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Re: Outsourcing - light commercial and high end residential

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Subject:     Re: Outsourcing - light commercial and high end residential
Sent:        12/20/03 11:46 PM
To:          ?, seaint(--nospam--at)

>As Bill has stated, there is no point in indulging in a debate with you,
This isn't a debate--unless parroting a lot of nonsense about capitalism is debating. And unless by capitalism you mean concentration of economic power in in the hands of a decreasing percentage of the world's population.

The use of cheap outsourced labor has nothing to do with 'the advantage of all
the citizens of [our] country' and everything to do with buying low, selling high and ultimately putting your competition out of business. That ought to be obvious from all the screaming by outfits (like big steel) who preach 'free trade' when it comes to selling high, and 'unfair dumping' when their customers get the chance to buy low. So let's not get self-righteous about protectionism and free trade or giant sucking sounds when there are real issues to resolve.

Whining about protectionism ignores the fundamental issue of quality, assuming that cheap and quality are the same. Ignoring quality for the low bid brought us counterfeit bolts and 'forged' pressure vessel flanges that were actually cast and assembled with slugged welds. Laissez faire marketeering works fine for cheap shoes--if they squeak or don't fit you lose $20 and learn to shop elsewhere next time. With counterfeit bolts or ignorant designers millions are at stake and there may not be a next time.

This comes hard for a tax-and-spend Democrat like myself, but it's obvious that there are a great many offshore 'consultants' who simply don't meet any reasonable standards of competence. I follow a number of engineering mailing lists and  the tone of a great many posts from so-called senior engineers and designers tell me that many such offshore design offices clearly don't have the experience needed to meet US and European professional standards. Like the guy who dithered for days over a simple hoist becaause he couldn't draw a simple free body diagram. Or the questions about FEA of bolted joints by people who haven't a clue how a bolt works.

What I see are people who have been taught to run FEA and CAD software assuming that the software does the design and interprets the analysis. Couple this with technically illiterate US corporate management and it's pretty obvious why design jobs are moving offshore, and it's got nothing to do with all the high-sounding complaints about free markets and protectionism. It also has has nothing to do with intelligence or work ethic and everything to do with a complete lack of understanding of providing engineering services to US and European standards. (I realize many foreign-born subscribers probably consider this a slander. I mean no slander--write me off-list and I'll apologize or give you an ear full, as warranted, with examples.)

The large problem facing engineering is the same as that facing manufacturing. As the US becomes a country of middle-men whose only ability is to buy low and sell high, we lose our ability to innovate and to build products that result from innovations.  We can make out OK buying cheap shoes from China although it's a shame that our industrial leadership can't dope out how to use an innovative high tech approach against sweatshops. But when our suits decide we can't afford to have a steel industry or an engineering profession, it won't be long before we're a second-class nation with a few rich stockbrokers riding herd on everyone else.

Capitalism, BTW, isn't about buying low and selling high or free markets--it's about ownership the means of production. Not a mention of it in the US Constitution, which is what gave the robber barons their start and why it was so tough bringing the worst of them to heel.

Christopher Wright P.E.    |"They couldn't hit an elephant at
chrisw(--nospam--at)        | this distance"   (last words of Gen.
___________________________| John Sedgwick, Spotsylvania 1864)

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