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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 3/19/11

Intermezzo In Style Or Why I Support Progressives

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Message Mark Sashine
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I   have been reading   a book    on style recently.   I enjoyed   it immensely. If Gustav Flaubert said, 'Style is a   man,' the author of this book Mr.   JM Williams has all the right to say, 'Style is a necessity.'   Here's   a perfectly correct but   unreadable   statement as example from that book:


-   Once upon a time as a walk through the woods was taking place on the part of Little Red    Riding Hood, the Wolf's    jump out from behind a tree occurred causing her   fright.


  Loved every moment of reading that. It   reminds   me of the numerous speeches   by our    stylish GOP warriors. If     the absence of style can be considered a style in itself   GOP   and   Tea-Party, Rush, Glenn, Sarah   and   Calamity Michelle- they all seemed to have   mastered that one with   impunity.   I suspect the reason is simple: books on style are not that popular nowadays; style does not seem to pay dividends.


We do not belong to them, though. In our world of reasonable people (the shrinking one)   we   still value clarity and honesty.   That is if   you   have chosen   the road less taken and associate your   destiny with the progressive cause, for instance,     a clear explanation of the reasons to do so as well as of   the expectations   is paramount; we prefer the people who know what and why they are doing. And, of course, it     should be done in style.


A friend of mine, also an engineer is much more   social   than me. He has a lot of     people around him   and frequents parties.   He comes from those parties with our fellow- immigrants totally exhausted.


-           They are all vehement Republicans, - he   laments, "They hate Obama.'


There is quite an interesting     psychological   twist here. And   historical too. I am an engineer and through the years   in the US   I got   used to the fact that engineers are quite conservative here.   They   usually vote   Republican. I think    it comes from the times of Reagan   when    voting for GOP meant two crucial things: high- tech jobs and steady rise   of the   prices of   the houses. Both were   built   on the sand as we now know but a   lot of   professionals did very well at that time and, let's face it- Democrats   never   offered   technical people   steady income and perspectives. Engineering is a tough profession to master; those who made it   would politically support the politicians who   promised them a good life and could deliver on the promise.


All of that   ended   somewhere in 1990s and that end culminated   now. Engineering profession had become a nuisance. When Cold War ended so did the     effort to solve tough problems.   The   problems remained and    even   multiplied   but they were of   a different kind. It was not enough to make a weapon bigger and more powerful.   In fact, weapons   stopped   being a good investment ( as if they were   before). New problems were in fact the   old ones: the problems of   cheap and abundant energy, the problems of water supply, of environmental   design, etc. All of   them could be united under the specification of the problems of responsible citizenship.   Turned out   many   of us were not prepared for such an undertaking. Turned out our good   technology companies were the same as   all others- they started to cut costs, lay off   employees and   turn to   all those new financial tools.   There became more and more managers, less and less technical   people in charge. MBA   had become a mantra. Business administration schools   mushroomed everywhere.    Bonuses overcame the salaries. An average college graduate from the   engineering school could choose between the   stagnant   salary in some cubicle   among other similar miserable souls and a visibly glamorous employment with a financial institution, 6- figure salary+ bonuses and excellent medical while being called a financial analyst.   Our world crumbled and   even   the sacred code of white men in   suites and ties was no more. Many in   my profession felt   then and still feel nostalgic for the old times.   For a while GW seemed a savior of theirs; he waged    as many wars as he could handle. Turned out though that he was a darling of the oil companies; they   grabbed a buck.    He did not change supply and demand. On the contrary, under GW another dangerous tendency developed and spread- the outsourcing.   The transfer of the   formerly high-paid jobs to the cheap suppliers overseas inevitably eroded the whole concept of high qualification. I have been watching   the process of job advertisement, interviewing and hiring since 1991.     Gradually but surely it became more and more abstract, less and less   a personal   search.   It became especially    clear when the   Internet took over.   "Don't call us, we will call you,' had become a rule.   A person applies   anonymously   and gets a rejection   the same way. Usually the job ad is not about a problem to solve or a     technical discipline to excel. It is about handling the tool. You can   recall   John Henry from the song by Johnny Cash- a man who was hired by aa railroad because he was   very good with the hammer.    Now instead of a hammer it can be ANSYS or FlLUENT or RASCAL or something else.   Skills are hired, not brains. That was originally the concept    of the outsourcing- to dump out all the routine work and leave the real challenges here.   Turned out that   unless formulated real challenges do not exist.    And who will formulate them?   Nobody.   As a result we have more and more   small jobs, we dissect the big projects into   an infinite number of   the small ones and ship them overseas piece-by --piece. Nobody there asks any questions and the profit   comes not from the product but from the cheapness of labor.   Sort of like English plantations in the West Indies   in   the 18th Century.

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The writer is 66 years old, semi- retired engineer, PhD, PE, CEM. I write fiction on a regular basis and I am also 10 years on OEN.

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