Questions About Offshoring American Jobs

Warning: Non-humorous post. The fact that I warn that this post may not be funny assumes that there are earlier posts which have been funny, which, of course, is only in the eye of the humor-beholder. 

There is one issue, well actually there are several, but this is one I’ve been thinking about for years. Outsourcing to other countries, or offshoring. Specifically, the offshoring, or elimination of American IT jobs. I do not profess to be an economic expert, nor do I have a degree in finance, but can anyone out there enlighten me as to how the practice of sending as many of our IT jobs as we can to other countries is good for our economy and ultimately for our country?

I’m just talking about IT here because it’s what affects me. Other professions currently offshored include (but are not limited to) writers, administrative assistants, tax preparers, web programmers and designers, drafters, human resources, call centers, and the biggest sinkhole of jobs, manufacturing. In 2011, 2,273,392 jobs were outsourced. 53% of the manufacturing jobs, 43% of IT jobs, 38% of R&D, and the list goes on. On and on.

My name is Peggy.

IT, in the olden days, was a niche career path where one could establish a place for him/herself in the solid, safe middle class. It took a certain amount of interest and aptitude in computers and logic, so it appealed to some but to others it seemed boring and nerdy. I always considered it a good thing that not everyone wanted to do this particular work since it was what I did, and if everyone wanted my job then there would be less opportunity for me. Selfish? Maybe. But I’m guessing most everyone feels that way about his or her chosen profession.

So we IT-ers enjoyed two-plus decades of secure cube-dwelling positions, established ourselves as professionals, bonded with those sharing our interests, bought homes, consumed things, put food on the table, planned for retirement, took vacations and saved for our kids’ educations. It wasn’t a grand lifestyle but it worked out pretty well for a lot of us.

Then came The New Millenium and the passion for money, and more money, and money no matter what, and screw your way to the top of the money making market. Do it cheap, in order to put more on the bottom line. Outsource, offshore, “right-size”. There are people who will do it for a third of the money. Get rid of the high-paid American workers. The larger the corporation, the more the push to outsource. Get your IT services cheap! Any corporation who is still paying the big bucks for foot-draggin’ Americans has some ‘splainin’ to do to its stockholders.

Aren’t we kind of paying the price for that now? Everyone complains about the current administration, how the “economy hasn’t improved” how unemployment hasn’t gone down. An aside here, isn’t the percentage of unemployment a manufactured number anyway? How do we count those who have used up their unemployment benefits and are still jobless, and unemployment-less as well? I never did get that.

If we have millions less jobs available here, how can the job market ever improve, how can the housing market improve, how can the tax base be supported? There are cities and municipalities going bankrupt now. As a matter of fact, it was the story of Scranton, Pennsylvania which prompted me to finally write this blog. Fire-fighters and policemen have had their wages slashed to minimum wage. Minimum wage? You can probably make more than that pulling Double Expresso Lattes at Starbucks. And the benefits might be better. So forget risking your life to do a job. What’s the point?

 

(Cartoon by Bennett / Chattanooga Times Free Press)

 

This is not a political blog. But what can the current administration do about this? Force corporations not to outsource? Or, convince them with straight talk and earnest pleas not to do it anymore, or at least reduce the number of jobs outsourced? I don’t know if that’s possible.

What I do know is that one of the candidates who will be on the ballot in November believes in outsourcing. He’s been accused of having done it. That’s not to say he won’t try really hard to change the way things are now, because for sure this individual has changed his mind a number of times about a number of issues. I’m just sayin’.

Interestingly, when I wanted to see if anyone out there was blogging about offshoring, I googled “blogs about offshoring”. Know what came up? Every item in the list concerned how to get offshore help to write blogs.

So I repeat my question. If there is someone out there who could tell me, or point me to an article or a book that would explain it all to me, how outsourcing helps (or at least doesn’t harm) our economy and our country, would you please comment? I surely would appreciate it.

I’ll leave you with an image. You know when you made that call to get help with your wireless internet router? This is where that call went.

23 thoughts on “Questions About Offshoring American Jobs

  1. That is what happens when you have a culture where making a lot money is seen as a good thing. It is never enough. That is why tax breaks for really high earners is ridiculous, it does not make them create more jobs. Most companies will still need a certain amount of people to run or to expand.

    Outsourcing happens a lot in the UK as well. Quite simply, it is a lot cheaper to do it. A well paid IT job in India, is about a third of what it is in the UK. Of course some companies are finding it is not as straight forward as that. When they are developing custom software for their business, they need a lot of interaction and feedback from the business users, which is more difficult when the IT is not local. I suspect a cheap solution for this is already appearing.

    • You mean to say that “trickle down” isn’t working? Why doesn’t anyone ask that question. We’ve had the Bush tax cuts for years now, and I see no trickling down, so why aren’t we blaming those infamous “job creators”?

      It infuriates me, yet I think I probably don’t understand all the global ramifications, which further frustrates me because no one will explain it. And another thing, IT wages are increasing in India as it becomes harder and harder to keep people from job-hopping. So then I guess we will go on to some other, cheaper, place. Until eventually we are all pretty much on the same level. Trouble is, by then there won’t be anyone left in this country who can do the work. Hope I live long enough to see it, just so I can say, “serves you right”.

      • I don’t think people realise that when you make cuts in education or make education unaffordable that people will not get the skill, or maybe the inspiration to go on and do something good. The educated people will be the next line of job creators further down the line, or rather without it, as you point out, there will not be anyone capable of doing the jobs. Let alone have ideas for new things that could create new ones. It will be other countries leading the world.

      • What you say is so true. But, as usual, it’s the forest and the trees thing with the money-is-everything culture we have here. I wouldn’t want to be a teacher today, talk about being under-appreciated. It’s pretty appalling.

    • personally i think higher education is highly over rated……and this is part of the problem…..i see youngster coming out of universities with the expectation of earning high salaries…..after years of fraternizing,partying,protesting and fornicating they enter the workplace with a formal “degree” earning ten times more than the twenty year experience skilled worker……when actually they have no idea what they are doing….and the skilled worker ends up telling and teaching them all that they need to survive in any case…..they live in cloud cuckoo land and are only good at making pretty looking spread sheets ,promotional hype and unrealistic projections…crap in other words…..unproductive pretty looking whitewashed window dressing………an institutionalized boys club,nepotistic,…..ie you emply my unemployable son and ill employ yours………..until economies get back to basic…productivity…..the economies will remain in a downward spiral……….money is based on value…..undermine value and your money is worthless………….yes i am generalizing but its what i see……………………….

      • an efficent truck driver who knows what he is doing is of more value to the economy than the fancy sales rep who sells unrealistic 24hr delivery transit times and then employs an analyst to monitor why his product cant be achieved……………but the driver earns only 10% of what the other two earn……….but he produces the other two just waste………

      • I don’t think any education, higher or other is over rated, teaching people things and developing skills is one of the best things you can do if you want to improve over the long term. Does that mean there are people who party a lot during their education? Yes of course there are, I did it myself in my younger days, but I also learnt a lot. Are there people with unrealistic expectations? Of course there are, I’ve seen many myself who are clueless, but there are also many with realistic expectations. They know they need to learn some on the job skills and marry the two. Is this unfair to people who have been working years and have good skills in different fields, of course it is, and these people should be compensated. In some industries they are, and in others they are not. That is a separate issue but one that should be dealt with. Are there people who get jobs because of who they know? Of course, I’ve been up against that, it doesn’t seem fair.

        But it is through educating people, especially those that have lived through the tough economies who will be the next generation of people who invent, or create, and bring jobs. If no-one knows anything then this simply will not happen as there will not be the skill base to do it. This is not having a go at many people who are already skilled in their line of work, they are also just as important, but over the long term, we need to encourage those few that are good enough to help move the rest of us, to come through.

        On the productivity front, that would be good for both the US and the UK, but as Lynn points out, it is simply cheaper to do it abroad. Many businesses are more interested in making money not helping out other people. Sadly that is what you get when you have a culture that places too much value on earning lots of money. If you’ve got it, you flaunt it, then you try get more of it. If there was less of this and more focus on helping your people out, then productivity will return. Or if it is cheaper to do it in the US again.

      • Yeah, businesses who are more interested in helping people than in putting money on the bottom line are a bit scarce in this country. There are some (I think I saw one on 60 Minutes one time) but unless you’re a non-profit, forget trying to find them. They don’t exist. It’s all about the profits, more than ever before. People today derive their self-worth from the money they make and the possessions they own and when that happens you get what we’ve got now..

      • @ elliot….good comment…i am not opposed to higher education as such…..but im more interested in intelligence and ability then education……i hope you can see the diffrence between the two………anyone can be educated but not too many are intelligent………….i think the higher education systems have got it all wrong and are turning out un intelligent,mediocre to darn right useless graduates who then get high salaries that they dont deserve……this to me is fraudulent.

  2. Bravo on this one!! Don’t have an answer (does anyone?). One quibble – why is it a crime in politics (or anything, for that matter) to change your mind?? Over the years, as I’ve aged and aquired knowledge & experience, I’ve changed my mind any number of times on any number of topics, etc. I like to think being able to reassess & re-evaluate previous opinions, based on new information and changing criteria, is a sign of maturity. What say you all??

    • I have no problem with people (and yes, politicians too) changing their minds. I guess I have changed mine often enough. As long as one’s mind is changed based on logic and clear thinking or a shift in values, then fine. But, sometimes, minds are changed based on what is politically expedient and that is what I do have a problem with.

  3. The markets determine the price of products and other nations provide that cheap labour, so that’s where the production takes place. Education in the US and Canada does not prepare people for making low wages and the standard of living has become to high for those low paying jobs and thus those jobs get outsourced.
    The alternative is having a protectionist policy and that makes enemies of all trade nations, so you do not want to go there as a nation.
    To keep jobs at home, wage levels have to drop and/or subsidies provided for housing, health care and other necessities of life to allow Low earning laborers to stay in their home country of the US and Canada and keep those low paying jobs local.
    Or more guest laborers can be imported and still work for less than the locals, as is the case with the many undocumented Mexicans in your nation.
    European nations and Canada governments import temporary labour for jobs that most locals do not want, or not enough locals can be hired for, and they come from east Asian nations and Mexico, and are paid more than they would earn at home, while they are allowed in legally. Eventually they earn the right to stay as permanent citizens, if they so desire. Most just send most of their wages home to their families.So yes, there are options, but it takes an education effort and an electorate that understand the need for such measures.

    • So what you are saying here is that we have no choice, that to remain competitive we have to outsource. That is going to bite us someday, when we finally achieve complete global equality (if that day ever comes) but that’s tomorrow’s worry. The most advanced nations have the most to lose, of course. This is a real problem, as we have lost these jobs and the tax base they used to support, yet we seem to expect jobs are going to magically materialize somehow, to replace the ones offshored. I don’t think that can happen. There are only so many infrastructure jobs available, I think there is a surplus of individuals vying for what jobs there are and we’re coming up short.

      But again, I’m no economics guru. Thanks for this informative comment. You summed up a lot of things very concisely.

      • it will happen…….when 60% of the US is unemployed and your economy is totally in ruins… they will become prepared to work at menial jobs once again…….or we could have global warfare as per WW2……..

    • interesting……but the wheel will surely turn….the present day chinese low cost worker is gaining skills and will sooner or later be highly skilled demanding high wages…….then the chinese economy goes into meltdown……….then i guess the american factories move elsewhere…africa?…………..remember that much of “made in china” is really “assembled in china” or “manufactured in china” ….they are not chinese designed or owned patents…..ie barbie,mattel,disney, etc……so a large part of the chinese economy is partially and extention of the US economy…………

      • Exactly. Only when everyone is the world is on a level-playing field will the outsourced jobs come back here. And that won’t happen in my lifetime, I don’t think. I hear a lot of people complaining about outsourcing, especially during this period leading up to our next debacle of an election, but I don’t see the jobs coming back here.

  4. the problem is not limited to the USA…..i work and live in south africa…..over the past decade or so my skills (customs proceedures and tariffs) have systematically been marginalized by various computer aided devices…..non that really work effectivly….its has become a sort of acceptance of the mediocre……this has lowered or at least stagnated my earning potential to a point where what used to be a good career is now just a mediocre job……….http://thegreatgodpandotme.wordpress.com/2012/07/16/econimics-101/

    • The Bob Dylan lyrics are great, just what I’m talking about here. Should have included a video of that, if there is one.

      I once wanted to buy a winter coat and I wanted it to be made in the USA. I was on a kick then that everything I bought should be made here. Well guess what? I couldn’t find one. Even jackets at American Eagle were made in Malaysia or Taiwan. I never did end up with a coat.

      They just installed automatic readers on the gas meters in my neighborhood. Guess that puts a bunch of people out of work. Just like your computer aided devices. Sometimes they work, sometimes not so much.

      • unfotunatly i cant do video………..the jacket scenario is the same here…all chinese or indian…..the south african govt imposes 45% import duties on all clothing imports (protectionism) and still the local textile industry cannot compete………..this is scary…………….we are experimenting with making our own clothing at home………..i imported some european army surplus jackets a while back….military clothing is superb quality and the army surplus is cheap cheap……not everyones style i know but good quality….anyway thanks for the interesting chat……..

Comments gratefully accepted:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s