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U.S. Programmers An Endangered Species? 1361

Posted by michael
from the going-going-gone dept.
CommanderData writes "USA Today reports that US Programmers are an 'Endangered Species' and expects them to be 'extinct' within the next few years, replaced by offshoring and H-1B visa holders. They suggest people will manage overseas projects, become self-employed, or switch to other fields. What do my fellow code-dinosaurs plan to do before the asteroid hits?" A report on Newsforge (which is part of OSTG along with Slashdot) shows the flip side of the coin.
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U.S. Programmers An Endangered Species?

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  • by leonmergen (807379) * <lmergen@nosPaM.gmail.com> on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:16PM (#10536174) Homepage
    Sure, programmers will be extinct within the near future in Western countries. But there's a difference between programming and software engineering; I personally think that software engineering will still take place in the western countries, the whole documentation, analysing, quality assurance, perhaps testing... the whole process of developing software except the programming will still occur in Western countries... let the code monkeys in India have it, anyone can write code, but they will still need a good software engineer to develop a piece of quality software. :-)
  • One or the other (Score:0, Insightful)

    by narsiman (67024) on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:17PM (#10536187)
    Become self employed or move to india
  • I don't think so. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by erick99 (743982) <homerun@gmail.com> on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:17PM (#10536193)
    I have worked at too many companies where we needed coding done on the fly with proprietary systems. This usual meant sitting down the programmer with a customer waiting for a return call ASAP. How would I do that with a programmer in India? I don't think I could overcome the language issues and the proprietary nature of the software. The publishing company I worked for would be a good example of that. Print jobs required programming. The jobs often were for 1 million or more pieces so mistakes could be catastrophic. It wasn't unusual to go racing to a programmers cube at 5PM with a programming requirement that had to be finished in 30 minutes or so to go to press.
  • by SuperKendall (25149) * on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:19PM (#10536218)
    My company has already dropped all offshoring (though they still outsource to a limited extent) and I hear of others doing the same.

    It turns out it's way more efficient to pay a guy sitting right there three or four (or ten) times as much as some other guy sitting way the hell across the ocean, who doesn't even really care if your project (or company) lives or dies.

    It also turns out it's better to use someone who understands your core buisness and the poeple working there than some faceless channel of communication.

    I guess USA Today is just a little behind the curve.
  • Language issue (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nuggz (69912) on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:20PM (#10536239) Homepage
    What language issue?
    Indian english is not a problem to understand once you adjust to the accent.
    To be fair I have worked with many immigrants from around the world, but adjusting just isn't that hard for me anymore.
  • Learn More Stuff (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheFlyingGoat (161967) on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:20PM (#10536241) Homepage Journal
    I've had a job programming web applications for about 3 years now. Another part of my job is providing helpdesk support, fixing computers, network administration, and web design. If any one of these areas get outsourced, I still have a job.

    In addition, I'm working on getting my teaching certification in mathematics. Like any industry, it's good to have a backup plan if everything falls apart. While I haven't noticed any of my friends' jobs being outsourced, I do know that it's always a possibility and have tried preparing myself in the ways listed about in case anything should happen.
  • by networkBoy (774728) on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:21PM (#10536243) Homepage Journal
    Funny, I just took a job as a programmer. I am not relocatable, as in I work in the same lab as the equipment I write software for is in. While I could be replaced by an H1B, I do not fear this as long as I do my job reasonably well.
    -nB
  • *yawn* (Score:2, Insightful)

    by DroopyStonx (683090) on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:21PM (#10536255)
    Why do people post these stories?

    Programmers wont be "extinct" and you know it... what a stupid thing to say.

    Didn't we have a similiar scare about 15 years ago with the auto industry and everyone thought that auto-workers' jobs would go overseas? Hasn't happened yet.

    Quit being so paranoid.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:22PM (#10536257)

    There will always be work in government or defense industries which will be too sensitive to outsource, or send off-shore. There will probably be some in commercial enterprises as well.

    I expect that there will still be many places which will consider it to be a major plus to have the developers on-site. Control can be a major issue.

    We also haven't seen the fallout of "net-centric" warfare yet either. What will happen when those 500+ North Korean hackers, and the uncounted ones in other countries, let loose during wartime?

  • USA Today (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Usquebaugh (230216) on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:22PM (#10536258)
    The day I start worrying about what's written in the press is the day I hang up my keyboard. Given that they cannot accurately report any tech story I'm meant to worry up this crap.
  • by Dante Shamest (813622) on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:22PM (#10536261)
    let the code monkeys in India have it, anyone can write code, but they will still need a good software engineer to develop a piece of quality software. Yes, because we all know Indians can't do software engineering. It's this kind of thinking that made you lose your programming job to them in the first place. :-)
  • Career Change (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Zathras26 (763537) <<pianodwarf> <at> <gmail.com>> on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:23PM (#10536277)

    I know I'm not exactly the first person to think of this, but I'm trying to get out of the IT industry. In the long run, I just don't see any way I can be competitive with offshoring. Granted, there are certain jobs that can't be outsourced that way, but it would be too much work to try to get one of the few remaining positions -- increasing competition for fewer jobs.

    I don't much like agreeing with him, but I think Bush was right in the debate the other night when he said that the 21st century economy is going to necessitate job and career changes -- not just in IT but in other areas as well. Even down to more mundane things like checkout clerks at grocery stores (which isn't much of a career, admittedly, but you know what I mean). Those are on their way out, being steadily replaced by automated checkout machines, and those who currently still work as checkout clerks had better start thinking about what they're going to do next because they're either going to leave the job of their own accord, or they're going to get laid off when those checkout machines become commonplace.

  • by GreenCrackBaby (203293) on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:23PM (#10536282) Homepage
    This viewpoint represents the naiveté of most people when it comes to programming and software engineering, and I'm not sure what the solution is. Let me be very clear, you cannot design a program (software engineering as you seem to call it) if you have never written code.

    These junior programming positions you see going to India aren't "codemonkey positions". They're junior programming positions. Why is this important? Because junior programmers go on to become intermediate, then senior programmers. Then some of them go on to be project managers, other software architects, and other business analysts.

    What happens when you cut the bottom rung out of this ladder? In 10 years, India will be full of very experienced managers, architects, and analysts. In the US though, most of those jobs will be gone much like the junior positions are leaving now.
  • Familiar Situation (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jucius Maximus (229128) <zyrbmf5j4x AT snkmail DOT com> on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:24PM (#10536286) Homepage Journal
    Isn't that the situation for pretty much every manufactured thing already? Products are designed in USA, Canada, Japan, UK, etc. and then produced in China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Korea, etc. I guess software is no different after all.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:24PM (#10536288)
    the article, which seems to have been written based on discussions with an anti-immigration advocacy group, sets its baseline for employment and salary at the peak of the dot com boom.

    Sorry guys, but that was an outlier. I don't see how anybody can take this seriously...

  • by EmperorKagato (689705) * <sakamura@gmail.com> on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:24PM (#10536296) Homepage Journal
    What do my fellow code-dinosaurs plan to do before the asteroid hits?" A report on Newsforge (which is part of OSTG along with Slashdot) shows the flip side of the coin.
    I think it is time we evolve from the reactive developing-lizards that we are into the planning, big decision thinking birds of architecture and engineering. You have to evolve yourself to stay alive in this game.
  • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:25PM (#10536306)
    But even the optimists believe that many basic programming jobs will go to foreign nations, leaving behind jobs for Americans to lead and manage software projects.

    And in 2007, they will run an article about how few jobs there are for Americans looking to "lead and manage software projects".

    Once you outsource the real skill needed, why wouldn't the jobs managing those workers be outsourced?
  • In the 50+ years that software has been a part of business procedures, how many companies have you seen give a damn about proper engineering?

    I hate to be the pessimist here, but 99.9% of the time, projects succeed (and/or are properly engineered) in spite of companies' non-attention to proper engineering.

    The main thing in favor of American developers is the same reason why Indian off-shoring tends to fail. The big reason why off-shoring often fails (first hand experience over here) is that the programmers take less initiative in forcing proper design and engineering.

    That's not a slam against Indians (or other off-shoring cultures), but more a fact of life. They are disconnected from the project to such a degree that they have no real grasp of it other than to produce *exactly* what the specs document says. This is the same type of problem you see in using consulting firms like Anderson, nay, Accenture in developing your software.

    In short, a software project can't succeed unless developers truly understand and care about what they are doing to the degree that they will *make* it succeed in spite of itself.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:26PM (#10536318)
    How do you propose to make more software engineers without them first being 'code monkeys' ?

    Doesn't a lack of domestic 'code monkeys' lead directly to off-shore engineers?
  • by Bull999999 (652264) on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:26PM (#10536323) Journal
    hat rationale makes no sense to the Programmers Guild and other groups that have sprung up to resist the tech visas. Since more than 100,000 American programmers are unemployed -- and many more are underemployed -- the existing 65,000 quota is inexcusably high, they argue. H-1B and L-1 visas are "American worker replacement programs," says the National Hire American Citizens Society.

    The question is, how many of them are good programmers vs. programmer wannabe out of a paper mill during the boom that only cared about the money?

    The average wage for an American programmer runs about $60,000, says John Bauman, who set up the Organization for the Rights of American Workers. Employers pay H-1Bs an average $53,000.

    Average difference of $7,000 doesn't seem high enough to go through the hassles of H-1 program. I'm wonder if many of the unemployed programmers are making good use of networking and job searching skills.
  • by American AC in Paris (230456) * on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:26PM (#10536326) Homepage
    David R. Francis, you're a hack. You shouldn't even be writing for a weekly coupon clipper.

    Even a sub-par human mind would have trouble accepting this tripe as truth. Consider the following statement:

    Not everybody agrees programmers will disappear completely.

    That's simply insipid. It's akin to saying, "Not everybody agrees that Dick Cheney sticks rodents up Dubya's ass" or "Not everybody agrees that Linus Torvalds secretly plans to incorporate stolen code in his operating system." This sort of statement is right at the top of the list of ways to lend creedence to a completely baseless notion.

    Mr. Francis, you do not name a single expert who believes that American programmers will cease to exist in next few years. If I were feeling generous, I'd simply state that you're a mind-bogglingly lazy journalist who cannot be bothered to include one shred of evidence supporting your most alarming charge. As I'm ticked off, however, I'll say that you're lying through your fucking teeth, that you didn't speak to or read of a single expert who believes that American programmers will be extinct in a matter of years, and you just wanted something sensational and outlandish to jazz up a less-than-mediocre piece on the state of computer jobs in America.

    David R. Francis, you're a hack.

  • by grahamsz (150076) on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:27PM (#10536330) Homepage Journal
    I'm curious as the actual cost of outsourcing.

    It's very easy to say that since an indian costs 20% of my salary, that it's 5 times cheaper. But i doubt that.

    Bangalore doesn't seem to even have a reliable phone network yet, and i know it's a lot harder to communicate with my indian peers than my north american/european/japanese ones. I'm sure there are certain tasks that lend themselves to outsourcing, but my experience suggests that trying to move parts of a complex system is a bad idea.
  • by Jameth (664111) on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:27PM (#10536335)
    They're making the classic mistake of thinking that programming is the same as creating software, and are making implications then that programmers are the creators of software, completely ignoring computer scientists and software engineers.

    There is a clear difference between writing the code for a program and actually determining what code is needed or making a new, original algorithm. Those fields are the only ones that matter now and are the only ones that have ever really mattered.

    Also, there's the field of those doing spot fixes and working in-company for major sites who can afford to have their own support staff--those are really more administrators and systems engineers.

    All those fields happen to require knowledge of programming, but it is the least of their prerequisites.

    For those who crave analagous examples, consider whether a sculptor is a stone cutter, an architecht is a diagrammer and builder, or a rocket hobbyist is a welder.
  • Exactly. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TigerNut (718742) on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:27PM (#10536349) Homepage Journal
    Outsourcing only works effectively if you are in that mythical work environment where requirements are fully established, interfaces are completely specified, and test harnesses for all the code are in place before a line gets written.

    In the embedded software space, where real-time interaction between various interrupts means that system design and hard core debugging skills are king, outsourcing, and especially overseas, will never be a factor.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:27PM (#10536352)
    I think that it is not possible to be a good software engineer without first having written code.
    People in India starts by writting code and then will become (are!) great software engineers. In the US new generations of people will not write code and thus will not become good software engineers.

    IMNSHO, writting code is for moneys just like litterature is not for monkeys.

    Writting code is a mean of expression. I do not consider that it is a dull activity.
  • by nurb432 (527695) on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:28PM (#10536356) Homepage Journal
    The way everything is being sent out of the country to 'cut costs', most major markets in the US are on the endangered species list, its not just programmers..

    While products may be cheaper, no one will be able to have decent enough jobs to make the money to buy them anyway..

    And since we don't have our unparalleled manufacturing base any longer, ( 'high tech jobs are the future' nonsense ) we are the mercy of everyone else in the world..

    Should scare you, it scares me..
  • by macklin01 (760841) on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:29PM (#10536367) Homepage
    That's a really good point. On that note, instead of going into programming to do programming, one might consider going into science that requires a lot of programming. For instance, I'm studying computational biophysics (e.g., simulating cancer growth, chemotherapy, red blood cell deformation, etc.), and it takes a lot of fascinating math, computer science, physics, and biology. It's a lot of fun, it's rewarding, and it provides a great excuse to work with high-end computers and programming. ;)

    There are a lot of programmers out there. There are a good number of scientists. But there aren't quite so many who can do both well. -- Paul
  • by Retric (704075) on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:29PM (#10536372)
    While "there's a difference between programming and software engineering" there is going to be a problem in a few years as the US stops producing new programmers so in time will it stop producing new software engineer's. Because without a background in coding to forge there mettle as it where nobody is going to trust them to design software.
  • by aaronmcdaid (771190) on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:29PM (#10536373) Journal
    > software engineering will still take place in the western countries
    > anyone can write code

    Why do you think software engineering can be separated so easily from the coding? Surely the best thing is to have one competent person who can do both?

    It would make it harder for the coder and the engineer to point fingers at one another.

    And anyway, according the most of the estimates I see (to be taken with a pinch of salt of course), coding only takes up 10% of the time - why take all the risks of splitting this off to a different person in a different country.

    Also, in my experience, it's only when you start coding that you realise how the design could be improved, and you realise the requirements need clarifying, et cetera. I think this is the main lesson of Xtreme Programming (that's a damn stupid name, isn't it?)

    I think that software should be developed by less people, but make sure those people are well educated about everything from testing and requirements gathering all the way to how processors work at a low level.
  • real estate (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mslinux (570958) on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:29PM (#10536378)
    I saw this coming a while back. Besides kinda buring out I had the desire to earn some "passive" income. So, I sold the big house, bought a couple of small rental houses (one of which I live in) and started getting other people to pay me rent each month. It's nice to go to bed at night knowing that someone is working to pay me rent ;)

    I still work FT too, but when the bottom falls out or I decide I've had enough, I'll be ready for it.
  • by erick99 (743982) <homerun@gmail.com> on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:30PM (#10536385)
    I am a republican but I had a hard time with that comment by Bush. I have been to college. I have two Masters degrees. I don't need to go to the local community college, I need a job. I have been unemployed for two months. If I could live off of a WalMart wage I'd be okay. But, I am a single dad with two kids of which I have full-time custody. I just need a decent job at a decent wage. At this point, I would flip burgers if it paid enough.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:33PM (#10536440)
    Become an electrician or a plumber. That's where the real money is made.

    You can also get pretty much as a painter, but that actually requires some skill.
  • Re:Language issue (Score:1, Insightful)

    by BottleCup (691335) on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:35PM (#10536465) Homepage
    From personal experience, I've worked with some programmers from India, specifically Chennai. There was no problem with verbal language per se. We could always communicate in English although their mother tongue was Bengali and mine Malay (not to be confused with Malayalam).

    The difficult part adjusting to was firstly, gestures, and secondly intonation. More specifically those programmers that I had to deal with used to shake their heads in agreement and their questions sometimes sounded like statements to me (or vice versa). Apart from that there were no major issues with language. In the end I also found it fun getting to know each other's culture, language etc. (Bengali and Malay although geographically distant language seem to be related in that both are at least partially derived from Sanskrit.)
  • by hey (83763) on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:36PM (#10536487) Journal
    That doesn't make sense. At one point people said: sure let the bluecollar jobs go overseas but the brain jobs will (of course) stay here. But why? People in other countries have brians? What so special about USA brains.
  • by GreenCrackBaby (203293) on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:38PM (#10536504) Homepage
    On its surface your comment was funny, but the problem is that this seems to be all that anyone can offer when asked "now that our jobs are gone, what do we do?"

    The jobs that are leaving are high-skilled programming jobs that are probably filled by someone with a degree. What is that person to do? Go back to a community college like Bush suggests? Do these people have any idea what it would be like for those of us in our 30s, 40s, or 50s who would have to go back to school and start at the bottom again? Assuming there are even positions other than Walmart greeter that would be available.

    This gov't is making a critcal mistake in equating software jobs with manufacturing jobs. A manufacturing job requires little training and provides no ladder to climb. A software job requires massive training (by comparison) and provides the worker with a background that lets them eventually lead the industry.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:38PM (#10536516)
    Well Helloooooo Mr. Fancy Pants.

    You thinking is flawed. In common parlance a "programmer" is one who develops software. The term Software Engineer was developed by eggheads who didn't like to be assosiated with the common rabble because they spent an extra 2 years in classes that have in 95% of cases have little to do with their occupation.

    There's no reason an Indian "programmer" can't actually be a "Software Engineer", though I think the whole offshoring thing is overblown.
  • by wren337 (182018) on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:41PM (#10536566) Homepage

    Sure, a good number of positions can't easily be offshored. What do you think happens to the wage of the US programmer once say 20% of his/her collogues are unemployed and hungry? Unemployment isn't the only concern. Competition for positions will drive down wages.
  • by Darth_Burrito (227272) on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:41PM (#10536568)
    I agree with you completely and would even go a step further and say that the jobs of software engineering and programming are inherently intertwined. A software engineer needs to spend some time programming within their design in order to understand it, improve it, and move things along with the team of implementers. If they just sit back with pencil and don't spend a decent amount of time getting their hands dirty, they are designing with a large number of blind spots.

    This is not to say that there aren't some design issues that can be addressed at a high level, but most of software engineering does not occur at that high level.
  • Auto jobs??? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DogDude (805747) on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:43PM (#10536588) Homepage
    Are you serious about auto jobs? Have you seen Detroit or Flint Michigan? Auto jobs, by and large, ARE gone! Sure, there are a few plants left, but by and large, the auto industry is GONE. Jesus, watch "Roger and Me", and you'll see the desolation and poverty left when all of the auto jobs left this country. You must be living in a different US than I do, because by and large, the auto jobs are gone... just like steel, textiles, etc.
  • by Monkelectric (546685) <slashdot@monkelectri c . c om> on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:43PM (#10536592)
    Eh, that might have been true 20 years ago. Very few products are actually *designed* in the US. Nowadays, they are designed in Taiwan by cheap and efficent engineers.

    PEOPLE, I am going to say this once: OUTSOURCING is about *WEALTH TRANSFER*. The loss of manufacturing jobs in the US coincided with massive ammounts of middle class workers shifting to the working poor. The *ONLY* kind of jobs being created in any numbers in the US are *SERVICE INDUSTRY* (minimum wage) jobs.

    Outsourcing is a "commons" problem. Outsourcing benefits any individual company. However the whole is very damaging to the country.

    I would provide some links but I have to go meet a client: I'm an unemployed programmer doing piecemeal work.

  • by misleb (129952) on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:45PM (#10536617)
    I think you hit the nail right on the head except that I think the problem may go a little deeper. That is, junior programming is not the bottom rung. Look at the quality of public education in this country. It is almost impossible to find quality employees these days. People don't have the most basic skills. Most people in IT in the US are friekin' halfwits. I don't think outsourcing is just about money. I think in many cases you can get better employees overseas... more well rounded programmers..

    Yeah, we still have great universities, but what percentage of the big universities are being filled by foreigners? (I don't mean "foreigners" in a racist sort of way). They learn here and take it home with them. Yeah, a lot of them stay, but a lot of them bring the education home.

    Some of the first white colar jobs to go are programming because it is very easy to export. But once places like India get a large software industry going and have more experience, they will inevitably want to diversify into other industries. It is sad, but I think the US will cease to be a superpower in an economic and academic sense in the next few decades. We're just falling behind at an alarming rate. Our increased reliance on military might is a dead giveaway. My only hope is that we can get the hawks and war mongers out of office and make some real domestic improvements. I don't want the USA to maintain status by holding the rest of the world at gunpoint. That is not the country I have grown to love.

    -matthew

  • by waterwheel (599833) on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:46PM (#10536628) Homepage
    Exactly. Offshoring is good for one thing: price. As soon as any other issue enters into the equation offshoring loses big time. Points: - as parent mentioned, you can't get stuff done on the fly. - it's dark over there right now and all the programmers are all tucked away in bed dreaming dreams of python function calls. The time differences mean a difficult time with communications. Sometimes it's easier to get stuff done over the phone or in person, particularly when it comes to planning. - It's questionable whether you'll get the quality. That may change, but right now everything I've seen is comparable to a 70's import car. (that eventually changed, this may too). - you lose the 'arms-length' ability. That's where you keep the programmer at arms length so you can throttle them if they screw up. I've seen marketing where the claim is 'we'll do it while you're sleeping, it'll be ready by morning'. Problem is, if it's 10am and you want some bugfixes, you'd probably like them that afternoon, not tomorrow morning. Plenty of retailers have learned to compete against Walmart who come into town with cheaper prices. If you're a programmer and competing strictly based on price, then yes, you're job is going elsewhere. I routinely pay $40-$100 hour for contract developers/programmers and don't think twice. And I don't go offshore because paying someone $5 an hour is going to cost me a lot more than I saved in the end. That being said, competition is healthy and there is a market for lower priced development. So make sure that's not the market you're in.
  • by SuperChuck69 (702300) on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:48PM (#10536640)
    Hehehe, I remember when I used to think of myself as a Software Engineer... Then I started working for a living and realized I was a programmer...
  • by gorbachev (512743) on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:48PM (#10536643) Homepage
    Nothing of the sort will happen, and if it does it will have nothing to do with offsourcing or work visa programs.

    In fact experts predict a severe labor shortage within the next decade primarily because the baby boom generation is about to start retiring. Another contributing fact is that US colleges are turning up less comp.sci (and related) graduates than before.

    I'm also going to argue that a fair share of the now unemployed "software professionals" working during the bubble years are not software professionals at all, but opportunists, who wanted to cash in on the next Big Thing while having practically no skills to do so. I certainly had the "pleasure" of working with many of them. I didn't enjoy babysitting them. It's GOOD that these people no longer do software work.
  • by NetCynicism (792366) on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:49PM (#10536664)
    I'm going to use small words here, because it astonishes me that more of the Slashdot crowd does not get this. Labor is just like anything else, a commodity.

    Division of labor is the very foundation of modern economics. What happens with free trade is that people do the jobs they're good at, other people do the jobs they're good at, and they trade.

    When labor goes to India, that means Indians get richer and start buying goods. Some of those goods will be produced in America. As another example, since NAFTA passed Mexico is now outsourcing labor to China and (gasp...) South Texas because skilled Mexicans have gotten too rich to be hired for such jobs.

    Economics is not a zero sum game and there is no giant sucking sound that can take all of our jobs and leave us unable to buy stuff. Just ask the people along the "American Autobahn" in the South who work in any of the many high-paying jobs that have been insourced to this country. If free trade were absolute and everywhere, we'd all be much richer - and the best educated and most productive of us, i.e. Westerners, would be richest.

    Conversely, a simple thought experiment will tell you the ultimate booster to employment - ban all trade! Everyone would have to make his own clothes, catch his own food -100% employment all the time! Utopia! Sadly, most people would starve and the rest would be unable to maintain any standard of living, but, whatever yo.

    Yes, this sucks for the workers who are displaced. The invention of the car sucked for buggy whip manufacteres too. I'm all for assisting these people with reeducation, but I'm not for holding everyone's standard of living back so we can save a few jobs.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:52PM (#10536688)
    Detroit and Flint got leveled by job losses in the auto sector, but overall in the USA, that has been offset by Japanese companies building auto plants in places like Mississippi and other places.

    It still sucks if you live in Flint, no doubt about it, but it is inaccurate to say that auto jobs have disappeared in the USA overall.
  • Re:Career Change (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:52PM (#10536692) Homepage Journal
    In the long run, I just don't see any way I can be competitive with offshoring.

    I do: offer quality. No, seriously. Not the fake version that everyone learned to hate in "Total Quality Management", but the real thing.

    My boss could probably save a few bucks by outsourcing my work, but he'd never get feedback like "hey, I though of a way we could make our whole system faster for free", or "I came up with a new service we can offer our customers without much work on our part", or "this seemed like it could be a problem down the road, so I re-worked it to scale better". Someone in a country with a cheaper cost of living could possibly re-implement my work for less money than he paid me to write it the first time, but he'd have to shell out some serious cash to get someone who knew and cared enough about his business to find ways to make it more efficient as a part of their daily job.

    In other words, he's not paying me to hack code. Instead, he's paying me to design the best possible system he can get, implemented by someone who genuinely wants his company to succeed and grow. See if you can get that from an offshore shop.

    So, if you want to protect your job, then make it part of your job description to integrate yourself into the rest of the company, not just solve tasks as they are handed to you. Give your manager a solid reason to look at you as an asset instead of a liability and you'll never go hungry.

    By the way, none of this is specific to IT. If you decide to become a plumber, make yourself the best plumber your boss has ever had the privilege to pay. Any schmuck can learn how to copy-and-paste code or tighten a fitting, so find a way to raise yourself to a position of trust within your company and distinguish yourself from the next guy off the street.

  • by pclminion (145572) on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:52PM (#10536695)
    And if you had a PhD in politics (hell, had you taken a single high school class) you would know that the President can't just magically enact whatever the hell he wants to.

    Consider that all economic bills must originate in the House. Further, consider that the House is a Republican house at the moment. Thus, any bills authorizing spending would have to have strong REPUBLICAN support to pass.

    Oh, and I suppose you have no good explanation why it's appropriate to simply overlook the billions upon billions that Bush has wasted in Iraq.

  • Re:*yawn* (Score:4, Insightful)

    by technomancerX (86975) on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:52PM (#10536698) Homepage
    Didn't we have a similiar scare about 15 years ago with the auto industry and everyone thought that auto-workers' jobs would go overseas? Hasn't happened yet.

    Yup. You know the difference? There are major import taxes on cars coming in to the country from overseas. That's why if you're driving a Honda it was built in the US. It's also why if you're driving a VW there's a 90% chance it was built in the US. The government saw a major industry that was being hurt by foreign competition and took measures to stop it.

    The difference here is that the software industry is being hurt by offshoring and the government is encouraging it with tax breaks for companies moving development overseas. We are losing high paying jobs and telling highly educated people that the solution is to go back to college.

    The only light at the end of this tunnel is that most companies are discovering that offshore development is more of a PITA than it's worth. I know a guy that actually has a successful business just doing damage control on software 'developed' overseas.

  • by tacokill (531275) on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:53PM (#10536706)
    He did say that, and I have just one question for the President:

    Exactly what should I get training in? I understand I need to retool....but retool for what?

    I've never heard an answer to that one.
  • Re:Auto jobs??? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:54PM (#10536714)
    If you got your news from reality instead of 20 year old Michael Moore crap that was wildly exaggerated in the first place -- there are plenty of US auto manufacturing jobs. My car, for example, is an Ohio-built Honda. It's the old UAW jobs in the Michigan cities you mention that are gone.

    Ironically, it's GM Europe that announced massive Roger Smith-ish layoffs just a couple of days ago. At least in the US I live in...

  • by RiotNrrd (35077) on Friday October 15, 2004 @12:58PM (#10536760) Homepage Journal
    Mod this parent up!

    I cannot agree with you more. As a developer I continually question the specs that I am given (so our client wants to capture customer feedback via the web. What kind of database do they have? What's the application platform? Any idea of how much traffic they expect? Why didn't YOU ask these questions?) which makes me look like I'm being difficult but in the end produces a *much* better product.

    When you've been taught to simply code to specs and never ask questions you run the risk of creating flawed software.
  • by gstoddart (321705) on Friday October 15, 2004 @01:01PM (#10536807) Homepage
    They're making the classic mistake of thinking that programming is the same as creating software, and are making implications then that programmers are the creators of software, completely ignoring computer scientists and software engineers.


    But I've never been anyplace where the programmers weren't also the computer scientists and the software engineers.

    I've never seen a room-full of drooling programmers whose job was to fill in the blanks after the software engineers spec'd it all out for them.

    Maybe I've just never encountered what you call a 'programmer', but in my experience they're all one and the same. I participate in design meetings. I design the code. I write my sections. Of what value would someone be whose sole job is to type in what's already been defined for them?

    What kind of environment are you guys working in that there's this lower-class of programmers who don't know anything about developing algorithms and designing?

  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Friday October 15, 2004 @01:06PM (#10536863)
    Now admittedly, this is based only on infromal observational evidence and personal anecdotes (the least valid form of evidence), however I've never seen anything better than that from the "We're doomed" folks. So:

    What I've observed is that there were waaaaay too many people who got into tech for the money only. They saw it as a quick easy way to get rich. So they crammed to get a degree or soem certs, without ever really understanding the material, and came out and did shitty work for high pay. Then the crunch came and these people got laid off (and inevatibly some good people with them). However rather than just enjoying the ride, they figure they are now worth that much and that they should be able to get tech work with sub par skills.

    Everyone I know that does tech hiring says that ya, there is NO shortage of applicatns, they virtually get flodded. However there is a HUGE shortage of qualified apps. They get tons of applicatns who have a bunch of facts memorized, but no real deeper understanding to allow them to synthesize and apply that to real world problems. Well that's just not that useful in IT/Software. They are applied fields, not really theoritical fields (at least most of the jobs). You get paid to problem solve and apply knowledge, not be a repository of unconnected facts.

    I believe this is primarily where the job shortage comes from. People that lack higher level skills, yet feel they deserve a lot of pay for that. There still seems to be a great demand for talented workers, one which offshoring has NOT filled.
  • by big-giant-head (148077) on Friday October 15, 2004 @01:06PM (#10536872)
    Im really tired of the whole it's hard to find blah blah blah in the US. All the developers I've known that were outsourced were VERY competent, In fact more competent than many of the indans who replaced them. They certainly knew the business end better. It was all about money. We can hire 20 indian PHD's for what one american makes, who cares if they turn out crap. It's all about saving a buck or two so some CEO can give himself a nice bonus for cutting costs. Problem is what will all these folks do when everything is outsourced.

    Accounting jobs, Programming, Call center, Engineering in same cases lower level Mgmt and I even read that some comp are outsourcing legal services......

    We have to do something and make something. We can't all make a living by selling each others crap on ebay...

    When the bomb does hit (figuratively) the Companies doing all the outsourcing will be screaming the loudest. Financial institutions are big on outsourcing. Well if everyone is makeing 20grand a year at star bucks or Home Depot we are'nt gonna be getting mortages on $200,000 houses or having money market accounts or any other things that middle income folks do, cause there won't be many middle income folks.

    It's funny but all of this paralells nature so perfectly. You have the folks at the top of the food chain, Banks Mega Corps etc... Killing off the very people they feed off of. When they are done they will die themselves... No Indian is gonna pay some American Bank outrageous fees to manage thier money or accounts. You say well the bank will buy an Indian Co..... etc..... thats true, but again how many Indian's making 5-10grand a year are going to be taking out $200,000+ mortages ?? Loans for $30,000 ford suv's??? Nada Zilch Zip...

    Just like nature, when the big predators at the top kill all the food, then they will either die off themselves or become smaller because they must now feed on smaller prey.

    Welcome to the food chain, watch your head and your back ( for talons) and don't get overly worried about Ideology. A Lion is neither a Democrat nor a republican he merely wants you for lunch. Remeber that when you have to train your indian replacements. Wonder how you are gonna pay medical bills for your family and what the hell you are going to do now..
  • by upsidedown_duck (788782) on Friday October 15, 2004 @01:07PM (#10536884)

    There will always be a need for domestic programmers, at least for defense contracts.

    As far as the attrition of programmers go, it is very understandable. Programming isn't particularly rewarding in most workplaces. Also, that recent article about IT management being among the worst jobs is important, as unhappy or ineffective managers do rub off on their staff. Further, many programmers simply are not good at their jobs.

    Having worked as a programmer for over five years, I'm already burnt out and training myself for a career change. The politics, the people I had to work with, the lack of funding, the lack of understanding the complexity of software, all chisled away at me until I simply had to find something else to do for my sanity's sake.
  • Re:Auto jobs??? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by NardofDoom (821951) on Friday October 15, 2004 @01:08PM (#10536897)
    Clarify: Auto *manufacturing.* I'm pretty sure a lot of the auto design industry is still in Detroit.

    It's part of the new "Creativity Economy": A few people get paid well to get creative while the rest of us make their lattes, fix their cars, and mend their boo boos.

  • by Fulcrum of Evil (560260) on Friday October 15, 2004 @01:09PM (#10536905)

    It is almost impossible to find quality employees these days.

    Perhaps if HR departments went looking for quality employees instead of warm bodies that can fill a checklist, then you'd get quality employees. It also wouldn't hurt if, when you need some hot new skill, you got your internal guys to pick it up instead of immediately looking for a new guy that has it.

  • by joggle (594025) on Friday October 15, 2004 @01:09PM (#10536911) Homepage Journal
    Show me a Democrat president who has ever grown the federal government's power as much as Bush, who has increased spending as much as Bush or has created as large of a deficit as Bush. The last Democrat president decreased the size of the government and lowered government spending (or at least increased spending at a rate much, much lower than the current president).

    On a side note, how many of Bush's economic advisers have resigned? Also, what president has ever lowered taxes during a major war (or any war for that matter)? Who do you expect is going to pay the bill? You can't increase government spending and simultaneously lower taxes forever.

    It's called cognitive dissonance and you've got a nasty case of it.

  • by Wansu (846) on Friday October 15, 2004 @01:13PM (#10536952)

    I was an analog circuit designer for 15 years. I designed industrial, telecom and consumer products; mostly electronic power conversion circuitry such as power supplies, DC-DC Converters, High Voltage Transformers and DC-AC Inverters. First the manufacturing was moved overseas. Then, the writing was on the wall. All the design work went overseas too. Once they started building the stuff, it wasn't long before they figured out how to clone and modify designs. Before long, they were able to design from scratch. Today, the majority of electronics manufacturing is done abroad. It's pretty much been like that for 10 years. I saw it coming and retrained myself to write software.

    Now the programming jobs are going where the labor is cheap. I have no reason to expect any different outcome than I saw with electronics. Indeed, many "knowledge" jobs can be done abroad. China and India have vast pools of highly educated workers. Their cost of living is a fraction of ours so they can and will work for a fraction of what we make. In cases were the work can't be taken to the cheap labor, the cheap labor is brought to the work. Special visas and porous borders are providing US businesses with all the inexpensive labor they want.

    When the electronics industry was in decline, I saw opportunity in software. However, as the software work dries up, I see no new promising areas emerging to take it's place.

  • by MightyYar (622222) on Friday October 15, 2004 @01:14PM (#10536982)
    He's not a great communicator, is he?

    Still, just because you have a lot of education - that doesn't make you immune to structural unemployment. It sucks that your skills aren't helping you find a job quickly, but that really should have been his point. Your skill set may be obsolete - and in that case you WOULD need to get re-trained. That being said, I don't know your skill set...

    If it makes you feel any better, it is taking more than two months for most out-of-work people that I know to find work. I'd guestimate the average is 4-6 months in my circle of friends.

  • by pclminion (145572) on Friday October 15, 2004 @01:16PM (#10537005)
    Bullshit. A programmer is, say it with me, someone who writes programs. All programming is design.

    Nope. A painter is not somebody who creates works of art. That's an artist. It's a very important distinction, and it exists here too.

    Even if you are told "write this", you still design the code that will perform that action.

    No. You write the code that obviously must be written. It's like moving boxes around. There's no mystery, you simply need to buckle down and do it.

  • by randall_burns (108052) <randall_burns@hot[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Friday October 15, 2004 @01:17PM (#10537019)
    What the article misses fundamentally:
    The current terms of trade are held up by 0.5 Trillion dollar annual trade deficits financed by foreign borrowing-and immigration policies that are extremely predatory upon the US middle class. This is _not_ a free market but a decision make by highly centralized authorities.

    There is a real question of what the software market will look like after the trade issue resolves itself-as it eventually will.
  • Re:Auto jobs??? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pclminion (145572) on Friday October 15, 2004 @01:19PM (#10537048)
    I hereby coin pclminion's law: Referring to a movie or "documentary" as evidence to back a point immediately loses you the argument.
  • by kpat154 (467898) on Friday October 15, 2004 @01:21PM (#10537080)
    Every time I hear this I can't help but chuckle. Just like I chuckled when everyone was freaking out about the Y2K problem. Sure, we have a problem with outsourcing jobs to India - but the sky is not falling people! Outsourcing is just the trend de jour and management and the media (who tend to whip each other into a frenzy anyway) will realize this in a few months/years. There are serious problems with outsourcing which will quickly make this problem go away: language barriers, timezone differences, the inability to monitor development activites, and the loss of business intelligence (he who writes the code knows the code). Besides, because of the high costs/risks associated, outsourcing tends to be relegated to large companies. Most small development organizations simply aren't capable of utilizing this option.
  • Re:Exactly. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by TWooster (696270) <twooster.gmail@com> on Friday October 15, 2004 @01:21PM (#10537090)
    Hear hear.

    I've worked as a software tester on a large product where, for the duration, they've been moving dev and testing operations over to India.

    Due in a large part to the transition to India, the project is now about 10 months behind, and it was slated to be released on the cusp of the new technology in February. It's really a large disappointment.

    Most people there are also of the mind that even though Indian devs are cheaper, once their economy begins to match ours, we'll then merely have a 12 hour challenge-response delay. It's insanely hard to get things done when your HW devs are in the US, your SW devs are in Bangalore, and your testers are split between both.

    It usually goes like this:
    * I found a bug in the product
    * 12 hrs later: we're fairly sure that's a HW issue, check it out
    * Checked with hardware, they say it's a FW issue
    * 12 hrs later: FW response: We're looking into it...
    * 24 hrs later: FW: No, it's software.

    Oh, it's like hitting your head against a wall. Meanwhile, they cut the contract support in the testing department, so it could all go overseas.

    I just don't get it.
  • by Kymermosst (33885) on Friday October 15, 2004 @01:22PM (#10537099) Journal
    And if you had a PhD in politics ...

    ... Consider that all economic bills must originate in the House ...

    Eh? Since when?

    Section. 7.

    Clause 1
    : All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.


    Tax/revenue bills are not "economic" or "spending" bills. Obviously YOU do not have a Ph.D in politics, either, nor ever read the Constitution.
  • by petersam (754644) on Friday October 15, 2004 @01:26PM (#10537146)
    This fallacy that US education is lackluster is the same garbage spouted by those who say we need H1-B visas. As someone who has managed people educated in the US and people educated in other countries - both H1-B holders and outsourced programmers, it is clear to me that not only are US-educated software engineers superior to those educated in places like India, but they also have a much easier time communicating, undertstanding, and getting the job done right. CEOs and the rest of management at many US companies simply look at the cost estimates for an employee or for a project, and decide that they need an "outsourcing strategy" and that is provides them a competitive advantage. Longer term, though, they suffer from a decrease in productivity, quality, and customer satisfaction. I can't wait for the first company to blame outsourcing for a product's late, buggy arrival.
  • by misleb (129952) on Friday October 15, 2004 @01:27PM (#10537166)
    No, I'm pretty sure the source of the problem goes a lot deeper than that. The fact is that childhood education in the US has been substandard for a long time now. It is about right that we start feeling the long term effects now. If HR departments are doing what you say, I'd at least partially atribute it to poor education. Early education isn't just about reading, writing, and arithmetic. It is about dicipline and teaching kids to think for themselves.. how to solve problems and make decisions. Maybe I am a little biased living in the city of Chicago where public education is particularly bad, but still..

  • Worked for me... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Shivetya (243324) on Friday October 15, 2004 @01:29PM (#10537192) Homepage Journal
    I spent 3+ years after exiting the service working a dead-end job. Finally got a few community courses under my belt and "bid" my way into a job in the career of my choice by asking for a low end salary.

    After a few years I was where I felt I needed to be and have progressed further each year. There is work out there for those who want it, however too many overvalue themselves and thus lock themselves out of jobs.

    The key is to get A job. From there it is a only a few years before your value should become evident to the people you work with. If that isn't happening either you aren't working to that perceived value or you are in the wrong place.

    Blaming a President for your lack of job is about as brite as claiming one got you a job. The first rule of being successful in your career is to realize it is NOT YOUR JOB. It is your employers job and its in your damn best interest to prove you deserve to have it.

    For those who hate that truth I am truly sorry as there is nothing I can do for you. You have to look at yourself and ask why you think you don't need to prove or earn your position in life. In the end you are accountable to yourself.
  • by Greyfox (87712) on Friday October 15, 2004 @01:34PM (#10537250) Homepage Journal
    The reason many developers in the USA are halfwits is because IT positions in the USA command huge salaries, so a lot of people who had no aptitude for it got into the game just for the money. The same will be true of every country you end up outsourcing to -- you may get high quality people to begin with, but the competition for people will result in high demand, just like here, and the halfwits over there will realize that they can fumble their way thorugh a half-assed training program and bounce between contracting firms too quickly for anyone to realize what idiots they are. Just like here 4 years ago.

    There are a limited number of countries we can exploit like this, and the ones we do tend to see a bit of a brain drain as professors get lured away from teaching positions by the huge salaries we're offering. I think we'll hit an eqilibrium eventually, the question is whether that'll be sooner or later.

  • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Friday October 15, 2004 @01:35PM (#10537268)
    Parent is very insightful, but the senior positions won't move, unless entire projects are moved overseas.

    The project might not be moved, but, eventually, the Indian companies will start their own projects.

    They will have the junior coders turned intermediate coders turned senior coders turned management.

    There is nothing about the USofA that will protect the management jobs.

    At that point why not just license someone else's code?

    As in EULA, as in "import".

    Eccccccenomikz says that at that point, either HR will have to lower expectations (less bang for the buck from their point of view) or Pay more to get the top talent (Scarcity of resource drives price up).

    You left out the option where there isn't a US company anymore so there isn't an HR department and the entire software package is imported from India.

    Either way it's a long term negative for businuess in the USA, because of their short sighted goals.

    It's worse than that. It's a long term negative with a very big crash coming in about 10 years. That's how long it will take for all those new Indian programmers to learn enough to move into management and such.

    How can a US company compete with an Indian company where EVERYONE makes 1/10th what the US company makes.

    Eventually, all the "senior" programmers in the US will either have moved to a different field or be maintaining some single system for some single company until they die (or the new CIO gets a quote from an Indian company that will migrate that system for 1/10th what that programmer is being paid).

  • by Raptor CK (10482) on Friday October 15, 2004 @01:38PM (#10537307) Journal
    The issue is, really, what programming really creates. Are we designing new things and coming up with new ideas, or are we constructing something which costs next to nothing to move around?

    If a bright team in India is given a spec, follows it properly, and delivers a rock-solid product, it can be shipped on a CD-R, a DVD, or even just an external hard disk to another location. Source code can be SCP'ed to a server in the US. It's not like shipping cars from Japan to the US, it's even easier.

    The thing that we can't outsource as readily is innovation. We basically need to change into a nation of inventors, since that's really the only position left. We need to constantly pump out new ideas, and take the credit for them while someone else implements said idea for cheap.

    That's not to say that there aren't innovative programmers out there. I work with innovative programmers, that's why they have jobs in the US. When you're designing something that's never been done before, you don't *want* to deal with a 12 hour lag time, or trying to communicate new ideas and the like to someone who's asleep when you're busy coding.

    In the long run, what will happen is that people in every nation will come up with good ideas, and they'll implement them on their own. After that, maintenance will go to the lowest bidder. I wouldn't say that everyone wins in this situation, but fewer people lose, at any rate.

    I don't like outsourcing. I think it's a crock, and that's partially because I lost a job to it once, and was asked repeatedly to come back for consulting work after I was let go. If the new guy halfway across the world can't do my job, then maybe I shouldn't have been fired in the first place. It's a system that doesn't work as well as managers initially suspect, but it probably does have its place, when done properly.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 15, 2004 @01:39PM (#10537325)
    I think you hit the nail right on the head except that I think the problem may go a little deeper. That is, junior programming is not the bottom rung. Look at the quality of public education in this country. It is almost impossible to find quality employees these days.
    Oh, yeah, sure, of course: it's all the fault of the public school system (note to frothing-mouthed , raving right-wing propagandists: the vogue slanderous term these days is "government schools", not "public education" - it better invokes an anti-federalist sentiment, even though all schools are organized on the town/county level. But, hey, whatever ...) because, you know, they have like infinite power over the level of achievement a student can reach. Stuff like a student's inherent intellectual ability, econcomic resources, parental involvement, motivation level, etc ... all irrelevant. It's all the school's fault!

    If a kid comes in to take a test after his/her parent whipped 'em with an electrical cord in the trailer last night, and just can't seem to concentrate because he/she also didn't get any breakfast, and then fails the test, well I guess then that's the teacher's fault, eh?

    Puhhhlease.

    BTW, I've met plenty of dumbasses who were educated in private/religious schools too. Trust me, they ain't doing anything radically different in the classrooms of those institutions either, they just have better resources and are able to keep the lower achieving students out in the first place and can expel students a hell of a lot easier.

    It's called self-selection.

    People don't have the most basic skills. Most people in IT in the US are friekin' halfwits.
    Most people in most industries are "friekin' halfwits", there, Matt. Trust me, IT does not have a monopoly in that regard. The only difference is that they are better paid "friekin' halfwits" as compared to other industries.
    I don't think outsourcing is just about money.
    On the contrary, it is exclusively about money. If IT work were more expensive overseas do you really think there would be any outsourcing happening at all?

    I think not. Don't kid yourself.

    I think in many cases you can get better employees overseas... more well rounded programmers..
    A little bit naive, are we?

    Look, Matt, I've met many good programmers who were from the US and I've met many good programmers who were not from the US. If you ship all the IT jobs overseas, you are very quickly going to see a regression to the mean for employee quality. You've only seen the cream of the crop so far, not the other 98% of their population. There is no panacea; people are people, and most of them are dumbasses.

  • by greg_barton (5551) * <greg_barton AT yahoo DOT com> on Friday October 15, 2004 @01:40PM (#10537333) Homepage Journal
    Economics is not a zero sum game...

    It may not be a zero sum game, but that doesn't mean that on certain time scales there aren't winners and losers. For example, opening up free trade could devastate an economy based on manufacturing for decades. When you measure in timescales of decades, that means people's lives are ruined. When you talk in abstract terms it's easy to forget that were talking about people's lives.

    "Nonzero sum" also does not mean "everybody wins." It simply means there isn't just one winner and one loser. Everyone could win. Also, everyone could lose...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 15, 2004 @01:44PM (#10537394)
    All true, but it doesn't mean that Americans won't lose the high incomes they currently enjoy. The global economy will improve overall, but any particular area can lose.

    Also, some outsourcing is due to government interference, not the free market. For example, large multinational corporations, with a lot of overseas profits, don't get those profits taxed until they bring them back into the U.S. Spending those profits on overseas workers is a tax avoidance strategy.

    Another issue is that we advocate "free trade" for every product except the one I have to sell: my own labor. Combine free-trade agreements with free-immigration agreements, and I'll be more supportive. Until then, I'm at a negotiating disadvantage with employers, since they can move easier than I can.
  • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Friday October 15, 2004 @01:46PM (#10537418)
    So, what you're saying is that we should stop outsourcing to save a few Americans their nice jobs and keep Indians poor? That's just cold.

    Who said anything about keeping Indians poor? We should be helping them develop. But we shouldn't be sending our jobs over there.

    On the whole, the world is better off without borders and barriers to trade.

    But individuals are not the whole. The "whole" might be better, but the individuals will suffer.

    Opening up trade is the best way to improve the world wide standard of living.

    So, making lots of unemployed people in the US is good for the world? That's pretty pathetic.

    How about we FIRST establish some baselines rather then just send our jobs away to the person who will do it the cheapest?

    I bet there are some pedophiles who would pay you for the priviledge of providing child care to your little darlings. Yes, saving money and making other people happy is what it's all about.

    For my part, I'd prefer standards of environmental and worker protection rather than saving $5 on a toaster.
  • by Dastardly (4204) on Friday October 15, 2004 @01:49PM (#10537452)
    Blaming a President for your lack of job is about as brite as claiming one got you a job.

    Nope, I blame the president for being an idiot suggesting that people with 4 year degrees whose jobs get outsourced should go to community college to get AA degrees.
  • by crucini (98210) on Friday October 15, 2004 @01:50PM (#10537463)
    Well put. But corporations are just tools for capital. Maybe the bank in your example will no longer have any employees or branches in America. The corporations can thrive while America dies.
  • My experience (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Peyna (14792) on Friday October 15, 2004 @01:51PM (#10537478) Homepage
    I graduated with a CS degree this year, but I decided a little of a year before that law school was the way to go instead.

    Not surprisingly, the biggest challenge I had was convincing admissions that I actually wanted to be a lawyer, and wasn't just hiding from the job situation (especially in my field).

    Anyway, I had been looking for a different field of work since about the middle of my junior year. I can do CS, but I tired of it. Friends of mine that I outperformed in school landed $55,000/yr jobs with defense contractors (in the midwest). I decided that I could either deal with it and work in a job I would hate the rest of my life, or work in a field where I can impact society and people's lives in a more direct way.

    I chose the latter. I'm very glad that I did. Law school so far has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. (I have yet to decide what I want to specialize in, and it doesn't really matter until after the first year anyway.)

    With all that said, my point is that just because you're currently specialized in a certain field, if you have a college education, chances are you're going to be very adaptable, and able to find something else to do. You're not the high specialized buggy mechanic that will never be able to learn how to be an auto mechanic, because he learned the trade as an apprentice and has no other education. If you learned a trade in college, and didn't learn how to learn, you missed out on the biggest part of your undergraduate education.
  • by LurkerXXX (667952) on Friday October 15, 2004 @01:51PM (#10537483)
    Dell tried to explain it away as having a hard time getting good tech support in the US. The reality was it saved them money. If the US tech support was in reality so much worse, their customers would not have almost revolted until they promised that all biz class customers would still get US tech support, and only the lower end consumer customers would get tech support from India.
  • by mmusson (753678) on Friday October 15, 2004 @01:53PM (#10537512)

    Microsoft is not a healthy software company. Their desire to outsource is an indication of the larger internal problem.

    If your company produces art, you cater to your artists or you fail. Microsoft has an enourmous amount of cash which has given it some economic inertia, but it is not innovating and that is killing it. What is their response to Linux, a further delayed somewhat vague OS idea? What is their response to Firefox, a 3 year old browser version?

    The companies that outsource the things that they shouldn't are sowing the seeds of their future failure. Oracle's outsourcing is creating their own future competitor.

    I am not "pro" outsource. I am a programmer and I obviously want to stay employed. But these doom and gloom stories are plain illogical. In the same way that we have manufacturing jobs here even though we also export many manufacturing jobs, there will always be programming jobs in this country even though we also export a lot of programming jobs. Until some technological advance makes programming unnecessary and then we will be the makers of the programs that make the programs we use.

  • Re:Gone? Unlikely (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 15, 2004 @01:54PM (#10537513)
    > (Eventually, Japan might just buy the entire world

    The 80's called. They want their jingoist paranoia back.

    Have you seen Japan's economy lately? Lately meaning, oh, the last decade or so?
  • by Civil_Disobedient (261825) on Friday October 15, 2004 @01:56PM (#10537546)
    What so special about USA brains.

    Well, the argument is that our society is fundamentally better than others on the planet because we support the kinds of rights that make innovation prosper. A free press, the ability to easily incorporate, easy access to loans... Couple this with our gee-whiz universities that think themselves the bastion of all knowledge and research.

    The PROBLEM is that all these things are slowly disappearing. The gee-whiz universities that come up with the innovative ideas? The actual product of those ideas are produced in cheap-labor economies. Eventually the "locals" catch on -- this is what happened in Japan when we had them building our TV sets and telecommunications devices. Eventually they figure out how to do it themselves, and suddenly our domestic manufacturing goes out of business. "Oh well," we say to ourselves, "at least we've got XXXXX."

    As in, "Oh well, at least we own the auto industry." Not any more. "Oh well, at least we own the manufacturing tools industry (production line machinary)." Not any more. "Oh well, at least we own the telecommunications industry." Not any more. "Oh well, at least we own the software industry..." Well, not for much longer. And what's left? The only jobs remaining are the ones that require a physical human presence.

    So, you need the guy to unload the cargo shipment from China. You need the salesperson to sell you the new gee-whiz gadget (imported, of course). Or sell you your hamburgers, which, surprise, are made from imported beef because it's cheaper.

    And don't get me started on the other aspects of our country that will "save us." Free press? That's gone the way of the Dodo bird, thanks to media conglomerates like FOX and relaxed FCC restrictions on local station ownership.

    How about our easily incorporated companies? Good luck finding anyone to put any money it them. And good luck coming up with an idea that isn't instantly sued into oblivion thanks to our asinine intellectual property laws. Instead what you'll have is a great idea that's either bought out by a bigger fish, or simply stolen by them. But our lawyers will save us, right? Our giant army of lawyers? Don't count on it.

    Just about the only thing left for our country to do is dump money into military spending. If we can't out-think you, or out-democracy you, well, we can just out-bomb your sorry ass.

    If you ask me, India is looking a lot like we used to look like, back before the "American Dream" turned into a nightmare.
  • by saddino (183491) on Friday October 15, 2004 @01:56PM (#10537550)
    Depresingly, this has been a long time coming. I remember when I was in college in 1987 a CS professor was amazed at how year after year, fewer U.S. students were graduating in the field. What he couldn't understand is how a field that was obviously important to all industry - and becoming more important day after day - was not attractive to the average US student. So even back then, way pre-bubble, interest in CS was waning.

    IMHO, the problem is threefold:

    1) Math and "computers" are still seen as an interest of the socially inept (like Chess club and D&D). In our increasingly consumer driven, image conscience MTV culture, the average American student doesn't want to be associated with such things.

    2) This push for profits in the corporate sector has almost killed R&D in theoretical sciences and engineering. The days of "pure" research labs such as Bell Labs died in the late eighties and early ninties because the suits only understood investment in research that led to products and services. I used to work during the summer at AT&T Bell Labs and Bellcore, and the attitude back then certainly does not exist in their moden day incarnations today (Lucent and Telcordia). Even though I'm not fan of Microsoft, I have to admit that their notion of R&D is closest to the days where scientists could research for the sake of doing research.

    In other words, why study CS if you're only going to be able to find a job doing web design?

    3) The rapid growth tech industry is racing towards to what all markets eventually succumb: commoditization. Assembly line programming is seen (once again by the corporate sector, invented by IBM and heralded by many as dogma) as the cheapest way to get to market. Too many companies believe that software design is about the perfect design document via UML. Once you have that (they believe), you can hire a gaggle of marginally skilled programmers for implementation. What happened to the days where a couple of geniuses could write killer apps? When will we see another Thompson and Ritchie write UNIX ? These guys did this while working for corporate interests! Sadly, today's tech companies aren't interested in people like them.

    What these companies forget is this: programming is creative expression, and creativity needs to be cultured and encouraged to grow. Hire a few smart people, let them dream and you will eventually have a great product -- and hundreds of cool worthless demos :-)

    Companies like Google seem to get this. We need more Googles in the world.

    So, is the problem fixable? In my opinion: no, it's too late. But the open source movement shows that creative coding has evolved from a solo exercise to a shared endeavor. And maybe that's not so bad an ending.
  • by Speak Forcefully (818082) on Friday October 15, 2004 @01:57PM (#10537564) Homepage
    I attend law school in the upper Midwest - Michigan to be exact. Along one of the main streets I take to get to campus are countless empty buildings that say "For Lease", and these buildings are not manufacturing jobs that left the country, but office-complexes that once housed the so-called "jobs of 21st century." I won't even go into the empty factories that operate as decaying monuments to what was once a great and mighty nation that reached for Empire and obtained destruction its place.

    There is a massive hollowing out of our country and it is as broad as it is deep. The only winners in this economy are the select, elite few, that are able to capitalize and enjoy the outsourcing of, well - everything.

    I got out of the so-called high-tech sector after rough 15 years and opted for law school due to my impression that the only two viable careers left in this country would be (possibly) healthcare and litigation, although even these are subject to outsourcing.

    How is that our country can spend record deficits with GDP per person now approaching levels we haven't seen since World War II (a time of massive industrial re-growth), yet have such a rock crap poor economy? The reason is simple: we don't make much of anything anymore. We don't even manufacture all of the basic munitions we drop on Iraq to kill people - it comes from China and other 3rd world countries because it's cheaper than building it here. Oh yes, the contracts themselves go to American companies, but they in turn outsource everything from bullets to bombs to programmers. It's just another one of those un-told stories the zombies in the media don't report on.

    Aside from the joy that might come from open-source programming and working with a worldwide community of people, you would have to be crazy to pursue anything "tech" as an actual career in America. Sure. You might make an ok living as a consultant, or maybe helping small businesses (what remains of them), but hopes of working for Microsoft or Oracle or IBM or... whatever... take your pick... is akin to basing your future on being an NBA player because you were good at playing hoop in high school or college.

    This is not to say that there are no tech-jobs in America, or that there will never be any tech jobs remaining. I'm sure even Haiti has a few programming positions open, but in terms making it an actual career choice for the long-term... you'd better get a CAT Scan before making that leap.
  • by misleb (129952) on Friday October 15, 2004 @02:02PM (#10537620)
    The sad fact is that we've become fat and lazy. I think there will come a time when we will simply have to relinquish our superpower status. Hopefully we can accept our new place in the world without resorting to increased violence. Then we can address our weaknesses and come back stronger than ever.

  • by Monkelectric (546685) <slashdot@monkelectri c . c om> on Friday October 15, 2004 @02:02PM (#10537625)
    You know what? Fuck you! Yes, Fuck you! I don't give a shit about poor indians. I'm 26, a college graduate, highly trained, and until recently I worked at WALMART where I shot the shit with a bunch of aerospace engineers who worked there.

    I give a shit about *me* first and poor Indians second, they aren't looking out for my welfare!

  • by lspd (566786) on Friday October 15, 2004 @02:10PM (#10537719) Homepage Journal
    Oh, lets be honest... the jobs paying minimum wage can't be sent over seas. They tend to be service industry jobs that need to be done on site (Walmart greeter, hamburger flipper, mailroom clerk, etc).

    And the people earning minimum wage don't hoard their wealth in tax-free IRAs or tax-free municipal bonds. They buy stuff. Poor people spend, they don't save. That creates new demand, which creates new business opportunities, which creates new jobs.

    It's the basis of Keynesian economics. [wikipedia.org] I was fairly miffed that Kerry did so little to explain how increasing the minimum wage spurs the economy. We hear the supply-side [wikipedia.org] view about the minimum wage killing jobs all the time, even though the same sorts of dire predicitions have been made for 70 years now without coming to pass.
  • by gcaseye6677 (694805) on Friday October 15, 2004 @02:20PM (#10537834)
    Discipline and problem solving are the 2 biggest problems in education today. There is no discipline, and the last thing schools want is some student questioning things. That was fine when everyone was being prepared for factory type jobs where the boss was standing over you all day, but almost all modern American jobs require a certain amount of autonomoy on the part of the worker. Public schools have never taught this well, and it's getting even worse. Home schooling is no longer just for religious nuts.
  • Re:My experience (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 15, 2004 @02:24PM (#10537876)
    just another ambulance chaser or corporate blood hound

    These types of lawyers tend to be in the minority; you just hear about them more, because they either advertise to the general public, or are despised by a lot of people.

    The loudest members of a group don't speak for the entire group. It's like Fundies and Christianity. Just because there's a few nuts, doesn't mean they're all that way.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 15, 2004 @02:24PM (#10537879)
    The problem is that people extrapolate the poor education of various urban populations into a picture of U.S. education. When you consider that a lot of people that are not successful in basic learning during the K-12 process will not specialize and obtain degrees in math, science, and engineering you can see that this issue is irrelevant with respect to the quality of U.S. programmers. There are certainly still many from the dot bomb era that are not skilled, but they're mostly the unemployed whining because their job pays $15k less than their old one.
  • by Tassach (137772) on Friday October 15, 2004 @02:25PM (#10537884)
    they can be labeled as beginners now that you're experienced
    And who's going to supervise these beginners? Who's going to train them? How are you going to retain them once they get some experience and start getting other job offers?

    Knowledge workers (like programmers) are not interchangable commidity parts. You're paying them as much for their ability to think and solve problems moreso then you are for their mastery of specific skills. You have to invest time & money up front to get them to learn *your* business and to get them integrated into the organization so they're actually productive.

    What (smart) companies are beginning to realize hiring smart & talented (hence expensive) engineers is more cost-effective in the long run than hiring cheap code monkeys to do the same work. If you have 3 uber-hackers making $100K each, they can probably produce better software in less time than a team of 10 code monkeys each making $30K. The savings of hiring a less-talented person is offset by the fact that you have to hire more of them to do the same job, and even then the quality of their work is not the same and they require more supervision.

  • by Llevar (788850) on Friday October 15, 2004 @02:27PM (#10537918)
    What you say might be the case at this point in time but it doesn't mean that this is the way it will and should always be. This is really largely caused by the fact that the software industry is young and programming has not entirely left the realm of hacking. Consider other areas of engineering (the so-called real engineering) and you will see that in these fields the engineers rarely get to lay brick, so to speak. There's nothing that requires an engineer to be a coder in the long run. In fact I think that it might be beneficial for an engineer to not be a coder because it will force them to stay away from programming hacks and rely solely on first principles and actual developed science in solving their problems.
  • by HermesHuang (606596) on Friday October 15, 2004 @02:40PM (#10538071)
    Having had elementary school in both Taiwan and the US, I've gotten a bit of an insight into this difference in education.

    In taiwan they _made_ us do more. Everyone was expected to memorize multiplication tables and recite poems and write essays and everything else. If you didn't do well, often you got your knuckles hit with a ruler. (This was many years ago - I don't think they do that anymore). And the parents were in on it too - most kids I knew didn't spend that much time running around outside or playing video games. The problem was that we were getting injected with information, but a lot of the connections simply weren't there. We did not really explore things. Also, (partly due to class size, there was something like 60 kids in my class for one teacher to deal with) there wasn't much thought given to different learning styles or learning speeds.

    In contrast, when I went to elementary school in the US (this was after Taiwan) I was encouraged to explore what I learned. In part because I had learned some of it in Taiwan, I ended up well ahead of most others in my class. But instead of just blindly learning what got put in front of me I was instead allowed to explore things where they took me. I guess I could say I learned how to learn, without it being forced on me.

    Of course, this was just elemenatary school. However, given the systems, if I had stayed at Taiwan, I probably would have learned more, but in the end, might not have a very good idea how to apply it, or how to explore new avenues of thought. In contrast, I feel the most important thing I got out of my education here was how to find connections between what I already know and new things, and how to incorporate those things into my "working" knowledge rather then just have an encyclopedia on call in my brain. I sometimes feel it's the difference between a computer and the person in front of the computer.

    This is not to say that foreign students are necessarily worse then American ones. It just that I think the emphasis is different between the systems. I know foreign countries have consistently done better in tests and physic and math competitions and whatnot, but I don't find that to be all that good an indication of whether an educational system is "better" or not. What happens when you give those kids something which is completely unrelated to anything they've seen in a textbook? Can they start breaking down the problem and even be able to figure out what needs to be answered to solve the problem?

    And the other big difference I find is the motivation of the students. In school here in the US, many of my classmates' primary goal was to play as many video games as possible, or always be watching TV, or something like that. And I feel if the student doesn't want to learn, there really isn't much we can do about it. It's something parents have to instill into their children. Here in America, I feel that if you really want to learn, the opportunities are still better then anywhere else. Elsewhere, like in Taiwan, school is set up more to make you learn no matter what.
  • by tmalone (534172) on Friday October 15, 2004 @02:45PM (#10538137)
    I have often thought about vouchers, and every time I do, I come to the same sad conclusion. They won't work. Here is why. You take something that should be equal across class lines and turn it over to the market. Now, tell me, how well has the market worked up untill now? What I see is rich people getting even more exclusive schools that vouchers won't fully pay for, but will help absorb the cost of, and poor people getting walmart like schools where they put as many kids into a room as possible. Yes, they can take their vouchers else where, but how well has that worked for the places that we buy products from? American's buy the shittiest products they possibly can to save a buck. Sometimes they have to.

    If you think for a minute that vouchers will have a long term affect, I think you're mistaken. A much more effective reform would be to turn school funding over to the feds or at least the states. As it is, you have situations where you have fantastic schools in places like East Oakland (in the hills) and some of the worst schools in the country in the reast of Oakland. Not to mention one of the best districts in the nation in nearby Berkeley. Make school funding equal, that will do much more good than vouchers.
  • by Tassach (137772) on Friday October 15, 2004 @02:45PM (#10538138)
    Ever consider that the reason the foreign students you met were so bright was because they were ATYPICAL, that the reason they went overseas to study was because they were among the best of the best in their countries?
  • by vsprintf (579676) on Friday October 15, 2004 @02:50PM (#10538213)

    What (smart) companies are beginning to realize hiring smart & talented (hence expensive) engineers is more cost-effective in the long run than hiring cheap code monkeys to do the same work.

    Unfortunately, there are far more companies where the CEO knows he can get bigger bonuses by making a big deal out of offshoring IT even if it winds up costing more. It's all about snowing reporters and doing what's good for management in most companies.

  • by KontinMonet (737319) on Friday October 15, 2004 @02:55PM (#10538270) Homepage Journal
    Yep, been banging on about this myself on /. and other boards for some time.

    I call it 'skills leakage' because it is rare for software to be so completely and accurately designed that it can be just sent offshore and a perfect product is returned. Moreover, modern development is iterative and incremental, the whole team: product managers, project managers, teamleaders, BAs, coders, DBAs etc. are all involved in the process on a continual basis.

    Splitting the team is often inefficient, especially when time zones are 12h apart. So designers and managers are shipped over to where the work is being outsourced and they gradually transfer their skills. I know this, I have run a team in Mumbai and to increase productivity, it was entirely necessary to train and mentor coders to become designers and project leaders so that they were not so dependent on people in Europe. It was also necessary for the domain experts to be present for considerable periods, so much so that some had been in India for 18 months until they had made themselves almost redundant and were eventually shipped back to Europe only to be 'let go'.

    Also when college graduates see that their future jobs are likely to be shipped offshore, they do not eagerly enter the profession. It's happening here in the UK already, a large percentage drop in people taking Computer Science.

    Welcome to the massive species extinction (well in a Western habitat anyway)...
  • by Luscious868 (679143) on Friday October 15, 2004 @02:57PM (#10538290)

    Don't go getting your panties all in a bunch. Look, the bottom line is that while outsourcing hurts, it's not the end of the world. Not everybody works for large corporations you know. According to the SBA [sba.gov] (Small Business Administration), small businesses represent 99.7 percent of all employers and small businesses employ 50.1 percent of the private work force.

    So even if all of the large corporations outsourced every junior programming position, junior programming jobs would still exist, they would just be harder to find.

  • by Tablizer (95088) on Friday October 15, 2004 @02:58PM (#10538305) Homepage Journal
    I have worked at too many companies where we needed coding done on the fly with proprietary systems. This usual meant sitting down the programmer with a customer waiting for a return call ASAP. How would I do that with a programmer in India?...

    The issue is not the trees, but the forest. Even though a lot of programming jobs are best local, there can still be a huge glut.

    Let's say there are a million programmers. 500,000,000 of those positions are foreign-able, and 500,000,000 are not.

    If you stay in the job where it is not an issue, you are perhaps okay. But if you have to enter the job market for ANY reason, you are then competing with 500,000,000 other programmers out of work. There is simply too many chasing too few jobs.

    Further, your boss might fire you because he knows he can get somebody cheaper (citizen or not) now that the rates are down.
  • by Linuxathome (242573) on Friday October 15, 2004 @03:05PM (#10538412) Homepage Journal
    Have you seen that commercial (for a shipping company that will remain unnamed) where one employee is trying to explain to employer number two, how to ship their product? Employer number two replies rather condescendingly with "but I have an MBA." And employee number one retorts, "well then, I better walk you through it."

    Training to be top level managers means diddly without prior work experience. You just can't expect to be inserted at the top after 2 to 4 years of didactic study without hands-on experience; and expect to shine. It'll be interesting to see the status of US programmers in the future.
  • by FecesFlingingRhesus (806117) on Friday October 15, 2004 @03:11PM (#10538492)
    I kind of have to agree with the condescending comment the other poster made, but I believe you are on the mark. I have been called in to save three projects from India, all of which where failing miserably. My first recommendation was to assemble a team and build it locally with programmers on site. When programmers have to eat, sleep and breathe the company, the rules and logic of the business surround them. This translates to a better understanding of the system as a whole. One individual asked me if I was just exceptional gifted at spotting programming talent and was the outsourced team unskilled, to which I replied, if you bring the Indians here, that where working on the project, I could complete the same project, in the same timeframe and to the same measure of quality. When queried as to why, I simply explained that an individual separated from the inner workings of the business in running blind, as they have the requirements as to how it is supposed to work, but not the definition as to why it should work. Without this fundamental understanding, it is nearly impossible to build a working and usable system. Unfortunately, or fortunately, there is no known way to express this without an extreme volume of work, so much so, that the cost of doing so, outweighs and benefit gained by outsourcing, as you would need a one to one individual mentor, that understands both programming and the business process they are working on. However, there are some thins that translate well when outsourced, particularly IT related systems that do not reflect an American business practice, such as writing a device driver, or a file system. This is why Microsoft and IBM have had such great success, while banking companies such as BOA have had numerous failures on numerous projects. It would be no different if an Indian or French company for that matter, sent a project to America to be developed. I for one, would not touch it, as it has failure written all over it, I just don't understand the intricacies of French economics, governmental laws, and business processes. All of these factors affect software design at a macro scale, so imagine the littler things that can come about. Outsourcing is Just marketing hype and with the exception of specific development segments is prone to failure due to factors that cannot be overcome no matter if it is outsourcing to India or to America.
  • by vsprintf (579676) on Friday October 15, 2004 @03:36PM (#10538799)

    I can't wait for the first company to blame outsourcing for a product's late, buggy arrival.

    And I can't wait for the Easter Bunny to arrive. Do you really expect an American CEO to ever admit the multi-million dollar bonuses s/he recieved were based on a mistake? I read an article in Infoworld or Computerworld where a company admitted to being burned by offshoring their IT, but they blamed it on resistance by the few local IT workers they hadn't fired. Management is never wrong - just ask them.

  • by Cid Highwind (9258) on Friday October 15, 2004 @03:39PM (#10538834) Homepage
    Nobody would pay the tax. You can stop a truck full of orange juice at the border and force the driver to pay your tarriff or take the juice back to Mexico. You can also be sure that nobody is importing one liter of juice legally, copying it a million times, and selling that pirated juice as part of another product (orange sorbet, or something).

    As we slashdotters are fond of pointing out, it's nearly impossible to keep information (like code) from crossing borders. With strong crypto and p2p networking, it would be impossible to tell if a given packet coming over an international link contains code, and if that code is subject to any taxes. With code (unlike juice) you can import it legally once and pay the tarriff, then incorporate that code into a closed-source system and sell as many copies of that as you want. It would be nearly impossible to prove that you were using imported code.
  • by geoffspear (692508) on Friday October 15, 2004 @03:44PM (#10538895) Homepage
    And the fact that Bush hasn't vetoed a single bill since he took office is probably a pretty good indicator that the White House and Congress are working together more closely than any other in the history of our country. Maybe Bush himself doesn't have the influence to pass whatever he wants; maybe he and Congress are just influenced by the same people (Karl Rove, et al.) so their interests seem to line up, but if so that seems like a good enough reason to get rid of him anyway. What good is a leader who can't lead? If Bush wants a bill passed and Tom DeLay or Karl Rove can tell him "No", why don't we just make one of them President, so we know we have someone who can actually back his words with actions as our leader?
  • by Ralph Yarro (704772) on Friday October 15, 2004 @04:12PM (#10539198) Homepage
    I give a shit about *me* first and poor Indians second, they aren't looking out for my welfare!

    That's very nice, but you have to realise that the rest of us don't have any reason to care about you more than we do about anyone else. I couldn't, as you say, 'give a shit' about whether you're an Indian or an American any more than I care about whether you have blue or brown eyes. So as you say; Fuck you.
  • by Grishnakh (216268) on Friday October 15, 2004 @04:28PM (#10539391)
    You have a couple of problems in your post.

    Name one invention that has ever come out of India.

    How about the number 0, or lots of other mathematics? Of course, you probably meant "recent inventions", and I can't think of any.

    Any Microsofts?

    You said this in the same line as "Name one invention...", which implies that Microsoft has invented anything. I challenge you to name something that Microsoft has invented. Anything at all (besides Clippy).

    Today drive around Silicon Valley and look at the For Lease signs on every street.

    How much of this is due to the dot-bomb collapse? You can't blame that one on any workers; it was all the fault of stupid Wall Street investors. And how much of this is due to companies getting smart and leaving the overpriced Bay Area, and relocating to someplace better and cheaper? Maybe in your locality companies are dropping like flies, but there are other areas of the country that are growing rapidly, like where I live (Phoenix). Most of the people moving in here are coming from California because everything's so overpriced there.
  • Maybe it works different with software... I dunno

    No... even when you are doing the design and code yourself, when you finally get to coding, you find that some things in the design cannot be done in the way the design specifies -- so you code it up and if you get a chance go back and change the design specifications later.

  • Yes, nothing generates more possitive PR than massive layoffs and offshoring.

    Strangely enough, that type of announcement usually makes stock price go up.

  • by Maltheus (248271) on Friday October 15, 2004 @04:55PM (#10539705)
    I work on projects that require US citizenship, top secret clearance, polygraphs. There's no way my job or our work will ever be outsourced.

    Yeah they said that in the Soviet Union once too. And as they neglected the general economy and dumped more and more money into defense, it wasn't too long thereafter that the soldiers and other government workers went unpaid. So your job may never be outsourced, but that's no guarantee it'll stick around either. There were a number of prominent economists who predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union (almost to the year) back in the 60s. Most of them also predicted our collapse to follow 10 to 20 years after them, provided that we didn't readjust our spending patterns. Well, we've adjusted them alright, we put even more into defense. Defense spending is a bubble too. It can't keep on going up forever and it's already had a drastic effect on our economy.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 15, 2004 @05:06PM (#10539831)
    Your experiences are valid and telling. Learning things by force teaches you facts without understanding (Taiwan). Learning things by exploration (America) teaches you to think. As a result, many Taiwan trained individuals have great fact recall with very little creativity and many American trained individuals are very creative but without knowledge or motivation. A well rounded education includes both of these ingredients and a few more.

    We home school. One of my children is slow on math, so we focused on her strengths, art, literature and writing. We included math, but at a slower rate to avoid burnout. As she matured, we ramped up math and she zoomed up to her age level, but with the maturity to tackle that which is more difficult. One of our children was slow on reading, so we focused on his strengths, math, history, and sports. Though he didn't crack the "reading code" until 8 1/2, he is now (at 10) reading at a high school level (and he's still great at his other subjects.) Our other child just plods along (at a very diligent and fast pace) in all subjects. We havn't been able to stump her yet! With each child, we focus on strengths, keep the weaknesses growing, and use memorization as a tool where appropriate.

    To sum this up, each child must be taught as an individual, leaning to strengths to build maturity, drilled on facts to enforce brain capacity and recall, and taught to think and understand "why" on every plain. This approach has given my children a great sense of ability. It has also given them an understanding of what they are capable of and what they want to do as adults. They are confident leaders wherever they go because they learned that weaknesses in a particular subject does not mean that they are stupid. They know how to leverage their strength and improve their weaknesses (if necessary!) No, they are not perfect, but they can choose a career/college path that they CAN succeed at.

    The outsourcing delimma is as much a product of the internet boom as a poor education process. The internet is the new level playing field for the world. To compete WE have to get up off of our duffs and make a difference. It's not us against them (except in war) anymore. If you see a dead end ahead of you turn off that dumb TV and PS2. Study a new market. Find something to manufacture that will make a difference in someone's life. Reeducate yourself. I have spent the last 4 1/2 years mostly unemployed because I WAS a "high-end" computer consultant. When our market started crashing in '99/'00 I didn't follow the advice that I just gave. In this time period I have learned volumes on how to develop and qualify a business idea and turn it into a viable plan. I have also learned a lot about investors and their quirks. I'm not there yet, but I should have a thriving business soon. If the light at the end of the tunnel starts blowing a train whistle, reengineer yourself before you have to do it without pay (that really stinks!)

    On another note, as the "3rd world" or "developing" countries continue to grow their economies, their labor costs increase. Eventually, as the world comes up beside us in expertise and quality, our prices will look more favorable again. Jobs will eventually come back, though maybe in 20 years.
  • by vsprintf (579676) on Friday October 15, 2004 @05:45PM (#10540230)

    Yes, nothing generates more possitive PR than massive layoffs and offshoring.

    It's a strange world where getting rid of the people who built the business and giving the keys to the business to companies in a foreign country will get you huge rewards. The Roman empire also rotted from within. Short-term bread and circuses.

  • by ahdeoz (714773) on Friday October 15, 2004 @05:46PM (#10540232)
    The good ones come to America, get working visas, and work for half what you will. Six year later they get green cards and work for 90% of your price, but now they're the experienced ones with domain expertise and have the additional advantage of being able to speak the same language as the call center reps, testers, and code monkeys who have been outsourced.
  • by betelgeuse68 (230611) on Friday October 15, 2004 @05:46PM (#10540239)
    To anyone who is considering a programming career - you would be wise to enter some other field.

    It's amusing to read some of the Slashdot posts about "Tool X" or "Tool Y" or "Book on Z" but in the end it's about business.

    Most managers don't really care that you used the adapter design pattern or perhaps your ultra-slick use of Apache's mod_rewrite.

    In the end it's about business and the IT field in many ways has become a lot like the electricity powering your television - a basic commodity.

    One of the only promising jobs in tech are perhaps network engineers and offshoots related to this... because after all, someone has to man, diagnose, install this physical crap and companies do need SOME physical presence - corporations are not going the "pure virtual" route.

    But if you're a programmer and you think you're immune and you don't work for the government (the whole clearance thing), forget it, chances are good that in 5 years some portion of what you do or ALL of it will be eliminated as a result of continued consolidation in software categories, further commodization of technology and/or offshoring and/or any combination of these.

    When I started my career in 1991 many companies were trying to outdo each other on technical prowess alone. Go back to what I said earlier, namely that your manager doesn't care about your use of the visitor design pattern or use of Apache mod_rewrite - businesses care about business, that is, making money. It sounds trite and oh so obvious but it's easy to forget this. Business people really don't care about Windows' heavily reliance of multithreading vs. the classic *NIX mechanism of forking or GNOME vs. KDE or Windows vs. LINUX or Windows vs. Macintosh.

    THEY DON'T CARE. Really, they don't. It's about money. End of story.

    Having said that, there is no reason for businesses to continue to pay sky high prices for skills they can get elsewhere at a fraction of the cost.

    With globalization and the increased communication bandwidth the Internet has brought we have these two feeding off each other and the process will only accelerate.

    -M
  • by Atomic Frog (28268) on Friday October 15, 2004 @06:18PM (#10540557)
    Yes, something like that.

    All my friends who came from Tawain, HongKong or other parts of Asia so totally kicked ass in Grade 11, Grade 12 and even 1st or 2nd year of university.

    Mostly because they had all done it before and they had really good study skills and habits.
    Come the final years, it was no longer all rosy because something like what you said. When you start from almost ground zero, we're all human and anyone who's gotten that far has pretty much the same capacity for learning.

    The problem with US (and North American in general) education system is that it is WAAAY too easy on the kids. Kids are smart, they'll learn if pushed, but nobody here pushes them.

    I developed incredibly bad study habits (technically, I started school in HK, but I've been here long enough to know the school system elementary on up) because I was reasonably bright, so I got almost straight A's without doing anything because everything was too damned easy. That sucked. That came back to bite me later in university.

    If US wants "the lead" back in tech. it has to start in elementary school and parents can't be scared of pushing their kids or making it a little tough for them.
  • by borgheron (172546) on Friday October 15, 2004 @06:57PM (#10540876) Homepage Journal
    Does anyone actually take what they read in that newspaper seriously?

    GJC
  • by gujo-odori (473191) on Friday October 15, 2004 @07:21PM (#10541113)
    An interesting hypothesis, but let me throw this out as a potential counter-argument:

    I work in IT, always have except for a brief foray into another career for about three years, but decided I liked IT better and came back. I and most of the IT workers over 30 I know are married or engaged, but most of those (including myself) are not married to people who work in IT, or any other engineering-like discipline. In fact, of all the IT workers and engineers I know, only one are an engineer-engineer couple. They are both semiconductor engineers who met at work. Come to think of it, they are the only couple I know who met at work.

    In light of that, I think you might be putting too much weight on the issue of working in a mostly-male environment.
  • by wannasleep (668379) on Friday October 15, 2004 @07:36PM (#10541218)
    You didn't get it at all. Besides the fact that your numbers are entirely wrong and the USA today article is copyright of the christian science monitor (an organization that has an agenda), I would like to remind you that the business executives that are hiring indians, chinese, etc. are mostly american and so are those who are lobbying. So blame the boards of directors if you want, not people whose only fault is to work hard and seek a better life.
    As for what indians (and other foreigners) invent I would like to point out the fact that most of the scientific literature (che the "IEEE transactions" on whatever and the conference proceedings) is coming from non-american researchers.
    By the way, I am not indian
  • The year is 2011 (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 15, 2004 @07:43PM (#10541282)
    [fiction]
    I am a manager at a small but fast growing company making widgets. I share a cube with my programming team. Except they're not really there. I switch them on at the start of the day, and off again at night.

    One wall of my cubicle is a giant LCD screen. One poke of the power button, and I am looking at 3 guys half a world away, and they are looking at me, just as if we were really there. HDTV resolution, 30 frames/sec and life-size images make it difficult to tell from reality. The sound quality is superb too; in full stereo, of course. Add to that real-time document sharing on another HDTV screen, and you come to see why many of the world's airlines are on the verge of bankrutpcy, and can no longer depend on business travelers paying high fares to subsidize the vacation travelers. Nobody travels for business any more.

    We collaborate all day long. They even take their meal break when I'm taking my lunch break. At the end of the project, I am as familiar with their work as they are. The quality is up to standard. The inevitable problems that came up were resolved instantly, in real time. We shake virtual hands, turn our screens off, and the purchasing department wires them the money instantly via International Business Paypal.

    Tomorrow, they will be working on someone else's project, and I will be planning my next project. There is no ongoing 'preferred supplier' relationship - it was a straight online bidding process. They came in the cheapest, and had good feedback, on International Business eBay, the online business marketplace on steroids that evolved from the original eBay. I can't even remember what country they were in.
    [/fiction]

    This type of scenario will be a reality one day. How long it takes, who can say. But today, the bandwidth is not there (especially in developing nations), and the technology is not there. YET.

    Basically, human beings would much rather be face to face with someone than talking via phone and email. Until true telepresence technology is perfected, there is going to be a market for programmers in the USA. And there will always be projects that are too confidential or have other reasons they have to be done on site, in which case they won't be outsourced overseas. Period.

    That doesn't mean that we US programmers have nothing to worry about. We need to keep our skills sharp, look at what complementary non-technical skills we can arm ourselves with, live below our means (so we can get some savings behind us), and be flexible about moving at the drop of a hat to where the work is.

    We have about another decade left. If we haven't found some other way of supporting ourselves or earning a living in that time, then shame on us.
  • I quit (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 15, 2004 @07:50PM (#10541341)
    I quit. Rather than work as a programmer for $12/hr, I now make about the same money doing something else, anthing else. Programming for money is about as fun as being an accountant, no thanks.
  • by aubreyTF (822544) <admin.allthingsinteresting@com> on Friday October 15, 2004 @07:55PM (#10541371) Homepage
    This is the way that the world works.

    If you can do something better that someone else, you get the job.

    If the Chineese are better at some aspect of programming that us, then it's not suprising that they get some of our jobs. There are many cases when an American is needed for an American job because they understand the requirements more and are there when you need them.

    I'm 14 years old, and am an advanced php programmer and web designer. Because of this, I cam write web sites for people at much lower rates than most. Does this mean that I am "Stealing jobs"? Who am I stealing them from? The people who charge more than me for web sites? Isn't this the whole point of "Free Enterprize"? And, Yes, I am an american...

  • by Civil_Disobedient (261825) on Friday October 15, 2004 @09:24PM (#10541924)
    Technology, industry and wealth are not necessarily zero-sum games.

    Indeed they aren't. But there are a number of problems with your train of thought.

    First, we're losing jobs far, far faster than we're gaining them. New technologies and industries are constantly being invented, but not at the Moore's law-pace some people would like. It took a hundred years for the textile industry to be completely exported. Automobiles took approximately 75 years. Televisions took about 30 years. Software's taken about 20.

    Do you see a trend? The industries that are "coming to the rescue" are themselves staying on the shelf for shorter and shorter lifecycles. I hear "biotech" is the next answer. Where, oh where, are the biotech jobs, though? And when they do come, how long will they last?

    The second, and perhaps larger problem is this: the types of "new industries" that are being created require more and more specialized education and training. Which isn't cheap monetarily, nor is it cheap in years required to get to that point.

    I was tinkering with computers as a child, in high school I knew it was going to hit big, in college I honed my skills, and by the time I got out, all the nerds I was friends with were on Time Magazine covers. And in another decade it was basically all gone. So I've spent a lifetime honing my skills. I've got another 20-30 years to develop a new skillset (provided I've got the cash to spend on re-educating myself, which most out-sourced people don't have). So what do I pick? Biotech? Nanotechnology? Middle Eastern linguistics?

    A textile working in the 19th century could lose his job and get another one in a completely different field with little to no extra education. A computer programmer needs about 5-10 years of experience to be solid in it. How much education do you think you need to go into bio-tech? A decade, unless you're just support staff (the first to get laid off or outsourced, by the way).

    Please don't get me wrong. There are people in shit-poor countries that are competing head-to-head with our best and brightest, then going back to their crummy little apartment in a diseased section of a slum of a country. I give them all the credit in the world, and I am happy to see some of our money siphoned off. If they can do it better, fine.

    I'm not suggesting we build a giant wall around us, stick our fingers in our ears, close our eyes and pretend nobody else is playing the game. But there is going to come a point in time where there simply isn't enough work to be had. And what happens then, as people fight tooth-and-nail over the scraps of service jobs that won't even provide a crappy living?

    It would be pretty easy at this point to venture into Marx-Land, and I'll refrain from that but leave the question open. What does a civilization do when the sole value of a man's worth is his work, but there's not enough work to be had? This is the problem we faced during the Great Depression -- Roosevelt's solution was to get people working on anything at all, so long as they were working. It didn't work, though I suppose we've got plenty of nice parks and dams to show for it.
  • by jt2190 (645297) on Saturday October 16, 2004 @12:01AM (#10542610)

    You're assuming that someone is actually enforcing any of the rules already in place for H1B visa holders. Unfortunately, I am friends with number of H1B visa holders who, on the off chance that their green card will come through, will put up with almost anything: Long hours, terrible pay ($10/hour), no benefits, etc. The companies that hire them out to large corporations pocket a lot of money. Hell, I'd love to rat out the companies that exploit them, but I'd hate to see them loose their chance of staying here.

    You may be among the minority of H1B visa holders who don't want permanent residence in the US. Unfortunately, most of them see that program as a quick(er) way to a green card.

    A real solution would be to (a) provide a guaranteed green card in exchange for a certain number of hard-working, law-abiding years in the US, and (b) allow visa holders to hold their own visas, and remain in the country as long as they can find work within a certain time period, say, one year. They would then be able to demand market rates for their work, because they wouldn't be forced to put up with crap.

  • by Mr_Icon (124425) on Saturday October 16, 2004 @12:11AM (#10542643) Homepage
    I fully agree with you. Getting rid of the 6-year limit and making changing jobs for H1Bs easier would actually solve more problems than it creates. Some steps were already taken in that direction -- e.g. 3 years ago the new legislation allowed a foreign worker to change jobs without waiting for the approval from the then-INS (now Department of Homeland Security... *shudder*). Nowadays if you are tired of your job, all you have to do is find another and send in the application paperwork. Once you receive "your paperwork has been accepted" slip, you can start working at the new position. It's not a perfect solution, but at least now H1Bs don't have to wait for 6-7 months for the approval of their transfer from DHS.

    As to the 6-year limit, the result a lot of times is that foreign workers, knowing that they will likely have to leave the country eventually, will view their employment in the US as a venue for making money and then taking it with them back to their country of origin, where their savings suddenly become a small fortune. The country loses both the worker (if they managed to stay an H1B for 6 years, they are most likely a valuable asset to the country's economy) and the worker's savings.

    Personally, I'm not bitter at all about having to leave my job. I knew this was coming for the past 3 years and was able to plan accordingly. Besides, I am looking at switching careers eventually down the line anyway.
  • by Whitehawke (112798) on Saturday October 16, 2004 @01:53AM (#10542962) Homepage

    You have the minds of slaves. Nothing original has come out of India.


    You know, that's absolutely true...well, if you discount the following picayune items:

    • "Arabic" numerals (invented in India, including the concept of zero; the Arabs got them from the Indians, the West got them from the Arabs and so called them "Arabic numerals")
    • wootz (the best steel ever made; aka Damascus steel because it was distributed to Westerners through Damascus)
    • Hinduism (one of the largest religions in the world and, AFAIK, the only one that does not have oceans of blood on its hands in the form of crusades, inquisitions, etc)
    • the Kama Sutra
    • the exercises which, when brought to China, eventually evolved into kung fu
    • the best food in the entire freaking world, bar none (ok, that one is subjective)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 16, 2004 @09:04PM (#10547698)
    And the other big difference I find is the motivation of the students. In school here in the US, many of my classmates' primary goal was to play as many video games as possible, or always be watching TV, or something like that. And I feel if the student doesn't want to learn, there really isn't much we can do about it.

    A large part of this problem is television that is increasingly marketed towards children using mind-control techniques.

    It's not only parents who need to fight this, but your local, state, and federal governments. Janet Jackson's boob is big trouble for everyone in Congress, but no one seems to have a problem with the mindless drones brought up as a result of the consumerization and consumption of children by big-media advertiers, who depend on their children to nag their parents into submission. And that needs to change.

  • by sapgau (413511) on Sunday October 17, 2004 @11:17PM (#10553780) Journal
    This is a late reply, don't know if it will get thru.

    After reading all the threads related to India, offshoring and IT Trends I've come to these conclusions:
    • The US will still be the biggest economy in the world, inevitably creating demand for services more than anything.
    • Offshoring to India is no panacea, some highly critical design tasks can simply not be done offshore because of the need to keep in constant communication with clients or whoever is requesting/issuing requirements.
    • India itself is finally growing economically and has a potential huge need for IT services in the future, thus reducing the number of IT developers to work on foreign projects.
    • Also, good Indian programmers (or from any country!!) are not that plentiful and they will demand higher salaries (either in India or moving to the US) thus leaving the "average" programmers to deal with huge quality issues.


    So, for any programmer, he/she should focus in the following:
    • Focus on skills that are needed by medium to large organizations (including state or federal governments). Don't go first to your small business or municipal government, those are very unstable environments economically speaking, use them as your last option.
    • Focus on (for example) Java, C#, PHP. Java is my preference since it has established itself in corporate environments. What ever you choose make an effort to certify yourself. Is just another business card, it will not make you proficient in that language but it will help you cover all the basic knowledge.
    • Large corporate organizations use Oracle. This is almost a rule. Make sure you start using it and if possible make it your second certification. SQL Server is a close second. For medium organizations anything goes, from propietary (Oracle Microsoft) to open source (PostgreSQL, MySQL).
    • Is almost certain that web enabling projects will be the rule in the coming years. Despite the .com burst, governments and businesses are realizing the need to share information online. Make sure you brush up on your skills of SOAP and Web Services. You don't have to code them by hand, look for tools that will help you build the interfaces (i.e. Apache Axis).

      And of course keep reading Slashdot!!

      /my $0.02

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