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2/6/2004
05:47 PM
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Best Of Listening Post

Angst about offshore outsourcing is evolving. Discomfort early on turned to racist-tinged anger and now appears to be morphing into a political movement.

A Movement Is Born
Our own editor in chief, Bob Evans, is a proponent of riding historical waves rather than defiantly drowning among them. Evans' Feb. 2 column on the topic gives vent to people who agree and disagree with his point of view. In it, he champions the perspective of a public-policy professor who has called for a re-examination of work-visa programs and those that cultivate high-value, indigenous jobs.

Those are half-steps for many, however. Under the heading "Join the Resistance," some are calling for a change of government.

"Chris H" says, "The future of IT employment [is] seriously threatened by out-of-control globalization." Untethered by cited sources, Chris says the nation has lost 137 manufacturing jobs per minute since 2000. True or not, that's the kind of figure that can be picked up and carried like a baby in a house fire. "If we in the U.S. aren't interested in manufacturing, and if the information age is already growing cold, just what's our future going to look like? 10.7 million people producing nanotechnology or homeland security products?"

Chris says he quit his last IT job when "my old company received an RFP for outsourcing 2,500 U.S. jobs. The silence and astonishment of our team as we saw starting-application rates of $4.60, or worse yet, 'experienced' program-manager rates of $19 per hour, took our breath away."

"Fly Fisherman" charges: "Those who think there's nothing they can do are wrong." Fly recommends tech workers join WashTech, an IT union (www.wash tech.org). "They aren't a typical labor union. They raise a voice of warning to the government. The influence they have been able to build with a relatively modest membership is incredible and encouraging. [WashTech] has caused the big people at the big corporations to take notice."

It'll be interesting to see which presidential candidate gets WashTech's backing. As for those posting, the ordinarily right-leaning tech sector appears to be moving left.

Chris H put it succinctly: "I stopped bitchin' and started doin'. I joined the Wesley Clark campaign. ' The fight is now, and it's your fight. Grab your laptop and your skills, and walk over to one of the Democratic presidential campaigns."

In a post "Kodak Fires here, hires BIG in India", Fly says: "It's hard to find a patriotic politician these days that actually supports American workers. Given the choice between John Kerry and President Bush, I would choose Kerry as the one more likely to support American workers. Also, remember, Bush has tried to eliminate overtime for millions."

"Frank Elsesser," at "Bush Blames Us", says, "The current administration is like all other administrations--they respond to pressure: votes, donations, power. Have you been paying attention? Corporate profits are way up, but there's little domestic hiring going on. You, the worker, are a cost, service, flexible asset."

That's certainly dire, but what if offshore outsourcing were something darker than venality? "The offshoring scam is bigger than big. It's global," whispers "Andre Radnoti". "The forces are stacked against us. If we persist in our efforts to stem offshoring, soon the black helicopters will appear and we will be kidnapped and eliminated by powerful interests. Or worse, we become blacklisted nationwide and relegated to a life of poverty."

Well. That explains why they're planting those chips in our heads when they hand us our walking papers. Don't say enough to be disappeared, but do be civil in the Listening Post.

Jim Nash,
managing editor, news and interactive products

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