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Friday, April 2, 2004

Dial Rangoon 7-7500

Here's an outsourcing story for you, and I am not making this up: When needy folks call the Oregon state government for information on welfare and food stamps, the state has operators standing by --

In India!!!

Comments (12)

And this is bad because...

Outsourcing is a way to reduce government costs. I am not sure I understand the rationale behind refusing tax increases and then prohibiting government from cost-cutting measures.

Let's just make sure these Indians don't qualify for PERS.

Otherwise, what's the problem if the outsourced folks do a better job for a cheaper price?

Too bad we can't outsource our state corrections department to India.

Want to spend the next 6 years in an Indian jail?

Talk about your "deterrent effect".


Best idea yet!

And this is bad because...

We are paying unemployment and welfare benefits to many Oregonians who could do this job quite well. And getting no services from them at all in return. Plus we pay the folks in Bombay to do the work.

I'm sure the Indian trainees communicate really well with low-income people from eastern Oregon, too....

To Jack's last point, companies that used to outsource their call centers (Dell, for one) are re-examining that decision in light of growing customer complaints about the quality of service received.

As someone who has endured hours (yes, hours) of wasted time on various Dell support lines, I applaud their decision.

Now, to get them to make products that don't require customer support calls...

Not quite sure what the problem with outsourcing is? Well here are a couple:

+Employers overseas are not necessarily subject to the same fair labor standards and employment monitoring and oversight that we have here, which means we benefit (and employers profit from) the exploitation of overseas workers. Not generally something to be encouraged, even if it cannot be completely eliminated.

+Our tax dollars (and capital from the economy in general, with regards to private-sector outsourcing of jobs) are taken out of our community, where the contribute to the growth and stability of our economy, and spend overseas. While, under some circumstances, that may be a good thing, I don't think Oregon can afford to be that benevolent given our budget problems.

As to Justin's point about refusing tax increases, that may well be the beginings of an argument against the incredibly restrictive budgetary mandates here in Oregon: Tax surplusses must be returned, cannot borrow money, cannot raise taxes w/o voter approval, all of this gives the government very little flexibility to respond and react to changes in the economy and various markets.

Yikes. And I thought it was bad enough AmEx had outsourced to India...

I tend to agree with your reasons why outsourcing is not in Oregon's best interest. I am just not outraged by it. It seems Oregonians are getting what they pay for.

I saw a 60 Minutes special on jobs outsourced to India, and I was very impressed with how the employees were treated. It may not be up to American standards, but it still seemed adequate.

Furthermore, last summer I visited a Chevy Car manufacturing plant in China and the conditions looked excellent. Employees only made $3,000 a year. Yet it still propelled them to middle class status.

I don't believe in America First and tend to think if we can ship jobs oversees to poorer countries, then great! I'm all for it.

This is all coming from a recent law school graduate who spent 8 months unemployed looking for a job. Because for those 8 months I still lived better than 90 percent of the Chinese population live for their entire lives.

On the other hand, state tax dollars shouldn't be used as foreign aid; that's the job of the federal government. The state could easily locate these jobs in Burns, to which the state has built high-speed communication lines and whose citizens could use the work.

It also doesn't save companies money if you're spending three times as much time on the phone with someone who may speak flawless English and is extremely courteous (that's been my experience - I'm not faulting the desire to give good service), but can't understand your questions, answer your questions or find anyone who can, if it means going off the script (and sadly, that's also been my experience - you'd cringe at the details, trust me.)

Now, I'm one of those calm, organized types on the phone, and I'd like to think I can communicate clearly and transmit all the necessary bits of detail. I've also usually done my homework - read the manual, looked online for recent product news, scanned FAQs, etc. Yet I've always hit a dead end or had sub-par results if my call has gone overseas. Always.

Now imagine (as Jack's already said) you have someone on the phone who really needs help yet may not be terrifically articulate at asking a question that's worded the same way that the script calls for.

Companies (government) may be saving money in one column, but I guarantee you that the inefficiencies created cost money in other columns. Either that or people who could have gotten help get bogged down in the system instead - or make different product choices next time.

Tax dollars forcefully extracted from citizens should only be used for necessary services and in the most efficient manner possible.

We don't (or shouldn't) require the PERS pension fund to only invest in Oregon companies, we want public retirees to get the best bang for their retirement buck on the open market.

Why should our tax dollars be treated any differently?

Isn't Rangoon in Myanmar, the former Burma?

And didn't the Russians already offer to take some of our prisoners and house them in Siberia?

That may not be accurate, but I know the Rangoon thing is correct.

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