A Non-Economist on Globalization

Lately there has been a great deal of talk about the increasing pace of globalization during the past couple of decades.  Academic economists from Harvard to Berkeley and business economists from Bank of America to Chase Manhattan and pundit economists from CNBC to Bloomberg have lauded this trend in the most glowing of terms:  it is good for America and it is good for Americans.  And the country will retrain and relocate those workers whose jobs have disappeared into the black hole of out-sourcing to India, China and elsewhere.

As long as globalization’s magic entailed job losses to clothing seamstresses in South Carolina and rustbelt factory workers in Michigan, nobody but those workers and seamstresses seemed to mind.  Then middle-class consumers who had benefited so marvelously from this practice started running into Dell’s incomprehensible tech supporters in Calcutta and incoherent American Express billing resolvers in Bombay who insisted that the caller give out her social security number to a disembodied voice half a world away before reading irrelevant boilerplate answers that answered nothing — and some tremulous doubt about the alleged wonders of globalization shuddered softly through the population as a light wind will stir the leaves of an autumn forest.  Next the great middle-class, now less certain of the mantra-like promises and pronouncements of economists with Ph.D.s, saw their lucrative programming jobs exported to Shanghai and Beijing, and radiologists realized that their dwindling business owed much to the diagnostic expertise of Indian doctors in New Dehli studying x-rays emailed from the States.

Meanwhile, the globalization of labor high and low had begun to integrate laterally into the human cargo business, the sieve-like borders with Mexico and the Caribbean offering a mesh much too gross to dam anything but the most trivial trickle of illegals inundating the nation with drugs, cheap labor and potential terrorists.

This unhappy confluence of events suggests that it is time for the economists to be force-fed some of their own splendid medicine.  Henceforth all economists will become unemployed because we will be exporting their jobs to India and China, whose mathematically more sophisticated practitioners can certainly play the same if not even more murky econometric games of mathematicizing human behavior, and this at one twentieth of the cost of their American counterparts (even academic economists should be able to understand the comparative advantage of that!).

And, taking a further leaf from the economists’ own playbook, retraining in border patrolling and airport anti-terrorism security will be offered to them all, upon successful completion of which they will be shipped off to Laredo and El Paso and Chula Vista to begin their new jobs, jobs, that is, that have not – yet – been out-sourced to illegal immigrants.  Of course, they won’t be earning $200K plus bennies per annum, but the displaced textile workers from the Carolinas and former machine tool operators from Flint will no doubt happily welcome them into their support groups and paint them graphic pictures of the tawdry future these ever so clever ex-economists now have to look forward to sharing.

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One Response to A Non-Economist on Globalization

  1. I have taught many Dutch people who need to use English to talk with those folks in India, or sometimes Eastern Europe, and their stories are always similar. In the long run, that outsourcing, which looked good on paper (And was dreamed up by experts), is in fact much more expensive. Just a bad idea to outsource in this way.

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