Figure it Out – It’s About Your Job

Thanks to Thomas Leavitt for pointing me to this column in Fortune, “Finally a Productivity Payoff from IT?” It explains that your job will be lost to “business process outsourcing.”

“While it’s not something we immediately associate with computing and networks, it’s only after companies are automated and connected by a commonly accessible network (the Internet) that they can easily create links between themselves and their suppliers. Work can be passed seamlessly from worker to worker regardless of location.”

Does he mean we will all get to telecommute? Not exactly.

“But the cost-savings grow really huge when companies exploit the big discrepancies in labor rates between the U.S. and still-developing countries like India, and outsource entire business processes to operators far away. International business process outsourcing, or BPO, started a few years ago with call centers, and it’s spreading to a wider variety of jobs. It may enable a quantum leap downward in labor costs.”

AH! Now we’re beginning to get to the point.

“For instance, an Indian national software association estimates that what it calls “IT-enabled services” provided in India for customers elsewhere will rise from $1.46 billion annually to about $17 billion in five years. By then over a million Indians could be engaged in these businesses. High growth rates are also expected in Eastern Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean. Countries with the biggest near-term opportunity are those with large English-speaking populations, such as Jamaica, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Singapore.”

So what does this mean for YOUR job?

“The potential extent of this kind of work migration is vast. I’ve heard of new operations in India set up to read mammograms from U.S. hospitals. Architects in Sydney, Australia subcontract some of their work to lower-priced architects in Singapore.”

Your job eventually WILL be sent to people who will work for much less, where the environmental standards are lower, where there are no worker health and safety laws. And then their jobs will be sent where people will work for even lower pay, with even lower environmental standards, etc.

Without regulations in place to control this, your company must do this or go out of business, because its competitors surely won’t hesitate. The honest, sincere, management-from-the-heart people currently running your company won’t have any choice, because the laws of economics applied without consideration for the human consequences necessitate this conclusion. Repeat: Without regulations to level the playing field they will not have a choice in the matter. This is what “free trade” means without controls in place to protect working people. It’s the law of supply and demand. In a world with free movement of jobs and a surplus of labor, wages must fall to the lowest level necessary for subsistence – and the rest will starve.

So the question to ask is, “Who is our economy for?” How soon will you be joining the servant class – assuming you’re lucky enough to find even a servant job?

There are QUITE a few former “Internet libertarians” in Silicon Valley spending their newfound idle time in coffee shops (or writing weblogs), collecting unemployment checks and reconsidering their politics.

Einstein explains it here.

“Insofar as the labor contract is “free,” what the worker receives is determined not by the real value of the goods he produces, but by his minimum needs and by the capitalists’ requirements for labor power in relation to the number of workers competing for jobs. It is important to understand that even in theory the payment of the worker is not determined by the value of his product.”

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