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My offshore encounter

| Sunday, Sept. 5, 2004

"Hello, technical support, my wireless modem doesn't work."

"OK, Mr. Thomas Purcell, take software installation CD and insert into computer."

"I already installed the software. I clicked 'Start,' then 'Run,' then 'D,' then typed 'Install,' then hit 'Enter.'"

"OK, Mr. Thomas Purcell, click 'Start,' then 'Run,' then 'D,' then type 'Install,' then hit 'Enter.'"

"You're reading from a script, aren't you• Look, I carefully followed the instructions to activate the software.""

"OK, Mr. Thomas Purcell, now carefully follow instructions to activate software."

"Ah, I see. The modem company is saving big bucks by outsourcing technical support to some faraway country."

"OK, Mr. Thomas Purcell, turn off computer. Press 'off' button."

"Sure, American firms have outsourced manufacturing jobs for years, but now that they're outsourcing white collar jobs folks are worried."

"OK, Mr. Thomas Purcell, now turn on computer. Press 'on' button. Wireless modem should be blinking now."

"Sir, I am the only thing blinking. I'm blinking mad you're not helping solve my problem."

"OK, Mr. Thomas Purcell, now that wireless modem is blinking, click 'Start.'"

"Kerry believes the government should use tax policies and penalties to discourage offshore outsourcing, but, that is the wrong approach."

"OK, Mr. Thomas Purcell, from 'Start' go to 'Programs' then to 'Internet Explorer.'"

"No, our government should encourage risk and innovation, not inhibit them. Unfortunately in a rapidly changing global marketplace, some jobs will be sent overseas."

"OK, Mr. Thomas Purcell, modem should blink very fast now."

"But it is a two-way street. George Will points out that German and Japanese firms have outsourced jobs, too -- to America."

"OK, Mr. Thomas Purcell, blinking should be getting even faster."

"Did you know that in 2002 the U.S. produced more than 21 percent of the world's global output with less than 5 percent of the world's labor force• We're the most productive people on the planet."

"Is modem blinking faster than ever before, Mr. Thomas Purcell?"

"The solution is not to restrict global commerce, but to make our workers more attractive to employers -- more productive. That means we need to educate and train our people better than anyone in the world."

"Mr. Thomas Purcell, is modem blinking as fast as bee's wings?"

"Our people have to be poised to master the newest technologies quickly and efficiently -- the ones that pay the highest salaries. To wit: our people need to learn how to learn, change and grow."

"Do you see blinking, Mr. Thomas Purcell?"

"That is why education is one of the biggest issues in this election. It's a tragedy that we spend significantly more per pupil than any country in the world, yet millions of our children still can't read and write. In a world that demands high skills to get good jobs, they are doomed to failure."

"Hello, Mr. Thomas Purcell, is there blinking?"

"At least Bush is trying to break the stranglehold teachers' unions have against change. His No Child Left Behind Act, which demands accountability, is changing the debate toward getting results. And at least Bush believes in giving parents choice and flexibility over where and how to educate their children."

"Is modem blinking so fast you can't take it anymore, Mr. Thomas Purcell?"

"But here is what is also true. Last year, Dell received numerous complaints after outsourcing technical support jobs to India. Customers were displeased with the service. There are lots of pitfalls and hidden costs, you see, so Dell brought those jobs back to America."

"Blinking should be going crazy now, Mr. Thomas Purcell."

"Sir, America is not afraid to compete with the world on any job. No, with the right approach, we're just getting warmed up where productivity and prosperity are concerned. That's what we'll celebrate on Labor Day this year. So what do you think of that?"

"I think wireless modem is working perfectly now, Mr. Thomas Purcell. Thank you for calling technical support."

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