Something’s missing …

Just saw this cartoon by Mike Moreu on the outsourcing of call centre staff (ht Nigel Pinkerton):

791126Source (Mike Moreu on Stuff)

Job security isn’t the only difference – the other is wages. The artist forgets to mention that they have job security because they are paid significantly less than a New Zealander would accept. Implicitly this tells me that NZer’s could have had job security – if they had accepted lower wages …

There are two further things that I take from this.

  1. New Zealander’s are now getting a service more cheaply – as the cost is lower,
  2. The workers overseas are made better off – as they now have jobs at a wage they are willing to work at.

Unless we value the NZ call centre workers significantly more than we value Telecom consumers and people in Manila we can’t possibly complain about this situation. However, NZer’s are complaining. To me this implies that we value people in Manila significantly less than we value people in New Zealand – a view that appears very similar to straight out racism in my mind …

  • The first is valid, the second is not, unless you support substantial increases in taxation combined with increasing the share of foreign aid in the budget to 80%+.

    Capitalism is about everyone trying to get the best deal for themselves. Why should call centre workers in New Zealanders take it lying down? Efficiency comes from everyone optimizing. Besides, you could rewrite the same story and insert a country with the same ethnic mix as NZ (or as similar as is possible), but still have the same problem but clearly be unable to term it racism.

  • “second is not, unless you support substantial increases in taxation combined with increasing the share of foreign aid in the budget to 80%+”

    I don’t agree – I don’t think the aid budget argument really makes sense, as I don’t give 80% of my income to other people in my country in the first place.

    Fundamentally all nation states are more interested in the welfare of their citizens than in the welfare of other people – this type of separation is implicitly racist. People don’t like calling it racism – as they realise that a situation where we treat all citizens of the world equally would lead to far lower wages in developed nations like NZ.

    If we really cared about the welfare of people equally, we would open our border to immigrants and let our wages fall – its just globalisation of the labour market.

    Currently we have protectionism in the labour market – it benefits workers in developed countries, but it costs people in developing countries. I think the only reason we don’t want to face this issue in developed countries is because it would make us feel guilty.

    In 50-100 years, when history classes look back at this period, they will view the type of labour market arrangements we have now as racism.

  • StephenR

    “view that appears very similar to straight out racism in my mind …”

    Why not nationalism? Just to be picky.

  • “Why not nationalism? Just to be picky.”

    Racism is really just a form of nationalism isn’t it 😛

  • Hmmm, I’m with StephenR here: we’d have a problem with outsourcing the jobs anywhere. I think it’s nationalism and xenophobia, not racism. The distinction is surely important when making such brazen accusations!

  • “I think it’s nationalism and xenophobia, not racism.”

    I see – I was viewing racism and xenophobia in the same light. My primary view was that New Zealander’s were biased against non-New Zealander’s – I can see that xenophobia is a better term in this case 😉

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  • steve

    @Matt Nolan

    xenophobia and nationalism are not racism. Lets look at this based on a utility function. My utility function includes an element of the utility of others. These others are weighted differently depending upon these others ‘importance’ in my mind. Firstly I value the happiness of my family over others so it would be weighted highly, followed by friends, extended family, neighbours, neighbourhood, region, nation, close nations (i.e. Australia).

    All of these things are not necessarily racism. They are simply that I have a relationship with each person in this world and my relationship to Telecom employees in NZ is higher than Telecom employees in Manila. Yes in some cases that relationship may be tarnished by racist beliefs, but it is not a necessary requirement that I have racist beliefs in order for me to value people in my nation ahead of other nations – If I were to visit Manila and befriend locals, then my preferences would change, but at the moment I have a relationship with NZ and value the well-being of this nation. That is not racism – It’s nationalism. While sometimes it may be racism it is not necessarily.

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