DENNIS SEID: Outsourcing bill met with more theater

By DENNIS SEID / NEMS Daily Journal

Last week, Senate Republicans blocked Democrats’ efforts to bring a bill for floor debate that would have forced U.S. companies to keep jobs and profits at home.
The anti-outsourcing bill, otherwise known as the “Creating American Jobs and End Offshoring Act,” was effectively killed because the Senate voted 53-45 for the bill, shy of the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster.
Democrats, of course, called Republicans “job killers.” Republicans said Democrats were trying to move voters in an election year.
Keeping jobs in the U.S. and keeping them from going to China, Mexico or any other low-wage country is an admirable goal.
With unemployment near 10 percent, creating jobs at home is supposedly everybody’s priority.
Too bad the politicians are too busy bickering with each other to talk things through.
Outlawing outsourcing – or making companies pay a steep price – sounds good.
But, unfortunately, it’s not practical.
Remember that thing called free trade? Like it or not, we live in a global economy and we’re stuck in the game.
Many high-tech companies say outdated restrictions on immigration prevent many high-skilled foreign workers from coming to the U.S. So, these companies are forced to locate staff overseas.
Now, read between the lines, and it indicates that we’re not graduating enough high-skilled, tech-savvy workers in the U.S. But that’s another problem.
Without products from China and overseas, where would Walmart get most of its products, and where would U.S. consumers go?
“Buy American” stops at the checkout line, it seems.
We continue to ask for lower prices, drive American companies out of business and then complain about where our goods are made. No, it doesn’t make much sense.
But that’s the reality.
“Outsourcing” is a hot topic for the furniture industry, too. If an anti-outsourcing bill comes through, imagine the repercussion.
The industry’s cut-and-sew workers have disappeared because far cheaper ready-made kits are available from China. Companies didn’t necessarily ship jobs there, but they eliminated the jobs here because of labor costs.
Why? Because consumers demand low prices.
We want everybody to make a “decent” wage, but if it means paying more for a product, maybe not.
The Democrats may deny it, but it was a political move. Why didn’t they bring it up earlier? Republicans, though, really didn’t offer any solution.
But how far should an anti-outsourcing bill go?
It’s harvest time for farmers. Look at some of the help. They don’t all look like you and me.
In essence, some farmers have outsourced their labor, too, because many of us don’t want to work a field all day.
Do you penalize the farmer for hiring help that wants to work?
Outsourcing is a sensitive, complicated issue, best left for good leaders to figure out with input from everyday people.
Too bad Washington has so few of them.

Contact business editor Dennis Seid at (662) 678-1578 or dennis.seid@djournal.com.