I just heard a commercial that got my blood boiling. It was for a computer company. The message was simple — lay off some expensive employees and replace them with low cost computers.
Years ago when I was installing computers for IBM, that very notion is what I found most disturbing. Any time I was asked about “automation” replacing humans, I – perhaps lying to myself – referred to it as “dynamic reallocation of resources”.
In truth, when the economy was running smoothly and business was booming, most companies I worked with simply moved people to other departments and gave them different responsibilities. Jobs that had been sitting on the back burner could be addressed by people who had been removed from the drudgery jobs taken over by the computers.
In almost every case, the company expanded and hired additional workers.
At one time, my branch manager asked me to go into sales. It was at a time when the economy had slowed and people were being laid off. Our sales figures were down and the branch manager was hoping more bodies trying to sell our systems would help him meet his quota.
I thought and prayed about it and came to the following conclusion:
I could honestly believe that the solution I was offering to a customer was, without a doubt, the best way to keep his or her business profitable, but if the customer looked me in the eye and said, “I like it, but I’ll have to lay off a few workers to afford it.” I would’ve told him or her to forget it.
I guess I never had the “killer” instinct.
I liken it to the insurance salesperson who likes to remind folks of their mortality. I do not wish to be reminded and I will promptly show such a salesperson to the door.
I once had an insurance man try to sell me a one million dollar whole life policy. I told him that there was no way I could afford the premiums. He assured me that the payments would start out small and increase as my income increased.
I then asked him what the top premium would be and when the policy would be paid in full. He told me those were stupid questions.
He did not make a sale that day and I didn’t bother to return his calls.
I may have gotten away from the subject at hand; so let’s return to it.
Considering the state of the economy and the number of people who have lost their jobs, I believe it is unconscionable to encourage companies to lay off more people just so a company can sell more computers.
Perhaps a better approach would be to develop a software package to help people write resumes, search for possible employers, and take self-study courses to improve their chances of finding a new job. Then, convince the government to include subsidies in the next stimulus (oops! I mean “Jobs”) bill.
Give every unemployed person a computer and help him or her get back to work.
That’s my opinion and it’s my blog. So there!