In recent months, President Obama reversed his campaign promises on trade issues -- first by dropping his pledge to renegotiate NAFTA and then by pushing to pass NAFTA-style trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia. Now, with the unemployment crisis persisting, the key jobs question is once again front and center in American politics. Specifically: How do we create jobs here at home and build our most valuable 21st century industries?
The first and foremost answer is that our government should stop doing stuff like the program described in this stunning new report from Information Week:
U.S. To Train 3,000 Offshore IT Workers
Despite President Obama's pledge to retain more hi-tech jobs in the U.S., a federal agency run by a hand-picked Obama appointee has launched a $22 million program to train workers, including 3,000 specialists in IT and related functions, in South Asia.
Following their training, the tech workers will be placed with outsourcing vendors in the region that provide offshore IT and business services to American companies looking to take advantage of the Asian subcontinent's low labor costs...
The outsourcing program (is) sure to draw the most fire from critics. While Obama acknowledged that occupations such as garment making don't add much value to the U.S. economy, he argued relentlessly during his presidential run that lawmakers needed to do more to keep hi-tech jobs in IT, biological sciences, and green energy in the country.
Now look, I'm all for a robust foreign aid budget -- we don't do nearly enough to help the developing world. However, using foreign aid money to specifically help private corporations "take advantage of low labor costs" in the developing world -- that's not "aid," that's rank taxpayer subsidization of for-profit exploitation.
Right now, even if we do not reform our atrocious trade policies that incentivize the ongoing wage-cutting race to the bottom, the least we should be doing is investing every single available dollar we have in job training and job creation here at home. Doing the opposite -- actually using public dollars to intensify that wage-cutting race to the bottom -- is grotesque.
George W. Bush's administration was rightly criticized by progressives for publicly endorsing job outsourcing, and Obama's administration should be similarly taken to task for now putting taxpayer funds behind the previous administration's endorsement.