Dude, Where’s My Job? Weighing the Costs of Offshore Labor


Earlier this year, The Nation wrote a piece called “Outsourcing Is Hell,” while The Economist commented, “Foreign competition now affects services as well as manufacturing. Good.” This illustrates the debate on job losses and trade policy—stoked by the Council of Economic Advisers’ Gregory Mankiw’s statement that outsourcing “is probably a plus for the economy in the long run”—and each magazine’s position. Neither argues reality: America can’t compete in manufacturing with lower-wage nations. In theory, lower costs and prices of goods and services benefit consumers and allow America to shift resources to making what it makes best (entertainment, financial services—now at risk). In March, The Economist proclaimed American anxiety had “tipped over into paranoia and self-delusion,” arguing that lost jobs are a cyclical affair. And because Americans are “wealthier than ever” (2003’s total household wealth was $44 trillion), national fears confounded the editors. Days later, The Nation called for policy reorientation to aid workers at home and abroad, including job retraining, and declared the Bush administration showed “only insensitivity to the considerable pain of massive job dislocation and slow wage growth.” Here to argue trickle-down benefits and ethics lost in policy making are Clive Crook, Economist deputy editor; Ben Edwards, Economist U.S. business editor; William Greider, The Nation‘s national-affairs correspondent; and Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. WNYC’s equitable Brian Lehrer moderates this meeting of conservatives versus progressives and the big model versus the big picture.

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