14 April 2004

Where is the benefit for Americans of having their human capital destroyed when they are replaced by cheap foreign labor?

A couple of notable articles on information technology outsourcing. First, Paul Craig Roberts pokes holes in the March job numbers, noting that other than domestic construction, the figures are still a big minus. And for the first time on record, the U.S. ran a trade deficit in advanced technology products and services.

Next, InfoWorld columnist Tom Yager on how outsourcing has fostered an "assembly line" mentality in IT culture, that destroys loyalty, crushes innovation and imposes a cap on solution creation.

All outsourcing shares one major characteristic: A worker in a temporary role has little incentive to innovate, invent, or create. This is spirit, blood, and emotion, gifts we bring to work only under rare conditions. During the ’90s, IT set aside its position as a hotbed for collaboration, new ideas, and individual achievement. All of those workers with temporary mind-sets reduced what used to be engaging, knowledge-expanding jobs to fixed stations on an assembly line. A generic Java programmer with x years of experience stands here. It doesn’t matter whether that programmer is full-time, contracted, brought in on a visa, or part of a consulting team.


What's wrong with the assembly line? It was the most ingenius invention in human history. Pretty much everything you use was made on an assembly line.

Of all jobs lost during the recession (which, if the current pace is maintained, will all be recovered by election day), only 300,000 were due to outsourcing. It is not the huge problem that everybody is making it out to be.