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Sunday, May 30, 2004

The jobless recovery and offshore outsourcing by Michael corbett

That companies are offshoring work at a growing rate is certainly true. That offshore outsourcing, which began decades ago in manufacturing, is now expanding to include some of the most highly skilled jobs we have is also true. And that these jobs are gone and will never come back may be true, too.However, that the causes are misguidedness, short-sightedness or even evil business leaders is not true. And that the solution is to stop the practice is even less true.It's hard to watch in the US, images of highly paid executives getting taken away in handcuffs and not feel betrayed. But to extrapolate from that and elevate offshoring to the level of treason is wrong. Yes, offshoring does involve taking advantage of "cheap foreign labor." But let's be fair. Americans love cheap. Wal-Mart Stores, the largest U.S. company, is famous for its low prices. Customers love Wal-Mart. That Wal-Mart is, all on its own, one of China's top trading partners doesn't slow down the American appetite for what the mega-retailer does or how it does it. Does this make Wal-Mart bad? Of course not. In fact, Wal-Mart just topped Fortune's list of America's most-admired companies. As consumers, we demand the lowest possible price and the highest possible quality. If an American company can't deliver it--sorry; we'll buy from whoever can, American or not.The simple truth is that offshoring is not the result of a few Benedict Arnolds. It's a result of the relentless pressure on businesses to take advantage of every opportunity available to them to reduce costs, increase quality and add to profits.Stopping offshoring--or imposing a moratorium, as some have suggested--would simply put U.S. companies at the mercy of their foreign competitors
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