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Visible Hands

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Never mind color-coded warnings about imminent terrorist attacks from the Department of Homeland Security. The greatest danger of being alive in today’s America is not knowing how—never mind when—to duck for cover when some other (allegedly) unseen force just might slap you upside the head and send you back to the drawing board. It’s a great time to be alive. Not in the casual sense of the word. No, we mean you’d better be alive, alert and walking the watchtower for approaching signals.


& ull; Articles about the thousands of engineering, high-tech, legal, managerial and even medical jobs that could soon be sent abroad to India and China now outnumber California gubernatorial candidates. Ten years ago, how many high-powered Poindexters signed on to computer science studies would have guessed their jobs would one day beat a trail to Bangalore or Bombay? Consider: India’s high-tech industry has added 130,000 jobs to its employment ranks in the first quarter of this year alone. And since an Indian programmer will work for one-sixth the wage of a pampered American, why blame IBM, Oracle and Yahoo Inc. for fishing in overseas labor pools?


& ull; The twists get awful curious. The fact that Americans have long filled their prescriptions in Canada is no big deal, unless you talk to Sen. Orrin Hatch, who thinks it’s dangerous that seniors should be able to save so much money by riding the coattails of a foreign government that ties drug prices to the cost of living. (You know, you might choke on a maple leaf when swallowing the pills.) Apparently, the advantages of shopping India’s prescription drug market, where prices are reportedly 20 percent of Canada’s low prices, are even more eye-popping. Check out www.IndiaRx.org and investigate for yourself. If this country’s bound to lose even white-collar jobs to foreign talent, the least we ought to get is the chance to pop a pill. Free markets should cut both ways, should they not?


& ull; Even Mexico’s feeling the effects, according to an article by Lucinda Fleeson in the October issue of Mother Jones. Of the 1,600 production plants that sprouted post-NAFTA, Fleeson reports, more than 500 have closed. Part of the reason would appear to be that corporations are hip to the fact that the average manufacturing job in China pulls $1,182 per year, compared to the average Mexican wage of $4,416 per year. Vietnam and Cambodia are also seen as lucrative relocation spots.


& ull; Internet home pages run the gamut from dull to narcoleptic. Occasionally, though, items of acute interest pop up. According to an MSN Money Web article by Liz Pulliam Weston, a prime culprit of personal bankruptcy is the number of children carried by a household. In fact, the article states, “married couples with children are more than twice as likely to file for bankruptcy as their childless counterparts.” No Utah stats were included. The parallels certainly are tempting, no?


& ull; Consider the roommate. At the other end of the spectrum from Mother Jones, Forbes columnist and Harvard University professor Michael Kremer penned an intriguing Sept. 15 article. After examining 1,357 students at “a large state university” he found, along with a few colleagues, that an incoming student’s roommate might share more than the occasional towel. First-year students with roommates who drank were likely to have lower GPAs. Also, white first-year students rooming with black students were more likely to support affirmative action.

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