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Sep9-11, 07:05 PM
P: 28
Faced with the lingering 1970's oil crisis and no jobs in my field, I emigrated from the US on completion of my MA. Unfortunately, I found that my degree was not officially recognized, and by nationality I was barred from both university and major R&D (mostly government funded in Spain back then). Though things have changed greatly on that score since, I left my interest in computational linguistics, and job in a small private teaching and research institute, to return to the US for an, ugh, MBA in the early 1980s. Since by then I had family, I re-immigrated back, with a wave and sigh for that lady standing in the NY harbor.

My first advice to those thinking overseas jobs are a quick fix is: make sure it is quick and of short duration (1-3 years max). American, German and Japanese business cultures tend to view those who left the "obviously better" homeland for elsewhere as losers who could not make it at home, sort of like NBA hopefuls who are not drafted and end up in European league play. And if you get tied down outside of home, well, you are tied down, and will be faced with tough moral choices.

I ended up working in automotive, defense and corporate consulting, traveling to over 50 countries and all continents except Antarctica. Winning business cultures tended to have one thing in common: they do the work. I was aghast when I looked inward at my own companies (all American). In contrast, it was politics and image that made or broke careers.

Remember RoboCop and the crappy fully robotic machine he competed with that did not work? There was a scene in that film where the senior executive sponsor of that machine said "Who cares if it works? We had contracts worth millions, replacement part sales guaranteed, etc." THAT was the mentality at my companies, and that is what has made a lot of American businesses uncompetitive. Indeed, many depend on government largess, contrary to the rhetoric about free markets.

To get more on thread: One reform I'd like to see is to really tie executive compensation (including golden parachutes) to long-term profits (say, five year average). Today this would be resisted due to Wall Street insistence that quarterly earnings be pumped to stimulate profit taking in financial markets. So the second reform is that of taxation on capital gains vs dividend income: I'd make the latter rate 0%, and the former 50%. Then we'd see board room members seeking able executives who really know and breathe the business, and not the fast and loose sort that have been running companies such as, say, HP, in recent decades. See what Jobs did for Apple in comparison.

And, yes, sadly, wars are so good for defense companies that somehow we'll need to ween them off military hardware by incentivizing more civilian applications of the technologies. After all, take away the last couple of wars and the US budget problem becomes highly manageable.

I could go on, but fortunately for you I will shut up now.