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Asian Call Center Workers Trained With US Tax Dollars 274

Posted by samzenpus
from the bug-in-the-system dept.
gManZboy writes in with a troubling story about tax dollars being used for overseas call center training. "Despite President Obama's recent call for companies to 'insource' jobs sent overseas, it turns out that the federal government itself is spending millions of dollars to train foreign students for employment in some booming career fields--including working in offshore call centers that serve U.S. businesses. The program is called JEEP, which stands for Job Enabling English Proficiency. It's available to college students in the Philippines through USAID. That's the same agency that until a couple of years ago was spending millions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer money to train offshore IT workers in Sri Lanka. Congressman Tim Bishop (D-New York), told about the program on Tuesday, called it 'surprising and distressing.' Bishop recently introduced a bill that would make companies that outsource call centers ineligible for government contracts."
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Asian Call Center Workers Trained With US Tax Dollars

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  • Duh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lunix Nutcase (1092239) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @05:11PM (#39727921)

    This just in: Politicians lie. Film at 11.

  • by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @05:15PM (#39727989)

    They *do* increase employment. In China.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by cayenne8 (626475)
      Geez, WTF?

      We need to halt this immediately...and turn those dollars around to be spent on US citizens.....there's plenty of US citizens that can't seem to speak proper English.

      I can't tell you how often I hear someone want to "ax" me a question.

      I won't even get into the conversation that more and more these days, you have to almost speak fucking Spanish in the US.....just to get anything done.

      • I can't tell you how often I hear someone want to "ax" me a question.

        I recall my linguistics professor saying the "ax" actually is an older form of the word [wiktionary.org] that has been preserved. So it's not so much improper as much as it is antiquated.

        Also, languages go through regular mutatations, this is just another one of them. I don't think "ax" is any different than "pail" vs "bucket" or "pop" vs "soda". It's just that it is associated with a poorer demographic, but that doesn't make it any less valid English.

        PS- Yes, I am the kind of person that will use "thee" and "thou" if neces

      • The USPTO needs an ESL program for patent examiners.

        But I guess that's not exotic enough.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    There is no way in hell that a politician is going to pay nearly a billion dollars to get into an office that won't pay out more than a couple of million in salary and perks over it's term without getting payback from somewhere else. It's as simple as that. And you know we'll never have meaningful campaign finance reform as long as the Republicrats have no meaningful competition.

    Einstein once said that the definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over and expecting a different result

    • He is just going to keep his head down and try not to screw up until he coasts into his second term. His only challenger is someone who has been hand picked to fail.

      • Obama... (Score:3, Interesting)

        The Obama critque is not irrelevant. The problem with this election is that the guy against him has one goal and that is to help his corporate buddies. The GOP doesn't need to spend the time or the money on a platform committee this year because choosing Mittens makes it their sole platform plank. Romney already goes on the stump and says only what his pals want him to say (not to mention different things for different crouds.) Obama is a corporatist without a doubt, but at least he thinks about the lit

        • by poity (465672)

          You didn't really say anything positive about Obama there. All you said is that you personally believe that he might throw a dog an extra bone. But then if Obama can capture your faith due to past policy initiatives (while ignoring things like FISA, Patriot Act extension, NDAA, etc), then should not Romney also have your faith from his rather liberal policy initiatives during his tenure in Massachusetts (while ignoring his current rhetoric)? In addition, would it not be fair to view Romney's election year p

  • Posturing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zibodiz (2160038) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @05:18PM (#39728017)

    Bishop recently introduced a bill that would make companies that outsource call centers ineligible for government contracts.

    So they're saying that they're no longer going to purchase HP, Dell, or Acer PCs? Somehow I suspect that bill is just posturing, and will not amount to anything.

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      Bishop recently introduced a bill that would make companies that outsource call centers ineligible for government contracts.

      So they're saying that they're no longer going to purchase HP, Dell, or Acer PCs? Somehow I suspect that bill is just posturing, and will not amount to anything.

      Still leaves Apple (who opened a new call center in Texas I think?).

      Perhaps that's the whole goal of the bill...

    • by geekmux (1040042)

      Bishop recently introduced a bill that would make companies that outsource call centers ineligible for government contracts.

      So they're saying that they're no longer going to purchase HP, Dell, or Acer PCs? Somehow I suspect that bill is just posturing, and will not amount to anything.

      Cost of insourcing your call center to comply with new policy vs. losing a multi-year Government contract for computer hardware.

      Do you really have to do a cost-benefit analysis there? Chances are the decision is rather black and white when you look at the numbers.

      • by andy1307 (656570)

        Cost of insourcing your call center to comply with new policy vs. losing a multi-year Government contract for computer hardware.

        v/s cost of buying off a few politicians?

    • Re:Posturing (Score:5, Insightful)

      by frosty_tsm (933163) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @06:03PM (#39728655)

      Bishop recently introduced a bill that would make companies that outsource call centers ineligible for government contracts.

      So they're saying that they're no longer going to purchase HP, Dell, or Acer PCs? Somehow I suspect that bill is just posturing, and will not amount to anything.

      Or it will force them to open call centers in the US to serve US customers. I would presume that the requirement would be serving US customers onshore but doesn't bar them from serving offshore customers with offshore centers.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    typical politicians. They find out they're doing something stupid, so they're going to do something stupid to make up for it. Quit paying to train the foreigners, and don't pass a new law disabling government contracts with companies that have overseas call centers, would be the correct thing to do.

    • by tibit (1762298)

      Quit paying to train the foreigners

      I know that may not be quite what you meant, but have you ever thought how most good U.S. universities would look if you'd stop supporting all the graduate foreign students with public money? The engineering and science department rolls would be probably 80-90% empty.

  • Gee, I hope they succeed in bringing all of the call center work back to the United States! I would love to pay higher prices so that my countrymen can work menial jobs for 10 times the pay of their Asian counterparts (which still fails to provide a decent standard of living here), because more expensive products are good for everyday Americans already struggling to get by!
    • Or, alternatively, let's keep all the low-knowledge jobs in-country and prevent other countries from increasing their standards of living, so that they can't buy US products and services.

      A healthy world market is GOOD for the US job market, despite what all the short-sighted people are trying to tell you.

    • Re:Quality Jobs (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jawnn (445279) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @05:52PM (#39728493)

      Gee, I hope they succeed in bringing all of the call center work back to the United States! I would love to pay higher prices so that my countrymen can work menial jobs for 10 times the pay of their Asian counterparts (which still fails to provide a decent standard of living here), because more expensive products are good for everyday Americans already struggling to get by!

      Actually, and all sarcasm aside. you are quite right. The few dollars more that you might spend on your PC, for example, could create living wage jobs for people here in this country. We need some major adjustments to the economy, but the math is what it is and when you stop sucking dollars out of it by off-shoring your labor, things are better. Period. We saw this throughout the eighties in the Pacific Northwest. Reagan's corporate welfare policies allowed corporations to make more money shipping raw logs overseas than they could by processing them into salable products here. The result was the virtually complete collapse of the timber industry. Entire communities became ghost towns when the paper and lumber mills shut down. Same shit, different decade, only on a much bigger scale.

      • Those 'menial' jobs are GONE. Get it through your uneducated head. Think like a globalized citizen. With your education you could emigrate tot he Philippians and be a manager at one of these call centres, or even set one up there yourself! It's a free world after all. Or how about this, use your better education to invent a computer program that is better than a Filipina call centre girl. That could be difficult.
    • Re:Quality Jobs (Score:5, Interesting)

      by s.petry (762400) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @05:53PM (#39728523)

      Sorry, but since I detect no sarcasm I have to assume you are really ignorant. You do understand that an Economy needs to be able to accommodate every level of education and desire to work in order to be an economy right?

      The Political speak of the last decade or so tends not to mention how important that is. "American's don't want to work in factories" is another good line. It's great rhetoric that has been working to increase the wealth disparity gap in the US, put millions of Americans out of work, and made a select few more wealthy than they already were.

      Look, I'm not going to try to teach you the fundamentals of economics and sociology. I simply don't have the time or energy to even try. I will suggest that you do some research before repeating propaganda targeting lower and middle class Americans and giving benefit to the wealthy. Spend some time reading about the economics of Rome prior to collapse. Greece is another great example and much more recent. Read some of the works by the founder of Capitalism Adam Smith, Marxx's commentary is very good as well. Both will point out the short comings and dangers of the system rather nicely.

      In all societies, the majority of people are content with menial work for fair pay. There is a minority on either end. When the top owns enough to steal from everyone below them, the society is doomed. Plato's "The Republic" is an excellent reference for that aspect. And yes, the United States is a Republic and founded that way intentionally. Though it has been turning in to something completely different very quickly.

      • by danbuter (2019760)
        That's where US corporations and the CEOs who rule them are really short-sighted. Once enough jobs are shipped overseas, there was a definite lack of jobs for unskilled people. It's one of the big reason so many people are on long-term unemployment now. Once too many people are in poverty because there are no available jobs in the US, the corporations profits will take a nose dive. If the average person doesn't have any money after paying for the bare basics of food and shelter, they are not going to be bu
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by s.petry (762400)

          Which is why the Government has in turn reduced their income tax, reduced taxes on things like Capital Gains, gives them grants for new buildings, gives them grants for sending work overseas. When the US Government is paying for Oil Refineries to be built while Oil companies make record profits over the last 20 years it should be obvious to people what's going on.

          It's not obvious sadly, since the TV shows "entertainment" to soothe the masses and keep them uninformed.

  • ESL Program? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sunwukong (412560) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @05:19PM (#39728031)

    I wonder if USAID would be willing to sponsor a similar program up here in Canada?

    We have lots of friendly college folk who need ESL training and an economic leg up -- so what better way than to operate your call centers up here?

    It's as near shore as you can get and these ESL trained immigrants would do the natural, Canuck thing, and spend their USAIDed wages across the border at Costco and Wal-Mart.

  • Bishop recently introduced a bill that would make companies that outsource call centers ineligible for government contracts.

    Here's a better idea: chop the size of federal government down so it's no longer a big slush fund for social nuts on the left or military nuts on the right.

    • by Dutchmaan (442553) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @05:43PM (#39728349) Homepage
      Across the board spending cuts are supposed to take effect in January of 2013... You know who's crying about them already... The military. I can already hear the backtracking in congress about how dangerous it is to cut military spending, and I'm sure we'll have across the board cuts in 2013... for social programs.
      • by 0123456 (636235) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @05:53PM (#39728519)

        You could cut military spending to zero, and you'd still have a huge deficit. The only ways to eliminate the deficit are big cuts everywhere, big tax increases, or big economic growth.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Githaron (2462596)
          First things first. Cut spending enough so that we can at least pay the interest on our loans and not take out any more loans. Once we get there, we can figure out how fast we want to pay off our loans and what we need to cut in order to pay them off that fast. The goal is not to get rid of our deficit by tomorrow.
          • by guanxi (216397)

            Cut spending ...

            Or increase revenue?

            One drawback to cutting spending is that it reduces economic activity and growth, reducing tax revenue (not to mention increasing unemployment), resulting in higher interest rates on our debt and very possibly worsening our situation . Europe tried that approach.

          • by Thing 1 (178996)

            First things first. Cut spending enough so that we can at least pay the interest on our loans and not take out any more loans.

            The very nature of the loans is that they are designed to be unpayable. The Federal Reserve is the source of all money in circulation; the federal government creates bonds which the Federal Reserve buys in exchange for dollars, i.e., the Federal Reserve loans the government some money, to be paid back with interest. If the Federal Reserve is the only source of these dollars, how can the government ever pay back even the original loan? And it makes sense, as one can see from the historical chart of when A

    • by guanxi (216397)

      Here's a better idea: chop the size of federal government down so it's no longer a big slush fund for social nuts on the left or military nuts on the right.

      It would be great to get rid of the waste. The problem is, how do we eliminate the waste without eliminating the good and necessary things too? Unless someone comes up with a way to govern without corruption, we can't have one without the other.

      I'm not saying there is nothing we can do, but it's easier said than done.

  • SallieMae (Score:5, Funny)

    by DaKong (150846) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @05:32PM (#39728203)

    It's ironic. Recently SallieMae called to talk to me about one of my employees who's delinquent on his student loans. The caller was clearly Indian. I remarked that it hardly seems to help American students repay their loans, in general, if SallieMae itself outsources its operations to India, thus depriving a number of Americans from the opportunity to repay their loans.

    The rep hung up on me.

    • by Bucky24 (1943328)
      Why did SallieMae call YOU? Seems like they'd call your employee, wouldn't they?
    • by guanxi (216397)

      Recently SallieMae called to talk to me about one of my employees who's delinquent on his student loans. The caller was clearly Indian. I remarked that it hardly seems to help American students repay their loans,

      Should SallieMae move the jobs on-shore, increase its expenses, reduce its other spending, and increase the interest rates it charges to the students?

      Also, if Indians don't have jobs, they don't buy American products which means fewer jobs and less income available for those students.

      Finally, those students might want to work for a foreign company some day; if we don''t hire in India, they won't hire here.

  • by superdave80 (1226592) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @05:34PM (#39728225)
    ...or else important programs like this will have to be cut!
  • by s0nicfreak (615390) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @05:38PM (#39728283) Homepage Journal
    Why do we fight so hard to keep/return the shitty jobs?
    • by LoRdTAW (99712)

      Because either way its a still a job.

      • You are assuming that there are no jobs out there and that people would take a job that they feel is beneath them.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @05:50PM (#39728465)

      They are entry level positions. The US job market's becoming more and more top heavy in the tech industry. People are having harder and harder times getting relevant experience as the foot-in-the-door positions have been moved overseas. Even worse, the same thing's started happening for more experienced positions.

      In my current work environment, I've watched T1-3 jobs shuffle overseas. I'm one of the last people that was able to work my way up from an entry level position. Job listings have been demanding higher education coupled with experience, yet the latter is becoming rarer and rarer to come by. It's something that's been building for years and we're staring at a large experience gap in the industry.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I honestly do. Too bad politicians aren't in control though. Big money is.

    Personally, were I "Commander-In-Chief" as the president is during wartime (which gives him a lot more control than that office normally has by itself), I would've said:

    "Fine, don't do it then - keep outsourcing! We'll do "laissez-faire" for you since that's the "spirit of American Business" from your "point-of-view", & let you do what YOU want: However, then? Well... We'll be MORE THAN HAPPY to apply these GIGANTIC penalties for

  • Bishop recently introduced a bill that would make companies that outsource call centers ineligible for government contracts.

    How about we make this into a law that actually keeps desirable jobs in the country? For example, why only call-center jobs? Those jobs suck and don't pay shit, anyway. How about we say "If more than 5% of your total workforce is outsourced outside the U.S., no government contracts."

    If you want to save mega-bucks on salaries by hiring foreigners for 10center per hour? More power to you

  • by Kr1ll1n (579971) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @05:58PM (#39728587)

    Adjust tax policy to where the cost of an outsourced employee, as well as the cost of importing goods and materials for manufacturing (only if already locally available), are taxed at a rate so as to equal the cost +5% which in turn encourages usage of local resources, goods, and materials. This would also create an uptick in the demand for American manufacturing. Not to mention decrease the unemployment rate tremendously.

    Remember, not everyone is suited to work in white collar environments. I would much rather have a smart blue collar guy than an unskilled white collar guy any day.

    College is also another problem. Politicians seem to think unskilled labor should always go overseas, which forces people to pursue degrees that they may not want just to be safe. How is upwards of 30k in debt going to benefit someone that has a mindset for a completely different type of work? America needs blue collar work, because many Americans are blue collar. Phone support is entry level white collar, and we could use that too.

    I have nothing against foreign resources being used in American companies, but lets make certain that they are the "best" man and/or woman for the job, not just the cheapest.

    One last thing; Does it help America to design and engineer something and then send the plans to build it to another country that may or may not care about trade secrets? We should all know the answer to this one already.

    • by guanxi (216397)

      Adjust tax policy to where the cost of an outsourced employee, as well as the cost of importing goods and materials for manufacturing (only if already locally available), are taxed at a rate so as to equal the cost +5% which in turn encourages usage of local resources, goods, and materials.

      There are several drawbacks:
      * If we increase the cost of producing American goods, then sales of those goods will decrease. Also, the costs for other American companies will go up too, because they use those goods as inputs (e.g., if the price of steel goes up, then GM and Ford must pay more to make cars).

      * If we inhibit American companies from employing foreign workers, then foreign countries will inhibit their companies from employing Americans. Many Americans are employed by foreign compa

    • America needs blue collar work, because many Americans are blue collar. Phone support is entry level white collar, and we could use that too.

      Wrong. America needs "blue collar" work because that is how the stuff gets made. We can't all manage each other's investment portfolios or shuffle the papers in accounts receivable. At some point, some actual wealth needs to be created - tangible things whose existence enhances our lives in some way.

      This is not because some people are not suited to a nice office job with air conditioning and a good view.

  • by Loosifur (954968) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @06:00PM (#39728607)

    The whole point of USAID since inception has been to very publicly give financial aid to allies and countries with whom we want to establish stronger ties, and to less publicly give American foreign service personnel an excuse to be in a foreign country with a bunch of cash. And that's not some Cold War stuff, either. Like, right now, American military advisors and CIA operatives act in places like Afghanistan under the auspices (and budget) of the USAID, which, ironically, stands for United States Agency for International Development. It's a major foreign policy arm of the US, and if you think the government, no matter which party is in power, is going to rush to put a leash on it just because outsourcing has some feathers ruffled, you're very much mistaken.

    • occasionally... that is mostly right. USAID is a goodwill program to help out American 'allies', there is nothing wrong with this. In fact the implementing partners and organizations are also predominantly American. USAID employs a lot of...Americans! Highly skilled ones at that. Of course, with the economy in the sorry state it is in, even Obama is busy cutting back USAID programs to the bone.
  • They can keep the bloody jobs. It was pretty terrible. I wouldn't work under call center conditions again. (I was downsized in 2006 because we had to move buildings and they eventually cut a good half of the workforce, including management staff.)
    • by Nimey (114278)

      Working in a call center sucks (I've done it too), but not having the money for rent and food sucks more, especially in a down economy when you can't be sure there /is/ another job available.

      Your privilege is showing.

  • by Guppy06 (410832) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @06:13PM (#39728753)

    We're not talking about China or India or Thailand, but a former US colony, a place that enjoyed the US Army trying to "civilize 'em with a Krag [wikipedia.org]" for half a century.

    The Philippines' unique historical relationship with the United States more than justifies preferential treatment.

    • (if you don't understand the joke, you're in the wrong thread)

  • This is what happens when you don't fully test your legislation before rolling it out to production. At least run it in a virtual world first. And put in a sunset clause so it can easily be shut down if it doesn't have the desired effect in the real world.

  • by guanxi (216397) on Wednesday April 18, 2012 @08:08PM (#39729921)

    Where did all the Anonymous Cowards come from for this story? Obviously most of these people are not regular Slashdotters.

    Was the story linked to from some right-wing blog?

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