Report: Obama Launches New Program to Help Corporations "Take Advantage of Low Labor Costs" Abroad

by: David Sirota

Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 11:15


In recent months, President Obama reversed his campaign promises on trade issues - first by dropping his pledge to renegotiate NAFTA and then by pushing to pass NAFTA-style trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia. Now, with the unemployment crisis persisting, the key jobs question is once again front a center in American politics. Specifically: How do we create jobs here at home and build our most valuable 21st century industries?

The first and foremost answer is that our government should stop doing stuff like the program described in this stunning new report from Information Week:

U.S. To Train 3,000 Offshore IT Workers

Despite President Obama's pledge to retain more hi-tech jobs in the U.S., a federal agency run by a hand-picked Obama appointee has launched a $22 million program to train workers, including 3,000 specialists in IT and related functions, in South Asia.

Following their training, the tech workers will be placed with outsourcing vendors in the region that provide offshore IT and business services to American companies looking to take advantage of the Asian subcontinent's low labor costs...

The outsourcing program (is) sure to draw the most fire from critics. While Obama acknowledged that occupations such as garment making don't add much value to the U.S. economy, he argued relentlessly during his presidential run that lawmakers needed to do more to keep hi-tech jobs in IT, biological sciences, and green energy in the country.

Now look, I'm all for a robust foreign aid budget - we don't do nearly enough to help the developing world. However, using foreign aid money to specifically help private corporations "take advantage of low labor costs" in the developing world - that's not "aid," that's rank taxpayer subsidization of for-profit exploitation.

Right now, Even if we do not reform our atrocious trade policies that incentivize the ongoing wage-cutting race to the bottom, the least we should be doing is investing every single available dollar we have in job training and job creation here at home. Doing the opposite - actually using public dollars to intensify that wage-cutting race to the bottom - is grotesque.  

George W. Bush's administration was rightly criticized by progressives for publicly endorsing job outsourcing, and Obama's administration should be similarly taken to task for now putting taxpayer funds behind the previous administration's endorsement.

David Sirota :: Report: Obama Launches New Program to Help Corporations "Take Advantage of Low Labor Costs" Abroad

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And you're kind enough not to even mention (4.00 / 2)
his reneging on his promise to redo NAFTA.

If he's stupid enough to push FTA's in the run-up to the election, he'll deserve to lose the House. (But then, I'm not sure he's trying too hard to hang onto it. See: Clinton, Triangulation, Dick Morris, 1994.)


Hilarious (4.00 / 4)
I saw that you also posted this piece at Dkos so I went through the comments mostly to see how the apologists were apologizing. Probably the best one was this:

http://www.dailykos.com/commen...

Which cites praise of Obama from the AFL-CIO on an entirely different issue.


[ Parent ]
re: sirota (4.00 / 3)
and sirota is "A liar and a coward" according to the dk obamabots for not including such praise no matter it is for a different thing

[ Parent ]
One more nail (4.00 / 9)
This is one more nail in the coffin of the US worker and the middle class and it ought to be a huge nail in the political future of Barack Obama.  First the catfood commission and now this.

He's either on the wrong side or his vaunted intelligence is much over rated.  You make the choice.

P.S. These are not "U.S." corporations.  They owe no national allegiance.  They just use us and our military and avoid paying US and local taxes.  Leaches, I tell you.


you slander leeches! (4.00 / 4)
Leeches play an important ecological role, which is more than can be said for "US" corporations.

Did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts? Hot ashes for trees? Hot air for a cool breeze? And cold comfort for change?

[ Parent ]
If cancer can have an "ecological role" (0.00 / 0)
so might corporations from a suitably distant perspective in which humans are taken as the latest species to be the focus of a Nature documentary. Not a very useful perspective on the scale of a human lifetime, or a few generations.

They are, after all, a product of nature are they not?

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
Job training is not the problem (4.00 / 3)
lack of demand, and therefore jobs, is.

The idea that the problem of unemployment is a product of skills mismatch makes sense if you rely on abstract neoclassical economics models, but not if you look at evidence.  

Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity.


[ Parent ]
Mostly true (0.00 / 0)
Of course, someone has to do the training, which is itself a job, so it's still stimulus.  Also, since unemployment has hit different sectors differently, training might help the individuals, but I agree completely, short term, on a macro scale.

Training overseas, on the other hand, could allow companies to cut costs for the cheaper labor, so it could actually produce jobs in Sir Lanka, even given the lack of mismatch.

Come to think of it, this might be true within the US as well.  If newly trained people are willing to work for less than others with the same skills, you could see employment numbers improve at the expense of high paying jobs.  That isn't a tradeoff I'd want to make, though, at least not in the long term.


[ Parent ]
robbing Peter to pay Paul? Brilliant! (0.00 / 0)
Are you Max Baucus?

[ Parent ]
I'm not against training per se (4.00 / 4)
I just think it's nibbling on the edges of the real problem.  

It's the quintessential neoliberal policy response.

Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity.


[ Parent ]
Looks like I picked the wrong week to start IT training.... (0.00 / 0)
Perhaps I should just emigrate to where the jobs are and teach Asians how to be disgruntled workers in English?

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates

You better have a verrrrrrrrrrrry good plan if you get into it (0.00 / 0)
One of my former jobs is now in South America. And I'm afraid that any day now some financial guy will get a wild hair and send another few hundred jobs overseas.

Actually, most Indians speak English really well, that's why they get this kind of work. EDS once had the brilliant idea to ship IT jobs to Egypt. I'm thinking only the language skills prevented that from working.

I've said it before, I'll say it again: We can't all be Walmart greeters.

P.S. If we do train these people specifically to take American jobs, the we should shut down the H1B program altogether.


[ Parent ]
We can't all be Walmart greeters. (4.00 / 3)
Actually, I was writing in jest, a la the Airplane! joke, "Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue..."

Still, it seems apparent that our glorious leaders think we can indeed all be Walmart greeters. Of course, we'll have to compete with a bunch of septuagenarians to get those jobs (not to mention needing Food Stamps to make up for the lack of actual compensation), but since they're raising the retirement age to 70..............................

There are times when mere words fail and we seem to be approaching that point on this issue.

I'm just too pissed off right now to be terribly serious about this. Satire seems more appropriate!

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates


[ Parent ]
this right here gets down to the source of the problem with Obama (and by extenstion, Democrats) (0.00 / 0)
their slavish devotion to corporate interests

this helps NOBODY except stockholders and CEOs, and that suits Obama just fine

also, thanks for posting this here, it seems like if we want truly leftist posts we have to look exclusively to the contributors living outside of 495...


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