Outsource This!

(from Ernest Callenbach, USA)

Linked with Ernest Callenbach – USA.

An excerpt of Ernest Callenbach’s text: … Economists, therefore, should stop insulting us with talk about how job outsourcing is good for us. It may be good for “the economy” – to be specific, the globalized economy of corporations with no particular loyalty to any country. But it is bringing pain to American workers, and they are naturally angry and asking politicians to do something about it. And in a small way, especially through ceasing to subsidize companies that export jobs, a government like ours could help a bit. It’s up to us to make the politicians feel our pain.

In the grand global scheme of things, however, job outsourcing is “merely” a readjustment of the advantages American workers have enjoyed for many decades, particularly from World War II to about 1973, when our average real wages (how much bread you can buy for an hour’s wage) began trending downward. To the impersonal mechanisms of global capitalism, American wages – including those of many professional and managerial personnel – are still far too high and the wages of corresponding folks in China or India are far too low. As jobs are lost and downgraded in America, they will be created and upgraded elsewhere.

One recent estimate, by the Forrester Research firm, predicts that 3.3 million white- collar jobs will shift abroad by 2015, and Economy.com predicts that by 2010 about 600,000 manufacturing jobs will be leaving annually. [cited in Cassidy].

A major factor in this process is that the quality of the American work force, a product of our declining educational system and our increasingly unequal society, is going down.

Intensification of work loads (”speed-up”) leads to showy claims of higher American “productivity,” but this of course means a harsher work regime for most of us.

Slowly, thus, the world wage imbalance is decreasing. Even the brashest economists hesitate to guess where the balance might ultimately settle. Perhaps the American “standard of living,” meaning our ability to consume things that have prices, will end up as two-thirds or half of what it is now. (The same process is beginning to grind down the Europeans, although their more responsive governments try to protect ordinary workers more than ours does.) But even this level assumes that the industrial world suffers no major shocks from oil shortages and wars, water wars, or other disruptions.

Basically, we’d be back roughly where we were in 1965 – not an overwhelming catastrophe but extraordinarily painful for American people, the world’s most ardent consumers. And contemporary Americans are unused to severe pain, so we may grasp at ever more authoritarian “solutions”: a permanent war economy to keep pumping money into armaments and to support the occupation of oil-rich foreign lands, increasing restraint of our civil liberties, and progressive dismantling of the remains of our social support system to pay for the defense of our faltering empire. In addition, environmental amenities such as clean water, clean air, wilderness preserves, and ancient forests may be sacrificed – giving the final rites to the always preposterous idea that richer, more consumerist societies would better protect their environments. Even such draconian measures, however, will not stem job and income loss. In short, we have to face that we too are members of Workers of the World … (full text).

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