Monday, February 23, 2004

India and outsourcing: Friedman 1, Kristof 0

NYT Friedman: Meet the Zippies
With 54 percent of India under the age of 25 — that's 555 million people — six out of 10 Indian households have at least one zippie, Outlook says. And a growing slice of them (most Indians are still poor village-dwellers) will be able to do your white-collar job as well as you for a fraction of the pay. Indian zippies are one reason outsourcing is becoming the hot issue in this year's U.S. presidential campaign.
About two weeks ago Kristof, one of my favorite columnists, wrote a very atypically dumb column on this topic. Kristof said then that America needs to invest in more college education to meet the new age. Duh.

Friedman wins this match. Great column. Reich's recommendations are mine as well, except I think wage insurance won't fly. I do think that the 401K and its equivalents need to become life-event rather than age driven, and all benefits need to be unrelated to employment. Employment should be wages, nothing else.

Friedman/Reich point out that outsourcing is a tax deductible business expense. The tax code should NOT be facilitating outsourcing. It shouldn't obstruct it, but neither should it encourage it. That can be changed.

The world needs China and India to be wealthy. These are two sources of extraordinary power and vigor, and the US is acting as a short-circuit between them. If we capture a fraction of that current we can share in the wealth, but we can't do it with our current social support network. We need another solution.

BTW, Robert Cringely is another writer who's got it.

Good for Friedman. Even if he is a Bush apologist.

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