White-Collar Sweatshops

from the calm-down,-people dept

It appears that the overseas outsourcing backlash is in full swing. Following on a similar article from last month, is a Salon.com story about tech workers worried about overseas outsourcing. The big difference from previous scares about migrating labor patterns is that, this time, it might impact higher level employees. The outsourcing is happening with skilled workers now. I think it’s fair to be worried about how it might impact your own job and to prepare yourself for the eventuality – but the people actively protesting overseas outsourcing, and pushing for laws to stop it are taking too simplistic a view. If you could actually block American companies from using overseas workers, then you would be making the American firms less competitive overall, and foreign firms would come in and take away their market – meaning you’d be out of a job anyway (as would everyone else at your company instead of just those whose jobs were outsourced). The real issue isn’t that “outsourcing” is bad, but that many companies pitching the outsourcing revolution are hiding some of the costs of having overseas workers. It clearly makes sense for some jobs, but many companies are discovering that it actually slows their product cycles down (communicating with an office halfway around the world takes time). There are economic arguments for and against outsourcing highly skilled labor. Those are the basis on which an argument should be made – and not the fact that some programmers lost their jobs and can’t figure out ways to make themselves relevant to the labor market again. As the article suggests, this problem is likely to become less of an issue as the economy improves.

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “White-Collar Sweatshops”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Jonathan Grant says:


there’s a gloating element to these Salon stories. something to the effect of, “see tech workers? globalization isn’t just the pet cause of spoiled pinko liberal arts majors!”

guess what; it still is.

i’ve never seen a real product or service (besides tech support) be outsourced overseas effectively. and i can’t imagine working somewhere that would outsource anything other than total shitcan work. i’ve never met anyone who’s had quality work outsourced out from under them. where’s the beef?

finally: if you can’t find a tech job these days, hesitate to blame the economy. good candidates are in demand no matter what cycle of the modern economy we’re in. if you can’t find work, acquire new skills. i’ve had 3 job offers in the past 12 months (in the Seattle area, think doldrums), and i am far from exceptional.

terri (user link) says:

Re: *snore*

I agree with most of your comment, but that last bit is a little too much to swallow.
You’re lucky or you knew someone in order to get those offers; or, you have had the money to become certified in one way or another. Don’t blame the victims when a place like fuckedcompany.com is roaring with business due to layoffs.

Anonymous Coward says:

The Irony

It’s all rather ironic that an industry as fanatically pro-free-market as IT is losing jobs to India, probably the most anti-capitalist country in the world today. In India, most voters still regard “profit” as a dirty word; laws prohibit businesses from owning more than a small plot of land; cash machines are still outlawed in many places, and getting cash means standing in line for an hour until a bank clerk will give you bank notes stapled to the receipt; laundry machines are considered “unpatriotic” because they take jobs away from lower castes, and Marxist workers still control industrial policy in many sectors. Not surprisingly, the non-IT sectors of the Indian economy are being decimated by cheap Chinese imports.

India was the laggard of the Asian economic miracle until the 1990s, until IT was 1. populated by better educated castes and 2. developed faster than the government could regulate it. But give it time — we will see the militant unemployed workers get their clawed hands on the successes of IT, regulating it to death. We will see more old geezers in Indian IT who still live in a 1990s fantasy world, opposed to newer technologies because they aren’t “spirtual” enough.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Chinese IT workers start robbing jobs by the millions from Indians. In the race to the bottom, maybe we’ll see more starving 5-year-olds chained to PC terminals, performing data entry tasks with their fingers swollen to the size of bananas. In the meantime, Americans can take advantage of their greatest economic asset — social flexibility. There are plenty of fields like health care, law enforcement, fire fighting, teaching, etc. that offer much better job security, pay just as well as IT, have equal or higher social status, and have better female:male ratios. And they do not require you to believe in the sect of Hinduism called free-market economics.

Super Pimp (user link) says:

Re: Patriotism

That’s a stupid thing to say. Although you might be right… at least in the short term. But what happens when all the incoming money raises the standard of living in a lot of these companies, and the cheap labor is no longer as cheap? Hmmm? It’s short sighted, but it’s a lesson corporations are going to have to learn the hard way.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...