Re: Offshoring: San Jose Mercury News article

Subject: Re: Offshoring: San Jose Mercury News article
From: "Richard G. Combs" <richard -dot- combs -at- voyanttech -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 11 Nov 2003 10:18:57 -0700

Eric Dunn wrote:

> At least one interviewee seemed to grasp the reality of the situation:
> does make me think, maybe I need to develop some other skills.''
> That's the answer. If your work has become commoditised, develop new
> that aren't. Unions and legislation aren't going to save you. Just look
> the steel industry to see the future of a union and legislation
> technology industry.

Exactly. Losing jobs to "offshoring" is no different than losing jobs to
automation. I recall reading recently that, some time in the seventies,
there were about 900,000 telephone switchboard operators (and long distance
calls cost almost $1/minute). Today, there are 6 or 8 thousand. (These
numbers are my recollection, and may be somewhat off, but they're in the

Would we be better off or worse off today if Congress had acted to "save"
those switchboard operators' jobs? Say, if they'd mandated that all long
distance calls be routed through an operator?

The article mentions one example of government acting to "save jobs":

"...welfare recipients were calling Mumbai, India, when they had questions
about their food-stamp payments. The bill was defeated by the full
legislature after technology trade groups lobbied against it. But the state
did move about 10 welfare department jobs back to New Jersey -- at a cost of
more than $1 million a job."

$1 million. To "save" a call center job. I guess the state of New Jersey can
choose to do that, since the taxpayers are forced to pay for it. But, what
about the opportunity cost? What do New Jersey's taxpayers have to forego
because $1 million was spent on that one job instead of being spent on
something else (or being left in their pockets to spend on *their* needs)?

"Outsourcing" is *good* news for our economy. It means that our labor
resources are too *valuable* to be used on that kind of work and can be
redirected to more *productive* uses. That's called progress. It's what
makes us all richer in the long run.

Yes, that kind of progress hurts certain "victims" in the short run. Just as
it did the buggy-whip makers, auto-body welders, and switchboard operators.
Should their *temporary* discomfort be used as an excuse to keep us all


Richard G. Combs
Senior Technical Writer
Voyant Technologies, Inc.
richardDOTcombs AT voyanttechDOTcom
rgcombs AT freeDASHmarketDOTnet



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