Wednesday, February 11, 2004

KRISTOF: Watching the Jobs Go By - his weakest column in years

Op-Ed Columnist: Watching the Jobs Go By
Subject: watching the jobs go by: not your best column
Date: February 11, 2004


Get more math and science education -- so you can work for $10 a day?

The whole point of outsourcing is that it's easiest to do for jobs that require technical skills. In rural China, India, Latin American and Africa there are hundreds of thousands, probably millions, of people with IQs over 160. Given ubiquitous connectivity, most will be able to quickly learn english, mathematics, science and just about anything else that one can learn by reading. Sure, there are thousands of americans with the same gifts; but they'd be working at the high class sub-Saharan African wages.

The outsourcing of technical work is the greatest boon the world will ever see. It will also induce very great disruption to societies in which, historically, a university degree was a path to success.

You should have been advising our young to study roofing and plumbing. Much harder to outsource -- they need only compete with illegal aliens.

The real answer is to smooth the transition to a future society including:

1. Separate all benefits from employment so people easily move between work and non-work.
2. As part of social security reform, eliminate the idea of age-specific retirement. Income has mandatory contributions to tax-deferred funds and non-work (study, vacation, job seeking, whatever) draws from those funds.
3. Tax reform to reflect a future tax base.
4. Look to the Scandinavians for the rest.

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