Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Republicans Against Free Trade, Democrats Posture

In 2003 - 2004, I was on the phones and on the internet urging Democratic presidential candidates to repudiate "Free Trade" and offshore outsourcing and the "guest worker" (H-1b, L-1) visa programs used to facilitate offshore outsourcing. The campaign managers and advisors kept activists like me at arms length. They wanted us to attack Republicans and deliver support (money and votes) while their candidates reassured business lobbies (as far away as India and China) that any positions they took were just posturing for the angry ill-informed workers.

Hell, when John Kerry had a chance to deal with the offshore outsourcing jobs issue in a national debate, he quickly stated that he would not "pander" to people who were opposed to free trade. (This went over real well with workers who were looking for something more than a slick facile slogan like "outsource Bush"; it may have cost Kerry the election.)

In short, Democratic Party presidential candidate Kerry tried to use the Offshore outsourcing/free trade issue in '04 but found that such positions upset his richy-rich business contributors so he backed off his "Benedict Arnold" rhetoric and tried to have it both ways. I noticed it, people on my email lists noticed, blog posters noticed it and even the business press in the U.S. and offshore noticed it. People do catch on...

And, where is John Edwards the sometime critic of NAFTA and "free trade" today? He's talking about "Two Americas" but nary a word about offshore outsourcing of American middle class jobs. Oh yea, he did have time to visit rich high tech CEOs in the Silicon Valley to explain how he supports their "need" for more imported "replacement workers", I mean, "guest workers" because there's such a skills shortage what with all the American IT workers who have been fired by the thousands. (Nah, Edwards didn't say that last part; I was just being sarcastic.

Sadly, Obama, is also courting the richy-rich business groups who are benefitting from offshore outsourcing American jobs and importing lower-wage "guest workers". Yea, his campaign was stupid, rude and irresponsible in the Hillary Clinton (D-Punjab) comments but it's unfortunate that Obama felt compelled to drop the whole issue of Hillary and Bill's ties to the elites benefiting from American job losses.

So, just because sometime Republican voters are disenchanted with free trade and offshore outsourcing, Democratic candidates have to be able to offer some credible alternative. They failed to deliver this in '04 and, at this point, they're not doing any better in '07. In fact, they're doing worse: they haven't even opened the subject.

Unfortunately, real democrats like Bernie (technically an "I") Sanders, Sherrod Brown, Jim Webb and Byron Dorgan are not among the presidential primary contenders. If they were, we'd have some people who could effectively and credibly debate the offshore outsourcing and worker replacement issues.

As it is, Hillary Clinton's alleged differences with her husband on trade and labor issues (played up and exaggerated in the WSJ) are unbelievable -- IMO mere positioning to win over labor and Democrats. Hillary is as "DLC" and tainted with pro-outsourcing lobby money as they come. She's even carved out a special niche supporting the expansion of the worker replacement visas...

Originally posted to Jonathan Tasini's site as a comment on, "Democratic Golden Opportunity: Republican Voters Oppose "Free Trade"

Who among the Democratic presidential candidates has the credibility to do anything about this?


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Blogger Andy said...

This blog makes the most close-minded argument I have seen in a long time. It fails to recognize all sides of the issue, statistics, and educated facts. The fact is that 1) outsourcing is creating significantly more jobs in the UNITED STATES than it is sending offshore to other countries. 2) Elimination of jobs is normal -- because of technology and progress. Even developing countries are experiencing this (stop complaining, we have it good!) 3) Outsourcing tasks and projects allows you to grow in other sides of the business, thus creating new job opportunities (ie: in Research and Development, etc.) 4) Being a specialist in IT I don't know why your hungry for work...there is plenty of it out there. Try eLance.com.

The point is that outsourcing is a tool, there is nothing illegal or wrong with it. It does not impose a severe threat. The U.S. has so many things that the developing countries don't -- we retain rights to patents, processes, and intellectual property. They just do the work. Plus we are a consumer-driven market -- 95% of the products/services sold here would not have a supporting customer base in developing countries like India.

Use this comment constructively. For that reason, I will watch that it is not deleted. I'm just looking for a better supported argument on your part (and the politicians!)

Welcome to the global economy. Perhaps you should read "The World is Flat".

Mon Oct 22, 11:59:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Info_Tech_Guy said...

Obviously, Tom Friedman, the ill-informed author of "The World is Flat" is a source of your infatuation with free trade/offshore outsourcing... If you bother to read anything from his critics -- such as Ron Hira, you'll find that the simplistic claims of Friedman readily fall apart.

Honestly, if you bothered to read anything beyond Friedman, the WSJ editorial page or the Economist, you'll find that the best white collar jobs in America are disappearing offshore or are being filled by imported "guest workers" in preference to Americans.

Far from dealing this blog a death-blow, your posting indicates the shallow nature of free trade claims. I will certainly not delete it because it underscores the tremendous misunderstandings which characterize the arguments of free trade proponents.

Dig more deeply into the links on this blog and address the issues of global labor arbitrage concealed behind the veneer of phantom labor shortages instead of repeating the myths that are passed off in econ class or repeated like mantras in the business journals.

I'd say that it is your arguments so lacking in support betray a "closed mind"...

Speaking from experience in the "real world", I've been through one massive offshore outsourcing (which left hundreds of engineers out of work and permanently eliminated hundreds of engineering positions in the US) I am living through another massive job elimination due to "offshore outsourcing".

As I said, I live in the real world -- not the fantasy world of academics and privileged elites aloof from the realities of mass layoffs and permanent job eliminations. The alleged IT employment opportunities you flippantly note are being chased by thousands of displaced workers and are often non-existent or placed to satisfy legal requirements before an imported non-citizen "guest worker" can be hired.

Tue Oct 23, 10:51:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Olegos said...

I'm all for it!


Andy - I would be ashaimed to betrade your own country like you just did with your comments. Making excuses for the companies that save billions of dollars by exoprting jobs to who knows where and taking it away from american people. You pay taxes for this stupid war, but those companies - save money and pay less taxes for the war. Result: is that you are still that small working ant and everything around you getting expensive day by day, but your salary isn't growing (unless you are some CEO and not just a slave-programmer). You tactic is to find good in anything that is bad. It's a great skill you possess, but I think not in this case. This is suicide for americans that you are supporting right now. I'm not from this country, but I've been living here long enough to observe all this trend since 1992. You are probably one of those people who like the challenge, that is good, but until it hits you. Let's wait just a little more. I think you will change your mind towards the end of this year...

And to the author of all this - you should push your point much further outside of your website frame.

Thu Jul 03, 02:52:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a YouTube site about free trade and how it's destroying America with both congresses approval

Sat Jun 19, 11:04:00 AM GMT-5  

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