Thursday, February 10, 2005

The state will harshly penalize companies that outsource; won't allow state investments in those companies

(read today's Austin American-Statesman on this bill)

Well, if HB 817 passes. It's been filed by Yvonne Davis (D-Dallas) in an attempt to curb state involvement in companies that outsource jobs to overseas countries. The specific language:

A state governmental entity may not invest state funds in or purchase obligations of a domestic private entity (any private U.S. company) that, at any time during the previous two years, created employment suitable for performance in the United States in a country other than the United States and, as a result, eliminated or failed to create similar employment in the United States.


This would also repeal provisions for tax abatements and other benefits that apply to private companies if they outsource jobs. We're talking big buckeroos here.


This bill is interesting because so many companies get money from the state through the corporate slush fund, the Texas Enterprise Fund. But what's also interesting is the effects this bill would have on other lesser-known-but-still-important state funds, like the Teacher Retirement System of Texas, the Texas Growth Fund, and those managed by the University of Texas Investment Management Company - all of which have stirred some controversy in the past year. Combined, these funds are worth billions and billions of dollars and invest several million dollars in hundreds of companies.

So, in a nutshell, I doubt this bill is going anywhere as unfortunate as that is. If it wasn't as far-reaching, it might stand some sort of chance since outsourcing jobs shouldn't be ignored by lawmakers. But wait, no, we're in Texas. Nevermind.

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At 12:11 PM, Blogger N. Schwellenbach said...

I think outsourcing to businesses overseas as an issue has been hyped up anyways. A better solution would be to curb privatization of government jobs and/or mandating socially responsible guidelines for state investments. Below is a letter I wrote to the Washington Post last summer:

Re: What Outsourcing Problem?Cynthia Webb's article encapsulated many of the major issues and the politics around outsourcing quite well. And although the Labor Department's new study has several flaws which distort the numbers of jobs lost or not gained by Americans downwards, it does serve to show
that outsourcing is not quite what Ross Perot described as a "giant
sucking sound". The numbers in absolute terms are large, but relative to total employment, unemployment and job losses due to other causes besides that of outsourcing, the numbers are actually quite small.

However outsourcing still has several effects which either may
negatively or ambiguously affect American workers/consumers. Reduced overseas labor costs do not necessarily translate into reduced prices for American consumers. The fear of outsourcing can lead to wage
rates for many workers to be held stagnant or even be decreased.
Corporations can use outsourcing to escape government workplace
regulations and taxation.

Realistically outsourcing is not going away and according to most
economists will benefit the United States in the long run, not to
mention foreign workers who may gain from the employment. Policies, such as requiring full compensation, advance warning, and retraining, that reduce the costs to American workers who do lose their jobs from outsourcing are part of the answer. The other part of the equation is that labor needs to organize itself on the level that business does, that is, internationally.

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