Outsourcing and India — Civilized Debate vs. Name Calling and Racism

As both the Editor of Spend Matters and a strong believer in freedom of speech, I've hesitated to take down the clearly racist and mean spirited comments that resulted from Friday's column on Anil Kumar. For those who are just catching up this Monday morning, the comment thread from my analysis of Kumar's arrest and the knowledge process outsourcing market degraded, in part, into a bigger discussion around outsourcing -- its proponents, its victims and its fear mongers. Some of the comments were fair and a catalyst for good debate, but many others were racist and/or mean-spirited without adding anything constructive.

Even though I've always hesitated to use the delete button because I'm such a strong believer in free speech, I found a few of the newer comments completely over the top and decided to take action. I did, however, leave many more because I think it's important for people to see the level of hatred that exists. As repugnant and stupid as these degenerated comments are, they are also an important, yet unfortunate, barometer of public sentiment that cannot be ignored. With free speech comes the responsibility for us all to retaliate, inform and attempt to educate those who espouse such nonsense -- no matter how difficult and futile it sometimes seems, it's not okay to keep quiet.

The outsourcing and H1B Visa question is one that is at the center of a big debate and controversy. Personally, even though I'm strongly in favor of more open immigration policies and labor specialization (on-shore or off), I can appreciate some of the arguments of those who have been impacted as their jobs have migrated to low-cost countries, including India. But I would so much rather see some of the hatred espoused in this discussion channeled into positive criticism and constructive debate versus fire-breathing rhetoric and racism.

Why not focus on the big picture rather than pushing back on those taking jobs and personalizing the anger? For example, I believe that we should encourage the US government to grant tax breaks to businesses to hire next year on-shore (both immigrants and non-immigrants -- let the best candidate win) vs. spending on this silly stimulus -- and deficit spending for health care and other areas -- which is going to end up leading businesses like mine to push off new hires because of rising taxes. Want to drive employment? Incentivize hiring vs. penalizing it.

Seriously, in the current spending and forthcoming tax environment, businesses will turn more to outsourcing to simply maintain the same after-tax profit that we enjoy today. This is not a partisan observation -- it's simple cause and effect. If you want to keep jobs onshore and encourage full-time employment vs. contract work, encourage our government to create jobs versus taking them away. And to those who disagree with this perspective, please chime in. But stop the fire breathing racism and rhetoric. Why would any employer in his or her right mind entertain hiring anyone with so much pent-up misdirected anger? If you have something constructive to say on the subject and you think my perspective is wrong, by all means, take out your virtual pen and join the conversation. But don't tell me -- or anyone else -- I'm unethical because of my ethnic or racial background.

Jason Busch

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