Patriotism, World Flatness, and Irony on oDesk / by Nate Westheimer

So I'll admit it: I think the World is Flat too. As of yesterday, I hired a designer for my project who lives in the Phillipines. She charges $11/hour, and, from the look of her portfolio, she does great work. In the US I would have to pay from $75 - $100 per hour for the same work. From a start-up/business sense, using a service like oDesk to outsource work makes sense.

(I've adapted, of course, my own strategy: I am hiring several oDesk workers to put in 10 hours a piece on the same project. This way I spend a little and get a lot of options. If one of them comes up with a design I like, I'll hire him or her on for more hours. I can also use work they've done for me and have another designer adapt from it. They get a quick, low pressure job, and I get options. Everyone wins... except, maybe, America?)

But just because it makes sense from an immediate business perspective, does it make sense from an ethical or patriotic perspective? More simply put, are there designers going hungry in the US because I've taken my dollar 13 hours away from here? The World is Flat, but is it ethical to take advantage of its flatness?

I'll be left to ponder that for some time. But some folks that have already pondered the question, and decided to go overseas with their development, are Xskinz.com, the makers of "Let's Roll" truck stickers and covers. Now if the phrase "Let's Roll" isn't one of the more blatant abuses of 9/11 George W. Bush has made in is presidency, I don't know what is (it was what patriots of Flight 93 said before Bush leveraged it as a war cry). For the people who deck their trucks like the picture above, I imagine there's some degree of Bush-styled patriotism to their views that would make them hesitant to employ Indian computer programmers using an outsourcing platform like oDesk... I mean Lou Dobbs, the modern father of populist patriotism, has, after all, identified "these folks" and their American employers as the saboteurs of the American economy.

So isn't a little ironic that this Indian oDesk worker lists Xskinz.com on his resume? Why the heck would patriotic Xskinz.com hire an "American job robbing Indian?"

Really. Why? Maybe they couldn't have built a profitable American company without outsourcing their design work. So maybe outsourcing is patriotic. We want profitable American companies, don't we?

The water is muddy.