As the Nov. 2 election date draws closer, gubernatorial candidates Rick Snyder and Virg Bernero engaged in their first side-by-side debate Sunday night. The hot topic of conversation? Outsourcing jobs. Bernero made some heated accusations toward Snyder about his past as president of computer-maker Gateway, condemning him as the “chief executive outsourcer,” according to an Oct. 10 annarbor.com article. It seems that Michigan jobs will be a prominent issue in this gubernatorial race, as they should be. I can’t help but wonder, though, if Snyder’s outsourcing of jobs for Gateway was really as horrific as Bernero makes it seem.
Obviously, outsourcing jobs from the state will never be a good thing. Michigan’s unemployment rate is a major problem that every person in office wants to fix. I certainly agree that it needs to be addressed. But I can’t blame the companies for doing what’s best for them. In many cases, these corporations are forced to outsource jobs because their survival depends on it.
Take Gateway, for example. Under Snyder’s watch, the company grew from less than 1,000 employees to about 10,000. However, when sales started to fall in response to market competition, the company was forced to outsource jobs overseas in order to survive. While it’s unfortunate that this sales decline occurred while Snyder was present and that he was forced to make some tough decisions, he was not wrong for doing what had to be done. As a businessman, Snyder was willing to do what was necessary for the well being of his company.
I’m only using Snyder as an example here. At this point, I don’t endorse him — or any other candidate, for that matter. But many people are blaming executives at big companies for outsourcing jobs away from not only Michigan, but also other states. Critics claim that these corporations only want to make a buck.
I can’t place all of the blame on these executives. As high-powered business leaders, it’s in their job description to make tough decisions for their corporations, and the best interest of the company must always be put first. These companies are in business to make a profit, and they should do so using any means necessary.
Manufacturing jobs are the easiest jobs to outsource to another country. They don’t really require any specialized skills, and most people can be trained relatively quickly to work with machinery. It’s unfortunate that the largest industry in Michigan used to be manufacturing. As the economy declines and companies are forced to make cuts, those are the first jobs to go. It seems that the safe jobs are the ones that can only be performed by workers here and those that require a high level of education.
Our country, including its economy, is founded on capitalism. Companies are simply running their businesses using a capitalistic model. And if we complain about them outsourcing jobs, we are essentially complaining about them being capitalists. If a company is not always focused on turning over a big profit, it won’t be very successful. Outsourcing jobs is certainly not the most pleasant way to keep a company afloat. But if cutting costs is necessary, it’s definitely effective.
So as the gubernatorial race continues to move forward, I encourage people to think about the topic of outsourcing jobs. Bernero wants to keep jobs in Michigan under any circumstances. And while he has good intentions, I wonder if he can ever accomplish this goal. There is no denying that as we move forward as a society, low-skilled labor will begin to leave our job market to be shipped overseas. The new focus here needs to be on education, in an effort to train workers who will become irreplaceable to their companies.
Ashley Griesshammer is an LSA freshman.