Justin Frim's Crosstalk letter ("Employment opportunities must be equal for all," June 6, page 36) is idealistic but naive. Of course people are against offshoring because they don't want to lose their jobs. That is so obvious that he didn't need to write a letter about it. But when he and others say that Americans trying to protect American jobs [are practicing] "discrimination," I feel like I have to do a lecture on Human Social Organization 101.
People formed countries to protect their own interests. The U.S.A. was formed because the people in America felt that the English government wasn't concerned with their needs. Similarly, Canadians don't want to become part of the U.S.A., because they feel they have their own needs and interests that they understand better than the U.S. government would.
There seems to be an increase in nationalistic feelings around the world as various ethnic and geographic groups are striving for self-determination. Having a country means, by definition, that you discriminate (notice that word!) between the citizens of that country and the noncitizens of that country. In particular, the government of each country is supposed to be looking out for the best interests of its citizens. That is why we pay taxes to support that government. Therefore, I expect my country to attempt to employ our citizens before it employs the citizens of other countries. And these other countries will be attempting to do the same for their citizens. Of course, we won't complain if other countries give us jobs, and they don't mind when we give them jobs-we are both looking out for ourselves. But I am sure I would hear Canadians howling if Canadian jobs went to the United States. And the Chinese and Indians wouldn't like it if their jobs went to Mexico or Africa or someplace else where labor is even cheaper.
It is flattering that Americans are held to a higher moral standard, but it is also frustrating to us that every other group in the world is encouraged to pursue their own interests, but when Americans do that they are called selfish, discriminatory or worse. It is easy to talk in the abstract, but I wonder if Justin would be so noble if his own job was going to India or China. I suspect that he would do what he could to keep his job-in other words, look out for his own interests.
But I am against offshoring for another reason besides protecting my own job. Taking technical jobs overseas uses the money spent by American consumers to train the people in other countries in our most advanced technologies. They are smart and they will use this knowledge to start their own companies and compete with us. In the particular case of China, which is still a Communist country and no friend to the United States (or any of the Western world), this seems dangerous.
Redondo Beach, Calif.
Humans, too, must share blame for global warming
Although global warming is truly scary (see Crosstalk, June 13, page 33), the latest scientific studies say that industry is not the only important cause.
An article by W.F. Ruddiman in the March issue of Scientific American shows how warming began about 8,000 years ago, long before the industrial revolution. Evidently the human invention of agriculture started it, including the destruction of forests that would consume carbon dioxide. Also, animals generate methane, and so does the rotting of biological waste in dumps, and methane has a more powerful atmospheric warming effect than carbon dioxide. Even if we could halt industrial activity right now, the world's increasing population would be leading us to disaster. Ruddiman's article should be getting intense discussion in every high school science class, as well as on editorial pages.
Population control is practical, as proven by the recent drop in the nonimmigrant populations of America and Europe, even in once fast-growing countries like Italy. Since it can be done, we ought to mount a high priority effort to do so.
Daniel Shanefield (Retired)
Ceramic and Materials