When I woke up this morning, grabbed a cup of coffee to steady myself, and flipped on the computer, what should greet me as the first news item but: “Tech Firms Defend Moving Jobs Overseas.”
This thing is heating up as a political issue and the everybody is getting their licks in. Companies wanting to fend-off protectionist moves are saying legislation about trade is not the solution.
The companies said such policies would do little to resolve long-standing problems more broadly affecting America’s global competitiveness, such as low-scoring schools and inadequate research spending. Erecting barriers, they said, “could lead to retaliation from our trading partners and even an all-out trade war.”
Personally I think this view is pretty correct. But there’s more.
“There is no job that is America’s God-given right anymore,” Carly Fiorina, chief executive for Hewlett-Packard Co., said Wednesday. “We have to compete for jobs.”
Intel chief executive Craig Barrett said the United States “now has to compete for every job going forward. That has not been on the table before. It had been assumed we had a lock on white-collar jobs and high-tech jobs. That is no longer the case.”
Well said, Karly, Craig.
On the other hand:
Marcus Courtney of Seattle, dismissed the latest report. “This is not a recipe for job creation in this country,” said Courtney, president of the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers. “This is a recipe for corporate greed. They’re lining up at the public trough to slash their labor costs.”
I would have more sympathy for Marcus if I had seen high-tech workers saying this sort of thing when blue-collar jobs were going overseas. Most of these characters weren’t complaining when that “corporate greed” was fattening their stock option packages.
The debate is getting hot and rightly so. I think Americans are vaguely beginning to realize there may be some other reasons to feel insecure besides terrorists. Long neglected issues like mediocre math and science education are finally beginning to show their consequences, and the implications are big.
But someone else had this to say:
“The problem is not a lack of highly educated workers,” said Scott Kirwin, founder of the Information Technology Professionals Association of America.
Hey, that sounds good Scott. Then he concludes:
“The problem is a lack of highly educated workers willing to work for the minimum wage or lower in the U.S. Costs are driving outsourcing, not the quality of American schools.”
Uh-oh! We’re not dumb; we just can’t afford to live in America anymore! Name your poison.
That reminds me, lest anyone thinks this is just about IT, I forgot to mention a remark you might have picked up in the Schumer article or broadcast from yesterday: the number of radiologists in the US is expected to decline in the next few years because digitized images can be read by Asian radiologists. Indeed, it seems to me a whole lot of medicine can be done from thousands of miles away. If the experiment of monitoring 20,000 VA patients by telemetry works, you can expect to see a whole lot more remote work.
Heck, I belong to Kaiser Permanente—they are moving their back office work to India—and I haven’t seen a America-born doc in 10 years. Why not have a cheap technician poke and prod me and attach the appropriate monitoring devices. My “personal physician” could be anywhere. Expect to see a lot of this by managed care organizations. How else is the cost of delivering health care in the US going to be handled?