The Onion: Outsourcing Your Own Job Overseas

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How about some Friday afternoon humor:

I love the scene with a bunch of speakerphones in an empty conference room talking to each other. With the growing popularity of virtual personal assistants from sites like GetFriday, I bet this is happening more often than most people think. I remember the story about medical transcriptionists where a big company got a contract for something like 50 cents a line, who subcontracted to a self-employed woman in Florida being paid 25 cents a line, who then subcontracted to someone in Pakistan for 3 cents a line. [Direct video link]

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  1. Not at all funny….I am so sick and tired of news/networks beating the bush on the whole ‘Outsourcing’ issue. When are we going to learn this is the age of globalization. The country that taking ouir jobs might pull us out of recession…..

  2. Straight out of the “Four Hour Workweek”…

  3. Over the Cubicle Wall says

    I love The Onion.

  4. “Okay, we’re all on the same team, here!”

  5. This was pretty funny – back when it was in Doonesbury.

    Check out this:,7C0,.gif

    I believe it dates back to 2004.


  6. Hey guys. Been following this excellent blog for about a year. I just graduated from medical school and after reading the blurb about the medical transcription incident I had to pipe in. I had never heard of it before. The incident that occurred at UCSF Medical Center is crazy! What is even more alarming is that american hospitals are still permitted to outsource medical transcription work. That just doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.

    I’m all for globalization and outsourcing in general. But with regard to sensitive personal information especially like someone’s medical history… things like that shouldn’t be sent overseas. I mean, the HIPAA law pretty much makes that illegal.

  7. Hi

    Very funny. Not so sure I’ll be laughing when my IT job is shipped out to India 🙂 I suppose I’ll just have to try and “move up the value chain” or whatever nonsense is suggested!

  8. I think there’s a lot of truth in that video. The whole ‘four hour work week’ idea of getting your job done overseas so you can spend more time in Machu Pichu has gone too far. And how many people have actually achieved it. Even Mr Ferris (the author) seems to be running about promoting his book 24/7. 🙂

  9. Mississippi Mike says

    I am in IT (computer programming) and have been hurt a few times by outsourcing already. Just like news of a crime, it is no big deal …….until you become the next unfortunate victim.

    Just blythely stating that “this is the age of globalization” in my opinion is not very satisfactory. And this is why.

    What happens when a critical level of outsourcing is reached? Well a bunch of people will be unemployed and starving. A starving person is not going to care too much if the country is in recession or not.

    Spare a thought for all the struggling workers in the motor industry, and elsewhere in the US who are hurting from outsourcing. In the next few years, it is possible that the motor industry in the USA, is going to disappear. In the future we can also expect a far larger lower class population, and a much smaller middle class.

    Remember that about 70% of our GDP here in the US is due to consumer spending. So now we are talking about a shrinking GDP and a shrinking tax base. And compared to other countries, the USA is going to become a lot poorer. But the rich folk, will get richer.

    I have difficulty picturing how this is going to turn out. It has turned out badly for a lot of people already.

    To conclude, I would like to offer the idea that more senior executive positions are outsourced. Senior company executives in this country are over paid. Companies should be out sourcing these positions to save money. But that will never happen because these executives are the ones who benefit the most.


    I have worked with many Indian folk during the past 10 years. They are very pleasant and smart, very smart.

  10. @ Ron – The age of globalization doesn’t mean that our workers should be unproductive and pay people to do their work, it means our workers should be working on other things.

  11. @Justin – Well you right in your statement but that never happens we all want a 4 day week so that we can work on other things but as Monevator said we rush to Machu pichu or as described in the video shooting hoops and playing fantasy baseball/football.
    It’s time we learn from our Indian compatriots and grow up.

    I totally agree with Mississippi Mike on this..
    “To conclude, I would like to offer the idea that more senior executive positions are outsourced. Senior company executives in this country are over paid. Companies should be out sourcing these positions to save money. But that will never happen because these executives are the ones who benefit the most.”


    My current job also involves working with Indians. They are part of our 24/7 application support handling night calls when it’s morning in India. Kinda works for really nice.

  12. The video is funny, but it outlines the problem: everything can be outsourced, so what kind of of work or skills will be left here?

    Some of what you say is true. But there is another side: what is going to happen with skills in the US? What kind of jobs will be left? What happens with technology leadership or even national security if high tech jobs continue to disappear? What kind of industries and skills will remain in the US? With new high tech communication technologies, virtually anything that doesn’t involve face to face contact with customers can be outsourced.

    Some of the jobs that are outsourced now are high tech job. Not just application programmers, but highly skilled software engineers and even scientists working on new technologies. People who were laid off cannot find jobs – look in the news, virtually every technology company is laying off people in the US, nobody is hiring. I am a highly skilled software engineer working for a large international technology company. Over the past 10 years the number of US employees of my company was going down whereas the number of employees abroad is going up. Most of the projects I work on are global – and there are good people in these other countries, really smart. A lot of meetings indeed look like in the video. It used to be that they simply were helping us while we were doing most of design work. This is no longer the case. There are good smart people in other countries – both engineers and scientists. But if all R&D moves to other countries, is it good for the US?

    What will happen 10 years down the line? How many young people do you think will want to go to CS or engineering if more and more jobs go oversees? Is it in the US interest to lose these skills? Can the US compete in technology if there is nobody in the US with skills? What about national security, who is going to work there if virtually no American wants to study CS or engineering?

    Now I am also a shareholder, so sure I like my employer stock to go up. I would also like my employer to show good earnings – bad earnings generally lead to layoffs. I also don’t believe that taxing foreign income is a solution: I think it is likely to be counter-productive and hurt us rather than help it since a) the people abroad will still be cheaper, the difference is just too high b) higher taxes on corporations = lower earnings = layoffs c) I don’t generally believe in protectionism. So I don’t know what the solution is. But the outsourcing of these high tech jobs is not good for the US. It’s really not very good for companies long term: as more and more growth occurs oversees the salaries abroad go up. When dollar falls, foreign employees cost more. Sure, they can continue to shift jobs – from India to China, from China to Brazil… and so on. What if there is some political upheaval in one of these countries? At some point the companies may want to bring jobs back in the US, but by that time there’d be nobody here skilled to do these jobs.

    @Mississippi Mike – good points.

  13. Delta Squadron says

    Love this video. :-)) Thanks for sharing it.

  14. Globalization will only be “wonderful” when currency rates are equalized. Otherwise, the US loses (jobs, that is). We get to import loads of stuff that soon we won’t be able to afford. And there should be major tax de-incentives to hiring workers abroad for less pay.

  15. Hey court reporters have been subing transcript work out for decades. Nothing new.

  16. Hilarious! I have been outsourcing work-related tasks for a while now for my business but I can’t believe the things you can outsource these days. Just last week I read a TechCrunch article about, a company that lets you outsource your online dating. Unbelievable…

  17. Similar to what Mimi said: First, don’t let anyone tell you that they have any other reason but one for outsourcing – that reason is cheap labor.
    What has to happen is some kind of worldwide minimum wage, or some other equalization – I’d gladly work for the same pay as my Chinese counterpart, if I then had a Chinese cost of living to go with it instead of Philadelphia, PA prices. Until American cost of living goes down &/or wages offshore go up, there will be big problems and U.S. government is going to have to tax and tariff to equal things out. And the American people are not just going to lie down and take it — that’s why Obama won last November.

  18. And he is not ashamed to show his face on camera saying he wants to become completely lazy? He’s trying to become a complete parasite. And who’s paying for that? The Consumer! That won’t last long. If I had an employee who was outsourcing his job and doing little to nothing for the salary I was paying him I’d simply either reduce his salary or fire him. I’m against a society becoming a bunch of lazy nothingdoers.

  19. As an employer one must be able to take on Government’s role to give working people a life (good salary, health benefits, vacations etc.). If you can’t and won’t give people a life they deserve, you should not be employing anyone. Corporations and large companies or any employers must remember – GIVE YOUR EMPLOYEES A LIFE.

  20. No Mames Buey says

    Evidence shows

    1 “high tech” (currently pharma, semiconductor, electric car, 400 yrs ago wool mfg was “high tech”) mfg goods produced from science/engineering R&D is the biggest factor leading to socioeconomic progress. Eg life is different in 2009 than 1509 mostly because of science & engineering innovation leading to mfg goods, as opposed to improved lawyering, improved accounting, improved physicians (aka a genomics researcher innovative contribution to society > routine physician’s)

    2 most nations that became rich did so via running a trade surplus of high tech mfg goods.

    What sucks now is the Paradox that the US science & engineering jobs which can lead to HT mfg good exports are devalued by US society, faced with offshoring, H1-B, age discrimination at 40+ etc. Yet these are the unique jobs that could create US exports.

    An annoying thing is to see Americans in an Protectionism-favored employment cartel/union/professional society (keep it real, these 3 terms are synonyms, think about it) lecture on the greatness of free trade. For example, physicians, unionized gov emps such as police officers, or DC media “journalists” like Tom Friedman.

    Real free trade would mean there US hospitals could hire poor foreigner physicians for $30K, & NYT would hire a Bangalore based journalist for $10K who actually was not an incompetent moron on the Iraq War & economics.

    I think the H1-B should be reformed to
    1 set some salary floor ($50K?) for any occupation
    2 let the limited (80 000 workers/yr?) H1-B slots go to the highest bidders. Eg if the “H1-B price” was bid up to $40K this year, you can hire any worker you want, radiologist, computer scientist, athlete, whatever for at least $90K – you pay $40K to gov which goes into US worker retraining fund, at least $50K or more to H1-B worker in salary.

    The claimed “worker shortage” in IT, engineering etc would be exposed as an obvious sham to get cheap workers via H1-B.

    We also need Warren Buffet’s Import Certificates policy, which would marginally bring back some manufacturing jobs & neutralize the long US trade deficit.

  21. I’m in outsourcing service for past 6 years and I have dealt with about 200 pleased clients. Though, they have outsourced their jobs to me, they are not just sitting idle, but they always do higher value jobs. Thus they earn double income in fact. Outsourcing is always beneficial for those who practically and intelligently thinking of good busniess and make it happened.

  22. if outsourcing is so good, why are there no consumers to create demand to make the global economy great? why did the economy crash if outsourcing is the economic engine? it has failed and created misery.

    the only way to keep creating growth in the global economy was to lend funny money to the people who had their job replaced by someone who did it for much, much less.

    now we are sitting in the mud and if you keep making the american consumer compete against someone who does their job for 1/5 th the wage who can live like a king in india – i have stopped spending here in the US. i buy nothing outside of what i need and save the rest. i’m 58 and have never saved nore (my wife and i both) . i stopped buying stuff. all done until i die.

    as far as india – lotsa’ luch when YOUR jobs get shipped to Africa and Bangladesh in 20 years. Then you shall feel the pain and beleive me, it hurts a lot more than you could EVER imagine…

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