Skip to comments.Five Surprising Examples of Extreme Outsourcing
Posted on 08/20/2013 10:19:19 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
If you call the customer service line of a major business or corporation these days, theres a good chance youll end up talking to someone thousands of miles away (or to a computer, if the company is really trying to cut costs). If you go shopping for new clothes, its likely that some of shirts and dresses you try on were made by people who are also thousands of miles away, in shops far less glamorous than the ones in which the finished products end up.
Outsourcing is so commonplace in certain industries, we dont even think twice about it anymore. But over the past few years, the trend has spread to practices far beyond call centers and apparel manufacturing. In fact, you might be surprised at the industries that rely on outsourcing now.
We could all use personal assistants to return calls and emails, pay the bills, and shop for presents, but how many of us can afford to hire them? Thats why India-based companies like GetFriday and Brickwork offer a team of assistants who take care of the little tasks you dont have the time or energy forand do it for a much lower fee than what youd pay an in-person assistant. Writer A.J. Jacobs wrote about using Brickwork in a 2005 Esquire story and expressed much satisfaction with how his hired assistants, Honey and Asha, researched his stories, dealt with the phone company, and even honored bizarre requests, like emailing Michael Jackson jokes to him and intervening in a fight with his wife.
Drive-Through Order Taking
When you imagine the person taking your order at a fast-food drive-through, you probably assume he or she is behind the counter in the restaurant. But thats no longer the case in some establishments; instead, the people who take your order might be located in call centers in entirely different states. For example, a 2006 New York Times story reporting on the new practice found that an employee at a California-based McDonalds call center took orders from Hawaii, Mississippi, and Wyoming in just two minutes. The orders are then sent to the stores computers. Chains like Wendys and Jack in the Box also have been testing out this approach. The goal is to help other employees focus their attention on in-store matters and to keep the drive-through line moving as quickly as possible.
Drug Trial Testing
Drug makers have to host clinical trials for any new drugs they want to put out on the market to ensure that theyre safe. Increasingly, theyre moving these trials to lower-income countries and regions like India and parts of Eastern Europe. Researchers who published an article on the subject in a 2009 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine found that the number of countries that are hosting trials outside of the United States doubled between 1995 and 2005, while the number of U.S.-based trials went down. Part of the reason for this has to do with decreased labor and testing-site costs at places outside of the United States; another factor might be a bigger pool of humans in these locales who are willing and able to be tested.
Unfortunately, its not always done with explicit permission. The BBC reported in 2006 about an experimental drug being tested in India on people with cancer without their consent. Because the tests are done abroad, language barriers and cultural differences might get in the way of the test subjects comprehending the risks or benefits. As S.P. Kalantri, a doctor who runs such trials in India, told Wired magazines Jennifer Kahn in 2006, Ninety percent of patients being recruited in India are poor Trials enroll very few patients who are rich, literate, and capable of asking awkward questions.
People generally fall into one of two opinion camps when it comes to video games: they either think theyre a waste of time and a contributor to childhood obesity, or they find them a fun and mentally stimulating way to spend ones leisure time. But both camps would probably look down on the fact that you can pay someone to play the lower levels of games like World of Warcraft so that you can effortlessly ascend to the more challenging stuff. There are also players (known in some circles as gold farmers) in Chinese gaming factories whose sole purpose is to accrue points and game currency so that others can buy it off of them with real money. The buyers then use that game money to buy weapons and other items necessary to play the game as successfully and lazily as possible.
Ever wonder how some power bloggers manage to update their pages so frequently and post new content throughout the day and night? Its possible they get a little help from organizations like Rent A Blogger, which hires people to do everything from set up blogs to research and write about new topics for them. Even Tweeters can pay others to send tweets throughout the day and find Twitter directories to join. Theres a lot of controversy in the online world as to whether this is ethical, since blogs and profiles are supposed to be personal, so many users keep the practice on the down-low. Theyre more open about outsourcing for things like page redesigns and traffic generation, though.
Unfortunately, having everything done out of eyesight has also created a great deal of unethical situations beyond the blogosphere, like the drug trials in India or the apparel sweatshops in Asian countries. Even McDonalds outsourcing was described as bizarre by one consumer interviewed in the 2006 New York Times story. What we gain in productivity and profit, we lose in personal touch and a feeling of connectedness. But as long as there are businesses interesting in saving money and potential employees willing to work for less, it will continue to be a major part of our economy and culture.
Without outsourcing our standard of living in the US would be drastically lower.
Do you? You think our standard of living would be lower if more Americans were working?
Have you ever met a millennial? Many of them are about as interested in working as I am in skydiving. Who is going to do the work? If we were talking about 1950’s or even 1970’s America, I could see your point. That place doesn’t exist any more.
You actually do think our standard of living is higher with the millennials not working?
We’ve outsourced the presidency, why not everything else...
Go ahead and try to twist my words.
Hmmm. That was your answer to my question:
You think our standard of living would be lower if more Americans were working?
That is to say you answered that question by explaining how we were better off with the millennials not working, simply because they weren’t interested.
I’m not sure how that wasn’t saying that you really do think we are better off?
Without outsourcing, the government could not spend like crazy and print money like crazy, then tell us cattle there's no inflation because of all the imported cheap stuff.
You will note that the price of any goods and services produced domestically has gone through the roof: education, groceries, energy, housing, medical care, insurance, legal help--the cost of everything you need to live and breathe is sky high.
But you let yourselves be bribed with cheap electronic gizmos and shoddy clothing from abroad.
We're being sold out.
In the end, the handful at the top who are gaming the system will have it all while the rest of us will have let ourselves be sold out.
So we are a wealthier country if we pay taxes to support millennials not working, and with our remaining funds purchase goods and services overseas (where that money is lost to the US) and pay illegal aliens under the table (no taxes) who then send money out of the country to their families?
I’m really having trouble understanding what you’re saying here.
Remember the original question was:
You think our standard of living would be lower if more Americans were working?
I’m not sure how what you said answers that question.
My xrays are read by a doctor in India, my insurance is processed in abroad, I could never afford dress leather shoes made in USA, my house is built with a ton of imported items including many power tools used by construction workers, my golf clubs are made in China.
I could go on but you get the point. My standard of living would take a nose dive if American unionized workers made all my stuff.
Yes, if all the stuff was made by unionized American workers. Which is why I like Wal-Mart, it is still non-union and I save money doing business with them. I buy groceries at Winco which is owned by workers, non-union, and whole bunch cheaper than unionized Safeway & Fred Meyers.
Since you have put yourself forward I may ask, who is paying you, and for what?
I worked for 23 years for a non-unionized machinery builder. Our machines were sold all over the world.
The millenials not working has very little to do with outsourcing. It has everything to do with anti-business policies of this administration, punishing the most productive and rewarding the most unproductive.
“The millenials not working has very little to do with outsourcing. It has everything to do with anti-business policies of this administration, punishing the most productive and rewarding the most unproductive.”
Yep. I’m just thankful that GWB didnt sell America down the river with outsourcing.... Oh wait....never mind. Lol
Nobody at the top, regardless of the letter after their name, gives even a little bit of a damn about the working class.
That’s not who pays them.
So! Mr. Moneybags. I know the feeling, and I’m feeling very vulnerable.
That depends. American workers are not automatically entitled to a living. Nor are any workers. Nor am I, and since no law protects my income against global competition, no law should protect anyone else's.
If American workers can produce something I want for less than foreign workers, then those workers are entitled to a living. I have no problem with that. That's what the market is for.
Otherwise, they need to be redeployed in such a way as to maximize output.
The globe's a big place. Deal with it.
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