Editor's note: Joe Johnson is editor-in-chief of Business Reform Magazine, the leading Christian business magazine with over 100,000 readers. Each issue features practical advice on operating successfully in business while glorifying God.
Inc.com reported this week that according to a new government survey only a small percentage of layoffs in the first quarter of 2004 were related to jobs moving overseas. The report indicates that only 4,633 of the 239,361 private sector jobs lost between January and March of this year had anything to do with outsourcing. This news comes at a good time for the Bush administration, especially in combination with other recent data estimating that the U.S. economy has gained a million new jobs in the last few months.
There's been plenty of talk lately about what outsourcing has done to our economy and the liberal media has focused in on large corporations like Yahoo! and Ford, vilifying any and every company that has decided to ship some of its labor over to countries that only recently have gained the technology to be able to create products that can now compete with American-made ones. In the past, the outsourcing threat was not nearly what it is now, given that most countries in which the cost of labor was extremely cheap were not able to muster the quality of products made here in the United States. That, however, has changed. With technological advances taking place all over the world, many countries?from India to Mexico?are now able to manufacture products that can match their American counterparts.
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Put simply, given the amount of regulation the American government currently holds over production in this country, outsourcing is not only a viable option, it is also a wise business move. Since the Wagner Act of 1935, the government has created a market climate that sees the employees of this nation becoming more and more certain of their "entitlement" to getting and keeping employment. Instead of working harder and learning how to add more value to the company for which they work, the current generation of the American workforce has turned its attention from production to consumption. Throw in all the other regulations that government has set for businesses?healthcare, worker's compensation, social security matching, forced unemployment insurance, and the millions of other costly regulations?and you have a great recipe for failure.
The average unionized worker down at your local carburetor plant, however, isn't going to like that explanation for why it is good to lay him off and ship his job to another country. He's probably going to want to know why it's okay for the government to stay out of the picture as he receives his pink slip and has to go stand in line at the unemployment office.
For him, then, I'll take a step back and lay the problem out more clearly. To answer the question of whether outsourcing is good or bad, you must first take into consideration the question of why outsourcing is taking place. If it is taking place because of an increase in specialization and the division of labor in order to increase our income, then it is good. If, however, outsourcing is occurring because we are consuming more than we are producing (that is, because we're being unproductive), then the very fact that we are outsourcing our labor is evidence enough to show just how poor our economy is functioning. As evidence of this, The Washington Post this week reported that our country's trade deficit in April was a record $48.3 billion. Simply put, we are consuming more than we are producing.
The answer to our problem is to change our thinking, which means changing our theology and worldview. We need to adopt a biblical view of economics and business, which will then lead us to focus on entrepreneurship and productivity instead of corporatism and consumerism. In the process, we would remove all subsidies and consequently begin turning this fascist and socialist economy into a true free market economy. This would increase our worldwide division of labor, allowing American workers to specialize on what they do best, which would increase the standard of living and actually allow us to consume more because we produce much more.
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Your average manufacturing employee isn't going to like that answer, but sometimes the truth is harsh. The best way to keep your job is to quit complaining and figure out how to make the organization money while increasing its productivity. Freedom can be a tough responsibility to bear, but the rewards are priceless.
To read Joe's article in the current issue of Business Reform Magazine, click here