Saturday, August 28, 2004

Outsourcing (Slashdot), and why we will hopefully not have food shortages in the U.S.

Lot's of interesting talk over on Slashdot today about the ACM Queue article on outsourcing. I read this article about a week ago and although I am a defender, in general of outsourcing and globalization (with reasonable care paid to laws, the environment, etc.), I thought that the article was largely bullshit - read it for yourself to form your own opinions.

During a hike and breakfast the other day a new friend Bob (a pharmacist) was talking/worrying about the effects of both outsourcing and, separately, the insane economic agenda of the republicans (just for your information, Reagan got lucky: the economy grew during his watch because of drastically cheaper oil: I believe that the supply side people are idiots). He was more than a little concerned in the U.S. that we are heading for large scale social unrest and possible food shortages. I am a little bit more optimistic - sure, the economy is going to crash sometime (right after the elections, in a year, who knows?...), but I think that Americans are resilient and will adapt to a lower standard of living.

I was a little surprised that another friend of mine Mark (a real estate guy) during a hike this morning agreed about the possibility of social unrest, and food shortages. He pointed out that during just a few short months of gas shortages in the early 1980s, that people were going a little crazy, and that period was thankfully short - the situation is different now: there is global increase in demand (Asia, etc.) and future oil squeezes are not a probability but a certainty, and they will make the early 1980s look mild in comparison.

Still, I am optimistic: here in the U.S., we have so many material blessings, and what do people really need for happy lives? I would suggest that housing, food, family and friends does it. Assholes who drive around in SUVs with no passengers, etc. might have to switch to economy cars when oil supply needs to be diverted to food production, but who cares about these selfish people? I think that people with solid values will be fine.

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