Monday, July 21, 2014

Microsoft fires 18,000 workers and strikes another blow for the one percent

Microsoft's Ballmer and Nokia's Elop celebrate their good fortune.
Bing! Another 18,000 jobs just disappeared down the rabbit hole of high-tech indifference. Microsoft has announced that its acquisition of Nokia will not mean continued employment for Finnish workers. 1100 of them have been fired, with limited prospects for future employment.

Here is the future promised by American corporations. Microsoft is famous for poaching employees from other companies, but it does so for its own profits, not for the benefit of the people it hires.

American politicians, including Obama, have preached that students should study technical subjects like Science, Technology, Electronics, and Mathematics--STEM. STEM workers will go to work for high-tech companies and enjoy a profitable career until they are fired because their wages are too high and they can be replaced by workers in China and India.

Companies like Microsoft continually lobby Congress to admit more workers from other countries. They complain that there is a shortage of high-tech workers. They need more bodies to feed the roaring fires of the high-tech boom.

Only there is no boom, at least not in developed countries like the US and Finland. Just last year, Microsoft announced it was acquiring a large part of Nokia's business, and that 25,000 employees of the Finnish electronics company would become Microsoft "team members". Three months have passed since the deal was closed and 18,000 of those team members are being thrown out of their jobs.

Of course, in modern hi-tech jargon, the jobs (not people) have become "redundant". It is their misfortune that people who held these redundant jobs are now unemployed. Microsoft does not explain how jobs can become redundant when it is demanding that the U.S. import more workers into the country. Redundant means there are too many workers, not too few.

Microsoft claimed that the acquisition of Nokia would accelerate innovation and help introduce a billion people to Microsoft services. Microsoft has just redefined the word "innovation" to mean "unemployment".

So the executives of Nokia and Microsoft smile and pose for cameras while they contemplate how many careers will be destroyed by their actions. Moore's law states that the complexity of electronic components doubles every two years. There should be another, equally famous law, that states that some percentage of tech workers laid off from their jobs will never find technical employment again. Let's call it Ballmer's Law. Ballmer's law increases the wage disparity between the wealthy employers and the workers they make redundant, because mergers bring higher stock prices to the executives of a company while taking salaries away from the workers.

Innovation indeed.

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