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Are Silicon Valley's Glory Days Over? 335

Posted by timothy
from the this-too-shall-pass dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Pete Carey writes in the Mercury News that there are 'clear warning signs' that Silicon Valley has entered 'a new phase of uncertainty' in which its standing as a tech center is at risk and that decisive action by business, government and education is needed if the region is to retain its standing as the world's center of technical innovation. 'It could be that Silicon Valley has a different future coming,' says Russell Hancock. 'It's not a given that we will continue to be the epicenter of innovation.' Among the troubling indicators in the Silicon Valley Index (PDF): 90,000 jobs lost in the last two years; the influx of foreign science and engineering talent has slowed; venture capital funding has declined; per capita income is down 5 percent from 2007; and the number of people working as contractors rather than full-time employees is rising. Adding to the valley's problems is a malfunctioning state government that is shortchanging investment in education and infrastructure."
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Are Silicon Valley's Glory Days Over?

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  • by Baldrson (78598) * on Friday February 12, 2010 @11:12PM (#31123848) Homepage Journal
    "90,000 jobs lost in the last two years; the influx of foreign science and engineering talent has slowed"

    I keep telling these idiots that the first option you should look at when jobs are declining is to increase the importation of foreign workers but do they listen?

    nnnnNOOOOOoooooooo....

    • The obvious next step: Ban people who don't have H-1 visas from tech jobs. There's lots of jobs at Starbucks left for lazy overeducated white guys.

      • by Z00L00K (682162)

        Another issue that has to be considered is the offshoring of jobs. Companies in the US having the owner and a few employees which is primarily the secretary and legal department and then all the developers in India or something. That means that there no new experience with the technology at all - everyone with the core competence is in India (or whatever the current favorite offshore site is).

        And then you have lead times since the turnaround between management and developers is longer. That means that the c

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Runaway1956 (1322357)

          'It's not a given that we will continue to be the epicenter of innovation.'

          All I can say is, "Welcome to the real world!" The corporations broke the power of labor in the steel industry around '82 or '83. I heard men saying "Let them move their steel mill to (pick your favorite 3rd world nation), they'll be back, because NO ONE can make steel like we do!"

          The steel workers learned, and so can the techies.

          Offshoring is such a wonderful practice. Only problem is, when they can hire labor for pennies a day,

    • "90,000 jobs lost in the last two years; the influx of foreign science and engineering talent has slowed"

      I keep telling these idiots that the first option you should look at when jobs are declining is to increase the importation of foreign workers but do they listen?

      nnnnNOOOOOoooooooo....

      That would be funny, if it weren't for the sorry fact that that's exactly the position many immigration advocates promote.

    • A lot of people think the H-1 visas should be tied in some way directly to the unemployment rate, maybe on a per-industry basis. That way when we really do need workers, we can get them. And when we need more jobs, we can avoid having them all taken up by foreigners.
    • Stop blaming H-1 ! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 13, 2010 @04:42AM (#31125364)

      Wanna blame? Blame yourselves !

      Silicon Valley's glory and gloom has nothing to do with H-1.

      Silicon Valley bloomed in yesteryears because of the incentives that were there for innovators to innovate.

      Innovators were aplenty, and they were willing to share the findings to each others, and they actually encouraging each others to do more !

      There were no patent trolls back then. No teams of lawyers who will sue innovators to bankruptcy or subpoena them to court to explain why they come up with this little piece of code/gadget/idea which happens to have similarity to another piece of code/gadget/idea.

      In other words, there were no rent-seekers back then.

      Nowadays? There are more rent-seekers in Silicon Valley than the innovators.

      Blaming the H-1 visa is too easy, and everyone is doing just that. But will that help Silicon Valley?

      What if all the H-1 visas are revoked tomorrow? Do you seriously think that Silicon Valleys can magically bloom again, just like that?

      C'mon, guys ! Use your brain for once and stop regurgitating the vomit of others.

      And PS. I was in Silicon Valley when it blooms, and yes, I was one of the innovators. Now I am no longer in the Silicon Valley, and heck, I am no longer staying in the United States, and you know why? Because I have had enough of those rent-seekers !

  • Need that money for more prisons.

    • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Friday February 12, 2010 @11:19PM (#31123886)

      Need that money for more prisons.

      We're talking about California, what money?

      • by PCM2 (4486) on Friday February 12, 2010 @11:46PM (#31124066) Homepage

        We're talking about California, what money?

        Bad joke. If California were a separate nation, it would be the eighth largest economy in the world, right after Italy and before Spain, Canada, Brazil, Russia, India, and on and on. Australia is an entire continent, and its economy is less than half the size of California's. What Californians are pissed about is that we also have some of the highest taxes in the nation, and we have no idea where that money is all going.

        • by timeOday (582209) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @12:04AM (#31124156)
          Thanks to the three-strikes law, yes, a vast amount of money is going into warehousing nonviolent criminals.

          And thanks to proposition 13, only some people pay the taxes. Older residents (and the kids who inherit their homes) get a free ride, because, while the houses they bought for peanuts are now worth millions, they pay hardly any property tax. Meanwhile their neighbors shoulder the burden.

          • by timmarhy (659436)
            until governments abandon taxing wealth and tax consumption instead, you will always get inequalities like this.
            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by hibiki_r (649814)

              Come on, put some thinking into this: If you tax consumption, you get a different flavor of inequality: Saving money to spend it overseas is suddenly a tax break. A single man ends up paying less taxes if he doesn't marry or have children, because he has less expenses. Saving money becomes a tax break, which makes consumption drop like a rock, making the country dependent on exports.

              Blanket consumption taxes are probably the worst idea out there. Thankfully, they'll never pass, because if something like tha

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              One man's production, is another man's consumption.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            Our per prisoner cost is astronomical due to the prison employee unions who seem to have stolen CIA mind control tech or something. Or they just buy outTheir pensions are ridiculous and the envy of the private sector suckers who pay for it all.

            And stop with the Prop 13 blame. It's BS. Jebus, even many progressive politicians here don't trot that one out anymore. Go back and look at what led up to Prop 13. It didn't form out of a vacuum. People were having to get *loans* to pay their property taxes. It is IN

            • by Trepidity (597)

              It is INSANE to tax people on unrealized gains!

              That I can agree with, but it can be solved by just deferring the taxes until they realize the gains. When they sell the property, any profits they make ($selling_price - $purchase_price) should go to pay the deferred back taxes.

              The result we currently have is that rich kids inheriting mansions from their parents: 1) don't have to pay property taxes on them; but 2) get to keep the windfall profits when they sell.

              • No, that's stupid. My house reached $1 million in estimated value at the peak of the bubble. Now it's back down to $800K. If I sell now, I should pay taxes on the $200K I never got? That's rational to you? Fuck that!

                How would you like it if you were out of work for a year, and once you got a job, you were taxed on the money you *could* have made during that year?

                And stop with the class warfare rich kid crap. You really think that's some giant, significant segment of the real estate market? Really?

            • by rachit (163465) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @02:40AM (#31124974)

              And stop with the Prop 13 blame. It's BS. Jebus, even many progressive politicians here don't trot that one out anymore. Go back and look at what led up to Prop 13. It didn't form out of a vacuum. People were having to get *loans* to pay their property taxes. It is INSANE to tax people on unrealized gains!

              You may think its insane, but it is clearly benefiting property owners over tenants. Over a long enough time, there will be the few with property, and the rest that rent from them, because it will no longer be economical to buy or sell property to lose the locked in property tax rates.

              Also, there is stupid stuff in prop 13 which allows for commercial property to qualify for the locked in rates. Companies just buy and sell the shell companies that own the real estate, rather than buy it outright and reset the property taxes.

              Its simply broken.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by blahplusplus (757119)

          "What Californians are pissed about is that we also have some of the highest taxes in the nation, and we have no idea where that money is all going."

          That's because Californians and Californian companies are some of the greediest mofo's on the planet.

          • by PCM2 (4486) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @01:27AM (#31124606) Homepage

            That's because Californians and Californian companies are some of the greediest mofo's on the planet.

            I think you misunderstand me. I'm not saying we're mad because we have to pay taxes. We're mad because we seem to be paying taxes into a black hole.

            California has a higher gross state product than any other state. It also has the highest income taxes and state taxes. Simple math will tell you that means California's income is higher than any other state's. And yet we are cutting social services, slashing development budgets, and letting roads fall into disrepair. Our schools used to rank among the best in the nation; now they're at the bottom of the list. Meanwhile we're funding a prison industrial complex fueled by misguided laws and private interests. The problem goes far deeper than "liberal policies" or "Republican greed"... the whole state government is broken.

            I'm not the only one who thinks this, either. There is a concerted effort underway right now to call a constitutional convention to reform the state constitution. Californians will probably get to vote for it in November, and if they can, they will.

            • by Trepidity (597)

              It also has the highest income taxes and state taxes.

              According to the anti-tax folks over at the Tax Foundation (who might be biased, but I don't think they have a particular reason to be on the subject of rankings), California actually ranks 5th [taxfoundation.org] in income tax, collecting $1,465 per person. The highest is Connecticut's $1,811 (New York, Massachusetts, and Oregon are the three other higher-taxing states). It ranks even lower in tax rates--- it makes it up to 5th place mostly because of its high per-capita in

              • by mellon (7048)

                My taxes went up, not down, when I moved from Massachusetts to California. Thanks for playing, though.

                • by Trepidity (597)

                  It's the Tax Foundation's numbers, not mine. Are they lying? Or could your experience not be the average experience?

                  • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                    by afabbro (33948)

                    It's the Tax Foundation's numbers, not mine. Are they lying? Or could your experience not be the average experience?

                    Guess what - you're both right!

                    The "Tax Foundation" is quoting income tax. "mellon" is quoting "my taxes", which includes income tax + sales tax + everything else.

                    California not only has an obscenely high income tax rate, but also a very high sales tax rate (8%+), and a very high car registration fee (something like 3% of the value of your car, every year). Also, California has every possibly fee you can think of, and fines for anything are ridiculous ($400 speeding tickets, etc.) Property taxes also are

                • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Saturday February 13, 2010 @03:25AM (#31125140) Homepage Journal

                  My taxes went up, not down, when I moved from Massachusetts to California. Thanks for playing, though.

                  The plural of "anecdote" is not "data".

        • by afabbro (33948) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @03:20AM (#31125114) Homepage

          Bad joke. If California were a separate nation, it would be the eighth largest economy in the world, right after Italy and before Spain, Canada, Brazil, Russia, India, and on and on. Australia is an entire continent, and its economy is less than half the size of California's.

          Big. Deal.

          I hate to be the one to tell you surfer dudes this, but Texas ($1.2 trillion GDP) is also India-sized, and so is New York ($1.1 trillion GDP). Hell, New York + New Jersey (=$1.6 trillion GDP) is almost California's size. ($1.8 trillion GDP)

          People pull out this "if California were a separate nation" stuff as if to say "California is SO HUGE" but it's really not compared to other states [usgovernmentspending.com]. It's the biggest, but not by that much.

  • by unity100 (970058) on Friday February 12, 2010 @11:18PM (#31123874) Homepage Journal

    recent years have made working freely by contracting much more easier and feasible. in addition the respect for that kind of contracting and telecommuting increased as well. bright and capable people are now more and more working freely in contract fashion rather than being tied to some company by a salary. this can only increase.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 13, 2010 @02:08AM (#31124806)

      this can only increase.

      Until those bright and capable people get a cough and discover that their insurance is now $1000/mo and if they leave it they'll never get insurance again.

      Then again, our company's group policy just increased another $100/mo (company pays half) to for a middle-aged male, excluding family. And to get that ONLY $100 increase, we had to raise our deductible and ER care now has a 50% coinsurance. 50%! Why am I paying for insurance if my first accident will drive me to bankrupty, when I could be spending that $225 on movies or something fun and just declaring bankrupty when I have an accident?!?

      Oh wait, it's because I have MS and need about $2000 worth of drugs a month to keep me a productive member of society. Thank God I was employed and insured when I was diagnosed with it, even though I'll probably never be able to switch jobs again and the insurance company will probably just keep raising the rates until the company fires me to get affordable insurance again.

      I'm sure contracting is great for young, healthy people. Just remember: you don't stay young and healthy for long. Enjoy it while you can.

      • well (Score:5, Insightful)

        by unity100 (970058) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @06:32AM (#31125712) Homepage Journal

        then your problem is the draconian, almost near feudal insurance system in usa.

    • by AuMatar (183847)

      Work freely? Do you mean work for free? The average contract I get offered pays 80% of the salary of a real job with no vacation, no holidays, and no equity. Contracting is a way to get cheap labor they can lay off without upsetting other employees.

  • by Vinegar Joe (998110) on Friday February 12, 2010 @11:18PM (#31123880)

    In California? Are you serious? California has always rewarded bright, young students interested in the sciences. Here's a recent example:

    http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2010/jan/15/students-evacuated-school-chollas-view/ [signonsandiego.com]

  • by Yergle143 (848772) on Friday February 12, 2010 @11:20PM (#31123904)

    The synergy of government, university, corporation in Silicon valley
    is glued there by one critical component -- the venture capital lives
    down the block and they like to see how their money is spent --
    daily. Perhaps others have more direct life experience but I've
    definitely seen it in biotech.

    As soon as the lure of big bucks goes away, tech will be a commodity
    to be found in any medium sized city's office park. The cost of life in
    CA is insane.

    • New England and the West Coast, due to a number of elite universities and military research labs.

      Midwest region has been underdeveloped for ages. This is about time.

    • by XorNand (517466) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @12:54AM (#31124442)

      Detroit? Yeah right, you need to have money to attract money.

      I was previously part of a tech start-up that grew out of research at the University of Michigan. The founder tried like hell to get funding but no one would listen to someone based in the Midwest. And no VC in this state understood the industry well enough to risk the amount of capital we needed. Eventually he got the VC needed from a couple of places in the Valley, conditional that the corporate HQ be based there (so they could keep an eye on their money and handpick the leadership). So we had most of the engineering going on in Michigan while the sales/marketing/leadership rubbed elbows in Cali. It was a very inefficient system. But you had the engineers who refused to relocate to CA and the bigwigs who refused to move to the Midwest.

      There was always this odd tension between the two offices. The Cali guys treated us like we were some backwater boys who didn't know how to run with the big dogs. We viewed them as pretentious mercenaries. Anyhow... I'm rambling. Point is that while I really dislike the Valley culture, I don't think that Midwest is ready to compete with it.

  • by DigiShaman (671371) on Friday February 12, 2010 @11:23PM (#31123916) Homepage

    We are all in a global recession. As such, there are no "Glory Days" for anyone anywhere. I wouldn't count Silicon Valley out just yet.

    My advice? Keep your current job if you can, and suck wind like the rest of us do.

    • We are all in a global recession. As such, there are no "Glory Days" for anyone anywhere. I wouldn't count Silicon Valley out just yet.

      A fair comment, but describing things globally may too generalised. What happens in Silicon Valley does not have to be the same as what happens elsewhere. One data point in the news recently: North Jersey Finds Popularity as Home for Data Centers [nytimes.com].

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 12, 2010 @11:23PM (#31123918)

    Actually we needed the exact opposite of H-1B, V1, B1 and all the rest. We built the tech industry without these corporate communist regulations because without them wages went up. Rising wages brought people into the field and encouraged risk.

    All the federal government's interference in the US labor market has driven down wages and increased fear. It has also discouraged the best and brightest American students from entering tech. And what people seem to not understand is that Americans bring unique skills to technology. A diverse workplace is good. We had that back in the '90s. But today, we are way past that. In my office I am the only American. Mostly we have Indians. When you get over 25% Indians on a team you start to see their cultural influence. Hindus believe in a cast system where certain people are just better than others.
    It starts to kill the team. And that's were I see most teams today in my company. They are Hindu teams where it matters which cast you are from more than anything else.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You're right about their irrational hatred Indians have of each other being a big problem in the workplace, but the bigger problem is the lack of education among the Indians. After three decades of managing software development in the area, I've found that a masters from most of the Indian schools is equivalent to about an associate degree from a US community college. Having, given your example, 25% of your employees unable to contribute really hurts the company.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by lawpoop (604919)
      Caste system.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by dilinger (6464)

        Nah, cast. Surely they were referring to changing pointer types. Hindus who perform type-safe casting tend to look down upon those who use unsafe casts.

    • by Mr Thinly Sliced (73041) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @12:48AM (#31124404) Homepage Journal

      And what people seem to not understand is that Americans bring unique skills to technology.

      Whilst I'm sure America has great education and a skilled native workforce - this kind of superiority complex isn't really doing you any favours.

      I do agree with you that Governments are vaguely accountable for distoring the workforce markets at the behest of large corporations - unfortunately there isn't an easy fix for that as the deck is rather stacked against the private individual in most western economies.

    • Finally, the GOP has wised up and has set out to systematically destroy Silicon Valley and all those liberal-minded programmers and their support for leftist educators that have nothing better to do than fill the minds of children with all sorts of thoughts.

      If jobs aren't outsourced to India, how can American corporations make enough money to pay executive salaries? If Silicon Valley can be broken, computer talent can be had at pennies on the dollar, so that once again we will be able to compete with Indi

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by rjiy (1739274)
      The H1B situation is mostly orthogonal to the silicon valley startup situation. Almost no startup will take the time or the effort to put people through the immigration process. So H1B's mostly only work for well established and safe companies at-least till they get a Green card (which nowadays takes more than a decade for Indians). They are competition only for Americans also wanting to work in well established and safe companies.
      • by linhares (1241614) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @02:45AM (#31125006)
        You are right on target; I had some serious money to invest in a startup in CA, but the sheer humiliation involved with the immigration process [tinypic.com] just made me sick. Couple that with a sad growing xenophobic hatred for immigrants, from people with no understanding of economic change, and a firm belief that anyone not born in sacred american soil must not be as smart as them, as deserving as them. It's like Google and Yahoo, founded by *those horrible people==immigrants* do not employ Americans. I don't think for a second that SV is sinking; it will float because of its sheer brainpower, money, and network-effects magnetism. But the USA is--you can't live on borrowed money and think that no troubles will happen, ever. China has, with its 2+ Trillion of greenbacks, bought the USA, and it's just waiting for the receipt. F**k everything; my money is now on gold while I wait for the dollar collapse.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Targon (17348)

          There is a big misconception going on here that needs to be cleared up. The vast majority of Americans support LEGAL immigration, but the key is that most also do not want to see ghettos forming, or to have large FACTIONS in companies that are made up of immigrants. Basically, when you have large groups of non-English speaking people congregating together, rather than integrating into American society, that is when you have problems. Those who come to OUR country should learn the language of the land,

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I call bulls**t on this. Its like saying white Americans believe they are inherently superior to African-Americans. Most Indians working in the US are from urban India where caste matters very little. I've worked in India and nobody has ever dared ask anyone their caste at my workplace. While caste discrimination is still a legitimate concern, the impression that Americans have about it is extremely inaccurate. India had put in place measures similar to affirmative action [wikipedia.org] even before the US did. Hate Indian

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 12, 2010 @11:30PM (#31123950)

    #1. criticism on the poster or whoever came up with the Slashdot article title "Are Silicon Valley's Glory Days Over?" -- yes, catchy and attention getting, but jumps to conclusions.

    #2. what is this article about? It's from the business side of things. They spoke with:

    - chief executive officer of Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network
    - chief executive and president of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation
    - chief strategist in San Jose's Office of Economic Development
    - Santa Clara County's budget director ...where's the techies? "decisive action by business, government and education is needed" -- what about technological innovation? That is the other side of the equation too other than those funding these operations.

  • If this stagnation and job loss was happening everywhere else in the country, we'd be in a recession.

  • by Nidi62 (1525137) on Friday February 12, 2010 @11:44PM (#31124060)
    Just flood it, and we can turn it into a lake.
  • by j. andrew rogers (774820) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @12:14AM (#31124224)

    Part of the problem in Silicon Valley is that the venture capital community has become noticeably more risk averse than it was many years ago. Many (most?) firms act more like investment banks than high-risk, high-tech venture funds.

    Additionally, I think the rise of social media has biased venture capital deals in strange ways, steering even more money toward social network and media whores than actual tech ventures.

    • by PCM2 (4486) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @12:55AM (#31124446) Homepage

      Part of the problem in Silicon Valley is that the venture capital community has become noticeably more risk averse than it was many years ago.

      Looking at some of the Web startups that got funded in the 90s, I wouldn't describe the VC community of that era as "less risk averse" so much as "plain stupid." No sane person should have believed some of those businesses would go anywhere, yet VCs were playing a shell game, hoping some bigger company would come along to buy up their stake before the whole thing fell apart.

      The role of venture capital should be to capitalize ventures, with the aim of creating wealth through innovation. Instead, VCs of that era were going for short-term profit, and many of them didn't seem to care what happened to their portfolio at all. As soon as they started getting impatient, they'd fire senior management and start dismantling the company in the most expedient way possible.

  • Adding to the valley's problems is a malfunctioning state government that is shortchanging investment in education and infrastructure. Maybe part of the problem is not that the California government isn't spending enough money, but that it's spending too much.
  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @12:45AM (#31124396) Homepage

    First, bypassing the "story" and a layer of blogs, is the actual report [jointventure.org].

    What's really happened in Silicon Valley is that it's been hollowed out. Silicon Valley used to be a major manufacturing center. San Jose once had the highest percentage of manufacturing employees of the major US cities, something like 54%. Today, the assembly plants are gone. Most of the fabs are gone. Much of the engineering is gone. This is what happens when you "outsource". Eventually, everything moves to where the production is, including management and finance.

    Part of the problem was the "dot com boom", with its fake companies and fake prosperity. That caused a major change in the culture, away from engineering and towards marketing. When the bottom fell out of the dot-com boom, most of the marketing types left. The number of twentysomethings in San Francisco dropped by half. (A friend in the club business says "and the other half are working their butts off and don't go out much.") The big name in Silicon Valley now is not HP or Intel or IBM or National Semiconductor or Fairchild. It's Google, which is an ad agency. That's a huge change in emphasis.

    The innovation culture is declining. Portola Valley (a rich suburb) used to have the highest percentage of patent holders of any US community. That's dropped. There's not that much exciting innovation going on. I go to venture capital meetings, and the ideas being presented are just not very exciting. (I've heard a pitch for a social network for cats. And that made it through two rounds of filtering before I heard it.)

    People are still struggling to get semiconductor line widths down, solar fab costs down, and such. But that's a grind. Mobile devices are not a fun area in which to work - the weight budget, the cost budget, the power budget, and the time budget are all very tight. The manufacturing is in Asia, anyway, and the engineering is going there. New areas aren't appearing.

    There's noise about "green tech", but realistically, "green tech" is either vaporware, like the "smart grid", silly, like small windmills, or something that requires massive manufacturing, like big windmills. Five years ago, the noise was about "biotech", which doesn't employ many people.

    Fewer young people in the US are going into engineering, and that's a rational decision. It's hard, it's expensive to study, your job may be outsourced, and it's now a low-status field. In 1970, lawyers and electrical engineers made about the same amount of money. That was a long time ago. On the other hand, in Asia, an EE degree puts you in the top few percent of the population in terms of income and status.

    US government polices haven't really had much of an effect one way or the other on Silicon Valley, except that allowing the runup in real estate increased living costs substantially and that free trade has made outsourcing so easy.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hibiki_r (649814)

      But the American EE competes directly with the Asian: And he makes a whole lot more. The reason outsourcing started is that the wage differentials were so massive that moving entire divisions overseas made sense: Just see how much R&D many big companies have moved to China, India, Russia and even Brazil.

      If you want engineers to have the top status, you can't just wish for doctor or executive salaries: In the US, those professions are extremely overpaid when compared to the rest of the world. It's their

    • by Moof123 (1292134)

      I whole heartedly agree.

      Back in the day manufacturing served as a launching pad and incubator for hardware designers (and kept the riff-raff from accidentally getting hired into designer positions). A few years of seeing how it's done, and how it shouldn't serves as a great foundation for a design engineer to build upon for their own designs. Those days are over. Not only can college hires expect only modest salaries, and to be the butt of Dilbert stereotypes, but just over the last couple decades they g

    • by phantomfive (622387) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @02:20AM (#31124876) Journal

      What's really happened in Silicon Valley is that it's been hollowed out. Silicon Valley used to be a major manufacturing center.

      Whenever I hear people complain about America's dwindling manufacturing base, I always wonder, do these people WANT to work in a factory? I mean, it's great to have steel mills in your country, but they aren't very pleasant places to work. I am fine with the idea of building our manufacturing back up if that's what we want to do, but I'm sure not going to help build it up by working there.

      A major part of why the manufacturing base is leaving is because there aren't enough unskilled laborers here. Tons of people come from Mexico, China, and every other developing country; why not send the manufacturing to them instead if they want it so much? Then they don't have to leave their families and homes and make dangerous journeys to America (contrary to what some believe, not all foreigners in underdeveloped countries are desperate to come to America, and not all of them want to stay once they get here). It's win-win.

      • by Targon (17348) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @08:21AM (#31126094)

        This is a common misconception, that no one wants to work in a factory. No one wants to feel exploited, but at the same time, factories are a better place to work for those without an advanced education. Those working in the auto industry, even if they were only being paid $20/hour would probably still be fairly happy with their job. Factory work does NOT need to be a horrible experience, but bad management will make it(and just about any other work) a horrible experience.

        The real key is how employees are treated, and to provide proper encouragement for hard work. The auto industry could be fixed by paying a fair BASE wage in manufacturing with a bonus based on volume of properly completed units that employee works on. Even in low-end manufacturing, start with a base minimum wage, but then offer a decent compensation based on properly produced products the employee has produced(with a QA process that looks to push quality, rather than just trying to avoid paying the person working in manufacturing). So, the higher the volume the person in manufacturing produces, the better the pay, and those who are fast and do a good job(vs. those who are fast but are sloppy) will get paid more.

        The other side is to make employees feel pride in what they are doing, and to make people take pride in what they produce. Back in the mid 1990s, technical support was treated as a skilled job, and the manager I worked under took the attitude that if you could solve the customer problem with one phone call, it was better to take 3 hours on that one call than to make the customer call back again, and again, and again. As a result, we had very few people calling in a second or third time to solve their problems, and customer satisfaction with support was fairly high. Eventually we had a "suit" come in that treated technical support like customer service, where the average time on a call was more important than making sure that a customer problem was fixed. This "you have to average six minutes per call" attitude drove call volume through the roof, but also lowered the morale of employees and made people take less pride in their job because they couldn't take the time to make sure the job was done properly. That job STARTED where tech support was something employees could take pride in doing, and ended up taking the feeling of being responsible for our jobs go away. Fortunately or unfortunately, it also drove those with knowledge to get out of support into Operations as soon as possible, but it also made it so those who came from support had less desire to help the managers in support with problems due to how poor employees in support were treated.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by drsquare (530038)

        Whenever I hear people complain about America's dwindling manufacturing base, I always wonder, do these people WANT to work in a factory? I mean, it's great to have steel mills in your country, but they aren't very pleasant places to work. I am fine with the idea of building our manufacturing back up if that's what we want to do, but I'm sure not going to help build it up by working there.

        You say that from the perspective of someone with a comfortable office job. I'd imagine there are millions of people eit

  • by tyrione (134248) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @12:56AM (#31124450) Homepage
    California was too expensive to live in back before the Dot com Boom and worse today. You have regions around the US where the cost of developing sectors of R&D are a fraction of that in Silicon Valley and would better serve spreading the talent around the US instead of concentrating it into a zone where you drown in debt while gaining experience.

    I left Apple a year after my former company, NeXT, merged with Apple because the cost of living and going through a divorce was bankrupting my ass. The cost has far surpassed the cost of living adjustments and it is not worth going back.
  • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @01:12AM (#31124522)

    Malfunctioning state government?! Cripes, man, the state government here has basically declared open warfare on anyone remaining in the state who exhibits a microgram of productivity or independence. And when questioned (by the rare few in the news media that even bother) about the sanity of their actions in such a bad economy, they pretty much come out and admit they don't give a shit about anything other than some legacy involving bunnies and unicorn farts. Nearly every professional person I know is planning on leaving as soon as they can by looking for out of state work, getting their homes cleaned up for sale, etc.

    And for the record, this state spends a lot on education- nearly half the state budget. The whole thing needs to be torn down and rebuilt from the foundations. Hell, you probably want to dynamite the foundations as well. But the political brain trust will just throw more money down the black hole, and they'll sit and wonder why it didn't help, and throw some more because doing anything else is ideological heresy. Rinse and repeat until the sate declares bankruptcy or armed insurrection occurs.

  • I would be more concerned about my home town (well, home area, it's really several towns) if other parts of the US seemed to be prospering. But the way I see it, we're still doing as well as any, and better than most. We are still home to companies that get a lot of good press and make a lot of money. Yes, it costs a lot to live here, because this is still a great place to live.

    The better question, to me, is whether or not the US in general is in long-term decline. I think the jury is still out on tha
  • by walterbyrd (182728) on Saturday February 13, 2010 @01:56PM (#31128394)

    Kim Walesh, chief strategist in San Jose's Office of Economic Development, said the report "really nailed" the valley's increasing need for a healthy educational system. Because of post-9/11 restrictions on immigration and increased opportunities in India and China, the valley can't rely on foreign talent as it has in the past 25 years.

    Similar articles come out practically every day. They all have the same message: US education system is inadequate, we need the "best and brightest" from offshore nations. Funny thing: the "best and brightest" always come from nations where the average wage is about $1 a day. No smart people in the UK, Germany, or any 1st world nation.

    Strange how the country that build that IT industry is no longer capable of producing IT workers. No qualified IT workers from the country responsible for Cisco, Apple, Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, Yahoo, Google, eBay, Amazon, Intel, Dell, etc. No good scientists from a country where one top university holds more Nobel prizes in technology than the entire nation of India.

    Remember the massive tech layoffs from one year ago? Practically all the major tech companies fired Americans by the thousands, if not tens of thousands. Yet with all of those unemployed, yet highly qualifed, US techies we need more offshore labor to take even more US jobs. Even with the highest unemployment since the great depression.

    BTW: US restrictions on guest workers were a complete toothless joke, and US companies got all the H1Bs they wanted anyway.

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