This is an article I originally wrote back in December 2004 about the problem of outsourcing American jobs to other countries. I recently found it and was surprised at how nothing has changed in the last ten years and this piece is still pretty spot on. Actually things may be even worse. There’s a greater number of aging baby boomers to work some of these jobs, and they are having an even harder time, often being terminated from their jobs 10-15 years before retirement age, now dipping into their retirement savings to live – but that is another story for a different day.
I hope this trend of corporate greed at the expense of this country’s health and welfare changes soon. Personally, I think if you outsource jobs to other countries that can be done by American workers, you should be heavily taxed. I think companies who maintain their workforce in the United States should be given tax breaks, at least for a period of time.
I note in my article I am NOT an economist or historian, nor am I necessarily politically inclined, so I don’t know all the background about these types of things, but I know enough to know they can be done judiciously and pragmatically. Of course, this will most likely cut into some profit margins – so though it can be done, I am sure it would be a fight. In honor of Throwback Thursday, I thought I would share it with you & see what you think.
Outsourcing American Jobs Dangerous Trend
I love to read Molly Ivins’ nationally syndicated column. Today’s article was Ivin’s review of two books. One of the books mentioned, “When Work Disappears: The World of the New Urban Poor” by William Julius Wilson, discussed the problems with joblessness in the inner city ghettos. She uses a quote from the book discussing his solutions, which she states as critical for all of us not just for poor inner-city blacks – “The problems of joblessness and social dislocation in the inner city are, in part, related to the processes in the global economy that have contributed to greater inequality & insecurity among American workers in general & to the failure of U.S. social policies to adjust to these processes. It is therefore myopic to view the problems of jobless ghettos as if they were separate from those that plague the larger society.”
This made me think, as I read, that a large percentage of the American workforce is now in danger of this “jobless ghetto” syndrome. I heard President Bush say, during one of the debates, that the key to ending unemployment and government assistance needs is EDUCATION for 21st century jobs. The way I see it, the market is becoming considerably service and technology based. The jobs of the 21st century are huge in the area of technical assistance (development, programming, maintenance) and customer service. These are also the jobs that have been outsourced to other countries, for considerably cheaper labor costs. This is a dangerous trend that has been on the rise in the last five years.
Now, I am not an economics or history expert, but the way it appears to me is that in the last half century jobs have increasingly changed in proportion concerning manufacturing and service-oriented jobs. In the early years of this country up until the first half of the 20th century, manufacturing was a huge part of the economic base. The last half of the 20th century saw a large majority of these jobs being outsourced to other countries because it was cheaper for the manufacturer. This left the service-oriented and technology fields as a way of providing jobs for American citizens. As proved from my last five calls to Dell, and other computer parts manufacturers they are involved with, ALL of their technical support has been outsourced, often times to places where the technicians’ English is accented so heavily, even if they are the most intelligent in the world, I can’t understand a word coming out of their mouths.
If we are sending all the manufacturing, customer service-oriented and technology jobs overseas, what jobs does that leave for Americans? Medical professionals, lawyers, dry-cleaners, and fast-food/restaurant jobs are a few of the jobs left. Do you recognize the large gap in salaries between the first two jobs I mentioned and the second two jobs – the haves and the have-nots?
Do not misunderstand me, I understand the importance of a global economy, but in my opinion we have taken the concept entirely too far. When there is no balance, a considerable amount of middle-class jobs disappear from the U.S. landscape. If this trend continues, jobless ghettos could be as common as tent cities during the Great Depression.
Just something I was thinking about, something I think about often actually.
(And RIP Molly Ivins, you are missed by many!!)