No matter which side of the political aisle you’re on, opposing free trade is no way to show your patriotism.
I have been lectured by other members of my staff about staying out of political commentary. I was upbraided by the head of marketing at my old firm a few years ago when I was quoted in 44 nationwide newspapers about the 2004 presidential election, saying that “John Kerry was a well-dressed weathervane” and “George Bush could not speak in full sentences.” I continue to stand by those statements, and I am about to prove I cannot learn.
I am not about to address partisan politics or comment on candidates in particular. This month my diatribe is about “isms.” I know other people have talked about “isms,” and I do not want to be accused of plagiarism (like the way I worked the first one in?). I believe that anything that rises to the level of an “ism” had better be addressed very carefully. I suppose the only “ism” I am comfortable with is patriotism. It is wholesome and suggests a belief in a greater good. Fanaticism is scary, and you do not want to meet these people in airplane lounges or the United Nations. I do not understand atheism, as I was raised with an ingrained religious “ism” that is too deeply rooted. “Isms” can also confuse me.
As we look at the current field of presidential candidates in the U.S., we have one side that, for example, supports conservatism. I get confused about what they want to conserve. I was alive during the 1960s and the 1970s, and they were not all that great. Maybe the music was better in those decades, but you never hear it at conservative meetings. They like a lot of Sinatra.
On the other side is the scariest “ism” of all for the BPO industry. Two irresponsible and ill-informed candidates who accuse each other of being equally inexperienced are running around preaching “protectionism.” Huh?
Protectionism and the evil of free trade. Jingoism and the mistrust of foreign entities. What is up with this? They each acknowledge we live in a global economy; they just don’t like it. They want to punish companies that “send” jobs overseas. Is that the outsourcing providers or the buyers? Do they also want to punish companies such as Daimler, Toyota, or Siemens, which employ hundreds of thousands of U.S. workers, or should Germany and Japan do that?
These same candidates talk about huge entitlement programs to help the world’s needy. That sounds noble. We can all get behind that. I would like to point out that outsourcing industries have done more to fuel growth in third-world economies, stabilize wage rates, and export best practices in business and investment to countries such as India, China, the Philippines, Malaysia, Costa Rica, and many others that were impoverished just 20 years ago. In fact, when I learned labor economics (I would recommend an economics course to anyone considering running for the presidency of a major nation), it was predicted that without a paradigm shift it would take a century to close 20 percent of the wage gap with India. We have closed more than that just in this decade.
Here’s a thought: Outsourcing has been healthier for the world population and produced more benefits than all of their proposed charitable programs, all of their UN initiatives, and all of their global congresses on poverty. The outsourcing industry is the paradigm shift that has produced this positive good. The BPO industry has to stop playing defense and starting telling this winning story. In reality, the facts (I know we try to keep these out of politics, but indulge me here) do not suggest that “sending” jobs overseas is having a detrimental impact on the macro economy. It may affect pockets that are not competitive, but on the whole the U.S. is the beneficiary of foreign investment right now, so they had better check the data.
These people love to debate, and so do I. I challenge either of one of them or one of their “proxies” to debate this issue publicly. They probably will not show up because I used the “f” word in my column: Facts. But I cast the gauntlet nonetheless.
My campaign and solemn oath to my loyal supporters is to protect against “Protectionism” and other dangerous “isms” wherever they may lurk.