Outsourcing, Continued

Visitors start a lively discussion, but may be missing my point.

My “Just Say No to Outsourcing” piece has gotten a little discussion going in its comments. It appears that some readers are confusing “employ America” with “buy American.”

I’m all for the first, but have limits on the second. While I’d rather buy American-made products, I do have to spend my money where I’ll get the best value for my dollar. Nowhere is this more important than when making a major expenditure, like one for a car.

As I was growing up, my aunt was vehemently opposed to buying anything not made in the US. While that was possible back in the 1950s and 1960s, it soon became very difficult. She stubbornly stuck to her guns for a very long time, buying US-branded televisions and cameras and cars when she could have gotten better quality products, often at a lower price, from Japanese or German manufacturers. In the end, she had to give in, at least on the electronics stuff.

There was a time when the US was at the top of the game, when US-made products were technologically advanced and of better quality than you could get anywhere else in the world. But with some exceptions, that’s changed. For years, people have been recognizing that they can get more value for their hard-earned money by buying products made and marketed by overseas companies.

Personally, I think it’s tragic. I believe that America’s failure to stay at the top of the product manufacturing game is a result of laziness on the part of R&D teams and cost-cutting measures on the part of management. It also has a lot to do with pay levels, benefit packages (often required by unions), and the cost of living in this country. Even if we could make the best product in a given category — say, digital cameras — we couldn’t afford to make it or sell it. All these things combined — not to mention our smug “America is the greatest country in the world” attitude — have led to our manufacturing downfall. After all, it’s hard to make yourself better if you already think you’re the best you can be.

And things are getting worse, as goods mass-produced in China and Korea at rock bottom prices flood the marketplace, replacing quality with items so inexpensive that we can buy with the atittude that when it breaks, we can just throw it away and get another one.

I tried to buy a leather wallet in a leather goods store about a month ago and couldn’t find a single one that wasn’t made in China. It scares me when we get to the point that we simply don’t have a choice. I know now how my aunt felt when she bough her first Canon camera. But at least she was getting a quality product from an established and respected manufacturer.

Anyway, before I alienate any other readers with what will likely be taken as an unpatiotic attitude (a dangerous position to be in these days), I just want to remind readers that if they love America, they should support it any way they feel comfortable supporting it.

Although I’m not comfortable enough to buy a Ford, I’m very happy to avoid doing business with US companies that send customer service jobs overseas. And I’m not afraid to speak out against overseas outsourcing.

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2 thoughts on “Outsourcing, Continued

  1. Dear Maria,

    I still fail to see a difference between buying a product and buying a service, except, perhaps, that buying a foreign product results in profits returning to the parent country, while an outsourcing U.S. contractor that utilizes foreign labor retains its profits in the U.S.

    Kinda like the Wickenburg situation re: sales tax revenues lost to Baja Wickenburg.

    Tough on UAW and CWA members, as well as Wickenburg retailers, but they have all been undercut by “globalization.”

  2. Right on – there is a distinct difference between outsourcing products and services. I’m aghast that so many companies have not suffered stronger backlash in the marketplace for outsourcing their customer support to foreign nations where their grasp of the more subtle nuances of American English is… well… suspect. Soon we will see retribution from the marketplace. I have been disappointed with the customer service 100% of the time when I became aware that the call center was based in Asia. 100% of the time, and we consult in China so I’m not biased against the culture.

    As for outsourcing products? If the quality can be replicated, who cares where it came from?

What do you think?