“The great masses will more easily fall victim to a big lie than to a small one” – Adolf Hitler
“I crossed the green mountain / I slept by the stream
Heaven blazing in my head / I dreamt a monstrous dream
Something came up / Out of the sea
Swept through the land of / The rich and the free” – Bob Dylan
In their wildest dreams, demagogues of the past never imagined how easy television and social media would make it to use lies as means of persuasion. We can all quote our favorite absurdities from the political arena, but no one relies on the power of falsehood more effectively than the current Republican front runner and former star of a type of television that large numbers of people mistake for “reality.” The efforts of so called “fact checkers” are doomed from the start; studies have repeatedly shown that rational argument is the least effective means of persuading anyone of anything.
The lie that prompted me to write this post hasn’t yet caught media attention, but it’s one we’re likely to hear quoted more frequently as the election circus continues.
It goes like this: “China is stealing our jobs.” The reality is, “Corporations are offshoring them for profit.”
A decade ago, when I worked at the Intel campus in Folsom, I took a half hour walk every day on my lunch hour. When it was too hot or cold or rainy, I’d walk inside, through through seven interconnected buildings, up one flight of stairs, down another, and so on. One day I noticed that an entire floor in one of the four story buildings was empty. “What happened?” I asked a manager. “Those jobs have moved to Shanghai,” he said.
I’ve had relatives and friends in different industries compelled to train their Asian replacements in order to get a severance package. A decade later it’s still going on. Beware of any politician with “a plan to create jobs” or who blames illegals from Mexico for out-of-work software developers.
This is old news. I’ve already discussed it in 2013, in a review of The Unwinding by George Packer, an account of the dissolution of the bonds of mutual loyalty that once seemed an integral part of corporate life in America. I mention it now because one of the friends with whom I ate Thanksgiving dinner this year recently saw his job move to India after a buyout.
My hero in this is a 40 something software developer named Bob who outsourced his own job to Shanghai. Working through an outsourcing company, he paid his Chinese counterpart one-sixth of his salary, spent his days surfing the web, especially cat videos, and occasionally introduced errors into the near-perfect code he received, lest his employer, Verizon, get suspicious.
When the story broke, a Verizon spokesperson simply said “Bob no longer works here.” Too bad – he’d be a great fit in upper management.
“You can take my soul, but not my lack of enthusiasm!” – Wally, in Dilbert.
There is enough lying going on in the campaign cycle on both sides to keep fact checkers busy for years. I like Bob’s answer to the jobs problem. That kind of initiative should be encouraged instead of fired.
It seems certain that more than ever, the future belongs to the flexible and those able to imagine new solutions like that…