You know, I’m completely open to the idea of outsourcing. I don’t see it as a real threat to American jobs in the long term. At least not in the tech industry, anyway. In my experience, working for the last decade or so with Corporate America, it’s a self correcting situation.

Generally speaking, you get what you pay for. Yes, it’s true that you can hire four overseas programmers for the price of one American programmer, but I’ve rarely if ever seen the output from those four programmers even equal, much less surpass, the amount of work produced by the one American programmer. In fact, it often takes as much or more effort expended by local resources to re-explain, fix and/or re-do outsourced work as it would have to simply hire locally in the first place, meaning that the outsourced worker was pure cost, with no benefit whatsoever! In those rare cases where you find an outsourced engineer or what-have-you who really knows his stuff, they quickly raise their prices to something comparable to the home-grown sort, and stop looking so cheap. You’ll note that only larger tech houses tend to outsource. It’s my suspicion that this is because in the larger houses, dominated by short-sighted devotion to near-term profits, a manager only has to look good on paper to get promoted out of his/her current position before the true cost of the outsourcing decision is realized.

Given this, I suspect that tech-outsourcing is actually a boon to the tech economy, because it means that start-ups and small shops, who have always been the great innovators of the tech industry, will always have at least one competitive advantage over the large corporations that are forever trying to squeeze them out of the new technologies and markets they create. And anyway, if it really does turn out, however unlikely, that India or Russia or South Korea or whoever CAN make developers of the same caliber who work for less pay, maybe it’s to our benefit to consider that a challenge to improve, rather than unfair trade practices. Does that quarter-price programmer live in a five-bedroom house with seven televisions, or a one-room hovel with seven relatives and no running water? If the former, he’s got us beat fair and square, and we need to re-examine how we do our jobs! If the latter, how long will he stay happy with that situation before he demands the higher rates he can earn, given his superior talent?