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Offshore and Outsource This

offshoring call centers

I have a friend who does call center outsourcing. They have call centers all over the world - USA, Argentina, Canada, Philippines, India, all over! Naturally, lots of their projects are met with protectionism and lots of times when he tells people what he does, they get mad about how unpatriotic it is. When you get past that, he loves to talk about the regional specialization in the call centers - that they don't put support centers in Argentina because that doesn't suit the Argentine personality. Instead Argentina gets sales centers because that is their nature: be a little pushy and close the deal. Philippines gets more support centers - they are more culturally focused on pleasing other people. USA and Canada get the more high end/high touch calls. You might even call that "specialization".

offshoring filming from LA

I have another friend who I was hanging out with and noticed that she had a fleece hat and gloves from Canadian outdoor gear company MEC. Knowing that she wouldn't have ordered it from their catalog, I asked how she got it. Turns out that her firm does a lot of filming in Canada because - for whatever reason - it's a lot cheaper to fly a couple of folks from LA to Canada and do a week's worth of filming up there than to have those same people stay in their homes in LA and do the filming in LA. You know, LA, the video entertainment industry capital of the world.

offshoring idiocy to Canada

Then this morning I read this story from Reuters about a Canadian man who was very upset with his bank for outsourcing and offshoring some of their processing to the US. Well, it's funny on a couple levels. First, this guy is a real Problem Remover. I mean, talk about finding a way to let a company know how you really feel about them - paying back a debt in pennies is Hilarius. More on that later, but I'm trying to stay on topic. Second, this guy is an absolute idiot. I mean, we're offshoring work to Canada, Canada is offshoring work to the US, if we boycotted every company that offshored anything we'd all be fucked because let's be honest, the world is about trade. You don't have to be a genius to figure this out, Adam Smith figured it out a little over 200 years ago in his work on the Division of Labor (or Labour...) which is part of "specialization". So why is this all so confusing in the modern times when our goods are inextricably linked to trade - both nationally and internationally.

problem removing and hypocrisy

Again, take this man that was using the online payment system to send one penny a day. Online payment systems require web browsers, computers, hard drives, keyboards. Were all of those components made in Canada? Maybe that test is too harsh, maybe he only hates the USA and no other countries - would it be possible to buy a computer and the software that runs on it without some part of it touching the USA along the way? Certainly not.

If we are to "think globally and act locally" then someone who is opposed to offshoring from their country should also make sure that they keep their business within their state. While they're at it, stay within the city. Hey, why not the neighborhood and while you're at it - charity begins at home - don't offshore any work outside of your home and see how long that lasts. Really, we all "outsource" and we all "offshore" in the most unpatriotic way.

american pie

"Wealth" is not zero sum. Aside from what the Monopoly board game teaches us, we are all made better off by trading. That is true at the community, state, and inter-state levels and it's called the "increasing pie".

Protectionism is cute and cuddly - but if you really try to live your life in a manner that is consistent with this view then you will end up living a very sad life that lacks all sorts of higher end medical, educational, and cultural enrichment just like summer camp. And, you will be isolating the world from whatever benefits you may have to offer them. The "size of the pie" will have decreased.


Now, I'm not ranting against "voting with your dollars" which is kind of what this man is doing. He's being a vocal customer which is something I love and that is absolutely his right. When you go out and trade with people - make sure that they are trading with you in a proper manner. Make sure that the good you are getting has all the qualities (big enough TVs, small enough mp3 players, clothing made under a sufficient wage, coffee that is shade grown) that you want. Just make sure that the qualities you are buying "locally produced" actually make sense and have some value beyond simple xenophobia for xenophobia's sake.

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I really don't mind outsourcing call centers as long as the people employed there can speak the language they are dealing with clearly, otherwise is just makes the problem you are attempting to resolve worse.