5.08.2004

Not outsourcing/offshoring, but important:
Stanford experiment foretold Iraq scandal 'Inmates' got abused in psychology study SFGate.com (5/8)

To one Bay Area expert, the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison should have been predictable.

"The key is this: Once a prison has a veil of secrecy around it, which most do, it's just open for corruption," said Philip Zimbardo, professor emeritus of psychology at Stanford University. "If you know nobody can get in, nobody can know what you're doing."

Zimbardo said the report on Abu Ghraib prepared by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba describes a prison that was the perfect petri dish in which the culture of guard violence could flourish.

It was a culture that Zimbardo said should have been well understood, based on decades of psychological research and his own famous -- some would say infamous -- Stanford Prison Experiment of 1971.

And here we thought everyone had forgotten the Zimbardo Prison Experiment. Psych 101 boys and girls, Psych 101.

5.06.2004

The Hate Electablog.com (4/29)

I don't want to put myself above anyone else here, so let me begin by saying that yes, I hate you. And wipe that feigned look of shock from your face. You hate me too.

[snip]

Let's face it. This is an extremely understated version of the way members of the two parties currently feel about one another. We live in different communities. We react to the same events and announcements in completely different ways. And we shout at each other. The current state of interparty relations could be best described as The Hate.

So how did it happen? How did we go from disagreeing with one another to hating each other with such fervent passion (aside from the obvious answer that it is all fill-in-the-blank's fault)?

Part of the answer has to do with the insane amount of media coverage now given, not to the issues themselves but to the inside-baseball strategies employed by both parties to discredit, soil and ultimately destroy one another.

The sports analogy is probably worth exploring - although most people know a whole lot more details about their favorite sport teams than they do about the political issues of the day. Any sports fan has experienced the rivalry. We go on hating the opposing team and sort of hating the opposing fans long after the games end. Meanwhile, the actual participants in the sport take their showers, put on their street clothes, go home and get on with their lives. Many players are best friends with someone from an opposing team.

You're right: this isn't about outsourcing/offshoring, but it is about the way we debate (or actually don't) issues and ideas and we think it's important to read.

FatCow Shuns Trend Toward Offshoring theWhir.com (5/5)

with many big-name technology CEOs talking up the practice, arguing that the future competitiveness of US-based corporations depends on their ability to compete on the price of labor against foreign rivals.

But while that is certainly a concern, another tech CEO, Jackie Fewell of Albuquerque-based hosting firm FatCow Hosting (fatcow.com), recently weighed into the offshoring debate with an interesting and practical argument of her own - offshoring vital services such as customer contact will ultimately disadvantage a company by severing the most direct link management has to its customers.

"One of the most fundamental aspects of FatCow and its success is the high value we place on our interaction with our customers. The idea of turning that over and putting it in someone else's hands is incomprehensible to us," says Fewell.

More than fifty percent of sales at FatCow come from referrals, which suggests that customer service is one of the company's most effective branding irons. FatCow would have to spend more on other marketing areas to make up for the decline in sales through other channels, giving lie to the argument that offshoring always saves money.

"In the short term, outsourcing may cut operating costs and create revenue, but I'm not sure it ultimately produces the savings you're looking for," says Fewell. "In our business we get feedback from our customers on an hour to hour basis. To remove ourselves from that interaction would just be very unhealthy for us."

5.05.2004

Hooray for outsourcing Newsday.com (5/2)

It's no surprise that outsourcing is so intense an issue this election year: America is far from recovering all the payroll jobs it lost in the recession that ended in 2001. Outsourcing - American businesses sending jobs abroad - seems a plausible cause of the sluggish job recovery.

Worse, although it has been common in manufacturing for decades, it is now affecting higher-paid, more technical occupations - jobs like writing software, interpreting X-rays, or manning computer help-desks; the kinds of jobs that appear intrinsically linked to a bright U.S. economic future. In the high-tech recession, for example, computer maker Dell Inc. dumped 5,700 U.S. jobs, then hired 2,000 workers in India to field tech-support calls.

Politicians are eager to respond with laws to discourage sending jobs abroad but such reactions are premature: It's way too early to assess whether outsourcing poses a substantial threat to U.S. workers or the economy. Estimates put the number of jobs affected in the 250,000-300,000 range, but there's little hard data to back that up.

More to the point, economists of various political persuasions agree: Outsourcing is fundamentally good for the nation's economic growth, and so for American workers. By cutting the cost of doing business, it makes U.S. companies more competitive; it allows them to concentrate on what they do best; it therefore encourages creation of more highly skilled and highly paid jobs. By spurring growth abroad it creates new markets for U.S. goods; and it helps hold down costs for American consumers.

Yes it creates markets for U.S goods: none of which are made in America anymore.

This article is such total bullshit, read on...
But what outsourcing also unequivocally does is hurt American workers who lose jobs that are shipped to India or Ireland or South Africa. And what America has not done is provide sufficiently to ease the pain of that kind of dislocation and to speed the return of workers to well-paid and satisfying work.

That's not just a political issue: Losing a job means not only lost income, but also lost confidence and lost productivity. It can mean personal anguish, family turmoil and uprooting to find new work.

It also means lost tax revenues, strained social services, empty office buildings (uh oh, someone's gonna lose some money there), the loss of skills and knowledge... oh the list goes on and on and on. Unfortunately so does this silly opinion piece.
That's the worry: Losing a job to a software company down the road or to a call center in Omaha doesn't seem nearly as threatening as losing it to an Asian nation where pay is a fraction of what it is in this country. Those low costs suggest high-tech service jobs will move abroad wholesale, and pull down the wage scale for American high-tech workers in the process. Another worry: It seems to mean that income that would otherwise circulate in this country will go benefit India or Canada or the Philippines, at America's expense.

Both worries are overstated.

Oh gee, thanks: >whew<
Compared to the size of the U.S. work force - about 135 million people - the 250,000 jobs a year that may be going abroad now is a modest number. During much of the '90s, the U.S. economy routinely generated that many new jobs every month; in March it added over 300,000 jobs in this country. Besides, U.S. trade statistics that track flows of funds for services show no surge going into offshoring; this country takes in $60 billion more a year in income for services Americans sell to buyers abroad than U.S. firms and consumers pay for service bought from overseas.

And as we all know, those firms are just giving out that money to the unemployed! Yay! Problem solved! Isn't America great? USA!! USA!!
Good jobs stay home

The kind of tech jobs that do get offshored tend to be those that can be routinized, requiring less skill and commanding less pay. Work that requires close communication with clients or key coworkers, or an awareness of what competitors are up to or of U.S. market conditions, won't go abroad.

What assholes this bastard at Newsday is. We'd like to introduce them to these folks and explain that they didn't need their silly old jobs because they weren't any good anyways.

We can't wait until they start offshoring newspaper editors and columnists. Bastards.

British bank opts against outsourcing to India Hindustan Times (5/4)

British bank Alliance & Leicester (A&L) has announced that it will keep its calls centres in the country and not offshore them to India.

The former building society has opted for its stay-at-home policy amid growing signs of a customer backlash against the steady flow of services out of Britain.

[snip]

"Our relationship with customers is too important to us to put it at risk by following the current fashion for offshoring," said Pym.

Sadly, we don't think it's a "fashion."

5.04.2004

Reforms, not rhetoric, needed to keep jobs on U.S. soil CNET News.com (5/4)

"We spoiled an entire generation with the '90s. The expectation was: You go to college, find a product, get venture capital money and, boom, you're a millionaire," said Denis, the chief information officer at Trimble Navigation, a satellite software company based in Sunnyvale, Calif., that has more than 2,000 employees. "The realism is missing: Unless they're in the top 5 percent of schools, they haven't got any hope. The very jobs we're training students to do are the ones we're exporting."
?!? Is this guy a complete dick or what?
In scores of interviews with government officials, business leaders and academics, CNET News.com has identified three points that are crucial to any national agenda devoted to keeping advanced R&D in the United States: education reform, professional retraining and research investment. If these areas are neglected, the nation could face dire consequences that transcend the outsourcing issue and threaten to undermine the country's historical status as the world leader in technology

Poll shows support for offshoring tax ZDNet (5/4)

More than 40 percent of U.S. technology executives surveyed would be willing to pay higher taxes to compensate for jobs they send offshore, according to a nationwide poll conducted jointly by CNET News.com and Harris Interactive.

These executives agree with the proposition that companies should be required to pay a "per-head tax" for every position sent to another country. The poll also suggests that companies would be willing to help pay for improvements in the quality of American education and worker retraining to help the United States maintain its competitive edge in technology.

The results were part of a wide-ranging survey of nearly 500 information technology "decision makers," defined as having a role in acquiring or recommending IT products or services for their companies. The respondents, who were polled online in late April, work across industry segments, in various departments and levels at their companies, including the most senior ranks.
Wait... wait... wait for it...
Economists and others expressed surprise that so many executives would accept an offshore outsourcing tax, especially because the reason often cited for foreign outsourcing is saving money.
And there it is! And we wondered the exact same thing: why would they pay? Things that make you go "hmmmm"

Outsourcing roundtable CNET News.com (5/4)

The controversy continues: What should be done about offshore outsourcing? What can be done about offshore outsourcing?

Protectionists on one side, free-market ideologues on the other--and all the rest of us are in between. With politicians already seizing upon the issue in advance of the November election, CNET News.com asked leading figures from the worlds of business, labor and academia for their insights.