November 17, 2008

Buy American

I've heard that phrase since we were in high school, haven't you? "Buy American." It hasn't really panned out though. The last car I bought was a Kia. With cars, clothes, toys, electronics... we've really lost out, haven't we. For awhile it seemed like we were becoming a service economy rather than a manufacturing economy and that would be our future... and that would be OK. But you know how that's going, too... each time you call for support you know how that's going because your calls end up in some other country. Have you asked yourself why this is happening?

I heard today that Lutheran Health Network has decided to close down their medical transcription efforts and contract that effort out to a company in India. This has been a growing movement among doctors and hospitals. First the hospitals outsource their employees and hire contractors... you don't have to pay contractors benefits, you only pay them by the number of lines they type. You lose control, yes, but you save money. How can you reduce it further? Well, folks in India will work for much less than folks in America, won't they.

The thing you have to ask yourself is, just how much information about yourself do you give up to those people building cars in Korea? None, right? Just how much about you do those Chinese peasants know who are sewing your clothes and making your shoes? They know nothing about you, do they. Tell me, just how comfortable would you be buying a TV from Sony if you had to provide not just your social security number, not just your full name and birth date to them every time you shopped at Walmart, but also what drugs you're taking, what diseases you've had, how tall you are and how much you weigh... none too comfortable, I'd say.

So, the next time you stop by your doctor, the next time you do a little business in the Lutheran Health Network, why not ask them exactly what security they have in place to prevent those typists in India from stealing your identity and selling it on the International Market. At least, here in America, we have contracts, we have legal recourse, those who would steal are within reach. Overseas? Well, good luck with that.

And why is this happening? Congress, minimum wage, labor laws -- we have voted to protect ourselves from our employers and we've protected ourselves right out of our jobs. Way back when, back when Henry Ford started building cars, he had an idea that you should pay your employees enough so that they could afford to buy the product they were building. Back then, Americans were cheap immigrant laborers. Today, I would guess we make far more, especially once benefits are thrown in to the mix... and there are more and more laws being written every year to prevent American employers from reducing the cost of American labor.

Tell me... if someone is willing to work 60 hours a week at a flat rate below minimum wage -- why is that illegal in America. More important, why is it illegal for an American to do that job at that rate, but perfectly legal to hire someone in India to do the same job at that same low rate? As more people lose their jobs, just who is being protected here?

1 comment:

Bob G. said...

You make some damn fine arguments...and a few I have never even considered UNTIL I read your post.
I'm a lot more cautious NOW.

Thanks for the heads up!