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Re: Programmers Blue Collar?

by samizdat (Vicar)
on Jan 15, 2008 at 15:57 UTC ( #662490=note: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to Programmers Blue Collar?

Hmmm... interesting. I've always made an additional distinction: "professional". Engineers (including software) do not fit either blue or white collar traditional buckets, although more and more we are being boxed into the 'skilled trades' category. IT workers, especially, are under pressure. I remember in New Mexico there was this huge push to train everybody, and his brother and sister too, as an 'IT Network Administrator'. Needless to say, the only things that accomplished were to:

  1. drive the going rate down
  2. make big headlines when major security breaches happened
  3. provide work for skilled professionals to clean up the messes.

Are we getting to the point where union protection is necessary? My take is that I don't want it. I'm a very entrepreneurial type, and I have taken many different roles related to electronics, firmware, product development and the web. If there was a union, it would cause a very rigid hardening of the lines of definition as to what constitutes work and productivity, and I, for one, think that would be a huge mistake. IMNSHO, people who want union protection are those who are too intellectually challenged to develop enough of a well-rounded personality to speak up for themselves... because we DO produce product that is well beyond what most other people can create in terms of its value equation. We're not doctors who save lives, but we sure do bring products to life!

Unions give me a very bad taste in the mouth. I don't think (most) teachers are the cause of the decline in educational quality, but I do think that teachers (and thus, kids) get the short end of the stick because of their union status. The mistake that is made by union people is that they shift the playing field from performance to power, and government always wins a power game, by definition. The same thing is true in the auto industry, but, without guns or firing authority, unions and corporations can only murder each other, to nobody's benefit.

There has been a valuable purpose to unions in many different times and places, and unions have brought about many improvements in the quality of life for all of us, but they all make the mistake of negotiating on the playing field of power over performance, and in the end it always brings them down to menial and destructive behavior, such as the riggers and "electricians" in Cobo Hall in Detroit who get a hundred dollars for setting up a fake wall or plugging in an electric extension cord at the Auto Show.

All that hot air expounded (YMMV), I will say that we are definitely moving into one of the most challenging times for programmers. There is huge pressure to commoditize our business, and corporate America has enlisted government on its side to "save American jobs" by training more droids to click through Doze box admin menus. The results listed above will only get worse. Programmers are by nature people who can flexibly think of complex situations from many angles, and our skill set includes the mental tools we need to rise up and lead our employers (or employees) in new directions that benefit the bottom line and our fellow professional developers. I heartily recommend to all that they take this path going forward, and do not pay heed to the sob-sayers in politics who try to tell us that we are "downtrodden" and "need help". BULL-{bleep}!

Don Wilde
"There's more than one level to any answer."


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