Ever since taking over this column from my predecessor, Thomas Friedman, I've been spending a lot of time talking with regular white-collar Americans from all across the country. What I've learned from their stories is something that the Democratic candidates for president, by which I mean the future Kerry-Edwards ticket, better listen to.
You see, all of their reckless, populist rhetoric about how America is shipping its white collar jobs overseas is nothing more than what Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld might call "dead-ender" talk. And believe me, I'm a lot more moderate than Donald Rumsfeld. So when I quote the Defense Secretary, I'm bringing in the big guns.
The fact is that we live in a global village. Like it or not, globalization is here to stay. And that's a good thing not only for Wall Street, but for Main Street too.
You see, every time a white collar job gets shipped overseas to places like India or, say, India, that benefits high-wage, high-prestige Americans. Here's how it works. Let's say IBM ships 10,000 software engineer and management jobs from California to Bangalore. Old software engineer salary: $90,000, plus benefits. New salary in Bangalore: $9,000, sans benefits.
Do you see how that works? Everyone wins.
Now, when IBM gets an extra $81,000 in profits, it returns some of that back to Main Street in the form of higher share prices for the shareholders, who in turn need to buy goods from ma and pa stores owned and run by, you guessed it, white collar Americans who lost their jobs to Indians. Moreover, IBM can now sell its wares for a lot cheaper to all those laid-off California software engineers. And believe me, they'll thank their Bangalore low-wage laborers for making those goods cheap, now that they can't find work in California!
So that's how it works.
I know, it's tough, it's not pretty or gentle or comfortable. In fact, it's a lot like what my predecessor at this column liked to call "the Golden Straitjacket...it's here and it's the only model on the rack this historical season."
I just wish Mr. Friedman remembered his own words. See, I replaced Mr. Friedman for this column space a few weeks ago. Fact is, I'm a lot cheaper than Thomas Friedman, and I do just as good a job at promoting globalization, or war in Iraq, or just about any other insane idea that America's oligarchy is peddling on the world's playground. You don't need a high-wage, high-prestige American columnist to help sell ideas like that -- not when there are hundreds of millions of Indians just as eager to shill for America's oligarchy.
Mr. Friedman didn't take his outsourcing as well as he should have. But then again, adjusting to the realities of globalization isn't easy for anyone. In fact, the medics had to pull him away from his old desk at the New York Times building in Times Square and bind him in a golden-dyed strait jacket. It was hoped that this would make him see how foolish he was, that he might even laugh at himself.
But he just kept screaming, "Keep the jobs in America! Keep the jobs in America!" That was when he had to be tazed by the "electric herd" cattle prod, I believe it was the long-horn electric herd cattle prod.
Tsk-tsk-tsk. Poor Mr. Fried- man.
I'm writing this from Bangalore, even though, by all appearances, you would have thought I am writing this from America. The fact is, in our globalized, televised, information-deregulated global village, I don't need to be in America. I don't need to "be" anywhere, except where the costs are lowest. So I'm in Bangalore, and the New York Times pays me $400 a month, which is a fine salary in my country. And I have the pride and dignity that will prevent me from turning into a suicide bomber.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of some Pakistani youths I met on the border of Kashmir a few months ago. They told me that they have no hope, no job prospects, and no future, and their hero is Osama bin Laden.