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Outsourcing and India

  • Sep. 26th, 2008 at 10:34 PM
views_livemint

This is Anil from Mint. Many thanks for replying so promptly....

As some of you have pointed out that outsourcing more than the entry of skilled workers is the key issue.

Are either Obama or McCain being forced by the voters to take a stand on the subject; as it did figure in the democratic primaries.

Is the ire of voters directed against any single country? India for instance?

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galbinus_caeli wrote:
Sep. 26th, 2008 05:06 pm (UTC)
It is not India's fault that they have a pool of skilled workers who are able to work for lower wages than US workers. The problem is US trade policy.
lifeismagic wrote:
Sep. 26th, 2008 05:18 pm (UTC)
any opinions i've heard expressed on the matter have been directed against the companies who outsource, not against the countries who get the work. i've never heard any ire directed at india, but against companies who put the bottom line above keeping jobs here. but that's just business, isn't it?
nightsinger wrote:
Sep. 26th, 2008 05:25 pm (UTC)
I agree with this. The countries don't get the blame (why should we blame them for working in their own best interests when it's freely offered??), but the companies who outsource do.

The focus for fixing it, at least per Obama's speeches, is more on providing tax incentives to keep jobs in the U.S., rather than anything putative. I have to admit I haven't really seen McCain touch on the subject with any specificity.
(no subject) - madelinekrieger - Sep. 26th, 2008 08:00 pm (UTC) Expand
(no subject) - mamagaea - Sep. 26th, 2008 06:09 pm (UTC) Expand
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(no subject) - mamagaea - Sep. 26th, 2008 06:27 pm (UTC)
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elfgrove wrote:
Sep. 26th, 2008 05:28 pm (UTC)
I haven't really seen oursourcing being made as big of a deal in this election as immigration reform has been. I haven't heard much (if any) commentary on outsourcing from the canidates. Living in South California --where there are an insane number of illegal immigrants from Mexico-- probably does skew what I hear from the media a large bit though.

As a computer programmer myself, outsourcing worries me. And the chief contenders for my field (at least according to industry rumors and the media) are groups within China and India, so I do see them as the primary concern. It's competition in my job market. It's natural to worry and be upset.

I think you'll find the average american (partuicularly the less computer savvy) will point at Mexico and India as the primary reciepients of ire in the outsourcing department.

This is partially because your average American hears more on the news about tech sector jobs being out sourced to India, and when they call the help lines after their computer experiences problems, they're very likely to get an Indian call center. Your Average Joe is already upset becuse his computer is broken, and gets someone with a thick Indian accent introducing himself as "John" or "Jeff" --obviously a lie. The lie, difficulty understanding the tech due to an unfamiliar accent or bad phone lines, and stress over the broken equipment only adds to the stress and frustration. So when Average Joe hangs up the line, he's angry. And he's more acutely aware that US jobs are being outsourced to India. So who is Average Joe angry with? The company that outsorced the help line, and India in general. Not saying the anger is entirely right, but it's the logic train of why India gets more ire. It's more visible to the average American.

I say Mexico too, because many companies that involve hard labor and assembly lines are setting up shop for thier factories just on the other side of the Mexican border. It's close enough to the US to keep tabs on easily. Restrictions on on things like safety, cleanlieness, factory inspections are more relaxed. Labor is cheaper. Everything is cheaper and less regulated. It saves the company money. And Average Joe loses his job, or knows someone who has, when a US factory was shut down and a new one opened South of the border. Average Joe --once again-- is angry and frustrated.
_xaipe_ wrote:
Sep. 27th, 2008 01:35 pm (UTC)
Solid observations. I'm a tech writer for a software developer, and you're right: There's a lot of outsourcing to India and China that's so behind the scenes that most Americans don't concern themselves with it because it's outside of their everyday experiences.

It's interesting to me how if you vaguely talk about "immigration issues" with someone, unless you really key in to their demographic, you really have no idea what they're actually envisioning: A hard-to-understand guy in Delhi who's fielding an AmEx call? An overly-attentive Peruvian(assumed to be Mexican) water boy at a Greek restaurant? A project that's been split with a contractor in China so that development can continue round-the-clock? A vaguely Middle Eastern taxi driver? A Korean woman who does 15-minute manicures?

Emotionally, I don't have a problem with immigration of any sort. I think it's natural for humans to migrate to where opportunities are, and I celebrate their drive and ability to do so. I'm the child of an immigrant (South America) and the girlfriend of one (India). But then rationally I know that there has to be some sort of balance and/or growth to protect our economy here, otherwise "this sucker's going down." I dunno, just rambling.
zumayabooks wrote:
Sep. 26th, 2008 05:30 pm (UTC)
Mr. Obama's intent to energize (pun intended) the alternative energy industry would, he says, create as many as 5 million jobs in the US that couldn't be outsourced. I've not read any details about how that would happen, but so-called "green-collar jobs" are definitely being created and hungry for workers.

I also suspect that much of the dissatisfaction with outsourcing in general has to do with middle-grade employees and managers who are dropped because their functions have been outsourced while upper-management compensation just gets more and more stratospheric. Many of these displaced workers face age discrimination in addition to the infamous "you're overqualified" excuse when they seek new work.

It's a more complex issue than simply hiring out work to lower-paid workers in other countries.
lariatq wrote:
Sep. 26th, 2008 06:29 pm (UTC)
Outsourcing Jobs is nothing new.
Outsourcing was never a problem when it was the lowest paid, unskilled, and dangerous jobs being sent to China, India, and the largely Hindi workforce in South America. Locally, in Minnesota, it was a charming "human interest" story when teen aged workers from Holland were brought into the area for summer jobs.

Illegal workers from Mexico were scarcely discussed, and generally accepted, while they were performing the same low wage, unskilled, and generally avoided jobs. Field work on farms, Porters in local bars or restaurants, and other low rung janitorial services.

This goes back to the hate literature of the eighties, starting with the racist "America Balkanized". Based on the theme that if the United States should ever reach a non-white majority in the general population, it would basically bring about the destruction of "Western" culture and civilization.

As for Mexico, the United States of America had no problem consuming cheap resources for more than 150 years. Establishing strong unions such
the American Federation of Labor, and Congress of Industrial Organization,
which joined with the Canadian Labor Council and benefited mightily from the jobs created and sustained in manufacturing those cheap materials.
The union officials who today rally their members against illegal workers from Mexico and outsourcing of better jobs, made almost no effort whatsoever to organize unions in either Central or South America throughout the twentieth century. Nations, if it needs to be pointed out, as close as Canada.

The problem has been the "entrepreneurs" of Capitalist excess, who happily continued paying Central and South American workers barely sustenance wages, with no benefits, and smiley promises of "no taxes";
(Hence, no social infrastructure, schools, transportation systems, or basic emergency services.) in exchange for those cheap resources that fed the American Industrial engines.

The same charges often leveled against European nations, for their treatment of African Nations and peoples can consistently be applied to our own nation, and our conduct towards Central and South America.

The dream of the Japanese Emperor and Leadership, through the second world war, was to impose the same conditions on the Pacific Islands, China, and India, through their "Co-Prosperity Sphere".

No political candidate, wants to speak on this issue. The blame to be passed around would cover too many constituencies.

Most Americans become violently defensive, or quietly embarrassed when facing the reality of the issue.

It is my hope that one or more of the candidates will clear this whole thing up, and allow some measure of dignity to the American people in dealing with other nations and their peoples.
tabaqui wrote:
Sep. 26th, 2008 05:45 pm (UTC)
Exactly what elfgrove said. People are angry because of the chain of events and what they personally experience, but if they can be talked down, I think most people see sense and realize that the companies that are being allowed to take jobs overseas - so their profits can increase so hugely without having to 'share' them with US workers - are the ones that are really at fault. They and the govt. agencies/policies that allowed it to happen in the first place.

The same, in my opinion, with immigration. Companies shouldn't be allowed to offer a pennies-on-the-dollar type of salary to workers just because they're illegal and taking whatever they can get. That hurts the worker - who's trapped and doesn't dare complain about anything, or ever have the opportunity to advance or get benefits - and it hurts the US economy in that area, since out-of-work Americans can't exactly support the businesses around them. Ultimately, the govt. needs to correct its policies.
spittingkitty wrote:
Sep. 26th, 2008 05:50 pm (UTC)
I don't think either candidate is being forced to make an issue out of the outsourcing of jobs because there is too much in the media about our borders to the south. But when you take the issue out of the political extremes, there is much more concern about overseas outsourcing. Immigration may be a strain on our social services, but the average American doesn't want the types of jobs being taken by illegal immigrants.

It is those mid-level jobs from telecommunications to the tech sector that are a bigger concern. It makes for more interesting television to watch people spew racism at their lawn guy than to look at all of the Computer Science majors who can't find a job. When your focus is on those job losses, India becomes the poster country for the problem of outsourcing. As one of the above posters noted, when you call customer or technical support and reach an Indian call center, it's an easy connection to make.

All of that said, it is what it is. India is in a unique position thanks to a government that has put a lot of money into technology infrastructure and a pool of willing and able workers. We are a global economy and the United States needs to come to grips with that and be very careful how it handles protectionism.

I do find it interesting that everyone complains about Mexico and India, but happily goes to Walmart to buy products imported from China that used to be made in this country.
hoppytoad79 wrote:
Sep. 26th, 2008 05:56 pm (UTC)
I've heard grumblings about the "red dots" who need to learn to speak English but that's within the larger complaining about outsourcing and the companies that do it.

I'd like to add to elfgrove's comments on tech support coming from India, and call centers in general being in India. I respect that the Indians who staff the call centers have taken the time to learn English and use it almost exclusively on the job and it's not the workers I, and others I know, have a problem with. It's that, like lycorne said, the accents are often thick enough it's very hard to understand the person, and I've called tech support for my computer only to get a man with a thick accent who knew even less about my computer, the problem, and how to fix it than I did, not to mention his grasp of English wasn't the strongest so I was having to repeat myself often and speaker slower and enunciate when I did. If the companies are going to ship jobs overseas that serve English-speaking customers, it would be nice if they'd staff the call centers with people whose accents are thick enough to cut with a knife and, in the case of tech support, actually have the knowledge and training to be of assistance. I blame the companies exclusively for hiring and training practices and the outsourcing, and I know the Indians working the call centers are just trying to earn a paycheck to pay the bills the same as Americans. With the economy as lousy here as it is, outsourcing is an even larger bone of contention

I've found Americans see all Hispanics as Mexicans and blame Mexico pretty much exclusively for illegal immigration, outsourcing in the western hemisphere...any problem that can be attached to Hispanics, Mexico and Mexicans get the blame. That a large percentage of illegal immigrants are from Central and South America is something the majority of Americans are totally ignorant of.
the_demon79 wrote:
Sep. 26th, 2008 06:14 pm (UTC)
Unless I am mistaken, English is a fairly common language in India due to the prior occupation by the British, and is at least in some part still one of the official languages of the state. One of the reasons it is difficult for speakers of American English... again from my own understanding... is that Indian English is a form of the language that the speaker has already been using casually on their own long before one needs to communicate with American speakers. And it bears more resemblance to the quirks and usages of the British anyway, a double-strike for those of us not used to working alongside people from the Indian subcontinent.

Most of this is what I've gathered and assumed, someone please correct me where I err.
(no subject) - hoppytoad79 - Sep. 26th, 2008 06:48 pm (UTC) Expand
(no subject) - the_demon79 - Sep. 26th, 2008 06:58 pm (UTC) Expand
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(no subject) - the_demon79 - Sep. 26th, 2008 07:25 pm (UTC) Expand
(no subject) - hoppytoad79 - Sep. 26th, 2008 07:34 pm (UTC) Expand
(no subject) - galbinus_caeli - Sep. 26th, 2008 07:14 pm (UTC) Expand
(no subject) - mamagaea - Sep. 26th, 2008 06:15 pm (UTC) Expand
(no subject) - hoppytoad79 - Sep. 26th, 2008 06:57 pm (UTC) Expand
(no subject) - the_demon79 - Sep. 26th, 2008 07:02 pm (UTC) Expand
the_demon79 wrote:
Sep. 26th, 2008 06:46 pm (UTC)
Obama's stance on trade globalization:
http://www.barackobama.com/issues/economy/#trade

McCain's:
http://www.johnmccain.com/Issues/JobsforAmerica/trade.htm

Democrats and Republicans both share a strange dichotomy when it comes to our nation's place in the world culturally and economically. The right doesn't mind having business cross borders, but wants the gates closed against foreign culture. The left says business should stay domestic to prevent exploitation of foreign workers, but supports multiculturalism.

Neither campaign specifically uses white collar jobs as the example of trade globalism, though. The image typically invoked as the touchstone for the evils of multinational corporations' hiring practices are kids slaving away in Chinese sweatshops sewing clothes for next to nothing. The greater public doesn't rally around the IT/Comm sector being trimmed down, especially considering the ridiculous level of inflation in the industry during the late 90s and the steady growth in it despite outsourcing.

As a computer programmer myself, I'm not terribly worried about tech jobs going to India. Don't get me wrong, the effects ARE felt. I know a guy whose department was dissolved due to funding and he has had problems finding employment due to "under-specialization." IT has been made a niche market by outsourcing. It's just that the sorts of jobs I'd ever consider pursuing aren't impacted.
kwsapphire wrote:
Sep. 26th, 2008 07:13 pm (UTC)
I don't think voters are concerned with this issue at the moment. Or rather, not concerned enough to want to grill the candidates about it until we get our economy back on its feet. I think Americans are in panic mode at the moment, and most of the issues are going to continue to take a back seat for a while.
hoppytoad79 wrote:
Sep. 26th, 2008 07:22 pm (UTC)
Americans are definitely more focused on the here-and-now and the immediate, but jobs being overseas is definitely a sorer issue than it used to be. Not looking at the bigger picture and seeing what part outsourcing might play in the outcome of the economic crisis seems like a mistake to me.
tyskkvinna wrote:
Sep. 26th, 2008 07:38 pm (UTC)
Here (Michigan), the main concern - which is directly tied to financial problems - is the lack of jobs. People don't really care if there aren't jobs because they're being outsourced to Mexico (most common here) or India or if because they're being taken over by robots (that are also heading to Mexico!). The bottom line is there is a severe lack of jobs, and consequently a high unemployment rate, and you end up with people who can longer afford to support themselves.

We have students here heading into university with the understanding that if they stay in the area after finishing their studies, they won't have jobs! But a lot of students also aren't sure where exactly to go instead.

I definitely haven't seen any hostility or disdain towards the people in other countries where the jobs are going. Though I did note an interesting comment from an Indian immigrant I know in town who runs a small grocery store. He said to me the other day, "I came to this country for jobs - but now, maybe we should start sending students to mine."

At any rate, I haven't seen it be directly impacted in the election. Just the overall financial implication that comes with it.
ephom wrote:
Sep. 26th, 2008 07:58 pm (UTC)
I don't see outsourcing as a huge problem. The problem I see is that people who have worked in a field such as call tech support are not readily able to be trained for a new skill or trade. It's like being a ditch digger your whole life then seeing one man in a Caterpillar take your job as well as all your buddies jobs. The ditch digger did one thing his whole life, dig ditches. Now that he can not find work in that area he has to find a new skill or trade. In Alabama, where I live, we have a program for displaced workers to learn new skills. There is also a great tech school in my county so a lot of the local citizens get to take advantage of that.
(no subject) - erynn999 - Sep. 26th, 2008 10:36 pm (UTC) Expand
(no subject) - ephom - Sep. 26th, 2008 10:46 pm (UTC) Expand
deckardb26354 wrote:
Sep. 26th, 2008 08:14 pm (UTC)
I always get a big laugh when people start blaming corporate greed for things like outsourcing. Frankly, it’s the overblown expectations of the work force and inflated costs of goods and services sold to US consumers that has created the problem at hand. Every time a Union negotiates more pay for workers, or the minimum wage goes up, the cost of the goods created by those companies go up to compensate so that they can stay in business. It’s a vicious cycle that will only keep getting worse, and puts us in a position to be unable to compete on the global market scene (which lets face it, is where big companies MUST be competitive to survive).

Company’s are in business to make a profit, and they need to stay competitive to do this. If there is no chance for a profit, they close their doors and disappear from the face of the marketplace. Darwinism in another form. And if they go under, ALL of the jobs are lost (think US Steel industry). How does that help anyone in the workforce? When faced with closing your company or outsourcing some of your work force, which do you think is the better option?

If a company has a hard time competing in their perspective marketplace, there are only a few things that they can really do to ease the pain:

- Cut costs and scale back operations
- Invent a new product/service and innovate

Innovation is often the riskiest move, since you never know if your new product or service is going to even take off and be successful, so many companies are forced to put the bulk of their efforts into scaling back and cutting costs (especially in a tough environmental climate such as the one we are in today). The biggest cost for any business is always personnel and it’s the area where the most money can be saved through things such as outsourcing. Most other costs are fixed and you don’t have much control over.

The more money that can be saved, the better shape the company will be in to survive and stay competitive. Unfortunately, American workers generally aren’t willing to take a pay cut to keep their jobs, so what else do you do to stay competitive and in business?

Consumers want to pay the least amount for the goods they buy, but they want to make more and more money without taking into account that the prices they pay are a direct result of the income they demand. If people want outsourcing to end, then they need to be willing to watch our entire economy scale back down to levels that would match better to the rest of the world. Cost of goods and services need to be reduced so that workers can be paid less and still maintain a good lifestyle.

In other words, we can’t have our cake and eat it too. We have to be willing to adapt or become extinct. Profits are important, just as economies of scale are important to keep everything in balance. The “evil greedy” corporations are the ones that create the jobs that keep us all making money. Without them, we’re living in the dark ages all over again.


Edited at 2008-09-26 08:19 pm (UTC)
xiv_gemina wrote:
Sep. 26th, 2008 10:47 pm (UTC)
Pfft!
Your justification for outsourcing would hold a lot more (i.e. some) water if the only companies that were outsourcing were those under direct threat of going bust.

The reality is that the Board members, Senior execs and major shareholders all make lots and lots more Lovely Profit for *themselves* by outsourcing production so that they can sack ordinary Americans.
And by blackmailing State/National Govt into exempting them from tax if they keep a plant in the USA.
The Corporations still, of course, sell their products in America at prices commensurate with having to pay an American workforce.

So: ordinary Americans get laid-off, the Govt receives less revenue, the rich get even richer even quicker.

The unfettered-free-market model of globalisation (of which outsourcing is a part) is turning the whole world into the Third World - a vast mass of uneducated serfs working long hours for low pay in the unsafe polluting factories (and paying rent to live in the hideous slums) owned by a parasitic class of hereditarily-wealthy dilettantes.

What do you think will happen in America once every job has been outsourced?
Re: Pfft! - deckardb26354 - Sep. 26th, 2008 11:56 pm (UTC) Expand
Re: Pfft! - xiv_gemina - Sep. 27th, 2008 10:14 pm (UTC) Expand
Re: Pfft! - deckardb26354 - Sep. 29th, 2008 04:11 pm (UTC) Expand
Re: Pfft! - xiv_gemina - Sep. 29th, 2008 06:44 pm (UTC) Expand
Re: Pfft! - xiv_gemina - Sep. 29th, 2008 06:45 pm (UTC) Expand
Re: Pfft! - xiv_gemina - Sep. 29th, 2008 06:48 pm (UTC) Expand
Re: Pfft! - xiv_gemina - Sep. 29th, 2008 06:51 pm (UTC) Expand
Re: Pfft! - deckardb26354 - Sep. 29th, 2008 08:00 pm (UTC) Expand
stchaz wrote:
Sep. 26th, 2008 09:07 pm (UTC)
I see many people in these posts blaming America for exploiting the foreign worker. The money earned is propably more than they could make otherwise. Having a job may give them a certain social status and not to mention the satisfaction of a job well done. There is something to be said for work. Look at all the advances that came from this country. The whole world benefits from this. You have to start somewhere. As we learn more about the new items faults, it is improved and also gets a new model number.
Outsourcing of workers has been going on for a long time. It is a buyers market and they are free to find the lowest overhead they can and in turn, we hope, they pass that savings on to us. Far worse is the removal of companies to other countries. One of my friends worked
on the Y2K bug fixes in 1998-99 and told me that the number of big US companies moving to Mexico was unbelieveable. He also told me that the Y2K scare was BS. It was going to be a speedbump.
Here in South Carolina, there has been increased activity by law enforcement to crack down on illegal activities. Mostly within the business community. Eliminate the jobs and "workers" self deport.
As far as ire toward India, I'd say no. The thing I hear most is the pollution in India of the water, land and air and its effects on the rest of us. A charge we are used to also.
xiv_gemina wrote:
Sep. 26th, 2008 11:03 pm (UTC)
"The whole world benefits from this"
I can see how the men who OWN the Company benefit from this, but I need you to explain to me how the suddenly-unemployed American citizen benefits from this - especially when half the population of his town is now also suddenly out of work too.

I also look forward to reading your cost/benefit analysis of exactly how much improvement is derived by the people overseas who suddenly find themselves working in and living by a factory that has been sited there by the Corporation precisely because there are NO local laws requiring minimum standards of Health & Safety, restrictions on Emissions, Pollution by toxic waste, Working Time regulations, or workforce rights.

Particularly when it has been sited in a country (such as Ecuador) whose Government has been 'persuaded' by metanational Corporations to take minimum levels of taxation from the Company, and which will allow them to remove ALL the capital investment at any time that they wish to. Countries where the Govt can not afford to educate their citizens because the Govt's income is too low to pay for schools.

"and in turn, we hope, they pass that savings on to us"
But the thing is that they DON'T 'pass the savings on to us' - those go straight into the major shareholders' and Board members' offshore Bank Accounts.

Americans get thrown out of work and cannot find any more, citizens of the countries to which the jobs have been outsourced get to live out their lives in conditions familiar to anyone who has ever read any Dickens.
Outsourcing - century75 - Sep. 26th, 2008 11:54 pm (UTC) Expand
andartos wrote:
Sep. 26th, 2008 11:34 pm (UTC)
outsourcing, and "illegal" immigrants
I agree with most, if not all, of what is being said here. While living in Florida, I was touring a corporate-owned strawberry farm. The managers, supervisors, and growers were all American. *All* of the pickers, sorters, and boxers - the manual laborers - were Latinos and Latinas, *none* of them were US citizens. The farm manager stated without batting an eye that if it were not for illegal immigrant workers there would be *no* handpicked crops grown in the United States, because Americans refuse to do the work even for above minimum wage.

The fault lies not with the corporations, and certainly not with the people willing to work for less money, but with those who do not take it into their own hands to work. We are so convinced that we are owed certain things by our employers and government that we have painted ourselves into a corner. No wonder Wal-Mart buys from China, or Office Tiger is based in India. That is freemarket capitalism. Many American products are shoddy and over priced, and the pride workers took in their work is gone. Services in the US, frankly suck. Few people actually take the time to be friendly and helpful because, well, its just a job to them, a paycheck and nothing more.

Case in point, my company, FedExKinkos, used to use a US-based document creation service. The work was late, not done according to instructions, and frequently the bill was outrageously padded. We switched to Office Tiger, an India-based company. Quality of work and service shot up immediately, while the price went noticeably down. When our old company learned we were shopping around for a new provider, did they attempt to woo us back by providing better service or cutting their prices? No. And I'm not surprised that they are in financial difficulty.
engoulevent wrote:
Sep. 27th, 2008 06:19 am (UTC)
Which is it?
"Company’s are in business to make a profit"

"First off, you can't generalize that all company's outsourcing are doing it only to add to their profit line."

Companies are not outsourcing because they're concerned about the employment status of the foreign worker. Nonetheless I understand your point. However corporations were established to serve the common good. Treating employees with respect by showing concern for workplace hazards,
for the employees physical and mental well-being should not be looked
upon as disregard for the profit line. Unfortunately our stock holder system looks only at the bottom line and not at the overall health of the corporation. With CEOs content to take home $ 10 million dollars as the
company implodes. leaving employees and stockholders empty-handed ....well you can't blame the unions for gross and overwhelming greed of
corporate execs.
Innovation does not happen in a vacuum. For some reason this culture feels that certain individuals are successful because they have been extraordinarily clever or hard working or both. Although this may be true, humanity in general is clever and hard-working, and many "successful" individuals have been able to capitalize on the progress of their predecessors or peers.
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