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Friday, November 07, 2003

On Outsourcing to India, II

John Edwards, my candidate of choice out of the Democrats, is blogging over at Lawrence Lessig's place. He discusses outsourcing to India etc. in a delightfully sensible manner: he does not call for barriers to make sure no non-Americans can work for American companies; he does not make the (often overtly) racist complaints some people make about the Asians taking the tech jobs; instead, he calls for America to produce enough adequately trained people and systems that the companies feel no need to look overseas. Several of his comments are sensible as well:
Is there necessarily a link between increased technology jobs in China and India (examples that you gave) and lost jobs for Americans? I am not so convinced that the data supports that conclusion; the technology sector is growing horizontally, not just vertically. However, even if Americans are “losing” jobs to China and India, I’m not so convinced that this is a problem. America has benefited for decades from intellectual flight from other countries, but technology now creates an opportunity for intellectuals to stay at home and bring value not only to America (as Americans and others hire and use their expertise) but also to boost their own economies by staying at home (not that immigrants should not be welcome, of course we should welcome them should they want to leave their homelands – many, however, do not, and technology now allows them to stay at home and make a decent living). In the U.S. we are a flexible, growing economy. Silicon Valley has had its bumps, but from a larger perspective the U.S. is still very close to what has been traditionally believed to be the static unemployment level. I think we’re all better off by using the increasingly better intellects of the Chinese and Indian technology minds: doing so is in fact an example of a strength of U.S. entrepreneurism, not a problem with it; using the best minds worldwide and creating great new products from them. Also, increasing labor standards worldwide is a noble objective, but don’t you think that doing so is often a (perhaps caché) form of market protectionism?

Some commenters are very protectionist; some point out that overseas salaries are extremely high for that country; some discuss the futility of any attempt to provide equally cheap and trained labor over here; some are snarky; one says Edwards proposes increased tax cuts for R&D; some post Indymedia articles in toto (!); and some make the anti-immigrant (and anti-naturalized-citizen) arguments Edwards wisely avoids (although one commenter thinks he's made them).

While I disagree strongly with him on several points, and would not vote for him (although at one point, before he'd defined all his positions, I thought I might), I do wish Edwards had a chance at winning the nomination. He's definitely not the worst of the bunch.


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