Why “Old America” is Going Out Of Business

I recently was compelled to call in to Jon Caldara‘s radio show on 850 AM KOA.  He was talking about how to bring back jobs in America.

He asked me, “Would you open up a business here [where] you’ll be able to keep 60 cents from every dollar you make, compared to another country where you can keep 90 cents of every dollar.  How would you stay in business … if you’re losing to the competition?”

My answer: Face time.  There’s just something about an American worker who puts pride into their work and does so in your presence.  Granted, I’ve had jobs where it was all for the Benjamins (or Lincolns… in most cases), but I now work for a company that respects me – and I do a damn good job every single day for them.  It comes through in my work.

Low prices might get you to buy the first widget, but you’re not going to buy the second or third without some assurance of face time.  Or at least damn good customer service.

Our generation (we’re known as Millennials) has taken the world and turned it on its edge: we’re doing all sorts of crazy crap with existing tools that nobody else had ever dreamed of.  We’re all about face time and re-innovation (new uses for old tools) – and, because we didn’t grow up in a Cold War-era world, we’re not afraid to get ideas from anyone and anything.  Even communists.  Why not? (besides the whole Potemkin Village thing)

Could my company hire an H-1B (high-tech visa worker) or outsource my job to India or China?  Hell yes they could – at 1/10th the rate they pay me!  But would they get the face time?  Could they talk to me every day and get the feeling and reassurance that I know what I’m doing?  Could they even communicate simple project ideas or methodologies to me on the spot, and know without a doubt that I will do exactly what they’re asking for?

Probably not, an all counts.  And what keeps such a worker loyal, doing a job for which they should – no matter where they’re located or which language they speak – be getting paid 10x more?  Assuming you can pay them less because they’re in another country or speak another language is absurd.  There are also other factors

Besides, Americans have the protection of OSHA, environmental rules, and healthcare for a reason.  Can we afford to live without them?  Just watch Erin Brockovich.  Even with regulations, the company wasn’t playing inside the rules.  You have to punish companies – make it so expensive for them to compete – when they don’t work right.

Jon Caldara has a point – but he’s talking from the perspective of “Old America”.  Old America is run on greed.  Old America didn’t come up with businesses like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace.  Old America came up with Enron, Tyco, GlobalCrossing, Wal-Mart… need I go on?  New America is all about connecting – we called it Web 2.0.  Web 3.0 is bound to be all about improving ourselves – as one connected, global, community.

Forbes says we (Millennials) have no entrepreneurial spirit.  I disagree.  Just because we don’t put greed among our top motivators doesn’t mean we’re not entrepreneurial.  Old-world thinking – “bring back jobs to America” won’t do us any good.  We have to create the new jobs by endorsing our core competencies – innovation, re-innovation and face time.  We have to demand it of “Old America” too, particularly the auto industry where those three qualities will be paramount for survival.  This downturn isn’t about corporate taxes, rich vs poor, regulation, or any number of other economic factors.  It’s about greed and externalities – and we’ve all suffered for the misunderstanding.

Move over, Old America.  New America is coming to town.

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