Welcome to AskHodder

Please leave comments, check out my links, click the ads, and maybe even read what I write - Thanks for clicking!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Oppressive Outsourcing Opposition

In the last few years incredible advances have been made in both transportation and communication. I don’t need to tell you of how these technological leaps have revolutionized countless aspects of life. So much so that even a mundane task as routine as ordering food at a drive thru window, your conversation at the box is often routed through to a call center in India where a worker at a desk takes your order, plugs it into a computer sending it to the restaurant where your food is bagged up for you to purchase. This just one example, of the growing phenomenon known as outsourcing.

Instead of paying a high school kid eight dollars an hour to sit with a headset, take orders through the call box and punch your order into a computer within the restaurant, that same eight dollars can get the job done for the entire day, while paying the employee a sufficient family wage, providing health benefits and a meal in a region where all three are often hard to come by. This one small move allows for more 24 hour drive thrus while cutting costs by nearly $70,000 per year, with fierce competition, this means lowers prices to the consumer.

More convenience, lower prices, people willing to work hard are able to use their own bootstraps to lift themselves and their families out of gut retching poverty, and hamburgers, sounds like a pretty good deal right? Slow down. What about that high school kid? He’s now out of a job in the face of rising costs in car insurance, acne cream and Vaseline, sure he was going to quit and take the summer off before moving away to college, but that’s beside the point, the worker in Asia has stolen his job, stolen it by providing an improved service at a vastly superior price and the fast food company just let it happen. For shame fast food company. How dare they not consider an applicants country of origin in their hiring practices?

I was being sarcastic with that last point, but really, why is it that a call center located in the Midwest congers no ill will to the company, there are no feelings that a local job has been taken, but when that same center is located in Asia, anger is directed toward the company for shipping “American jobs” overseas, for stealing a job from a hardworking American? Why is the assumption that I have an obvious and inherent right to work for US companies because I was born in Boston, as opposed to my Asian counterpart, who differs from me only by place of birth? Or if a product bears a “Made in the U.S.A” label, it is from a more moral and upstanding company than a similar product produced in China? I don’t know, but that’s how most Americans think, and to be honest it really pisses me off because that line of thinking is overwhelmingly ethnocentric, and it’s pretty damn racist too.

The insatiable relentless quest for an edge, to shoot up efficiency and drive down prices is what steered the US to global hegemony. Any effort to subvert that or fight the future is only going to backfire. A few years ago GM was in a major financial bind and in order to get back to fiscal solvency the company opted to move production outside of the US. The auto union was furious, and so were the American people. So much so that we gave GM a multi-billion dollar bailout to get the company back in the black and save the American jobs. This effort did nothing to improve the quality of the product, and GM continued to produce a mediocre product and remain behind the 8-ball in major technological developments, predictably GM is back in the same precarious position it was a few short years later. If instead of the bailout we had instead been willing to accept the inevitability, the world would still have GM, people in other countries who have since died of poverty would be working hard at jobs in developing countries, and GM would be among the leaders in fields such as hybrid and alternate fuels.

The workers who would have been laid off? With the same money used to for the bailout every single person laid off, from the boardroom to the janitor's closet could have been given $750,000.00 in severance pay, money that could be used to retire, go back to school to learn a new trade, or, well I don’t need to tell you, I’m sure you can imagine what you would do if someone handed you 3/4 of a million dollars, plus inflation. I’m also pretty sure that at least 99.999% of the people who kept their jobs would have preferred to get laid off under those circumstances. The money would have been a huge lift to the local economies (the Flint area could certainly use all the help it can get) and the improved product produced by GM would push Toyota, Honda, Ford and all the other companies that much harder, meaning every car that has been built since would be of a higher quality.

Instead we’re back where we started, many billion dollars lighter, mired in mediocrity. And for what? An ethnocentric, racist aversion to the inevitable.