I love my country. I really do, but that doesn’t mean I love its many flaws. One of these flaws is acting as if the United States collectively owns the jobs in this country.*
On Reddit** and on Google, the phrase “American jobs” will return many posts – blogs, articles, short opinions, etc. Nearly all of them consist of one person or another complaining about outsourcing. The writers lament that companies are sending “American jobs” overseas.
I understand the problems that outsourcing can cause individuals. I understand that people would like there to be more jobs in the United States. I don’t understand why these jobs are being referred to as American*** jobs.
The minute a company decides to outsource, the job ceases to be an American job – if ever it was “American,” that is. The job belonged to Joe or Suzy or Janine or John – not America, and not the United States. The US was simply a location from which the job is moving away.
Outsourcing is a result of many things. The economic concept usually used to explain the phenomenon is comparative advantage. I’m not going to explain that here. I’m just going to say this: the purpose of any business is to produce profits. Unless you provide tremendous tax incentives to keep jobs in the U.S. or tremendous tax disincentives for outsourcing, companies are going to chose the less costly option of outsourcing jobs. They aren’t doing it to hurt your feelings or steal jobs from you. It’s just that American labor is comparatively expensive.
There are those that lament the loss of jobs to other countries, and then there are those that behave as if the companies owe Americans (from the US) something and are actually stealing from us.
I don’t understand the entitlement of these individuals. Many businesses that outsource jobs maintain headquarters in the United States, which means they still pay U.S. taxes. I would add that the people that started these businesses paid for the capital and paid for any labor they used to build the company. They are, in my opinion, free to make decisions based on what is best for their company. What exactly do they owe you?
Yes, outsourcing can suck, but what I’m trying to say is that no one place owns the jobs a company creates. Now watch a funny video from the Onion about individual outsourcing.
* I should clarify briefly – it makes sense(ish) to talk about American jobs if you are discussing US employment. My issue is more with people who say “American jobs” when referring to the restructuring or moving of jobs to new locations.
**Remind me not to ever bother with Reddit.
***I’m tired of referring to people from the US as Americans. We are Americans, but so is everyone from the southernmost tip of Chile all the way up to the northernmost point in Canada (I don’t know if people from Greenland consider themselves American…). I wish there were an English term for someone from the United States that didn’t sound as stupid as United Statesian. In Spanish people from the United States are called estadounidense, which is pretty much “United Statesian.” Using “American” to refer only to people from the U.S. just seems so presumptuous. Plus, what if I travel anywhere in North, Central, or South America? How stupid would I sound if I said, “I’m an American” (or worse, “I’m from America.” Ha)?
**** South Park reference, anyone?
NOTE: I wrote this when I was rather tired and lazy. There may be several silly mistakes. Feel free to point them out.