Outsourcing and Race

Matt's recent post on immigration and cosmopolitanism brings to mind a question I've been meaning to ask for some time: Does anyone else find left-wing opposition to white-collar outsourcing as surreal as I do?

I'm an engineer at a large software company. It's people like me whose jobs the anti-outsourcing movement is trying to protect. As touched as I am by the concern they've shown for me and my financial well-being, I'm also somewhat puzzled by it. Do I really have to remind the left that they don't like me? Just like 90% of my American-born co-workers, I'm a rich white male. A child of privilege. A member of the Fortunate Fifth. I've never known real hardship, and I probably never will---even if I lost my job tomorrow, I could live off my savings for years.

Which brings me to the surreal part: Since when is demanding that the government do something to protect rich, privileged white people like me from competition from poor brown people compatible with leftism?

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I would have thought that

I would have thought that was obvious - when the leftists realise they need high income earners to tax. It is not as though they can levy income tax on Indians or whatnot, is it?


While many of the

While many of the Slashdotters I know are pro-protectionist policy, for the most part it's propelled by the tribal meme of "nationalism".

Is left-wing opposition to

Is left-wing opposition to white collar outsourcing really all that strong? There's plenty of left-wing opposition to blue collar outsourcing, but that is driven to a large extent by concern that laborers in developing countries are being exploited. However wrongheaded that concern is and apt to abuse by actual protectionists, it's really hard to transfer to engineers, doctors, lawyers, etc.

The wellspring of anti-outsourcing fever seems to me to come from nativists like Pat Buchanan and Lou Dobbs, not left-wingers.

its completely compatible

its completely compatible with people whose thought process' are poorly defined and one dimentional. in other words, your typical liberal pepper hair pseudo intellectual. there are entire university campus' filled with people for whom thats perfectly compatible. they even have a car for them, its called a volvo.

Brandon, that thought had

Brandon, that thought had occurred to me too (that brain chip again...) but I decided not to mention it because I wasn't sure just what the composition of opinion on outsourcing is like among lefties. Another example is to consider the set of people who think that the estate tax is a Good Thing on egalitarian grounds and the set of people who are likely to whine about foreign competition lowering American wages. I could be wrong, but I get the feeling that the intersection between those sets is larger than should logically follow.

But it's Big Evil Faceless

But it's Big Evil Faceless Corporations doing the outsourcing, so it must be bad! It seems like that's all that's needed these days to get a knee jerk reaction out of the left. I'm pretty sure that's why Global Warming seems so obvious to the left. Big Energy opposes the theory, so it must be right!

Anyway, it's actually really easy to avoid being outsourced: be a good programmer. Then you get a team in Bangalore and they give you a raise for being so productive and allowing them to lay off or avoid hiring the worst Western programmers. If you're a crappy programmer, perhaps you should be considering another line of work.

Actually, Sean, it isn't

Actually, Sean, it isn't that easy to avoid getting laid off. Sometimes it happens because someone high up on the management ladder made some bad decisions and now Wall Street must be appeased via layoffs. I was laid off when the telecom bubble burst. Because I was good, I didn't get caught by the first several rounds of layoffs, but when your company cuts deep enough talented people lose their jobs. Being good got me my next job much quicker though.

I've worked with some offshore outsourcing shops. One of the things that I've demonstrated to a number of managers is that I can clean up the mess. My experience was that the best of those shops write good code, but they don't have much experience packaging it for delivery. Their documentation tends to be a bit haphazard. Details get overlooked. I've had experience as a developer, team leader, system administrator, and release coordinator. Specialization has enormous benefits economically, but even a specialist needs to me aware of the tasks that the people around him perform. :juggle:

Pat Buchanan and Lou Dobbs

Pat Buchanan and Lou Dobbs are both left wingers, that is they demand government intervention into economic transactions that are not needed to enforce valid contracts. You have the right to life (from conception since that is the point where your separate existence begins) but not the right to a living. You have to earn that by your own efforts.

Charles, You have the right


You have the right to life (from conception since that is the point where your separate existence begins) but not the right to a living. You have to earn that by your own efforts.

I'm always puzzled by claims like this. How you can you have a right to life but not a right to those things that are necessary to keep you alive? Rights entail responsibilities. So the claim:

Person X has a right to R

really means that

There is some person P who has a responsibility to provide person X with R.

Now where R is a non-interference right (i.e., the right to earn a living by my own efforts), P's responsibility is easy enough to discharge. P completes her obligation by leaving X alone. But a right to life is not a non-interference right. If I have a right to life, then someone would have to have an obligation to provide me with life. When you fail to provide me with life (by, say, refusing to donate your kidney or to give me food when I'm starving or to give me a coat when I'm freezing to death), then you've violated my right. Given the world in which we live, a job seems pretty much necessary for me to live. Since I have a right to life, I would also have a right to a job.

If, on the other hand, what you really mean is that I have a right not to be killed, then I might be inclined to go along with that, provided that you offer enough caveats. Can I be killed if I try to kill you first? If you say yes, then you have to modify your position further by saying that I have a right not to be killed unjustly. And now we have to argue about what counts as an unjust killing. Since your parenthetical is, I suspect, aimed at the claim that abortions are wrong, you would now need to show me that abortion represents an unjust killing.

Or you can hold on to the claim that people have a right to life. If you want to be consistent, though, you'd probably also need to sign on to a fair number of social programs. After all, you wouldn't want to abrogate your responsibility to provide life for, well, everyone. I'm sure that these folks will welcome their new convert. :twisted: