Offshoring and outsourcing
What would it take to show that outsourcing (the common misnomer for what should actually be called offshoring) is not a danger to the U.S., its workers, or its economy?
What if, in spite of increased offshoring, the unemployment rate went down, the total number of jobs went up, the GDP went up, and the average wage went up?
Now, I know that statistics never tell the whole story. I think that there has been a lot of backlash against outsourcing: not necessarily because “DEY TOOK ER JERBS”, but because “I can’t understand what this Dell rep on the phone is saying to me.” However, not every offshored job was a call center job. Offshoring makes a lot of sense if various barriers (practical ones: time zones, distance, language, etc) aren’t an issue or can be mitigated. The wisdom of outsourcing is almost undebateable: the only issue of contention was the “giant sucking sound” of offshoring to other countries. Enter Ross Perot, Michael Moore, Pat Buchanan, etc ad nauseum saying something to the effect of: Evil CEO Wadsworth T. Moneybags trying to save a buck so he can buy an extra-large yacht at the expense of the hardworking pariah Joe Q. Bluecollar.
Exploitative class warfare and anecdotal evidence aside, whether their attempts at isolationism were well-intentioned and/or foolish, the disastrous loss of jerbs and damage to the economy hasn’t come. In spite of the dot-com bubble, in spite of terrorist attacks, in spite of the Iraq war, in spite of [insert person or event you hate here].
The panic-based arguments about India aren’t new, of course. NAFTA was Ross Perot’s nemesis, from hence the “giant sucking sound” was coined. Japan was the devil from the far east, rising up to destroy U.S. car manufacturers in revenge for the A-bomb. Neither country has destroyed the U.S. economy yet, despite legions of doom-sayers.
In the meantime, India has gone from a third-world country to an emerging capitalist force. Japan’s operations and management techniques hurt U.S. car companies because of their unwillingness to compete. But in the end, they have improved efficiency, productivity, and innovation all over the world. Mexico…well…they can’t all be winners I guess. Though a less corrupt government might help things out there.
To be clear though, not everything can (or should) be outsourced (or offshored). Just because Company A outsources their trucking or catering, doesn’t mean it’s the best thing for Company B to do. Since offshoring is just a different version of outsourcing, the same holds true. But would you pay $50 for a $10 bill? Companies aren’t charities (at least, not for long): if they see a good opportunity to reduce costs, why wouldn’t they take it?