Thursday, September 27, 2007


Although it has been demonstrated that outsourcing should benefit the United States in the blackboard economy, policies must sometimes be amended in the face of real world challenges and in the interest of the public at large.

Outsourcing. That's o as in ostrich, u as in unicorn, t as in talkative, s as in sally, o as in opulent, u as in unsavory.....

For your sake, I won't continue. In the past few days, I have spent almost four hours on the phone with Netgear technical support people who have been "assisting" me with Internet connectivity issues I've been having while trying to hook up my wireless router at home.

After my pirated wireless signal faded into oblivion, I figured as a married, gainfully employed head of household, I should probably just pony up the cash for Internet service. That way, we wouldn't have to sit on the couch with the laptop perched across our legs, crossed just right to move the wireless card into the invisible network cloud coming from some unknown apartment.

In order not to disgrace any particular nationality, I won't be specific, but let's just say that I had a support agent that was very talkative but not at all helpful. She spelled out every single word for me as if I was a child--even my name. The sad thing was that she spoke with such a heavy accent that I wouldn't have recognized my name without the methodical spelling. After a few hours of such nonsense, and with my Internet still disconnected, we finally found the problem, and of course it had to do with my service provider. Finally I called AT&T and got a non-accented customer service rep who walked me through the Netgear setup process. In 10 minutes, the pipes were flowing and I was the proud owner of my very own invisible cloud.

But this story is not about my Internet connection. It's about the dues I had to pay to get it and playing a real, concrete role in an abstract economic theory. The hours I spent on the phone were almost enough to make me recant my views on outsourcing. As an international business reporter, I've become more convinced that free trade is beneficial for the entities involved, and I've seen some of the state of Georgia's outsourcing come back to the state in bigger or different forms of investments.

The quote at the beginning of this piece is something I wrote in college for a microeconomics class. Outsourcing is great on paper, and I really believe it will help the free market in the long run, but it's not fun to be part of that periodic downswing on a mostly steady ascent. Thank goodness for the Filipino representatives at AT&T. They saved not only my economic theory, but my Internet connection as well.

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