When Democratic politicians start using the word "outsource" they remind me of a boss I once had at a company that both outsourced and offshored. When this boss learned a new word, which is to say she learned how to say it but not when to use it, she would throw the word around incorrectly drawing suppressed sniggers or looks of confusion from her underlings. Later, when The Boss was gone, we would warn each other that Our Boss had learned how to say a word she didn't yet understand.
Yesterday during his appearance on the Martin Bashir Show, Democratic strategist, Julian Epstein, demonstrated that he knows when to use the word "offshore" and when to use the word "outsource". I find that encouraging. Since the journalists won't call them on it when guests incorrectly use the word "outsource" and its variants, perhaps Democratic strategists like Julian Epstein can hold a seminar for Democratic politicians and teach them that if they want to beat Mitt Romney by repeating a word over and over, they need to use the right word.
In fact, I was so encouraged to see a Democrat using the correct business term on Martin Bashir's show that I am inspired to teach my Democratic politician friends another term they should learn if they want to sound smarter and more business savvy than they are: the term is "BPO" (business process outsourcing"). It's common and it doesn't necessarily cause a net decrease in American jobs.
There is a whole industrial class of companies called BPOs. These BPOs - or business process outsourcers - do exactly what their name implies. They perform a process or a function for other companies. One such company is a huge American company called ACS which was recently acquired by Xerox. ACS runs call centers, mail centers, data centers and performs all manner of functions for companies who, for one reason or another, don't wish to perform those processes for themselves. When a company outsources a function to ACS that function might be performed in the US or it might be performed offshore. If they perform it in the US, they employ Americans. If they perform that function or process offshore - say in India - American jobs are lost.
If the Democrats hope to beat Mitt Romney just by chanting the same word over and over they need to use the right word. When voters who work for BPOs hear Democrats calling Mitt Romney an outsourcer, they just gave these BPO employees a reason to like Mitt Romney. Millions of Americans are employed by BPOs. Right here in the Kanawha Valley hundreds of people work for TRG, a BPO that runs call centers for other companies.
But no American likes an "offshorer" - a guy who fires Americans and gives their jobs to other countries so if Democrats want to beat Romney by repeating a word over and over let that word be "offshore".
Oh, and with any luck the word "offshore" will do Romney double harm because it might remind voters about his offshore bank accounts opened with money he earned by offshoring American jobs.
For more on understanding the difference between "outsourcing" and "offshoring" see my July 15 post on the archive.
Higginbotham At Large comments policy: If you submit a comment pseudonymously or anonymously, that comment will not be published. For those of you who use the word "outsource" when you mean "offshore", the word "pseudonymously" means under a name not your own. It doesn't matter if I recognize your pseudonym and know your identity. No Ring of Gyges for you.