Sunday, January 06, 2008

Barack Obama is an enemy of outsourcing

What?! Outsourcing is “a form of violence similar to the Virginia Tech killing?” That’s crazy, but Barack Obama, fresh from winning the Iowa caucus, thinks so. I thought all along he has the most realistic view about globalization and outsourcing among the US presidential candidates. Now he is pandering to the mob to fortify his lead over Clinton and Edwards who are both protectionist in their rhetorics. In his speech lately, courtesy of the Texas Rainmaker, Obama said:

“There’s also another kind of violence that we’re going to have to think about. It’s not necessarily the physical violence, but the violence that we perpetrate on each other in other ways,” he said, and goes on to catalogue other forms of “violence.”

There’s the “verbal violence” of Imus.

There’s “the violence of men and women who have worked all their lives and suddenly have the rug pulled out from under them because their job is moved to another country.”
I don’t have to react to this, for the blogosphere has plenty. Consider this one by Radley Balko of Reason Hit and Run :

"No one has the "right" to be paid by someone else for their labor. Employment in a free market is peaceful and voluntary, on both sides. So is the decision to stop that agreement, both for the laborer, who may find a better job, or for the employer, who may find someone who can do the job better, or cheaper, or both. There's nothing remotely violent about any of it. To compare a business decision to employ cheaper labor to the senseless slaughter of innocents--even if by way of tortured, nonsensical metaphor--is really reprehensible. It reeks of exploitation."

Ah politicians. They are the same all over the world. Now, surely this statement may have sent shivers down the spine of the American corporate economy that is benefitting immensely from global outsourcing.


gbd said...

do u agree with Mr. Balko? Is Employment always peaceful on BOTH sides? No. Being fired means the relationship is terminated, because the employer.

What does Obama mean in his speech? What is violence? Simply put, violence is the use of power by one party to create an outcome, or inuit a result, unwanted by the other. Murder is an (obvious) example.

It is apparent that many things in life are violent. But i think the message is that we should fight violence, in all its forms.

The devil is in the details however. The correct antidote for a particular form of violence is context dependent. Lay-offs are violent. Is the solution to BAN lay-offs? I doubt Obama believes that. Frankly, i don't know what he wants to do about outsourcing. To say he is an enemy of outsourcing is a slight exaggeration, don't you agree?

But based on his other pronouncements on cap and trade, he seems to understand trade-offs/sacrifice. Check out Mankiw's blog for a transcript of the pre-NH debate. The key for obama is to transform the concept of 'violence' into the notion of 'sacrifice'. You have to get people to agree with you and get a mandate on policy, despite the very real costs of such a policy.

Deany Bocobo said...

amazing how complex the issues really are! and how many of them there are!

Dave Llorito said...

gabby: yeah, "obama as enemy of outsourcing" is an exaggeration in the same manner that equating outsourcing violence is an exaggeration.

Anonymous said...

A line uttered in the spur of the moment may not truly reflect one's considered opinion. I think Obama doesn't really mean to oppose American jobs going overseas. A long process awaits before such statement translates into a policy or action.

Anonymous said...

not think Obama is an enemy of outsourcing. You cannot be a rational person and oppose outsourcing. The world is a very small place now and outsourcing is inevitable.What Obama meant by 'rug being pulled out from under their feet' was of companies severing employees WITHOUT adequate compensation. It is the business practice of letting employees go that need rethinking and fine tuning, not outsourcing per se.