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'Jobs For the Disabled?' Don't hold your breath. Busheviks and the corporations are shipping your prospective job overseas.

Take This Job and Ship It
Bush and the corporations don't care if you don't have a job -- they'd rather 'outsource'

By Marta Russell

It was predicted by Business Week in the 90s -- and assumed by disability groups -- that in the Information Age disabled workers would get a shot at improving their employment lot. Technology makes it possible for significantly disabled persons to use computers and Information Technology promised plenty of office desk work.

What happened instead is that government and the corporations abandoned American workers, including disabled workers, leaving them in the dust in search of cheaper labor made possible by that very technology. Privatization of government jobs and IT "outsourcing" -- sending jobs overseas -- have become a popular means to lower the cost of labor committed to perform computer-related functions.

Both the Busheviks and the corps are shipping your prospective job overseas to India, Malaysia, Eastern Europe, and China where workers can be hired for about 10 percent of the salary of an American worker. Banks, corporations, Wall Street, and governments have all jumped on the outsourcing bandwagon.

"When a good or service is produced more cheaply abroad, it makes more sense to import it than to make it or provide it domestically," said the White House Council of Economic Advisors in its Economic Report of the President in February.

Economist Gregory Mankiw, who chairs the Council, called outsourcing, which usually comes hand-in-hand with firing Americans and sending their jobs overseas, "a good thing."

To the Busheviks it makes good economic sense to outsource jobs that could be going to unemployed American workers. This administration has no allegiance to the nation when it comes to employment. Bush's people take Calvin Coolidge's statement as a given: "The business of America is business." What's good for the corporations is to not be tied down by pesky regulations that would place a premium on hiring Americans. It's profit maximization they're after.

This spells serious trouble for U.S. workers, 14.7 million of whom have no job. The administration likes to point to the fact that there was a recent decline of the official unemployment rate. Yes, it fell a tenth of a percentage point -- not because more people got jobs, but because 300,000 workers left the labor market. Discouraged, they gave up looking for a job -- so they simply aren't counted among the "unemployed" anymore.

In fact, payroll jobs are down well over two million since George W. Bush moved into the White House. Bush's economic policies have not added enough jobs to compensate for the loss.

In praising the merits of outsourcing, Bush's administration is following the lead of CEOs such as General Electric's Jack Welsh who shifted software development and back-office jobs to India years ago. Today firms such as McKinsey & Co. and A. T. Kearney have shifted the bulk of their research divisions to places such as Bombay and Chennai, India. J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. has hired junior stock analysts and other research staffers in its Bombay office. .U.S Banks such as Citibank, brokerages such as Merrill Lynch, mutual companies and other financial services companies are planning to relocate 500,000 jobs offshore, or 8 percent of their work force over the next few years. Deloitte Research forecast in April last year that about 15 percent of financial jobs worldwide would be moved to countries sporting cheap labor.

If it can be done sitting in front of a desk, it is game for outsourcing.

The trend is not limited to corporations. Bush's White House plans to subject at many as 850,000 federal jobs to competition from the private sector, including desk jobs that can find their way overseas to politically well-connected contractors with offices in India, Malaysia, the Philippines, and perhaps Russia.

Forty states have already hired foreign workers in other countries to perform such jobs as answering questions about food stamps or welfare programs. India is a favorite contracting country because people there speak English. Public and private call centers are being off-shored en masse.

There are other ill-boding trends for disabled people out of work. One can cross out other jobs disabled persons might be eligible to take. Our country imports cheaper foreign workers into the U.S. on work visas. L1 and H1-B visas allow those outside the country to come into the country to perform certain jobs.

Although visas have been most centered on IT workers, targeting categories are not limited to that field. Visa jobs are often in white-collar professions. Accountants and auditors, electrical engineering, and physical therapists account for many positions. IT dominates, but other professions are either having foreign workers come in, or are outsourcing them overseas.

Technology has back-fired on disabled job-seekers. Capital has taken off with information technology to make as large a profit as possible.

With the President praising the merits of offshore manufacturing and hiring practices, we are a long way from bringing government around to taking some social responsibility for the loss of jobs in our country.

For now, it's take your job and ship it.

Posted Feb. 26, 2004.

Marta Russell, author of Beyond Ramps: Disability at the End of the Social Contract., writes on the political, social and economic aspects of disablement. Visit her website at http://www.martarussell.com/

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