Sunday, July 27, 2008

Insourcing

My recent business trip took me to a large consumer-oriented corporation (LCOC) in a medium-sized American city. I work as a subcontractor for a software firm, and we were sent to LCOC to train the employees of another contracting company to do technical support for one of our software applications.

But this was no ordinary training. The new tech-support guys work for a company in India, and they will be taking over the help desk calls within LCOC for the software designed by my firm. An existing team within the IT department of LCOC currently handles the in-house support calls for our product, and most of these employees will lose their jobs when the Indian group takes over their functions.

So far, so good. Outsourcing to India is a normal phenomenon; everyone in the software design field is used to it. Those of us who have advanced programming skills and interface extensively with the customer — which group fortunately includes me — do not fear for their jobs, but others are not so lucky. Local TV news shows often feature sob stories from the unfortunate programmers or customer service reps who have lost their jobs to their counterparts in Mumbai or Chennai.

What makes the situation at LCOC different (at least to me; I haven’t run into it before) is that half of the Indian contracting team — the daytime support staff — are being imported into the USA, to work in the same city that houses the headquarters of LCOC.
- - - - - - - - -
Those who remain in India will be assigned to handle overnight support calls, which occur in their local daylight hours. The team in the USA will cover the daytime calls, and will be able to go on-site as required.

But they will not be employed by LCOC. They will remain employees (or contact workers) of the Indian firm, which will provide their services to LCOC at a fixed contractual rate. They will be paid about a third of the amount typically received by the laid-off people they replace. The local LCOC employee who was assigned to assist us in their training has been given several months’ notice of his own dismissal.

To recap: new outsourced workers are being imported in the United States to take the jobs previously held by American workers at a fraction of the cost. LCOC saves money big time, but for the laid-off workers the situation stinks.

Don’t get me wrong — I like Indians. All the Indians I have met personally are decent, friendly, well-educated people. The LCOC contractors are no exception. They speak fluent English — albeit with a thick accent which will undoubtedly make their work difficult for a while — and I’m sure they will eventually perform their tasks well.

And if America has to be overrun by foreigners, I would rather have Indians than Arabs or Mexicans.

The big question is: Why do we have to import foreigners to do these jobs?

These are not “jobs that Americans won’t do”. They’re good jobs, and Americans line up to apply for them.

And this is not regular outsourcing, in which the IT staff are laid off to allow a much cheaper crew in India to do the same job remotely.

These people are being brought into the country to replace Americans in their jobs so that the profit margin of a large corporation may be maintained or increased.

From a free-market, purely capitalistic standpoint, this operation makes sense. The obligation of the board of directors of LCOC is to maximize profits for the company’s shareholders, and not to assure Americans that they will retain their jobs. LCOC is not a social services agency.

But there’s still something about all this that bothers me.

I’m not an absolute capitalist — I believe that the destruction of communities and cultures for the sake of profit is immoral and misguided.

Importing foreigners into our country just to guarantee corporate profits is wrong. It does damage to our common culture, erodes our social fabric, and furthers the atomization of our society.

Maybe some free-market advocate can convince me that I’m mistaken, but I think all this is wrong.

34 comments:

Joanne said...

I called a number given to me to use to call for computer help, and I talked to a man in Turkey. I must admit it ticked me off. As I do not know alot about computer security and such, I didn't like the fact that he could actually get my computer running without even being at it. I don't want people in Turkey being able to control my computer.

As for importing labour from India to America and paying them less monies for the jobs Americans were doing is just plain wrong. The Almighty dollar rules, I guess. I don't know how other people feel, but I do not like talking to people I cannot understand; it is so annoying. I wonder if this doesn't hurt these companies' businesses in the long run anyhow.

Chieftain of Seir said...

I hate to say it, but I would hire the Indians even if I had to pay them the same wages as American. Heck, I would hire the Indians even if I had to pay them higher wages then the Americans. By and large, Americans don't want to work hard for any amount of money.

Of course, for me to say that is stereotyping. I am sure there are Americans out there who would work just hard as most Indians, if not harder. In fact, I know some myself.

But by and large, Americans will not work hard. This is especially true of the younger generation.

When I first entering the work force, I remember being amazed at how shamelessly lazy my fellow white males were. I have seen a guy beg to trade places with older woman in her fifties because she had the easier job. I have had 7 guys who got paid the same amount as me watching me work and cracking jokes about how I must have been on crack to be working so hard. I have seen apprentices refuse to do work because they thought it was to hard, and so it was done by a journeymen in his forties (the can get away with this crap because people where desperate for help).

My brother went to school to learn how to work on computers. Everyone who got the same education as he did was qualified to take a civil services exam that would have lead to a really good job for this area. But almost no one in his class took it because they were all afraid they could not pass the drug test. The one exception (besides my brother) was a immigrant from Africa. And if you were thinking the class was made up mostly of minorities think again. The class was lily white.

You could argue that all this is just anecdotal. And you would be right. How can you quantify a broad section of the population's willingness to work? But take a look at who is going for the Engineering or other hard science degrees. By and large, it's not native born Americans who are going for those degrees unless they are Asian Americans. I think that says something about our cultures willingness to work (though granted, I never got anything in the way of education myself so maybe I should not cast stones).

All this has been good for me and my brother. I have a job that takes most people 15 to 20 years to get and I am still in my twenties with no education to speak of. Some people say that I have not paid my dues and they are right to an extent. I don't have the skills that the old timers use to have when they got my job. But there was no one else to hire. My brother has done even better for himself.

And the thing is, I don't even work as hard as most of the immigrants that I know. Those guys often have more education then I do and work harder then I do to boot. The sad thing is, everyone expects the immigrants to work hard. But every one is amazed that I do.

So I don't worry about immigrants destroying the culture. At least in my area, it is already destroyed. The immigrants can hardly make it much worse.

Far Sparkle said...

If the Indians are physically in the US, I would expect them to be subject to all US laws, having Green Cards, paying all appropriate taxes, etc. If not the case here, this would be similar in principle to displacing US laws with sharia because Muslims are involved.
Please, if you know negative details, contact the approprite authorities, and public interest groups.

Zenster said...

I’m not an absolute capitalist — I believe that the destruction of communities and cultures for the sake of profit is immoral and misguided.

I am an absolute capitalist and this still stinks. American based companies have a moral obligation to create wealth among the population that supports their profit-base. Period.

Another good example of this is in how retailers and fast food outlets adamantly refuse to create full time positions. In order to avoid issuing benefits to full time employees, all but management staff are hired part time only and are prohibited from working long enough hours to qualify for benefits.

Communities aren't built with jobs. They're built with careers. If organizations do not provide career paths with upward mobility, then they are creating deadend job slots that nobody can build a real life around. No home purchases, no families and no communities.

Finally such practices are counterproductive. Especially so with respect to the LCOC in question. In order to boost profits, they are starving out their customer base. You can only handicap a horse so much before it no longer crosses the finish line.

American businesses and, in particular, multinationals have been doing this for some time now and need to experience damaging consumer boycotts for such practices. Safeway grocery stores tried the part time staffing strategy and local community boycotts choked their bottom line to the tune of millions of dollars.

By obliging me to withhold my business, Safeway successfully taught me to shop at other less expensive outlets and permanently lost a solid fraction of my spending at their stores for all time. There needs to repercussions for such blatant dollar-whoring. If American businesses cannot bring themselves to create wealth within the country that supports and patronizes them, then they need an economic smackdown.

On the flipside, imagine how powerful an advertising tool it would be for a company to clearly demonstrate that it avoided offshoring practice and other predatory economic measures. Consumers would flock to them, even if their prices were slightly higher. I know that I would.

latté island said...

The company is merely passing the costs along to the American taxpayer. These new foreign workers often import their entire family, including elderly parents who get free medical care at our expense. The American taxpayer also paid for the infrastructure that makes everything work better here. This isn't capitalism, it's socialism for corporate profit.

Bilgeman said...

chieftain of seir:

" I have a job that takes most people 15 to 20 years to get and I am still in my twenties with no education to speak of. Some people say that I have not paid my dues and they are right to an extent."

Keep working as hard as you assert that you do and get back to me in 20 years.

I predict that somewhere along the way you'll realize that all the hard work you have done has done naught for you but enrich your employer, and if you've been VERY lucky, you might have pocketed a dime on every dollar that you've made him.

Consider the Baron's tale. The LCOC was apparently turning a profit by employing a US native help desk staff,(and thereby supporting the economy of the medium-sized American city that they live in), but that wasn't enough for Management, was it?

To line their own pockets,(prolly via bonuses), and enrich their investors,(who are fundamentally only people who expect to get paid for sitting on their asses and gambling...since you like to point out how lazy people are), the Management just pink-slipped their workforce/customer base.

Now you tell me how a hypothetical "help-desk hard-charger" holding a pink-slip feels now?
And how much extra remuneration did HE realize for working all the overtime...(oh? he was salaried, huh? That's TOO bad!).

Betcha he feels chumped, don't he?

Y'know, ace, I spent a good part of MY 12-hour shift aboard here watching two roustabouts risk their lives by loading 15,000 pound metal "cutting boxes" from their rig and onto our pitching decks.
Those lads MAY be making $15 an hour.

That ain't much coin for the risk of getting crushed by a 7 ton dumpster far from any paramedic squad.

Observations like yours really piss me off.
I betcha that you wouldn't like the "Eye of Sauron" turned on you at work...not one little bit.
But that's what you're doing to others.
(And if your co-workers are really as lazy as you say, then I wouldn't be tooting my own horn too much about what a firebreather YOU are...it's easy to make jumpshots when you're the only player with functioning legs in a Wheelchair Basketball league, y'know?)

But you go right on ahead and burn yourself out at work. Forsake your wife and kids, sell off your friends and forget any social life you might have wanted.
By the time your heart explodes at age 50, you'll have utterly no reason to live.

I've seen what happens to guys like you 25 or 30 years down the line.
It ain't pretty.

Brett_McS said...

The simple answer is: It's none of our business. Either a businessman can use his capital the way he see fit, or he can't. The former is liberty, the later is servitude.

Tackle the issue of immigrant workers on the political level, fine; but let people use their own property. Don't conflate the two issues into one.

NJArtist said...

What bemused me in this argument is the presumption that somehow "capitalism" has the right to leapfrog over national boundaries
and destroy communities all in teh name of the Almighty Dollar; yet, the same people who demand almost free rein or reign of "capitalism" declare that the constitutional rights of the American citizen do not apply to foreign combatants. If you are going to demand that one element of the community transcends all borders and citizens, then you have to permit the same argument for the other.

The right position is that it is not capital we are dealing with but capitalists; and, they are part of the national community not some international super-elite. As part of the national community they have no right to destroy the fabric of their native nations for the sake of profit.

Baron Bodissey said...

Communities aren't built with jobs. They're built with careers. If organizations do not provide career paths with upward mobility, then they are creating deadend job slots that nobody can build a real life around. No home purchases, no families and no communities

Sorry, Zenster old boy. You're not a pure capitalist if you believe those things.

In a pure capitalist system, a manager has NO obligation other than to maximize his shareholders' return on their investment. Period. That's it.

That's why I'm not a pure captitalist. I believe communities and the nation are important, and part of what keeps us free. Restrictions on what crosses the borders are justified under some circumstances, even if it keeps the international market from being completely free.

The same principle means: no selling centrifuges to Iran, no matter how profitable it is.

There are limits.

babs said...

I thought that in order to import workers (legally) an employer had to apply for an H-1B visa for the employee and show that there was a shortage of domestic workers able to do the job.
That certainly doesn't seem to be the case in this instance as the employer is laying off the domestic workers. So, I wonder how the employer got work visas for these people and whether the layed off employees have any legal recourse.

erdebe said...

The way i see it, is that not only company's have stakeholders. In a way every citizen of a country is a stakeholder of that country. Like the dutch citizens are stakeholders of the "company" of the netherlands, the americans are stakeholders of the company USA.

As a capitalist i understand that stakeholders of company's want to maximize their profits. But so do the citizens, the stakeholders, of a country. They also want to maximize profits for their "company".

The thing that seems to be happening here is that private stakeholders maximize the profits of their private company, at the expense of the profits of the public stakeholders, the citizens of the USA.

So basically, as a capitalist, you applaud the maximizing of profit by private stakeholders, but, also as a capitalist, it annoys you that it is minimizing the profit of the public stakeholders that we, as citizens all are!

Baron Bodissey said...

Ah, but Babs, you overlook the fact that these are not employees of LCOC. LCOC has signed a contract with an Indian company, which has then sent its employees to the US to fulfill the terms of that contract.

I don't know what visa rules apply here.

spackle said...

"The local LCOC employee who was assigned to assist us in their training has been given several months’ notice of his own dismissal."

This is akin to digging your own grave for your own execution. And it happens all the time. It happend to me once and I just flipped them off and split. Sure I lost a coupe of weeks pay but it was worth it.

On a seprate note. A friend of mine met a very nice couple from Taiwan this weekend (one was gay) and was told a very interesting (if annoying) story. These two are educated speak good english and have been working in the US for over a year now. There first stop was Kansas where they felt uncomfortable because the locals at their job would often give them "funny looks". Gee, I wonder why? Now they have relocated to the east coast and found new jobs. The problem? They are only on Visas which they keep renewing. They want to eventually get a green card. After whining about other "problems" with the US and China my friend asked them why they were here? "Because there are so many freedoms here". I never thought of Taiwan being particularly repressive? Who knew?

Joanne said...

Consumers hold the power, and if you do not like that a company is outsourcing or insourcing foreign labour, then do not use their services or buy their products. Individually we have little power, but united we have a lot of power.

Robert Marchenoir said...

Haha. I love this debate.

I'm a believer in free markets and small government myself, which, in my own country, puts me barely above Nazis and paedophiles.

But I do have some reservations about unfettered, dogmatic libertarianism. And I do admit exceptions.

I remember expressing them once here, in a thread about the French subsidiary of Amazon and the law fixing the price of books. I was thoroughly blasted for suggesting that in my own country -- not pretending to make it a worldwide rule -- things might be better this way.

You will pardon me a minute of schadenfreude when I see that, on this very pro-market site, the Baron himself gets worried when ruthless capitalism hurts his own country in such a blatant way.

And when Zenster supports him while pretending he's an absolute capitalist -- he's not. I agree with the Baron's explanation.

So maybe things might not be that simple after all. Especially when you're no longer on the cozy side of globalisation, and it's others who begin to reap the benefits.

Baron Bodissey said...

Robert --

I have never indicated that I am a total libertarian or free marketeer. I generally consider myself a libertarian conservative, but am not a purist or a zealot. There are limits, economically and otherwise.

For liberty to flourish, certain conditions must be met. One of those conditions is the maintainance of cohesive communities and nations.

It is the duty of our freely elected representatives to enact restrictions on "free" trade if it threatens the above conditions, since it would also threaten our liberty.

I hope that clarifies my stance.

Zenster said...

Brett_McS: The simple answer is: It's none of our business. Either a businessman can use his capital the way he see fit, or he can't. The former is liberty, the later is servitude.

Yes it is "our business" to ensure that companies adhere to legal and ethical rules of conduct. Just like it is "our business" to intervene in an ongoing crime or criminal enterprise. Abdication of that right and obligation is true "servitude", better known as slavery.

Baron: In a pure capitalist system, a manager has NO obligation other than to maximize his shareholders' return on their investment. Period. That's it.

What about any obligation to do so in a moral fashion?

Restrictions on what crosses the borders are justified under some circumstances, even if it keeps the international market from being completely free.

Given that the international playing field is nowhere near level, this goes without saying.

The matter of not selling centrifuges to Iran isn't about profit, but the immorality of furthering a terrorist regime. You are confuing the issue.

Joanne: Consumers hold the power, and if you do not like that a company is outsourcing or insourcing foreign labour, then do not use their services or buy their products. Individually we have little power, but united we have a lot of power.

Le bingo! Hit them where it hurts, in the bottom line. Boycotts are the only realistic response to immoral conduct by American-based (or other) companies. Please observe how in my original comment, I noted that:

American businesses and, in particular, multinationals have been doing this for some time now and need to experience damaging consumer boycotts for such practices.

Robert Marchenoir: And when Zenster supports him while pretending he's an absolute capitalist -- he's not. I agree with the Baron's explanation.

All of you seem to have forgotten one important aspect.

First off, capitalism is not a liscense to be immoral. Businesses are run by people and ALL people have an obligation to their fellow citizens to be moral.

When that fellow citizen is the consumer who supports your corporate revenue stream, you DO have a moral obligation not to cheat them or help ruin their life.

All of this centers on one single and very critical human trait:

LOYALTY

Capitalism does not excuse ANYONE from the moral obligation to demonstrate palpable loyalty to those who keep your business afloat. Yes, you may run your business any damn way you please, but immoral conduct can and should be punished. Sometimes legally, sometimes through public censure in the form of consumer boycotts and bad publicity. Not all forms of morality can be legislated. Disloyalty, outside of the military and divorce courts, doesn't necessarily carry any legal penalties. It in no way means that companies which are disloyal to their customer base and countries of operation shouldn't be made to suffer for rank displays of corporate greed.

Baron: One of those conditions is the maintainance of cohesive communities and nations.

Isn't morality that which promotes "cohesion" in all functional societies? Isn't loyalty an important moral force?

Absolute capitalism has rules that reach straight down into the Social Contract. It is why capitalism is such a powerful force for innovation and creation of wealth. In numerous ways, capitalism mirrors much of social interaction and even brain chemistry.

Part of the social contract is loyalty to those who demonstrate loyalty to yourself. That works on a business level and on a personal level, just the way it ought to.

Does anyone still insist that capitalist enterprises are not to be criticized or penalized for disloyal or immoral conduct?

Chieftain of Seir said...

Since Mr. Bilgeman seems to have missed the point of my comment, I shall attempt to clarify the point I thought I was trying to make.

I feel that this post by Baron Bodissey represents the essences of Gates of Vienna. It is a lament for a culture being lost, a defense of the idea that culture matters, and call for the culture to be defended against some villain that is thought to be threatening it.

My sympathies are entirely with Mr. Bodissy on the first two points. It is on the latter point that he starts to lose me. In charging after those he considers villains, I think Mr. Bodisy does a disservice to the more fundamental issues. Even worse, I think he has a double standard when it comes to raising cultural issues. Problems he takes great care to point out in other cultures he ignores when it comes to his own.

Let us say I was to look at the poverty that most Muslims who live a European country suffer under and argue that they are the innocent victims of economic forces beyond their control. Should I be foolish enough to advance such an argument on these pages I would be torn shreds. All sorts of facts, figures, and anecdotes would be thrown my way to demonstrate that it is flaws in their culture that causes the problems that they suffer under.

But should I turn around and use the same types of arguments to try to point on the failures of American culture, I would receive counter arguments that blame the “man” for most of the problems. In short Mr. Bodissy and the majority of his commentators argue that culture is the primary thing that matters when it comes to Muslims, but then they switch and start blaming economic forces for the poor performance of their own social-economic sub group.

If Mr. Bodissy experience with Indians is anything like mine, he will admit that those Indians he talks about are unlikely to stay in low paying jobs for long. Indians are great believers in family unity and the value of education. It does not take them long to quickly climb the economic ladder because they pool their resources and discipline their children. Thus, they quickly pool up enough capital to own their own business and their children do well in school. This is not just my subjective impression of Indian immigrants, statistic back me up.

So how come Indians can come here and do so well economically speaking while we suffer at the hands of immoral corporations who just want to increase their profit margins?
Like Mr. Bodissy, I believe that culture matters. But I don’t believe that economics dictates the culture. Rather, I believe that culture dictates the economics. I don’t believe that the sharp increase in single mothers over the last forty years was due to economics. I don’t believe that the sharp drop in the savings rate over the last forty years was due to economics. I don’t believe that the sharp fall in educational achievement over the last forty years was due to economics. Some people might have had misfortune, but nobody forced the vast majority of Americans to spend more than they made on big SUVs, plasma TVs, cable, or junk from wall mart.

And I do believe that the quality of the American work forces has sharply deteriorated over the last 40 years. I have never met someone who was born before the boomers who I would hesitate to trust my wallet to (I am sure there were some that thieves, but I have not meet them). But after that everyone’s moral character seems to have gone downhill. Both the statistics and my own personal experience seem to bear this out.

I am sorry that Mr. Bilgeman thought that I was bragging about how my hard work got me my job. The truth of the matter is that my work ethic had very little to do with it. I am a classic underachiever. I never pursued an education and I never really tried to better myself. I rarely work more than a forty hour week. I don’t have a type A personality and I am generally easy going. As I said in my first comment, I don’t really have the skills to justify the job I have now.

I got to where I am by default. Other people my age with the same opportunity could not even make to work 3 out of the 5 days. Other people my age that I know about could not be bothered to stop smoking pot long enough to pass a drug test. They all wanted a job like the one I or my brother have now, they just were not willing to do the bare minimum to stay employed.

This does not make me happy. I would be better off if I lived in culture with more social capital even if I had a lower level job. But that social capital was being destroyed by the boomers long before immigrants started arriving in any kind of numbers. And keeping them out will not restore the social capital we once had.

brettmcs said...

A businessman who breaks the law can be prosecuted, but that isn't what we are talking about here, is it?

People here are talking about the application of arbitrary regulation applied to others use of their property. Everyone who suggests that is a hypocrite. No one would accept that applied to himself.

If you want a change in the rules, go through the political process so that (ideally) everyone knows the rules before embarking on a business venture.

The hypocrisy on display here is quite something.

Baron Bodissey said...

Chieftain of Seir --

Actually, I pretty much agree with everything you said. I think you're setting up a bit of a straw man here.

As I've said before, the cultural termites have been at work on us for a couple of generations now, and have hollowed out the heartwood of our country. They have made it all too easy for Islam and the Left, working in tandem, to cut through the resulting punk and destroy what we have left.

I don't pretend to have solutions to all this. My intention was simply to point out something that seems to me viscerally to be wrong.

Laura said...

When I was a teenager, many of us worked in our local farms, here we picked raspberries. Today... it's not that our children won't do it, it's illegal. Child labor laws.
The work is done by Spanish speakers. Don't ask for documents. Don't ask age.

Bilgeman said...

chieftain:
"Since Mr. Bilgeman seems to have missed the point of my comment, I shall attempt to clarify the point I thought I was trying to make."

Your point seemed perfectly clear to me:

"I hate to say it, but I would hire the Indians even if I had to pay them the same wages as American. Heck, I would hire the Indians even if I had to pay them higher wages then the Americans. By and large, Americans don't want to work hard for any amount of money"

That's pretty unambiguous, chap.
Your vouching on yourself and your stupendous work ethic seemed to me, frankly, like naught but rationalizing your economic treason.
But I made allowances on account of your youth...chalking it up to your callow naivete n'suchlike.

"So I don't worry about immigrants destroying the culture. At least in my area, it is already destroyed."

Well, ramrod, rest easy knowing that you've done YOUR part in this destruction,(and apparently stand ready to do even more).

"The immigrants can hardly make it much worse."

That's where you're wrong...dead wrong.

(Are you QUITE sure you've been reading this blog at all, that you'd post such copy?).

Zenster said...

brettmcs: The hypocrisy on display here is quite something.

Please clarify as to whether you consider consumer boycotts of predatory businesses a form of "arbitrary regulation applied to others use of their property".

I would also enjoy knowing if you consider the intricate level of "insourcing" described by the Baron to be a moral or ethical business practice.

Baron, you've yet to address my own question:

"Does anyone still insist that capitalist enterprises are not to be criticized or penalized for disloyal or immoral conduct?"

Baron Bodissey said...

Zenster --

I'm sorry; I thought your question was rhetorical, and that my opinion was obvious.

Yes, of course I think that the immoral practices of businesses should make them subject to social and sometimes legal penalties. Boycotts are one thing, but stronger measures may be needed.

Selling centrifuges to Iran is my extreme example to demonstrate that no American in his right mind believes in an absolutely free international market.

The exact point where boycotts should leave off and prosecutions begin I'll leave to wiser heads than mine.

Zenster said...

I suppose that I still need to ask whether you continue to consider absolute capitalism a license to be immoral.

I still maintain that, to a very large extent, capitalism mirrors the Social Contract and must necessarily abide by a code of conduct that includes moral and ethical strictures. Incidentally, none of which in any way inhibit the legitimate freedoms of a business operator or property owner.

Do you disagree with that? Due to your negative view of absolute capitalism, it seems that you do and I am hoping to clear this up.

Baron Bodissey said...

Zenster --

I think that you and I are dealing with different definitions of "absolute" capitalism.

To me, "absolute capitalism" would be defined approximately this way: The operation of an enterprise by its owners or managers with the sole purpose of maximizing the return on the investment of the owners or stockholders. No constraints are applied to this process except for the law of supply and demand, and the physical limitations imposed by circumstances on the manufacture and shipping of products or the production of services.

This process is neither moral nor immoral. It has no more moral component than does differential calculus or astronomy.

It is tool used for human ends, and any morality concerning its utilization is provided by the political structure of the society which acts as a container for it.

The restrictions placed on capitalistic enterprise may in fact have a moral basis, or they may be enacted at the caprice of the powerful for venal ends.

YoelB said...

The almost 50,000,000 abortions in the US over the last generation or so have probably changed the labor force just a bit.

Zenster said...

Baron: It is tool used for human ends, and any morality concerning its utilization is provided by the political structure of the society which acts as a container for it.

The restrictions placed on capitalistic enterprise may in fact have a moral basis, or they may be enacted at the caprice of the powerful for venal ends.


Hokay, we're pretty much in agreement here. Capitalism is like a hammer or any other tool. Only when it is put into human hands does its role assume moral or immoral aspects. It's just that I have yet to see a single admirable example of dollar whoring. Read James B. Stewart's "Den of Thieves" for a glimpse into some hardcore dollar whoring.

I suppose we must examine society's current exaltation of acquisitiveness to understand why those in power and their venal practices are being admired instead of roundly condemned. I offer up that consumate waste of skin, Donald Trump, as an example.

Zenster said...

Baron: No constraints are applied to this process except for the law of supply and demand, and the physical limitations imposed by circumstances on the manufacture and shipping of products or the production of services.

Incidentally, perhaps you now see why I so strongly advocate consumer boycotts in order to appropriately apply constraints upon demand that might discourage dollar whoring.

Zenster said...

Lawrence Auster: How does a reasonable, mild-mannered fellow like myself trigger such madness?

Just lucky, I guess. How about if we all try to keep this thread on track by continuing to discuss Westerner's original ideas?

Zenster said...

Weird, I posted a note about this misplaced comment a few hours ago. What happened to it?

babs said...

I am sorry but, all the talk of moralism pales in my eyes to the law... I think the displaced workers would have a reasonable case with the Federal Gov't as this company, by virtue of having workers on American soil, has circumvented hiring laws.
AT THE VERY LEAST, if I were one of the layed off workers, I would lobby my Congressman.
Me, I would also engage a labor attorney and alert the press.
There is something very wrong with this and moralism isn't it. It has to be a violation of hiring practices in the U.S. and I would proceed along those lines.

brettmcs said...

baron said: "[Capitalism] is [1] a tool used for human ends, and [2] any morality concerning its utilization is provided by the political structure of the society which acts as a container for it."

The first part is fine. The second has slipped into fascism.

Politics doesn't over-ride morality, or excuse immorality - such as taking someone's business who has played by the rules because a politician doesn't like the outcome.

Baron Bodissey said...

brettmcs --

I'm not sure why you think I don't advocate morality within our political structures. I most certainly do.

My point is that morality does not inherently reside in capitalism itself. Capitalism is a system, like a steam engine, and is in itself neither moral or immoral.

The uses to which it may be put are defined by our political system. In the case of the USA, it's the Constitution and the laws passed by the people's elected representatives that limit capitalistic enterprise.

Such limits will be as moral or immoral as the will of the people makes them. Personally, I favor certain constraints on capitalism to serve the interests of the nation and our culture, for moral reasons as well as pragmatic ones.