Is offshoring a necessary evil? An important part of a global economy? The only way for some industries to remain competitive?
Why I am Against Offshoring
I am basically against offshoring. I know that it has been sold to America as inevitable, but I do not buy that rhetoric and never have. Every time I make a call for customer service on my computer or my microwave, I have the same experience. I sit and wait for anywhere from five to thirty minutes as I think about how extraordinary this country has become over the last ten years or so. When I finally get a person, nine chances out of ten I will not be able to understand him or her. But, alas, it is just what has happened to us. We were bamboozled somewhere along the line. I believe that offshoring is just one more government/corporate betrayal against the American people.
In order to discuss the injury that offshoring is inflicting upon American labor, it is necessary to discuss it in terms of it being part of what has become a cumulative effect upon the American people. In other words, there have been other insults placed upon our heads already, which when added to offshoring, has all but drowned the American dream, and its dreams of a hopeful future for its posterity.
Part I: Self-Determination/Sovereignty
I must begin my thoughts about offshoring by stating that the American people have lost the majority their self-determination and state sovereignty. Most of us can agree that much of this was instigated right after the Civil War, of course. (For the life of me, I do not know why Lincoln could not have said “Hey, keep your states’ rights, but slavery is illegal within your states.” Why was this not done? Some will say that that would have been unconstitutional. My response to that is, “So is federalism.”) In any case, I believe was the first big blow to the American people of both their sovereignty, self-determination, and hope for bright future.
I believe that governments work better when they are small enough to be controlled by the people as opposed to the other way around. I also believe that any government or economic model (capitalism, socialism, etc…) works much better when the governed location is no bigger than the size of France or Texas. When the geography gets larger than that, the ruling government becomes dangerously distant.
Think of France, for instance. First, they have seven parties. Second, everything happens out of Paris… so the people feel empowered enough to stay informed, and bold enough to take to the streets whenever one of their 30 or so paid religious holidays is threatened. Granted, they got their independence at the edge of a guillotine, so their government has been afraid of them for quite a while. Maybe that is why we are taught to hate them. In any case, the European Union will fix the French and the rest of Europe soon enough; France can then, like us, peer in sad wineful confusion upon the memory of her sovereignty and self-determination, and wonder “Qu’est-ce que c’est?”
Now, think of larger governments like Russia, China, or the US. When everything gets run from one central place (and most of the nation is 500 miles away or further from the capital) a couple problems tend to arise: people start to believe that their vote does not matter because they are so small in a nation so big; and the government is seen as corrupt self-interested because the normal citizenry is too far away to see what goes on.
Part II: Unions
It is easy to dismiss American labor for getting so fat, dumb, and greedy that corporations were left with no choice but to leave for second and third-world countries. But were corporations have really been so altruistic? And were the “poor corporations” in such a fix that all they could do was leave?
Let’s consider Detroit thirty years ago. Union-run GM was rife with stories of workers being AWOL for a month and not getting fired, drunk for six months and not getting fired, hiring whores on night-shift and not getting fired, and selling hard drugs on the shop floor and not getting fired.
Then there is the teacher’s union. We all know that currently troublesome teachers cannot get fired. Instead, they get sent to some separate location where they sit for up to two years getting paid as they await their “trial.”
Do you really think that any honest union leadership insisted on those terms? Ever? It seems obvious that that top .01% of the industry got together with the top .01% of the union, and they cut a deal…and created the conditions that made unions rot from within. Let’s face it, the public can fight any direct fight against a large organization and win every time. What they cannot do is win in the court of public opinion when the rights they are fighting for have lost all credibility. It is my opinion that back in the 1930s when unionism was being taken seriously and FDR got the White House, the corporation-heads realized that they had indeed lost. The only way to win was with back-door operations that would take decades. And it appears that they have finally won.
They won with those reverse operations, but also with buying the White House. Could it not have happened like this?
Now, back to Detroit. The day that the unions were dissolved and the cooperate-heads told the workers that much of the company was going elsewhere, I am sure that they did not have any real sit-down and say, “Look, we want to keep jobs here in this town, but look at the numbers. Look at your collective work history. We can go elsewhere and do it for these dollars. So, let’s make a deal that cuts your income and benefits by this much. If not, we leave and you have nothing. Think on it.” I cannot guarantee that conversation did not happen, but I truly doubt it. Instead it was probably just, “Buh-bye!”
Part III: Offshoring
So, why do I go on and on about the America’s loss of rights, when the subject of the OP is offshoring? The answer to this is that if you appreciate our loss of rights in 1865, you might also appreciate the loss of rights we absorbed in 1913 with the advent of the Federal Reserve system. And if you value that, then you might also find Reagan’s Wall Street deregulations as well as the 1999 repealing of Glass-Steagall to be a travesty as well. If you can agree with me this far, maybe you can also see that the trend of corporate offshoring in the US has dealt a blow that the American people may never recover from. In other words, the future of the American people is indeed dark when they are left on their own with no representation from government or businesses…whether they are an employee or a customer.
I remember when all of the telephone customer service went to India, Philippines, and elsewhere. And as I remember it, we were all being told how great it would be to not have to deal with telemarketers anymore. Wasn’t all that together in the same package? I could be wrong, but this is how I remember it. Then, suddenly, all these jobs were gone. Silence. Then, it was what it is now. Customer service warfare.
“But we are doing great things for the world, having them do the jobs we do not want to do! We are bringing up their economies so they will one day want to buy our stuff.” Ok, fine. What stuff? Wal-Mart is Chinese crap. Good versions of the equivalent items are often German or Japanese, or Korean. Hmm. Are all these countries outsourcing their manufacturing like we are? I don’t think so. There may be some, but not like us.
A strong economy needs the diversity of services AND goods. There are several reasons for this, but one good one is that not everyone in this country can perform service-based jobs. They need to be able to work with their hands because that is their only marketable capacity. If they cannot find career goods-producing work, we will all pay for it in (among other things) welfare, crime, unemployment, and apathy.
But that is what the military is for, right? A bleed-valve. This is part of why we are addicted to war. And if Iraq II does not convince, nothing will. But, let’s face it; we care just that much about other people’s kids. The draft might just do them a favor. At least there would be some real opposition for once in the last forty years.
“But wooden matches are still “American Made.” How appropriate.
It is interesting. Oftentimes the same people who are crying against entitlements such as public education are the same people who think that offshoring is a good thing. They all admit that “the children our future,” but they also believe that teachers should live in poverty. Tell me, where are the uneducated lower classes of younger folks going to find a way to save for retirement when they are living at poverty levels and cannot find employers who will hire them at a living wage? Wal-Mart, Starbucks? Furthermore, where is the age 60-68 year-old people going to work to sustain themselves without entitlements? Wal-Mart, Starbucks? Well, this scenario is a good petri-dish for a crime-ridden society. And those of us who do not currently fit the category of uneducated lower classes do not live in a bubble. The problem will be on your streets, and your kid’s streets. Read your history. It will.
In conclusion, outsourcing eventually just begs for a one-world government, does it not? If all countries are in other countries and married financially and fascist-ly, how can this not become the case? If this becomes our future, how safe are notions like sovereignty, self-determination, and the vote? If corporate relationships are all that matters, where does the family and the individual sit in economic, legal, social, and cultural terms. And adding to that, do not corporations in this country owe the people of the US something back? “We the people” go to war to insure that this nation is a safe and successful place for such organizations to thrive. “We the people” are often the initial customers (and employees) that make it possible for certain small and medium-sized companies to eventually become large corporations.