Outsourced. You might have seen the movie. You might have watched the TV show. You might be a U.S survivor in a company that outsourced, or maybe you didn’t survive. You might have a family member or friend who was affected by outsourcing. You might have friends or coworkers from India; you know they are great people. If any of these are true for you, you might read with interest the Wall Street Journal blog posting Amol Sharma on “How Obama Will Address Outsourcing in India.”
It won’t surprise U.S. readers that we’ve been sending jobs to India. Many of you can attest to the pain outsourcing causes U.S. employees. Language barriers, widely differing time zones, cultural differences, the need to add huge bureaucracies to manage the work and to ensure it meets quality standards. If your employer outsourced to save money; you might well wonder if it actually did.
This article doesn’t cite any actual savings achieved through outsourcing, though they seem to be assumed. It discusses broader benefits to the U.S. economy from our trade relationship with India. Sharma cites a transcript of some remarks by Mr. Froman, who is deputy U.S. national security advisor for international economic affairs: “With 1.2 billion people and an economy…expected to grow at 8 percent a year for the next several years, we really see India as a potentially very important market for U.S. exports.” Apparently, Indian companies are hiring in the U.S. as well, and they are fast growing investors.
President Obama, who has not supported a tax code that favors outsourcing, has an upcoming trip to India. How will he handle the issue of outsourcing? Sharma suggests that it would difficult to stop or reduce outsourcing; a better approach is to make a case to Americans that this economic relationship can benefit the U.S. as well.
You’ll be glad to hear we may be getting something back from outsourcing. If you have friends or coworkers were from India, you may have heard first hand how outsourcing had improved their lives. How can we say they should continue to live in poverty when they had the skills and work ethic to climb out of it? But, you also knew the pain of U.S. workers who lived in anxiety over losing their jobs. You may have lost your job yourself, or you may be expecting to lose it any day.
Overall, it’s not easy to say outsourcing is good or evil. One thing is certain; for U.S. workers, it is painful.