Saturday, December 08, 2007

Is offshoring foreign aid?

The US is rightfully criticized for providing very little foreign aid, as a percentage of GDP.

BUT: should we count offshoring of jobs as foreign aid? We're one of the leading nations when it comes to offshoring (indeed, it's one of the reasons why I've changed from software support to teaching) and the jobs created in third world nations patently benefit their economies hugely. I suspect that the US is THE major exporter of jobs worldwide, that the costs to the US (in terms of reduced income for people like me and other loss of industry) exceed our explicit foreign aid, and that the benefits to other nations (more industry) exceed our losses.


Mr. B said...

You're probably right. One must also consider that the people in the developing world are much, much poorer than even poorer Americans. Thus, the benefit they derive from having a job will likely outweigh the unemployment and reduced standard of living suffered by an American worker. Moreover, in the end the U.S. benefits from outsourcing. The more affluent other socities become the higher demand for American services and know-how, which in turn benefits Americans.

The problem with globalization lies in the treatment of workers in the developing world; they are being shamelessly exploited. What we need is for organizations such as the WTO to enforce global labor standards, such as mandatory overtime pay, breaks, air condition factories, etc... - things that American workers would take for granted. Yet, prices in the U.S. would rise a little (not much since salaries for developing world laborers would remain relatively low), but these costs are once more outweighed by the benefits these very poor individual will receive from such policy.

Bill Blair said...

Just wanted to say: interesting post and great site! I've been reading it on and off since 1996. I was a Libertarian at the time, btw :-D

Mike Huben said...

Thanks, Bill. You've been around since almost the beginning.

So what happened to change you?

Bill Blair said...

Well, for the most part, reality happened, LOL. I joined the LP early in
'96 during my first year of college in Puerto Rico and even helped form
a short-lived LP chapter down there. Now, I believe my natural tendency
is to be left-of-center, and at that age what really attracted me to liber-
tarianism where some positions which can normally be considered
liberal: anti drug-war, pro free speech, anti-war, etc. So for a while I drank
the kool-aid and accepted a lot of the "free-market" claptrap, albeit
somewhat half-heartedly. But by 2000, I'd come to the conclusion it
was mostly bullshit and I ended up voting for Ralph Nader for President
that year. Part of my turn-around was thanks to sites like yours, which
I began reading long before I gave up libertarianism. So if you ever
get discouraged, believe me, your website was instrumental in helping
me realize that libertarianism is largely not based on human reality.

Another factor was libertarians themselves, especially the objectivists.
I read Atlas Shrugged--a book many people credit with 'converting' them
to free-market voodoo--and I found it so vile and ridiculous (and long!!)
that it only reinforced some of the things I read on your site.

These days if I label myself in any way, I'd say I'm a liberal Democrat
and am involved with a group of liberal podcasters (the Progressive
Podcast Network -- ) and did
a podcast called The Florida Soapbox for a while; I'm now doing a
new show titled World News Review, which is in a similar vein.

Anyway, keep up the great work and I'll keep reading. Thanks!!


James M. Jensen II said...

@bill: I have a similar story to yours. I flirted with libertarianism as I become more socially liberal. I considered associating myself with the LP, but never did. I voted once for a Libertarian candidate, Loretta Nall, when she ran for governor of Alabama. But that was as much out of protest against the D&R candidates as anything else (that said, I did agree with her on a couple of things, and she seemed more moderate than most).

My conversion to liberalism was made easier by the fact that I had always been a moderate on economic issues. I repeated the mantras with the best of them, but my heart was never in it.

Probably the main thing that converted me to liberalism was my conversion from deontology to consequentialism. Mind you, I still think rights are good approximation of ethics, but they are not absolute.

The other main thing that converted me, I think, was finally understanding Keynesianism. I was home-schooled through Christian Liberty Academy, an evangelical satellite school, and the only time they mentioned Keynes was to denounce him (they were basically supply-side Austrians). However, when I read about what Keynes really said, and then later ran into Dean Baker and Paul Krugman, I was hooked.

I won't say that I'm a 100% liberal. I have some strong anarchist sympathies, though I don't think it will be practical for a very long time.