- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 18, 2004

What’s the source of outsourcing?

I have great respect for Bruce Bartlett, but his assertion that only “very low-end operations that require little skill or training” are being outsourced doesn’t reflect what is going on in the marketplace (“Anxieties over tech outsourcing,” Commentary, Feb. 4). Since when are engineering, radiology, software development, accounting or architecture jobs considered “low end”? These are the types of jobs for which we encourage our children to get good educations but that are being transferred rapidly overseas. In one case, a high-paid, well-educated software engineer was sent to India by her company to train her replacements and, shortly thereafter, she and her entire team were fired. Mr. Bartlett points out that Indians are competing on price and quality. With India specializing in technology, how can Mr. Bartlett say only low-end jobs are affected?

I also dispute the notion that displaced workers are being transferred into better jobs within the same company. Though I’m sure there are good corporate citizens out there, I know of more instances of companies laying off white-collar U.S. workers and replacing them with offshore workers. What higher level of education do you tell someone with a doctorate to aspire to? Even so, will doctorate holders get decent jobs in their specialties when they were too “expensive” in the first place?

Mr. Bartlett must come to grips with the fact that, as Hewlett Packard Chief Executive Officer Carly Fiorina stated: “There is no job that is America’s God-given right anymore.” That includes the high-skilled, high-paying jobs on which Mr. Bartlett would like to believe we still have a lock.

REP.DONALDA. MANZULLO

Chairman

Committee on Small Business

Washington

Regarding Paul Craig Robert’s column “Where did the jobs go?” (Commentary, Sunday): The trend to outsourcing and loss of “manufacturing and knowledge jobs” is inevitable and, indeed, may escalate.

There are several reasons for this.

First, with high-speed communications (the Internet, etc.) and modern transportation, we are living in a global economy. We are not, nor can we afford to be, isolated from the rest of the world.

Second, we do not have a monopoly on technology or skilled workers, and many other countries have high-tech and semiskilled people who are hardworking, dedicated and (most important) a lot cheaper. Inevitably, businesses will be attracted to those sources of labor.

Third, many countries are not saddled with restrictive laws and regulatory agencies (e.g., the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, etc.), high taxes or court decisions on employment practices. Though such restrictions certainly are well-intentioned, capital will tend to shun that type of business environment.

Fourth, free-trade agreements are too one-sided and do not recognize realities. An autoworker in Mexico making $1.25 an hour (which is a handsome wage in that country) is not a good prospect for buying a $999 computer with all the “bells and whistles,” and anyway, that computer probably is being made in Taiwan, mainland China, Malaysia or wherever. Maybe that Mexican autoworker will eventually catch up to American standards, but that could take a very long time and, until then, what happens to our people and our economy? Didn’t Ross Perot warn us of the “giant sucking sound” of our good manufacturing jobs going south?

Meanwhile, we’re running enormous deficits and generating economic “fault lines” all over the place, all of which are dangers to our stability and, ultimately, our democracy.

L. BLOOM

Owings Mills, Md.

Under Clinton, Democrats were hawks

With polls showing that an increasing number of Americans believe the Bush administration either lied or exaggerated Iraq’s weapons potential, it is appropriate that the Senate Intelligence Committee investigate prewar claims by President Bush on the Iraqi threat (“Bush confers with Kay, sets appointment of panel,” Nation, Feb. 3).

It is equally appropriate that the committee expand the probe to pinpoint the intelligence that prompted then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, in 1998 to co-sponsor a war resolution urging President Clinton “to take all necessary and appropriate actions to respond to the threat posed by Iraq’s refusal to end its weapons of mass destruction programs” and “that would send as clear a message as possible that we are going to force, one way or another, diplomatically or militarily, Iraq to comply with their own agreements and with international law.” Sen. Patrick Leahy, Vermont Democrat, and Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, also were co-sponsors of this resolution.

Had the Clinton administration followed through with these Democratic Senate leaders’ admonition in 1998, there may not have been the need for ranking committee member Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV, West Virginia Democrat, to insist that the intelligence panel “addressthequestionof whether intelligence was exaggerated or misused” by Mr. Bush in 2004.

W. HUSTON SMITH

Indian Wells, Calif.

Sugar-free trade

It is discouraging that you would publish a column (“Sweetening a good trade deal,” Commentary, Feb. 7) with stunning inaccuracies, ones you easily could have checked.

Far from costing U.S. taxpayers money, U.S. sugar policy has been a revenue raiser for the Treasury in 12 of the past 14 years; for fiscal 2002 through 2004, U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates revenues from U.S. sugar policy at $239 million. Congress designed the program to run at no cost to taxpayers, and it is. The government is neither buying nor storing sugar, and it pays no subsidies to American sugar farmers.

These farmers are among the most efficient in the world. Two-thirds of the world’s more than 100 countries that produce sugar do so at a higher cost per pound than do American sugar farmers.

American consumers pay less for their sugar than do their counterparts abroad, not more. U.S. average retail sugar prices are 22 percent below the average paid by consumers in the rest of the developed world.

Furthermore, as the U.S. free trade agreement with Australia that was concluded Feb. 8 demonstrates, bilateral and regional trade agreements need not include sugar. The vast majority completed so far do not. The only way to address the global sugar subsidy problem is globally, in the World Trade Organization (WTO) — all countries, all programs — not piecemeal in bilateral or regional agreements. The U.S. sugar industry has long endorsed the comprehensive, multilateral WTO approach.

Please check the facts before maligning the highly efficient U.S. sugar industry and the 146,000 hard-working farmers, workers and their families in 19 states who depend upon it for their livelihoods.

CAROLYN CHENEY

Chair

U.S. Sugar Industry Group

Arlington

Disappointment that the Australian Free Trade Agreement is less than comprehensive — and does not include all sectors and products — should be tempered by the knowledge that negotiations are give-and-take and do not result in 100 percent for either side (“Bush plans commerce talks with Thais: Australia pact on sugar seen poor precedent,” Business, Friday).

Each bilateral trade agreement is a unique negotiation between countries. Concessions in one round of talks do not automatically set a precedent for future negotiations.

We should not let the perfect be the enemy of the good in situations where moving forward will help the U.S. economy gather strength.

Increased trade between countries means more opportunities for American workers, farmers and businesses. Ninety-six percent of the world’s consumers live outside our borders, and we congratulate our trade negotiators for securing greater market access for U.S. goods and services.

It is critical for the United States to maintain its ability to open markets overseas and retain leadership and momentum in the global trading arena.

THOMAS J. DONOHUE

President and CEO

U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Washington

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