Confessions of an Unrepentant — But Wiser — Outsourcing Supporter
by Greg Perry
In my somewhat caustic, and far-too cynical article 2 weeks ago (Outsourcing Outrage from the Freedom Haters), I grossly misread you in Lew's audience.
I figured my conclusions were slam-dunks. I figured they would be fairly basic for LewRockwell.com. I figured I'd bore most of you due to how obvious my conclusions were. Turns out I was wrong on two counts: I didn't bore you and my conclusions were anything but obvious.
It was my desire to show a silly aspect of the anti-outsourcing debate, and that is the protectionist side. How far should one go in their protectionist policies?
I'll admit I'm fairly much against any protectionist policies implemented by our government. Just because China, for example, might subsidize its exports to make them cheaper for Americans I see no reason why we should penalize our taxpayers with doing the same, or worse, punishing consumers with tariffs on goods we import. Just let our exporters export goods and services for the prices they feel work best for them. Let the consumer buy whatever products and services they prefer at the prices they find them for.
Let the Chinese people suffer China's policies. I'm not opposed to the Chinese people when I say that. China seems to subsidize with direct subsidies to lower their exported good prices, and with import tariffs on our incoming goods, and with questionable governmental policies such as the so-called "slave labor" which may very well be — or not be — the reality we hear so much about. Such policies ultimately harm those in power who wrongly think protectionist policies in any form will be a long-term answer for their country's prosperity.
In my article that you didn't seem to like in the least, I hoped to show that if you want to "protect" your country's goods and services by buying only American then perhaps you should go even farther. After all, many LewRockwell.com readers are for states' rights. Perhaps you should protect your own state's goods and services and buy only within your state. But if that's reasonable then perhaps you should buy within your own county and not give your money to those other guys in the next county. But why not just in your own town? Why not just buy within your own neighborhood?
How far do you go in your protectionist policies? The thing is, if your own neighborhood were able to produce every good and service you ever want, you couldn't afford to buy them. The worldwide division of labor means goods and services often come from unexpected places and ultimately the division of labor, even when spread out over the world, works to lower prices and make items more available to the consumer.
Money is Not My Only Concern
Surprisingly, I got many emails telling me I should be concerned about protecting America's culture. People wanted to know why I didn't want America's culture preserved.
I say that about the only true culture you find in America today is yogurt. (I didn't make up that line. I wish I did and I don't know who first said it.)
Seriously, I'm unsure how letting supply and demand forces naturally work to outsource what needs to be outsourced endangers our culture. I think bringing culture into this argument doesn't fit well into your side of the anti-outsourcing argument.
When I walk into a mall in today's America, I see a lot of public school students and recent graduates. Personally, I don't love the culture I see there. Most seem to have a chip on their shoulders. Most just look at the ground and frown as they walk. When an older adult speaks to them, they often look around like, "Why is this person talking to me?"
An acquaintance of mine calls today's government school students our Gross National Product.
There is hope with our young ones, however. It's called homeschooling. So far, in the 16 years I've been married, my bride Jayne will confirm that 100% of the time when I say to her in public, "I think that's a homeschooling family," I have been correct. (I always walk over and ask.) Spotting homeschooling families is not a feat that one should brag about, however, because it's so easy to do. The homeschooled children are happy, well-behaved, smart, polite, look adults in the eye when speaking to them, and display an amazing countenance of well-being.
When I think "culture," I incorrectly find myself thinking of museums of art, music from the philharmonic, ballet, opera, and things like that. That's not culture however. In today's world, those are little more than socialist propaganda programs paid for by stolen tax money from people who have no interest in them by the extremely low percentage of people who want to attend these events at far lower-than-retail pricing. Gary North said it correctly when he pointed out that virtually no Philharmonic in America exists today without the name of a city in their title. It's that city and surrounding towns whose stolen tax revenue is used to keep those organizations in sheet music.
What culture are we protecting? What, in today's terms, is The American Way? Is it a Spanish-speaking nation? Seems as though that's a close approximation of what I find in many parts of America.
In the emails I received, I felt almost an "America, Love it or Leave it!" attitude. I know this is a passionate issue. I didn't know how passionate.
I'm happy that Patrick Henry didn't feel he should love his country as is or leave it. He saw it as his duty to work to change it for the better.
I truly want America to be the best nation on earth. In many ways it is. But in more ways it was. What are we protecting? Today's America? I'd rather go back 50+ years first and protect what we had. But I'd still want freedom and supply and demand laws to protect it once we're back to those "good old" ways too.
Outsourcing Is a Symptom — Work to Fix the Problem, Not the Symptom
We live in a give-me culture. I don't want to protect that. I want to do away with that. The fact that I happen to think outsourcing isn't evil in and of itself has nothing to do with the fact that I don't like our give-me culture.
I want America to be competitive in the world economy today. How can it be given what we've let it become?
We have 3+ generations now born and raised on welfare. What incentive do they have to work harder? They don't know how to work harder. It's not their fault, I don't blame them. I blame the people who give them that welfare.
When I go to a customer service counter in America, sometimes I'm helped but sometimes I feel as though I committed a heinous act when I ask a question or inquire about a problem I have. I won't even discuss the problems I have with the post office and tag agency and other government offices.
For 5 years or so, my wife and I have known that every time we take our car in for a repair, we'll have to return it at least once to have it done correctly. This is true even when we purchase new tires and have them put on.
Is supply and demand enough to ensure that America remains free and strong? I think a case can be made for that but that's not the case I'm trying to make here. I'm saying that supply and demand is what is now required if you want to be able to afford to live in our country. Let supply and demand give me prices my family can afford. Let supply and demand give me products that work. That means many products have to be made by overseas workers because workers in our country often have no skills, no desire, or blindly hide behind costly socialistic labor unions.
The last 5 times we've gone through a drive-through at McDonalds, we have driven away only to find that all 5 times our order was messed up. It's not all McDonalds' fault — who else can they get to work? Does the order-taker and order-filler on the other side of that speaker care about giving me top service? Or are they counting how many minutes until their next break? I know I'm making broad, sweeping statements here but at the same time I don't make them on a lack of facts and experiences. I make them because of what I see and experience day-in and day-out.
To get quality work, many companies feel they must go elsewhere. Does America still have the hardest-working workforce in the world? No, but many here certainly still beat the pants off other countries.
The question is, are good workers — the ones who don't feel the world owes them even if they're not productive — are good workers in America getting more plentiful over time or less plentiful over time? You know the answer. Are companies who need to keep costs as low as possible but still provide goods and services to blame for the failing workforce who feels the world owes them a living directly out of school?
An Even Playing Field Lets America Compete
I got many emails telling me that we don't compete against an even playing field. Slave labor, cheaper wages, foreign government subsidies all work to stack the odds against us. I was told that only when we increase our import taxes will prices finally be fair and equal. That is socialism. Why do you rally against socialism everywhere else but not here?
One of my passions is studying marketing. Competing on price alone is the hardest way to be successful.
When Wal-Mart comes to town, the mantra is always, "They'll put the small store owners out of business." That certainly happens, but as marketer Dan Kennedy so wisely points out, the smart store owners don't go out of business. They know they don't have to compete on price alone. They have several advantages over Wal-Mart: customer service before and after the sale, premium products, delivery options, special order abilities, and heck, they might even know many of their customers by name. There are so many ways to compete other than lowest price, it's Wal-Mart who should quake in fear when they move into the middle of small, successful businesses.
Our labor laws are so strict, it's difficult to fire anyone. You'll be sued. It's difficult to hire a healthy workforce due to the evils of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Our welfare has destroyed the incentive of millions to work hard or give top service and an honest day's work. Litigation costs soar which means insurance costs soar. We're not allowed to drill in the middle of nowhere in Alaska so our energy prices continue to soar. 17,000 scientists worldwide signed a document stating that man-made global warming has absolutely no basis in fact and that document is ignored by the world's governments in favor of hamstringing free nations with regulations.
So please, if we want an even playing field, let's first fix it so it's we play without a deck stacked against us before we chastise American companies for going overseas to find help they can afford and who will do the work.
This is why I say outsourcing is a symptom and not an evil.
If American companies were not hammered day-in and day-out with massive regulations, then and only then will the playing field be leveled! Will the American workforce then work as cheaply as foreign workforces? No, because then we will be able to return to being global leaders by example who produce the best goods money can by, the goods that other countries want as their populations grow economically which happens when we succeed.
I'd much rather build a third-world nation through hiring them to take over our mundane, mindless labor needs while our country concentrates on more productive aspects of goods and services. That would happen if we leveled our playing field and gave American companies freedom from the strangling regulations and laws and protectionist bunk. Instead, we send billions of dollars overseas in foreign aid while we gripe and groan about outsourcing. Outsourcing is the result of Americans making decisions to compete. Foreign aid is the result of theft of the taxpayer.
The symptom of outsourcing would virtually disappear if we fixed the real problems in our country. If we do something stupid, like keep blaming our problems on outsourcing and screaming that our government do something to fix it, then we will continue to fall further behind other nations in our economic growth.
April 25, 2006
Greg Perry [send him mail] is the pistol-packing author of more than 75 books. What he does best is teach others how to maximize their eBay income. That's because he smashes his eBay competitors by implementing time-proven Direct Marketing techniques that others completely ignore. If you've ever considered eBay, you'll make far more money when you read his newest book, eXtreme eBay — How to Quickly Apply the Most Powerful Direct Marketing Techniques in the World to Every Item You Sell on eBay.
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