Watch out. This is a

by francine Hardaway on May 4, 2004

Watch out. This is a rant, and you probably will disagree with some of it even if you love me.

But I would like everyone to shut up about outsourcing. Your anger is not going to help; things aren�t going to change back. I know you went to DeVry and they told you there was a shortage of MCSEs. Or you went to the state university and they trained you to be a software engineer. And you earned six figures before you were thirty, but you�ve been laid off for two years and you have spent it all.

I don�t care what political candidates say or what policies we debate in Congress or even enact. Change is inherent in human life; we grow new hair and fingernails, we age, we have children. Flowers die. We become a 24/7 global economy.

As I work, I listen to CNN and CNBC and all the debates about the �jobless recovery.� But that message � about inevitable change � is rarely delivered.

I�m a lifelong liberal or libertarian (never mind � I can�t figure out what box I fall into) on most issues. I believe in gay marriage, woman�s right to choose, and almost every other form of freedom. So I also believe in the ability of companies to remain competitive by moving jobs to places where labor is less expensive.

What I don�t believe is that every American is entitled to a well-paying job. How did we get this idea? To me, it�s not very much different from expecting other entitlements, such as AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children) or welfare. Why should someone whose skills are not current, someone who dropped out of high school or even someone who drank his/her way through some Ivy League college have the expectation that he�s got a ticket to ride? It�s like thinking �Leave it to Beaver� is about current families.

I think my programs in entrepeneurship through the Kauffman Foundation and my travels around the world have brought me to this position. The Kauffman Foundation programs are dedicated to teaching survival through entrepreneurship. Although the Foundation does hold Angel Summits and give internships to venture capitalists, much of its focus is on training youth and encouraging lifestyle businesses � the ones that you or I can start when we get laid off. Here I meet people ready to sacrifice their homes and families to a passion or an idea. Here I meet people who have run up their credit cards, taken temp jobs to survive, and endured real hardship for the privilege of creating YOUR JOB.

Nowhere that I have travelled do people have the privileges we do. Much of the world lives on $2.00 a day. We have Mexicans dying in the desert to seize the opportunity to mow my lawn, which the kid next door refuses to do. We have a shortage of nurses and of health care professionals in general. Local health care organizations are recruiting pharmacists and nurses from other countries to fill positions. We have a shortage of graduates in the sciences and we still have a shortage of engineers. We have the smallest cohort of 30-year-olds in a long time.

But we have a surplus of people who think they should have the same job no matter how many flowers die or babies are born. We have a surplus of people receiving mediocre educations that don�t have anything to do with the worlds they will inhabit. We have a surplus of professors at universities who want to teach the same stuff no matter what industry wants. And we have a surplus of professional, educated white people who have decided not to have children because it interferes with their freedom�which means that twenty-five years in the future we will again have a shortage of brilliant, well-educated kids who can keep us competitive.

Blame things on outsourcing. Go ahead. And then say you want better returns from the stock market at the same time, and a greater commitment to corporate ethics. How is any management team supposed to execute on these conflicting values? Let�s see: I�m the CEO and I can�t outsource to lower my costs, but I can�t do fancy bookkeeping, I can�t lay people off, and I can�t take money away from �shareholder value� for marketing, customer service, or training. Hmmm�we will probably see the return of the two-Martini lunch as CEOs grapple with these issues.

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