Reclaiming Software Jobs?

I work in the software industry, and while the company that I work for has not moved much of its programming offshore to India or other ‘third-world’ countries, many have. A programmer in Bangalore is a lot cheaper than a programmer in North America.

I was watching a TV show this morning about a new concept city in Arizona – with a very small footprint on the environment (they claimed use of only 2% of the space to house the same number of people as would be the case in urban sprawl). The residents grow their own food, have small dwellings, live very close to their neighbours, and most significantly, there is no provision for cars. Many of the residents work at crafts: carpentry, pottery, metal working, etc. It would be interesting to know how their products compare to similar products coming from the third world. My point here is whether the alternate, low consumption lifestyle workers in North America have a similar cost base to people working in a third-world country providing similar products. Or is it still more expensive so that the crafts have to command a premium price?

What’s this got to do with programmers? Well, why is that most alternate lifestyle communities in North America have crafts as their major occupation. As long as there is electricity and a connection to the Internet it is perfectly possible to pursue a range of occupations from any location – which is exactly why outsourcing of services like programming from third-world countries is now practical.

So what does this mean? Well, perhaps if you are a programmer in North America, the best way to defend your job would be to move to an alternate lifestyle community.

But this is not just true of programming. Recently I heard that reading x-rays is increasingly being outsourced to qualified radiologists in India… Soon we may all have to change our lifestyle and job location in response to the emergence of third world countries.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Martin. Kind of a shame these experimental Utopias like the one you saw on tv in Arizona never seem to get beyond their own borders, huh? I'm sure there are lots of people living 'alternative' lifestyles but in comparison to the masses it's problably a small percentage. As for these people making a living doing craft work, sure, they've got plenty of overhead expenses just like anoyone else buying raw materials from s supplier would have. Add in their time and you wind up with items that are costly to purchase as completed products. In comparison to crafts made in third world countries, I would think their natives would make use of natural resources, like getting clay from the ground right close to where one lives, to make pottery and such. Even when items are factory made, the rate being paid to workers is so low that the finished goods are plenty attractive to buyers from wealthier areas of the world, who enjoying an incredible mark-up from what they pay to what we pay. Then again, they have to bear the expenses of seeking out these goods and having them transported from the distributor to the marketplace, which nowadays easily counts for up to 80% of the price paid for an item. As for jobs leaving the USA in alarming rates, you are right. The wealthy families that have all the money - and the power that goes along with it - are quite content to begin exploitiong other countries to lower their own expenses are inflate thier own profits. Nothing new there. We're quickly heading toward the past, in the days of the Feudal System, when 97% of the people were dirt poor and 3% lived the life of Kings. Sadly, our votes are not going to change a thing. Wealthy white men settled this country, and their not going to give up anything any time soon. The old 'rich get richer' applies more now today than ever before. Get smart, and get yourself an alternative means of income. Sell stuff on eBay if you have to, grow herbs, whatever. Be prepared. Those days are fathers and grand-fathers saw where one could work for a corporation to retirement are gone for good. We have to be flexible and ready to go with the flow of change. Specialization is good but don't become one of the many who can't fend for themselves if the excrement hits the rotating blades. My family lives conservatively and we are better off for it. Be well and best of luck.