Outsourcing: Don’t Mexicans Eat?

I have a piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer and Providence Journal (free registration required), among other places, today on the outsourcing issue.

The outsourcing issue is an interesting one in that it often pits liberals against the notion of job creation in the Third World. I’m as loyal an American as they come, but since when is job creation in India or Mexico a bad thing (especially when it leads to more prosperity here)?

I was a guest on Carole Arnold’s talk show on KOMA in OPklahoma City a few weeks ago, booked to discuss outsourcing. A listener of the show called to voice opposition to outsourcing, saying — and I am not making this up — that people in Mexico don’t need jobs the way we Americans do. His logic was that jobs pay less in Mexico, all things equal. Since a Mexican might make less money than we would for the same work, he reasoned, he needs the job less than an American needs his. Very tortured logic, and backwards, as it happens, because labor tends to be cheap in places where there is an oversupply of it. (Not to mention the fact that Mexicans need to eat, clothe themselves and have a roof over their heads just as much as Americans do.)

But this is the “logic,” and the heartlessness, of the outsourcing debate.

Note: I’ve been getting some e-mails on the outsourcing issue (some of them quite thoughtful) and we have placed a few of the fun e-mails from critics on our Letters from Critics page.

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