Re: Offshoring Tracker Launched (fwd)

Subject: Re: Offshoring Tracker Launched (fwd)
From: eric -dot- dunn -at- ca -dot- transport -dot- bombardier -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 20 Apr 2004 17:45:18 -0400

This is really now FAR off-topic for Techwr-l so I will make it my last
public post on the subject.

> Call them whatever pleases you - applying a different
> label does not change the situation. Years ago when
> people in manufacturing lost their jobs to offshoring,
> they were advised to retrain for exactly the types of
> jobs that are now being offshored. That remains fact.

But the fact remains that those to whom the offshoring caught up are
partially to blame for their predicament. It is the workers as
departments, teams and individuals that failed to secure their positions.
They treaded water while the rest of the competition caught up and
overtook them. Those that did learn and develop failed to have their
value-added contributions recognised. Then finally, management failed to
view the value of the local employees. Of course there's also the
possibility that the department did not add enough value to justify their

Those that can't keep up with required learning and development should be
helped (pushed) by society and not become the burden of the company.

As far as dumb management decisions, nothing you can do about those. But
only the captain has to go down with the ship. A good crew member knows to
look out for scurrying rats and to be up on deck before it's too late.

> > There's a bit of xenophobia and class bigotry
> > involved in these discussions.

> This I absolutely deny. Perhaps other people have
> feelings of racism or xenophobia or other things
> involved in their thoughts about offshoring. In my
> case I could not possibly care less about the race,
> religion, etc., of offshore workers who are getting
> the jobs. My thoughts on the subject are based on
> concern for the welfare of this country and fellow
> Americans. And I could not possibly care less about
> the race, religion, etc. of Americans who lose their
> jobs to offshoring. I feel for them regardless of such
> matters.

And I feel for all those in the world that struggle, educate themselves,
and from less developed societies manage to equal or surpass their
developed nation competitors. Or are we not to care about those masses of
humanity whose other choices are subsisting on garbage heaps or starving?
I say they have every much right as we do to sit in air-conditioned
offices and be overpaid to discuss political issues on office time. ;)

> As for things like outsourcing or moving jobs to
> different regions of the country, those are different
> subjects and if you wish I will argue those matters on
> a different thread.

Sorry, I can't buy that. While yes there are more barriers to moving to
another country, the culture shock of moving from Montreal to Vancouver,
Manhattan to smallville Iowa, or small town to Silicon Valley is just a

Indian IT firms have been to Silicon Valley to hire recently.

And the waste of taxpayer money supporting badly run and inefficient local
industries is as bad as the same policies applied on the national level.

> > When you purchase product, do you make sure that
> > what you're buying keeps
> > everyone in the industry local and fully employed?

> Yes. I try to as far as possible. For example, as I
> posted months ago, I knowingly buy nothing made in
> China, and I do check the labels. I do make a
> conscious effort to spend my money where it benefits
> my countrymen. Do you?

Really I don't. My priority is to feed and clothe MY family. I pay my
taxes to support the needy in society and would rather see money sent to
the needy and not pay extra for over paid, over secure, richly benefitted
union jobs. Nor do I believe I should pay one painter more to paint my
house because they live in upscale neighbourhood while their competitions
has lower cost of living expenses to make up.

I do take great issue with companies that are not made to support the
social fabric they depend on for their consumers, but that's a taxation
issue of where profits are claimed, or a social/labour standards issue of
what kind of treatment of labour we allow companies to use for imported

> Would that it were true. But it is not. Personnel
> decisions are not always made on a logical
> businesslike basis. I am utterly certain that you, as
> I, have seen one person let go while another, less
> competent worker is kept, because the latter is a
> friend of the boss. Or a good worker is dispensed with
> for budget reasons or hierarchical reasons that have
> nothing to do with quality of work. If worker quality
> were the only factor in determining retention, there
> would be no bad workers past the first 90-day
> evaluation.

Life isn't fair. Move on. That kind of inequity cannot be legislated
against effectively. If you get treated that way once, it's management's
fault. If it happens continuously it may just be that while a good worker
you fail miserably in one of the most important factors in life: self

> Really? So according to you, the situation in Europe
> is not an alternative? There are alternatives. Or at
> least there could be alternatives, if people were
> willing to think about them. But all we hear from the
> side that supports offshoring is all-or-nothing
> statements. I can think of alternatives. Why can't
> you?

Well, I'm writing from a Canadian perspective. While I applaud some of the
social programs in Europe, some go too far in my view. And while you blame
me for not considering alternatives, you have no idea about my detailed
thoughts on the issue. Additionally, besides protectionism, what
alternatives are YOU proposing? From the Canadian standpoint, I'm happy
with what's available but am quite uncomfortable with the idea of more
gov't interference. I am also very uncomfortable with the idea of a
'nanny' state that takes care of all your needs regardless of your
personal choices. Individuals should get help when control is out of their
hands. But if you chose to not complete your studies or study in a field
with little demand for workers, you chose your own fate.

Government help should be about equality of opportunity not equality of

And government help for industry is something I would love to be
eliminated or at least seriously curtailed. Time and time again companies
and industries have been kept afloat at levels of financing that would
have provided the workers "saved" decades of gov't support instead of the
brief flash of employment.

> We've heard from lots of people who make the claim
> that putting Americans out of work by offshoring
> somehow benefits them, but you have managed to take
> this argument to a new level. You present the argument
> that there is no alternative to the current situation
> but Communism, of all things. So no one has ever come
> up with any alternative to dog-eat-dog competition
> other than Communism? You are dead wrong.

No I'm not. I'm Canadian. ;) My liberal friends here think I'm a blood
thirsty capitalist, while Americans I discuss many political issues with
label me as a loony-left liberal or communist.

> When people
> in this country needed help with employment in the
> 30's, FDR was able to find alternatives that didn't
> involve Communism. During the recession of the 50's,
> Eisenhower found ways to help Americans get back to
> work without making this a Communist country. The
> existence of the anti-trust laws, of overtime pay
> laws, of *any* labour laws, of OSHA and the EPA, are
> proof of the fact that there are and should be
> sensible limits on how companies do business, even in
> a capitalist system.

And have I said otherwise? If your beef is fair competition, environment,
health care, or retirement benefits, then legislate to the higher moral
ground and make foreign importers match local regulations. Britain
succeeded in this with documentation processes (ISO 9000).

Can't remember which, but I remember at least one American president's
workfare programs have been shown in a number of papers, that while
politically popular and gave immediate relief, to have actually prolonged
the recession by a number of years.

> There can be other ways to think about and deal with
> offshoring other than counting every American as
> expendable. There are ways of companies reducing their
> costs without pauperizing Americans.

And there are ways to live as Americans and Canadians without requiring
the rest of the world to live in abject poverty. Also there have to be
more productive ways than hand wringing over lost jobs without examining
where growth might be occurring.

> We have an all-time record trade deficit.

So what do you propose. Paying more for less with dwindling public funds
for public services and hobbling companies into uncompetitive positions by
forcing them to do the same?

In the case of protecting the steel industry, Bush backed down largely in
part because the American autosector companies and workers suffered far
more than the steel industry gained by being protected. To make matters
worse, the steel industry has shown exactly why they shouldn't have been
protected in the first place. Even with protection measures they didn't
take the initiative to improve. Instead the foreign competitors, who were
already more productive before protectionism, became even better to make
up for the tariffs. When the tariffs are removed, the American sector will
likely collapse. In that case the industry has only itself to blame.

> We have an all-time record Federal budget deficit.

More to do with foreign policy and tax cuts to the richest 1% of Americans
than economic forces.

> We have the
> worst hiring slump since the end of WWII. The
> "economy" can be seen as growing and propsering only
> if you define the economy as the amount of money in
> corporate bank accounts.

Back to that taxing the top 1% thing again.

> If you include in your
> definition of the economy the real buying power of the
> average American, or the number of people who are
> unemployed, or other human factors, then the "economy"
> needs a lot of help.

> I cannot and will not agree with these Olympian views
> of the "economy" that involve nothing but numbers and
> leave out humans. My concern is the welfare of
> Americans, not the price of IBM stock.

Nor do I. But they are two separate issues although somewhat intertwined.
One is how the economy is run and the other is how society helps those
left behind. Sufficient controls to keep the economy from becoming too
ferocious and a social safety net to catch those that can't help

And as for claiming that anyone in the "rose coloured glasses" crown is
really "I got mine" is far from the truth. Some people have the wherewith
all to know that both positions are dead wrong. I sure don't have my
future set. My company has entered a long term agreement with an Indian
services company and had laid off tens of thousands worldwide. But, I'm
learning opensource document management and tracking technologies to make
sure that when the time comes I have more to offer than generic
outsourceable documentation and font-fondling skills. I can already claim
more technical knowledge in my field of expertise than most other writers.
Examining the situation though, the work being sent out is the tedious
crap that I'd rather not spend a career dealing with and for which I don't
see why I should risk the financial health of my employer (and ultimately
my own employment) by demanding they hire overpriced local consultants to
do the same work.

And really that's what's missing from the vast majority of these
discussions. If it's so plain why outsourcing/offshoring is so bad, why do
the workers have such a horrendous time showing management the benefits
they have keeping them employed? I'm not so sure that "Pay me more because
I'm me" has been terribly effective to date.

Eric L. Dunn
Senior Technical Writer


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