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Wednesday, April 9, 2008 02:20 pm

Cut-rate labor for any job

Even making babies is being outsourced to developing countries

Untitled Document Just when you think that surely the offshoring craze has peaked, here come more stories of “Globalization Gone Wild.”
McClatchy Co., the California-based newspaper chain, has announced that it is outsourcing some of its jobs to India. Copyediting and design work for certain sections of its Miami Herald newspaper are being shipped to a New Delhi corporation with the mind-boggling name of Mindworks Global Media. Ironically, part of the work to be handled 8,400 miles away from Herald readers is editing and design for a weekly section on community news.
But outsourcing is not just an American game. Waterford, the renowned crystal maker that has been in Dublin, Ireland, since 1783, has built its reputation on the fine skills of its Irish glass masters. Now, however, it has cut its Dublin workforce in half and moved about a fifth of its production to Poland and the Czech Republic. The pricey, quintessentially Irish glassware — from chandeliers to Champagne flutes — is being made in Central Europe by workers paid a fourth of what the Dublin artisans were paid. The company insists that consumers won’t care where the crystal is made. Maybe, but do couples care where their baby is made? Apparently not. There’s a growing global industry of outsourced pregnancies, with clinics in India making available young very-low-income local women to be surrogate mothers for well-off infertile couples from America, Taiwan, Britain, and elsewhere. The couples provide the sperm and pay a fraction of the going rate for surrogate moms in the United States, and — voilá! — the “wombs for rent” clinic delivers a baby. It’s all part of the globalization follies, where the wealthy can find workers at cut-rate costs to do any sort of labor they need.

Jim Hightower is a national radio commentator, columnist, and author.
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