2007-04-26 / Sam Bari

You can't beat a system you can't understand

Outsourcing, downsizing, and streamlining
By Sam Bari

Outsourcing, downsizing, and streamlining
By Sam Bari

          The number of companies that are streamlining their operations by outsourcing labor to third world countries and downsizing facilities at home is alarming. Anything manufactured in America is practically a collector's item.

I knew things were not as they should be when, less than a mile from my house, I purchased an American flag that was made in a South American country. I think I saw people from the same country burning one in the news. The experience was disturbing.

As far as I can tell, the only industries that have been unscathed are word-related businesses. Outsourcing has yet to affect newspapers and other media. The legal business also appears to be surviving nicely. Attorneys are rarely at a loss for words, and I doubt that will change in the near future.

However, we still have cause for concern, particularly when considering the mindset of big business. "Tease them with something free, then fleece them when they want the real thing," appears to be a tidy summation of the latest consumer related business policy.

We will know that summation applies to the word industry when 28-page weekly newspapers are reduced to four pages. That is the first clue that a paper has bit the dust and joined the ranks of the streamlined, downsized and outsourced. Each page will be written in a different language and all will say the same thing, so the paper will really be reduced to only one page.

The page that is allegedly written in English will actually just resemble English, but not closely, certainly not as we understand it to be spoken or read. Each page will consist of a list of headlines - nothing more. No stories, no editorial text, not even the advertisements will offer more than a single line of copy.

The headlines will be designed to tease the reader. "Is your job next to be outsourced?" could be one of them. The next line will read: "For the complete story go to www.(insert Web address here). com, or call a 1-800 number.

A headline like that could frighten most people. That is the intent. Of course readers are going to call or visit the Web site. They're not stupid. The callers will hear an automated voice that says: "Since you are too lame to have Internet access, give us your credit card number and we will charge $36 to your account for a one-year subscription mailed to your house, unless you are too cheap to buy the subscription and only want a copy of this edition. In that case, give us your credit card number and we will charge $7.99 to your account and you will receive it after it passes through customs in about three months. Something similar will be on the Web site, only the service will be slightly faster.

Advertisements could read something like: "Giant sale at Mack's Market. Join Mack's Club at our Web site for details or call 1-800, etc." If you want to know what's on sale, you'll have to pay.

Let's go back to the editorial copy for just a minute and see what you can expect from, "Is your job next to be outsourced?" The following is what the outsourced writers in some foreign country would like to say: "Are you worried about losing your job? Have your friends lost their jobs to third world countries? The reason is simple. We work faster and cheaper, and produce a better product than you can make at home."

This is how the article could be written if it is outsourced to the standard foreign countries: "You are worried about the loss of your work? Did your friend lose their works in third worldwide country? The reason is simple. As for us at house. To be fast and a cheaper uses, better product where it is possible to make, is created at times."

Now imagine an entire newspaper written like that. At the end you will read: "Foreign press writers Miguel Sanchez, Abdul al Quasar, Choi Soon Yong, and Baozhai Huang contributed to this report." I find this painfully similar to the instructions I received from the help window on how to troubleshoot my new computer. They are probably very nice people. Unfortunately, English is more than likely their third or fourth language.

Now, try to picture what life will be like if the legal profession is outsourced to questionable destinations. If you're on trial for any infraction of the law that is worse than a traffic ticket you could have serious problems. When it happens, and it most likely will, just add it to the long list that makes up this wonderful system we just can't seem to understand.

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