Indeed, an ad placed last week by America Online on an Indian job board offers programmers "best in the industry" wages. Translation: Tell us what Wipro is paying you, and we'll top it.
What's the upshot of all this for U.S. programmers? Two things: In the short term, some may want to think about uprooting and heading for India. True, most graduates of, say, RPI probably never thought they'd be cranking out code in Chennai. But 30K still goes a long way in India. Think villas with servants. Down the road, wage inflation in India will inevitably lead to increased hiring in the U.S. as some tech firms decide the cost advantage of outsourcing isn't sufficient payback for the management hassles created by an overseas workforce. Ultimately, tech wages in the U.S. and India will "equalize." That is, Indian salaries will continue to rise until real salaries, plus whatever value companies place on the hassle factor, equal average U.S. salaries.
We're not quite there yet--but that day is coming. At which point skill, and not geographic location, will determine a programmer's true worth in the marketplace. There'll be winners and losers on both sides, but it will be a level playing field. Right?