Chipmonk: Money is corrupting influence - one will find that in any country, unfortunately. In the US, what worries me is that the public allow it. Take the banking abuses you noted. If everyone agreed with your view, they could easily choose to use a community bank or credit union, which offer the same services, often with better interest rates or lower fees. (I do that, and I'm guessing you do, too.) But the public votes with its dollars, and they have elected to support the big interstate banks. They also elected the leaders -- you can start with Reagan if you want, and end with Obama -- who have made the decisions that you noted. In this country, we have choices. There is no excuse for corrupt business practices, and I would quickly add there is no excuse for consumers if we do not think carefully before we vote with our dollars and our ballots.
@ Tom : Its sort of one thing that led to another really. If you recall, till Raygun the Banks could not operate across state lines, they had been thus restricted by FDR to limit the damage they could cause. Then using the ruse of better service to Customers the Banks were able to get Ronnie to repeal those restrictions. Soon they started acquiring other Banks, often by taking big financial risks, and grow humongous. My own pretty large full service Bank in a smaller state went through 3 stages of M&A and is now part of the Big 5 in the country - too big to fail and PROSECUTE. Except for Online access ( which, given time, probably would have happened anyway ) no improvement in the Customer Service side. But the downside was that by the time Bubba got into the Oval Office, the Banks had become all powerful and via Robert Rubin, ex Goldman Sachs, and Bill's Sec of Treasury they were able to repeal Glass Steagle as well ( it had to do only with Investment banks like Goldman Sachs not being allowed to do normal Merchant banking ). In his hatred driven Jihad against the Unions, Raygun ( who himself had been the President of the Screen Actors Guild / Union but in 1949 had turned coat and sold them out ) had already perpetrated far larger damage to the American economy & democracy by handing over the key to Wall St. and Boardrooms. The lower middle-class in this country keeps growing and the political gridlock is permanent as a consequence of the Jihad that smiley faced Ronald Reagan started 3 decades ago.
"What really baffles me is why practicing Engr.s have so little self - respect and willingly become punching bags for MBAs, Money Mgr.s and such other criminals."
I can't argue with that! My point was that the "criminality" was at all levels, including the attitude of the unions at the time. But I agree that engineers should have the self respect to fight back against management ignorance and incompetence, always. Engineers have to stick their necks out and make things right, when the opportunities arise. Not just sit there passively, as I see so many doing.
Obviously, you can't just become that familiar nay-sayer or troublemaker. People need to express themselves when things are clearly wrong, propose good, viable fixes, and do so consistently. Eventually you build up credibility that way.
@ Bert : Why do you suppose the US Auto industry went into a decline in the '70s and started putting out lemons like the Volare or the Pinto ? The most obvious cause is of course the hasty down - sizing reqd by the 73 oil embargo and not enough resources to do a proper job of engineering them. And why were there not enough Engr. resources to pull it off. Starting at GM in the '50s the MBAs had started pushing out the Techies from upper Mgmt. in Big Three and the MBAs of course had a direct link with Wall St. These arrogant MBAs in Detroit modeled themselves after feudal British Barons and rubbed the Unions the wrong way with inevitable consequences like Coke cans banging inside car doors, or poor quality in cars assembled after long weekends.
Its only after the Chrysler crisis that Engr.s like Lee Iacocca could make a comeback in the Boardroom. And within 2 yrs after taking over in 1980, Mech. Engr. Lee was able to put out 2 entirely new classes of vehicles that are still with us - the Minivan and the SUV ( Jeep Cherokee ). The same thing was repeated 2 decades later at Ford when it was run down by a Jackass called Jacque Nasser, an uneducated hayseed of an Australian, a Salesman who had become the CEO and was going round saying that Car Mfg. is nothing more than an exercise in IT -- while Ford SUVs were rolling over and killing people ! It took Alan Mullaly, brought over from Boeing, a guy with a MS in Aerospace who had been the Program Mgr. for the B777, to restore Ford to health.
What really baffles me is why practicing Engr.s have so little self - respect and willingly become punching bags for MBAs, Money Mgr.s and such other criminals. The worst are those who argue against themselves w/o fully knowing the history !
I don't think you can blame the entire decline on the finance industry, however. Since you mentioned the auto industry, anyone unfortunate enough to buy US made cars in the 1970s through early or mid 1990s surely must know that they were rather pathetic. An embarrassment.
As far as I could tell, the problems were everywhere, from substandard design to what I would describe as almost criminally negligent assembly by the factory workers. Imagine a country that was still designing cars with solid rear axle located only by leaf springs, in the 1990s. How ludicrous is that? Or cars built in such a way that parts like water pumps were failing even while the car was still in warranty. Or body panels that fell off when the car was still new. Or ground wire connections to the chassis that got wet and corroded early on, thanks to totally incompetent design and assembly practices.
*Huge* turnaround since then. Although regaining a well-deserved loss in reputation can take decades. It's no surprise at all to me that Detroit went banckrupt.
It's not all the money managers. I think of that as the easy way to blame "the other guy," since there are few of these fat cats and lots of regular people who are every bit as much to blame.
Chipmonk0: I don't begrudge you your political perspectives, but please note it was the Clinton Administration that unyoked us from the Glass-Steagall banking regulations that were enacted during the Depression to separate banking from investment operations. I agree it was a mistake to repeal those regs, as do many others. But there's been no move by either the Bush or Obama admins to restore them.
The same drivel from self - serving & biased sources ( Consultants shilling for their Corporate clients ) about mfg. in the US that is regularly fed to the sheep-like media by Corporations, Right wing Think Tanks to protect their Wall St. Hedge Fund Godfathers by misleading the general public.
The only weakness that the US has is the Vampire like Finance industry that Ronald Reagan unshackled from the FDR era controls to prevent any more Great Depression. Well, within 20 years it got us a Great Recession.
German labor is far more unionized than in the US and is costlier but the Banks are far more responsible - so Germany has no problem in nurturing its Manufacturing industies and thrives on export of manufactured products. Tiny landlocked Switzerland is the most expensive country in Europe but Mfg. is still 27 % of their GDP !
The reason US Mfg. went into decline is because Vampires like Alan Greenspan ( back when he used to be a Money Manager, long before he was made the Fed Chairman ) whose business practices mimic that of arsonists, saboteurs & scrap merchants denied investment to the US Steel industry, then the Auto and so on while blaming Unions, technology etc. all the time through WSJ etc. to mislead. Now that they have total control over DC ( both Left & Right ) the rhetoric has become even more fake & arrogant.
The out of control Finance industry has run amok and to make their quickie billions harmed the US Mfg. industry ( and the US in general ) by siphoning US developed technologies and outsourcing manufacturing to China then tried to cover their crime with slogans like "Creative Destruction" put out by Harvard and other B schools.
Engineers are some of the most data driven & sincere professionals in the World. Its time we shook off our passivity and started challlenging these Big Lies that harm us.
I'd be a little reluctant to believe that business execs in a US-based survey would be unbiased, even if they were sampled worldwide. I would expect them to complain about regulations and taxes and how America is falling behind. And it seems they've minimized the many problems facing China, which is more than due for a correction in its growth rate given its labor issues, enormous government spending, and global pressure to float its currency (let's not even get into politics). No doubt the Chinese economy is growing faster than the US, but largely because of government support; if that were the case in the US, the US would be growing faster, too, but most business leaders here oppose that.
What do you think? Is this a fair portrait of global business conditions? Or more of a rhetoricla tool to push for lower business taxes in the US?
It's nice to see the US move up on this list. But I'm dismayed by this conclusion: "Expectations are that the country will fall behind in the future due to high labor costs and corporate taxes, GDP growth, and unemployment rates." That does not sound good.