The Overseas Threat
Last night, sitting on a barstool with friend who works for the IT department of a large organizations, our conversation drifted to the topic that's on every IT person's mind who works in the Western hemisphere. The Indian invasion. Of course it was jobs we were talking about and India is by no means the only country that's taking the IT jobs away. But somehow due to its pro-IT policies and the prevalence and resourcefulness of its programmers, it has become the symbol of blame for the current disgruntled masses.
My friend was expressing that the accountants at his company bill the average American IT worker at $70 per hour while the outsourced work gets billed at $20 per hour. What would I do if I was the top boss in that company? What any one of us would, go with the cheaper supplier of course. That's business and business has no heart and soul. Thankfully, I am not a big shot boss and belong to the majority who either have lost their jobs or feel they will be out of work soon. The unfortunate fact is that many of these jobs won't ever come back. How could they? With such giant expense disparities there can be no doubt that these jobs are exported overseas permanently. Manufacturing never came back, no reason to believe that IT jobs ever will either.
Surprisingly, my friend has accepted the situation as global fairness. In his view, Western countries cannot indefinitely monopolize certain areas of trade and lock out the rest of the world. the lob-sided global distribution of wealth that exists today could result in generating scorn and hatred by the poverty-stricken countries and could eventually lead to acts of terrorism, riots, war and anarchy on the global level. If Indian programmers are allowed to compete with their Western counterparts, then a more just distribution of wealth will result and a more balanced status would emerge.
I sympathize with the plight of the poor around the world, but allowing such unbridled competition for jobs is at best reckless. I believe that the government has a responsibility to its people who have worked hard years only to see their dreams dashed by the swarms of cheap labor. If companies want to hire labor from other countries, they should be required to pay a tariff for each foreign worker to give local workers a fighting chance.
But there is yet a second point to all this. There is enormous wealth in many of these countries already. It may be in the form of oil, or mineral deposits or tourism, real estate, or niche industries. The problem is that the riches of these countries are predominantly controlled by a corrupt few and their cohorts whose opulence generally surpasses even the standards of excessive wealth in the west. The truth in most cases is that the cheap worker will only get to see a tiny fraction of the proceeds collected by the fattened offshore companies.
If wealth should indeed be more fairly distributed, perhaps it's time to start the trend locally in each country first.