Saturday, August 14, 2004

quote of the day

"The secret isn't just lower wages. It's also the attitude of workers who take pride and are willing to do what is necessary to succeed, even if it means outsourcing parts production or working on weekends or altering vacation schedules." -- Steven Pearlstein, Washington Post, "Europe's Capitalism Curtain," describing the growth of manufacturing in Wroclaw, Poland.

I think this is a great point to keep in mind when discussing outsourcing -- while low wages are a factor, no company would outsource anything if it couldn't find intelligent, hard-working people in Eastern Europe, India, or China. People concerned about the effect of outsourcing on American workers should keep that in mind.

In particular, any time I hear politicians say that the U.S. is losing jobs due to 'unfair' competition or lax environmental and labor regulations, I worry they have missed the point -- we are facing real, effective, perfectly fair competition, driven by hard-working and intelligent people who have every right to better their own lives. Ditto for people on the right who claim that the U.S. will always have an advantage in the highest-skilled, highest-paying jobs.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Send us your tired, your poor, so we can kick them as soon as they start to get back up.

Absolutely unconscionable:

The U.S. has decided to terminate the 'temporary protected' refugee status we gave to 292 people fleeing the volcanos that leveled Montserrat in the 90's. Why? Because their situation isn't temporary, but permanent.

All 292 came here legally, at US govt. invitation; most have been here 7 years or more, with jobs; and many have children who are U.S. citizens. The official US recommendation for the ones with citizen-children: move to Britain, spend 12-20 years there waiting for a green card, and then come back with your children.

Even if this wasn't a moral outrage, it would be an economic one -- the last thing our economy needs is to send people out of the country for their most productive working years, so they can return after a 20 year delay for their retirement and social security benefits. The economic evidence is overwhelming that legally admitted refugees help the US economy, and do not bring the problems associated with illegal immigration.

This brings me back to the core goal I have for this blog -- a lot of religious people approach politics with a sense of outrage about the same old issues, over and over again -- thus, the leaders of the big Protestant churches complain about the treatment of Palestinians, the religious right continues to fight for school prayer, and the Pope is still wondering whether capitalism is a good idea.

I'd like them all to take a 90 day hiatus from being outraged about their old outrages, so that they can all wake up and see the new issues where outrage is justified -- but where positive change is still possible.