The Outsourcing Controversy

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It's amazing that the outsourcing of a few thousand telemarketing and other jobs to India has become the hot topic on the campaign trail, second only to gay marriage. Can't our politicians come up with something better to bicker about than a bunch of low-paying jobs that no one here wants as a long-term career anyway? Outsourcing has become such a touchy subject that the American Teleservices Association won't take a position on it, though the Direct Marketing Association has lobbied against state legislation restricting companies that want to take jobs offshore.

Outsourcing is not a new issue. It has been around since the 1970s, when thousands of manufacturing jobs began moving to Mexico, Taiwan and South Korea, where workers toil longer for less pay making everything from DVD players to clothing. The Associated Press says we're only talking about 170,000 jobs, but with unemployment at 5.6 percent every job counts in an election year. Too bad President Bush and Sen. John Kerry didn't realize this last year when they both came out in favor of the national no-call registry. Kerry recently called companies sending jobs overseas Benedict Arnolds. I wonder if his limousine, Turnbull & Asser shirts and fruit and vegetables are all made in the USA?

Corrections and More Corrections

Following up on last week's editorial, the Washington Post ended up having to print two corrections over the amount of direct mail sent last year because the first one was wrong: "The Consummate Consumer column in the March 9 Style section incorrectly reported the increase in direct mail in 2003. Direct mail increased 3.6 percent, to 90 billion pieces. Volume for the entire direct-marketing industry increased 22 percent." What is the Post's fixation with 22 percent? After several e-mails back and forth, a correction for the correction was written: "A March 13 correction referring to the Consummate Consumer column in the March 9 Style section was in error. It should have stated that the volume of direct mail sent out by the telecommunications industry increased by 22 percent in 2003, not that the volume of all direct mail had increased by that amount."

I feel partially vindicated, but now I look at the corrections and ask, "So what?" Without the context of the article, they're meaningless numbers. Though I threw all this blame at the Post, I need to correct something about last week's editorial. Post columnist Don Oldenburg spells his name "burg," not "berg." My mistake.

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