Facing Outsourcing

The idea of outsourcing has never been one I've necessarily agreed with, but then again many, many successful companies do it and don't seem to have too many issues. Apparently mine is about to take that step. We were told a couple weeks ago outsourcing some of our jobs overseas was going to happen and December 1st, I heard through the grapevine, is when we find out who is getting replaced. The rumor is as much as a 25% reduction in headcount could happen in my group/department/division.

And no, I'm not going to say what the company is. I don't even intend on saying what the field is. That's not important.

Outsourced Movie Poster, 2007, courtesy of the Outsourced blog. If you haven't seen the movie, I highly recommend it.

The reality is outsourcing does make a company more productive. If you owned a business and found out you could have two talented and productive people for the price of one, wouldn't you go down that route too? It's hard to argue with that.

Of course, raising the topic of outsourcing is bound to spark debate. Words tinged with flame like "moral" and "ethical" usually come out, insinuating a company has a moral obligation to keep the jobs at home. I don't believe that - companies are free to make their own legal decisions. I don't have to agree with it, but the reality is a public company has only its shareholders to answer to, and the announcement of outsourcing means costs are going down, shareholders will be happy, and share price will go up.

To me it's not a moral issue. Companies, apart from obeying the rules of the nation-state in which they operate, don't have to be beholden to keeping jobs there. I know others disagree with that point, and that's fine.

Maybe if my job disappears I'll feel differently. Then again, maybe I'll be happier person and will dedicate myself fully to becoming a best-selling novelist. Oh, and finding another job in the meantime. I guess. If I have to, to keep things like food and shelter, silly items like that.

I don't think so though. Corporations have different goals than the governments of nation-states. Governments can do nothing about keeping the jobs at home - no matter what they say during a campaign. The only way the jobs stay home is by giving corporate tax breaks to make it cheaper, and most people aren't fans of that either.

So the jobs will go, and us here at home (by home I'm referring to my home, the United States) will be forced to adapt or fall behind. That's the way of the world, the way it always has been.
The Outsourced TV series, which really wasn't very funny at all and a huge disappointment.

Some of this is funny to me. My University of Oregon education tried to teach me things like this are bad, that outsourcing jobs will actually hurt the locales to which they move. One example, inevitably, was always Nike. Nike puts a production facility (let's put all issues of possible child labor aside, because that's going down another path not directly relevant to this conversation) somewhere and they pay better than average wages. Critics say this only introduces inflation into a community, driving up prices by introducing more money into the market. They are right. What they didn't say in my UO class is this inevitably finds a new balance and most of the time - not always, it's not perfect, nor does it claim to be - the overall prosperity level of the locale is raised.

This is what's happening in places like India. They have a very talented, very intelligent ocean of workers to choose from, and they cost half the price of one American. A few years ago that cost was a third. What am I getting at? The point is India, which is currently seen by many as a threat to American jobs, won't be one for much longer. At some point in the not-too-distant future the two workers - one in India, one in the U.S. - will cost roughly the same.

No matter what anyone tries to say, we are inevitably heading towards a flattening of the entire world job market, one in which Americans will compete equally with workers from around the world. And it will work. It's not just theory anymore, it's happening.

I can say all this knowing full well I could end up being on the outside looking in, at least in this particular instance.

And honestly? I think I'm okay with that. I understand it, I get it. I may not like it if it's my job, but I still get it.

It just sucks to have to think about now, during the worst job market of my lifetime, but such is life. There is never a good time for it, just some that are better than others. This isn't one of those times. But I'm resilient. I'll deal with it if I have to.

I'll just have to get writing on that first blockbuster.


  1. I agree, somewhat. However, you mentioned the worst job market of your lifetime - and well mine as well. With high unemployment everywhere the PacNW (at least oregon and washington) have around 10 - 12% unemployment - how can we hope to get BACK to a somewhat ok job market if companies outsource? I can see it more when the economy is more stable, and unemployment is not nearing depression age numbers.

    I agree we are moving toward a world economy and I also think it's a good thing. But I'd rather have a stable US economy before I see a world economy. But then I am a bit biased :)

  2. Unfortunately, I think the onus is now upon the workers to create new job markets with innovation. I feely wholly unqualified to do that. :) Then again, maybe I'll surprise myself.