Out of Control Policy Blog

A new brand of protectionism

In California, some high-tech workers celebrated labor day protesting outside a Bank of America in Silicon Valley because B of A outsources tech work to India. The latest sign of a growing protectionist backlash against offshore outsourcing.

Its a familiar story. As some work becomes more routine, soon workers in other countries can do the same work and will take lower wages and the lowest cost production method shifts overseas. Hey, it's what keeps prices of stuff down, and is why we have more stuff in the US than anywhere else.

But naturally, people don't want to embrace this kind of change when it comes to their jobs, even if they like having cheaper stuff.

Government employees have been very aggressive in riding this protectionist wave. They already oppose outsourcing, and offshore outsourcing gives them so many new buttons to push. This battle gets even more emotional and sometimes absurd with jobs, tax base, national security, and other protectionist watchwords all tangled together. In a very good Charlotte Observer article that gives a good overview of the backlash, none of the state legislators behind anti-outsourcing legislation had even a remotely articulate reason why.

At least Congressman Duncan Hunter's new "buy american" legislation, though he has some military sense on his side, the provision looks too sweeping. And there are clear signs that legislation is in trouble.

In the final analysis "The best way to destroy jobs is for government to try and
'protect' them."

Adrian Moore is Vice President, Policy


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