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Offshoring woes: Laugh ’em off


Wednesday 25 February 2004, by RAJGHATTA*Chidanand

WASHINGTON: Americans are beginning to laugh a little about outsourcing, even if the humour is laced with bitterness. There is a sudden outpouring of outsourcing spoofs from American writers.

There is a sudden outpouring of outsourcing spoofs, some of it toxic, from home-grown American writers and commentators.

LA Times columnist Patt Morrison explained to her readers this week that if her column reads a little awkwardly, it’s because she had it written by foreign workers.

"My nouns and pronouns are now made in Indonesia, verbs and adverbs in Mexico and adjectives in China," Morrison jibed. "I tried subcontracting prepositions to Thailand, but someone thought I meant ’propositions’ and forwarded my inquiry to the Ministry of Sex Trade."

Well-known think-tanker Norman Orstein of the American Enterprise Institute turned White House economic advisor Greg Mankiw’s argument that job migration wasn’t bad for the economy on him.

"The White House announced today that it is outsourcing the work of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers to India " Orstein wrote in the Washington Post .

"Ramindar Prabhakesh, an economist who teaches Introductory Economics and Macroeconomics at Bangalore University, will take over as chairman. He will earn one-sixth the salary of his outsourced predecessor, N Gregory Mankiw."

Jacob Grier, a young humourist spoofing as a "staff writer" for The Hemingway Star got stuck into CNN Moneyline anchor Lou Dobbs, who has been running a virulent anti-outsourcing campaign.

CNN has "announced" that Lou Dobbs Tonight will now be called Lokesh Narayan Tonight and be broadcast from Mumbai, he wrote.

The humour isn’t without some toxicity. Morrison wondered if "any evil-doing Tom, Dick or Ahmed with an outsourced credit-company source may lay his mitts on my Social Security number, phony up a passport and slip into the country while airport security is busy cuffing some granny who left her crochet hook in her purse?"

"And what recourse would I have? Filing suit? I can’t even get the local valet parking company to pay for breaking my car-door handle. How can I possibly recover an identity stolen in Uttar Pradesh?" she asked.

Ornstein joked that an extremely senior official in the vice president’s office confided to reporters "that the State Department’s Middle Eastern desk... would be next to move - with Guangzhou, China, the most likely destination."

In fact, even professional anti-free traders may be feeling the bite of foreign competition in the near future, Grier "warned."

In Missouri, home state of protectionist politician Dick Gephardt, "a popular ballot initiative calls for exporting the Minority Leader’s job to the Philippines," Grier wrote.

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The Times of India, Wednesday, February 25, 2004.

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