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Re: attacking FSF [Re: Paid trolls

From: Russ Allbery
Subject: Re: attacking FSF [Re: Paid trolls
Date: Thu, 06 May 2004 15:39:15 -0700
User-agent: Gnus/5.1006 (Gnus v5.10.6) XEmacs/21.4 (Security Through Obscurity, linux)

Snuffelluffogus <> writes:

>> When jobs are sent overseas, a wide variety of very complicated
>> economic interactions happen, pouring more money into the economy of
>> the other country, taking money out of the US economy, building the
>> middle class in the other country as well as the rich in the other
>> country, possibly creating more demand and more markets in that country
>> for US companies to sell into, and having a wide variety of varying
>> effects on both the US and the foreign economies.

> Pure propaganda. Everyone knows that middle-class jobs are being
> replaced by low-wage services jobs.

I think "replaced by" is sloppy reasoning there.  It's not that the
middle-class jobs are turning into low-wage service jobs directly; it's
that the low-wage service industry is, in some places in the world,
growing faster than the middle-class professional job market.  That's not
quite the same thing.

One of the reasons for that is that low-wage service jobs are less
portable than middle-class technical jobs because the latter can be done
remotely and the former cannot.  That's not something that we can actually
change; it's inherent in the type of work.  There's a larger pool of
applicants and competitors for jobs that can be done remotely, and that's
simply intrinsic to the nature of the work.

In the long term, however, I think there will also be a larger *quantity*
of jobs that require professional skills, which will offset, over time,
the fact that there's also a larger labor pool to draw from.  Of course,
in the short term, there will be quite a bit of disruption, particularly
in countries like the United States that had a disproportionate advantage
originally in the technical job market and are now losing that advantage.

> It will take decades for jobs to "return" to the USA.

I never said anything about jobs returning to the United States.  However,
I'm also not a chauvanist; I don't believe there's something intrinsically
better about a US job than an Indian job.  Why should I begrudge the
employment of someone in Bombay just because someone in San Jose is out of
work?  Sure, the person in San Jose needs the money; so does the person in
Bombay.  Sure, there's a lot of corruption in Bombay that siphons money
away to the rich and to the government; the same thing is true in San

The only argument people seem to be able to offer here is that I should
somehow feel more "loyal" to the United States than to India, or that the
US is somehow in "competition" with India and only one of us can "win."
Not only is that contrary to everything I know about macroeconomics, but
it's also inherently bogus on an emotional level for me.  I don't feel any
loyality to groups of more than a few thousand people; anything above that
is simply an abstract entity with some principles I agree with and others
that I don't agree with.

> The steel industry is a perfect example of how they often never do.

The steel industry is a perfect example of an industry where, in the long
run, machines are going to be doing much of that work, not people.

> You are a typical libertarian in that you only care about the standing
> of the upper class and only pay lip service and make empty predictions
> for the middle class.


While I'm a bit of a social libertarian, I am about as far from an
economic libertarian as you can possibly get.  I'm far more of a socialist
than a libertarian.  I just don't like sloppy economic reasoning.

However, what I am *not* is a national loyalist, and I think that's what's
throwing you.  I think you consider US jobs to be inherently more
important than Indian jobs.  Nothing necessarily wrong with that, in that
lots of people feel that way, but I think it's worth honestly facing that
fact in yourself and deciding what you feel about believing that.

Russ Allbery (             <>

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