loiterers while the British retaliate with ASBOS (Anti-Social Behaviour Orders).
Black market economic activity involving opium derivatives or cocaine are increasing economic options in hollowed out economies.
The Bengal opium trade started as an East India Company (EIC) venture in late 1700s. Bengalis were exploited by high land tax, salt tax and miserable prices for opium. Those 'tea clippers' which became the talk of the betting and commercial classes of the 1800s started out as opium smuggling boats. After all it was opium which payed for British tea.
See GREAT MOMENTS AGE OF IMPERIALISM (Video)One class of Bristol trading voyages could be characterised as weapons, slaves, rum. Weapons were exported to Africa so that tribal chiefs on the coast could organise slave collection. The slaves were then shipped to sugar plantations, and the highly refined, and taxable commodity of rum could be brought back to England. A drink tax kept the exchequer happy.
Nineteenth century Asia trade could be described as textiles, opium, tea. The least profitable run was from England to India, but the British had started to excercise sufficient control over the subcontinent to be able to stifle local industries and force the demand for inferior but cheaper mass produced goods. Opium was shipped from India to China where tea was bought to satisfy demand.
The Asians put up more resistance to colonialism than the original inhabitants of the Americas. It took longer to establish plantation economies based on slave labour (except possibly in the Mollucas). Tea plantations eventually became established in Assam and Sri Lanka. The human tragedies resulting from the forced migration of coolie labour are still the cause of intense conflict in both areas.
The Anglo-Dutch Opium-Tea cartels are now known as Shell and BP.
Privatisation of public utilities allows the same to happen there. Profits will be neither taxed, nor passed on to the consumers. All the money will go to the shareholders. In the case that the public utilities are strategic assets which cannot be allowed to fail, then government subsidies to keep the systems working will be used as a means of using taxes paid for by the working poor to subsidise the rich. It is hardly any wonder that right wing bigots claim to love the working poor.
Offshore invoice processing facilitates tax avoidance.
Many large companies still operate as quasi military heirarchies. Labour discipline is ultimately enforced by military means. Training in company ideology is important. There may be drug tests to keep the workers in order. The South Koreans used to use KCIA agents to enforce labour discipline in the Middle East. The Thai army is an important agent in recruiting it's Middle East workers. Some companies check job applicants for ethnic group and blood type.
The information flow in a large organisation can be analysed using any of the tools of management science. Most such analyses are kept secret to all but a charmed circle. Secrecy is especially important for public companies with quotations on markets.
Secrecy about parts of a company network is an obstacle to scientific management and fair trade. The secrecy may hide corruption or incompetance.
The CBI have genuine grounds for complaint. The business leaders say that not enough English people are competant on foreign languages. Uptake of language courses is declining in schools. The businessmen also decry the poor state of public transport in the capital city, failure of schools to deliver a literate or numerate workforce, inflexibility in the labour market, lack of a coherant policy on entry to the Eurozone. Gerard Lyons, chief economist of the Standard Chartered Bank claims that "every other country is trying to reposition itself to compete with India and China, while Britain seems to be trying to compete by expanding the size of government". HSBCs former CEO, Sir Keith Whitson, claimed that Indian and Chinese workers are better dressed, more enthusiastic and efficient than their UK counterparts. Diane Abbot MP is just one of many amongst a political elite who votes on state education, but sends her own child to a fee paying school.
In fact the employer organisations have the money to employ a handful of smart analysts and public relations people, but they lose moral ground by the antics of a handful of really corrupt people who end up thinking they are above the law and getting caught. The Conrad Black scandal is small compared with France's Elf scandal which has seen the jailing of several former corporate bosses. Conrad Black diverted a mere six million or so and there are no racy stories of mistresses with penthouse flats and corporate credit cards.
Many towns in America and England share common features. The biggest employers are the Hospital and the University. Local government and the police are also substantial employers. In a globalised world the hospital and the university both employ relatively large numbers of foreigners, because of the affects of the 'Brain Drain' which is about eighty years old. Hitler chased off many scientists to America. Hitler, Stalin and Mao greatly curtailed academic freedom. Their legacy remains.
In these typical towns where Hospital, University, and Local Government form the single biggest employers, the University brings people into the town. The student population is constantly shifting. The student population fuels the local hospitality industry.
Other organisations provide services to the local University, Hospital and Government. These may be a single software supplier, a cartel of drug salesmen, and motor manufacturers so that the employees can drive to and from work.
Local manufacture will often be tied to the motor industry.
The enrichment of Asia can and usually does benefit the University. America and England enjoy the advantage that their language is dominant. They also enjoy the advantage that their Universities set the pace in scientific publications and development.
The terrorism of an overbearing state is the worst threat to academic freedom. This could be the terrorism of Spain and Portugal who chased out the Jews in the 1400s or the terrorism of the Taliban and their supporters in the 21st century who impose a mental straitjacket under the guise of Islam.
Some American government agencies have also sought to control academic freedom. The Anti communist investigations of the 1950s and irksome visa restrictions on visiting academics following 9/11 are both potentially suicidal behaviour. The Russians constructed the H-bomb before the Americans, despite the America's internal purge of communists. Osama Binladen and Saddam Hussein are able to evade capture despite space-age American signals intelligence (SIGINT). For most Africans the choice is simple: education anywhere outside Africa is best.
In the 1950s when the scientists wanted big budgets they promised to deliver nuclear bombs. Nuclear physics and nuclear engineering became fashionable subjects. Scientists who want funds in India and China have been able to have nuclear programs. The Iranian project probably comes from a desire to stop all skilled physicists and engineers from emigrating. The cynical nature in which some American faculties have exploited Star Wars is mirrored in Asia.
Biotech is the new atomic physics. It seems to present a greater threat of human extermination than nuclear war. It now takes only a few weeks to create a virus with chemicals (mixtures of DNA/RNA bases). Craig Venter just did this at Rockville, MD. The work was done at a corporation called The Institute of Biological Energy Alternatives. Previously a team at Stoney Brook had built a poliovirus. The SARS virus is just fortyeight kilobytes (48Kb) of bases. The virus could be rebuilt from scratch in places equipped as well as Ventner's laboratory. The world has as much to fear from bio-hackers as from bio-terrorists. Designer viruses have already arrived, and the lure of new life saving drugs is in some ways just as dangerous as naked commercial greed.
Biotech is a threat to democracy as we know it. When the government want to ban things they draw up lists. Things on the lists cannot be exported to rogue states and so on. These lists are a bit like patents. They depend on enormous databases. It will be almost impossible to draw the line between good and bad research in local or national assemblies.
Biotech requires enormous computing power. I should imagine that it also requires expensive instrumentation. The fastest way of funding it has been to promise investors territory in DNA-space, or suchlike. This virtual territory is protected by patent law. The Universities who actually discovered this territory do not want to be dealt out of research areas by patent law. The clash between the arts and science culture is ever more intense. Tony Blair and William Clinton tried to paper over the divide when they attended a public celebration of the Human Genome Project.
Modern biochemistry has contributed to the release of dozens of US prisoners cendemned to death for murders they did not commit. The discarding of elementary medical knowledge by upstart commercial organisations has seen millions infected by AIDS/HIV in China.
Distortion of knowledge because of commercial pressure is lethal. The drug and medical services industry requires input from therapists and patients as much as shareholders. Instead, the affect of shareprice fluctuations makes objective experimentation tedious. The concentration of pharmaceutical research into a handful of large corporations is hardly the best way to tackle emergent diseases.
Foreign students may be valued because the money they spend contributes to the local economy, but there is a hidden value. They have not necessarily been exposed to Western advertising culture in the same way as natives. Amartya Sen witnessed the dismal effects of British greed in India. To most British the propaganda line of the time was that the Empire had been saved from the rapacious Japanese. Violent partition and famine were mere incidents of history.His pioneering economic studies where he classified mortality rates by race and class divisions have been much appreciated by the left. Most of this work was done in the USA.
Amartya Sen writes in the Guardian that American universities have taken a very considerable march over the European Universities. This is disturbing news for towns where the University is a major employer.