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November 01, 2003

Exporting Jobs: Protectionism

A month ago I wrote down a few of my thoughts about a study that was released predicting accelerating “exporting” of jobs overseas. (“Exporting” is not a very good term for this, but it is what the media appears to be stuck on, I’m not so sure “off-shoring” is much better though.) Two days ago I received an email blasting me for being a protectionist. Huh? Nowhere in my thoughts did I advocate any protectionist strategies. The fact is the issue has me torn in many ways. I am among the unemployed ex-tech workers, I know all too well the realities of a jobless “recovery.” So you could probably understand that I am, on an emotional level at least, angered when I read about more jobs going overseas when extremely competent and skilled tech workers remain un or under employed here.

I am not, however a supporter of protectionism. Globalization is not going away, even if I did want it to. The fact is that I don’t. I have spent enough time in impoverished (economically) nations and globalization could help ease some of the issues in those nations—help raise the standard of living for those wonderful people I met and worked with. Unfortunately this means some economic stress here at home while we (collectively as a society with the governments both local and national) figure out a way to handle the loss of jobs.

That is where I think we need to focus our attention, not on stopping the loss of jobs to other countries—although I am not convinced that there wouldn’t be long term advantages locally and globally if we can slow that process somewhat–but rather on finding ways to promote the production of new jobs, even if they are in radically different sectors. That is what I asked in my original posting: “How do we create more jobs domestically to replace those being exported?”

I am not skilled or educated enough in economics to even begin to offer a suggestion, I am just thinking aloud and expressing my concern, not so much of the jobs going over seas but for the lack of any new jobs for those often highly skilled workers who are joining the unemployed. I cringe every time I hear of the “jobless recovery.” For myself, I am returning to creative endeavors and hoping to turn those into my income. My path will not create any new jobs for others, but may, at least in time, remove me from the ranks of the long term (almost 3 years now) unemployed—which by the way the current indicators have no real way of measuring.

I wrote this in part because of the email I received, which in truth upset me for a while, I will chalk up much of the tone of the letter to language barrier. I wasn’t going to write anything here, but then I read BurningBird’s thought (similar to mine) on this subject. Her entry for the 31st of October was the thorny issue of off-shoring jobs. It compelled me to write my thoughts down in part for myself—that is after all, in part, what this spot is for–and in part as an answer to that email. 

Raf: Please re-read the original posting, then re-read what I said here. I would love for every person on the face of the Earth to have the exact same educational and economic opportunities, just as you would. Unfortunately that is a long, long way off. Right now globalization can help even the tables, but it will do little good if it comes from long term economic stagnation or recession in existing strong economies. We need all of the nation’s economies to grow together, large (relatively) stable economies slowly but steadily, while the smaller more repressed economies need to grow more quickly, but with a sustainable rate. To sacrifice one economic entity for another does not seem to me to create a long term stable global economy. Like you, I am concerned about how the current situation will play out for myself and those around me. We both want our family and our nation to have a strong economy and a bright future–we are more alike than different.

Posted by Eric at November 1, 2003 11:54 PM | TrackBack
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The problem with putting the debate in terms of protectionism and globalization merely pits workers against each other. And what’s wrong protectionaism anyway, with protecting your job? There’s a long history of protectionism in our country, even in the face of recent globalization. Take a look at any random agricultural subsidy to get a good idea. Corporations don’t care about us here in the states or the people whom they long to exploit in the third world. Corporations care about one thing and that’s getting the most product for the least outlay. We must start protecting ourselves, since those in DC sure as hell won’t.

Posted by: Kristopher John on November 3, 2003 01:13 AM | Reply to this

Thank you for your comment Kristopher…
I started to reply to you here, but it became a little long, so I just posted it as a separate entry.

Posted by: eric on November 3, 2003 04:56 PM | Reply to this

You make a good point, but is it not only medium pay manufactoring jobs that suffer, it is also white collar software engineering jobs that has been shippent over sees, we are losing brilliant people who move to countries such as Japan and Canada in some cases to 3 rd world countries just be make enought to live and pay bills. What next we all become a 3 rd world country with rich and poor and nothing in between.

Posted by: Dan on November 13, 2003 05:00 PM | Reply to this

You’re right Dan, I have held nothing but white collar jobs. Over 16 years in technology as a generalist–support, telecom, engineering, and media/advertising. The primary sector of losses has been in white collar jobs, and this time around those are the ones going overseas. Believe me, we have looked long and hard at moving overseas. Right now–unless I had a specific job lined up already–Canada, Europe and Japan are not much more affordable than staying put. However the Caribbean is a totally different story. Believe me I’ve been looking into it.

Posted by: eric on November 16, 2003 07:25 PM | Reply to this

Have any of you heard of – it’s a tech alliance based in Washington state which claims to be working to reclaim exported tech jobs.

I’m a medical transcriber and my profession has been severely impacted by the outsourcing – mostly to India, Pakistan and Malaysia. Dictated medical records are sent by wave dictation system overseas to be transcribed and returned as e-mails. The gravy train has now been joined by US facilities also sending x-rays, MRI’s, EKG’s, etc. off shore to be read. But there is hope on the horizon for some of us. The San Francisco Chronicle recently ran an article describing the situation of a Pakistani woman who was obtaining dictation and transcribing records for a doctor in Santa Monica and for The University of San Francisco Medical Center. She apparently wasn’t paid for her work on time, and threatened to publish the medical records she had transcribed for the hospital on the internet.  She got lots of attention, her bill was paid, but no one knows how many medical records she has kept copies of. Scary isn’t it? To know that besides medical records of Americans, foreign countries, and not necessarily friendly ones, now have access to credit card information, IRS records, social security numbers, and mortgage information for people living in the US because all outsourcing has become the prevalent method of “getting the job done”.  I firmly believe that most so-called credit card theft does not originate within US borders. 

I don’t know if is doing a good job or not, but one of you other readers might want to find out.

In the meantime, we’ve got to think about a way to get ourselves out of this mess. I’m not enchanted with a move to the Caribbean (I’m 62 years old already, not in any position to start over). But I sure wouldn’t mind taking part in a fight to get our jobs back.

Good luck to all of you,

Posted by: diane on December 6, 2003 01:09 AM | Reply to this

This debate is extremely important at this time.  I am an outsider looking in and the what I see is quite disturbing.  I’ve been self employed for almost 20 years but I have been an adovocate for the rights of other hard working people for a long time.  Just as manufacturing jobs went over seas in the early 70’s white colar tech work is now doing the same.  The problem is that this leaves another set of workers either with service industry jobs or the unemployment line.  Ask any CEO and they will tell you the same thing. The purpose of a corporation is not to provide jobs but to make money for its owners and stock holders.  We all have a lot to lose as a result of this “globalism” since low cost labor is the main benifit of the new global economy. 
As I see it now there are a few outcomes that could result.  If anyone has noticed, the quality of electronics available within the last decade has droped significantly and is getting worse.  Why? Low cost labor and cutbacks in quality control are two big factors. The major electronics companies are only concerened with the bottom line.  What if this same drop in quality occurs with the tech jobs shipped over seas?  This could really screw things up.  Bad tech support, faulty programing, personal information being compromised and boched test results are only a few of the things that will become a problem.  If things get bad enough there could be a major colapse in the economic system in our country.  What do we do? We need to show as much pride in our work as possible and show major corporate leaders that they have everything to lose by sending jobs over seas.  We could benifit from a little protectionism right now or its going to be revolution time later!  Lets try some of that so called propaganda in the opposite direction.

Posted by: Joe on December 21, 2003 10:20 PM | Reply to this

Re: Exporting Jobs: Protectionism

Thank you for your passionate opinion. While I don’t agree with most of your comment, I do welcome the alternate viewpoint.

What I do agree with is your statement:

“What do we do? We need to show as much pride in our work as possible and show major corporate leaders that they have everything to lose by sending jobs over seas.”

Here, I do think you are right on the money. It’s no guarantee that your job will be off-shored but it is some insurance.

Posted by: Eric on February 25, 2004 11:57 AM | Reply to this

Exporting Jobs is the Decay of Middle class America. Which will be the No1 decay and cancer of our nation. 

Imposing US Worker Standards and wage requirements on US employeers when you can export work and Jobs with no standards and wage requirement. Then import that service or procduct to get the American Dollar to buy it. This is not business this is a traitor bleeding us. American workers the Time for Unions has returned.


Posted by: Rick on January 12, 2004 05:55 AM | Reply to this

Re: Exporting Jobs: Protectionism

  I have heard that what we are facing today was planed back in the late 50’s. We are way to dependent on other countries for our oil. We refuse to cut back and use less foreign resources.
We need more effecient transportation and housing to cut back on our energy needs. We need fussion power without the waste problem we know have. We need a hydrogen economy but we failed to plan for

it far enough back so now we are facing a crissis situation. We all need to be willing to accept change and work together to get past the problems

that face us as a nation or we will all sink with this ship if we fail to pull together. Science and Technology can do alot if we all embrace it and start pulling together, it may be a long hard road ahead but I for one beleave we can have a brighter future if we all work together. Build electric rail systems to get us from city to city and state to state use cars for local transportation and aircraft for global transportation to cut our dependance on foreign oil. We have a long way to go to get there but I think the end result will be worth it.

Posted by: Gary on July 5, 2004 12:36 PM | Reply to this

Globalism and Free Trade are a trap

Never before in history have workers been the commodity being traded except for the slave trade. Globalism and so called Free Trade with elite groupings, trans national corporations, governments acting as brokers and world organizations like the WTO and World Banks controlling the flow of wealth and jobs outside any real democratic process and without the consent of the workers involved. Sovereignty becomes expendable with individual nations having to conform to multi-national corporations with many of these corporations now larger than many countries.
In the end workers are put on a world trading block to compete with each other as the commodities being traded with the lowest common denominator being wage slave and even child labor. When factories are portable and can be moved from place to place based on the cheapest labor markets burn out communities and societies are left behind each time production is moved.

Globalism and Free Trade have failed. Poverty has increased with fewer workers being able to share in the rewards.

The USA now finds itself in the center of a new colonialism and imperialism with their interests spread across the world. This is breeding terrorism and wars.

View the Cross 9/11 Tangle of Terror artwork by Ray Tapajna asking who will now untangle the terror Globalism and Free Trade have bred at (Featuring the American Dream is Burning art newspaper story) and for all the topical and editorial art by Ray Tapajna and see the world wide ratings for this art with Locked out Workers bearing their Cross being one of the top artworks out of thousands and The Clinton Years - The American Dream Reversed being one of the artworks receiving the most hits.

At Tapart News, see published commentaries about the failures of Globalism and Free Trade as millions drift into a Silent Depression.

Posted by: Tapart News advocate on July 5, 2004 10:46 PM | Reply to this

Re: Exporting Jobs: Protectionism

selling out the hard work of the”greatest generation”

it became clear to me in the early-90’s after NAFTA had passed the immediate layoffs of industrial workers. companies like RCA, Delco-Remy, Chevrolet,Ford,Steelcase,etc. were laying off their people in droves, simply packing up and moving to either Canada or Mexico. It was strange to witness this again, it felt like deja-vu after watching the steel mills close through out the late 70’s and early 80’s( jobs that also went to foreign interest.)
we are a country that was built on the backs of its citizens. agriculture and manufactoring have always been the mainstay. our grandparents worked hard to forge a country out of raw steel and determination and all that they worked their lives to achieve has been or is soon to meet the wrecking ball to make way for a mall, a warehouse, or a call center. it is a shame for us to witness think about how it feels to watch the building fall that you spent 35yrs. in. but we are not talking about monuments or feelings of nostalgia we are talking about lives and the very fabric of our societal values that are being demolished.

we won world war two because of our manufactoring facilities the fact that we could retool them into making weapons of war and necessities needed for fighting men made our industry invaluble. now we live in time where most things are made in china the facillties are gone, the machines are scrapped, and the workers fastly becoming unskilled. WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE OFFEND THE UN OR CHINA? WHAT IF THEY DECIDED TO PLACE EMBARGOS ON US? WHAT IF WE WENT TO WAR WITH CHINA, DO YOU SUPPOSE THEY WOULD ACCEPT THE CONTRACTS TO MAKE OUR PLANES OR TANK PARTS?

i don’t believe in protectionism, socialism, communism,capitalism, or any other ism. what i do believe in is a level playing field where any country who chooses to market its product on AMERICAN soil has to fall on under the same restrictive guidelines AS WE THE AMERICAN PEOPLE DO.

1.they should fall under our labor laws

2.they should have to meet all osha guidelines

3.they should have to pay minimum wages

4.they should be equal opportunity employers

5.they should allow Americans work Visa’s

6.they should meet our EPA standards

7.they should adhere to all patent and copyright laws

8.they should have to adhere to all developmental  guidelines

9. pay generous tarriffs

10. they should be excited to have the chance to adhere to all the above

we can not afford as Americans to keep seeling out ourselves for the good of the rest of the world. we are already the worlds police must we we be the worlds employment service too. our manufactoring processes are far over regulated and way to restrictive. it is no wonder companies are going over seas. this is a government issue not a corporate one don’t mistake the two. 

Posted by: geoff chausse on October 14, 2004 05:42 PM | Reply to this
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