Irony: GOP call blasting Obama for unemployment hosted in Philippines

Irony: GOP call blasting Obama for unemployment hosted in Philippines

Summary: We want and need to buy American. That, and not just mocking the loyal opposition, is how you're going to really save jobs in America.


I have a very pleasant relationship with a number of congressional staffers, elected officials, and political operatives, but my overall relationship with the parties themselves is, well, a bit strained.

I think that's because I can't resist mocking them. It's not just mocking the GOP or just mocking the Dems. Both parties do some amazingly dumb things, some amazingly short-sighted or self-entitled things, and, well, I need the material.

I mean, think about it. One party has Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum, not to mention Mitt Romney. The other party has Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid (who is easy to mock, even if he does or says nothing), and everyone's favorite former RIAA stooge, Hillary Rosen.

Some days, it's just too easy, and that's before you get to the career government employees who are just doing their best to embarrass everyone. Hey, Secret Service, I'm talking to you!

As a political commentator specializing in technology and mockology, it's particularly gratifying when new mock-worthy techno-political material just arrives in my inbox. On the one side was a mass email from Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, promoting a "hype and blame" bumper sticker.

Okay, wait, the man's name is "Reince Priebus". Need I mock more?

Anyway, while I got the mailing about the bumper sticker, Lynn Sweet, Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times, apparently gets the fancier invites. She was invited to a conference call blasting President Obama for unemployment figures.

Now, pay attention to that little detail. The GOP was complaining about unemployment in the U.S.

So, where were the operators located that conducted the conference call? Someplace where property is cheap in America's flyover territory? Nope. In one of the red states where jobs are sorely needed, like Mississippi? Nope.

No, the operators the GOP used to blast President Obama about the unemployment problem in the United States were located -- wait for it -- offshore, in the Philippines.

Now, to be fair, some GOP manager probably told some very underpaid assistant to set up a conference call. That conference call was managed by Verizon, who you'd normally think of as a very American company. But, apparently, Verizon is offshoring at least some of its operators to the Philippines because when Ms. Sweet asked, she was told said operator lived in Manila.

And, no, it wasn't Manila, Arkansas (a state with a 7.4% unemployment rate, as of March 2012).

Oh, the irony.

But before I leave you today, having had a good mocking at the expense of some poor GOP office worker, let me point out just how hard it is to tell what's made or supplied in the United States. I wrote about this a lot in How To Save Jobs (free download). It's not particularly easy to tell where something that you might think is American is actually supplied from.

For example, nothing is more American than the Chevy Camaro, right? Nope, it's made in Oshawa, Ontario, in Canada. And so it's understandable that a GOP office worker might have assumed Verizon's conference call would be managed in the United States.

It's understandable, but if you're going to mock a sitting President about his jobs performance, it might be useful to look who you're hiring to arrange the mocking.

One further, non-mocking note, and this is for both the GOP and the Dems. Where a service or product is made is very difficult for the average consumer to determine. I've put forth an America's Share strategy that might help us figure out what percentage of the services and products we use come from America. Consider adopting this, or a similar policy.

We want and need to buy American. That, and not just mocking the loyal opposition, is how you're going to really save jobs in America. We need to buy American goods and services.

I wonder where the GOP's bumper stickers were printed.

Shout out to ZDNet's Ed Bott for turning me on to this story.

Topics: Philippines, IT Employment, Verizon


David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in the History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets and is a member of the National Press Club.

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  • Kinda tells you everything...

    Yep, this kinda tells you everything you need to know.

    This issue is complex. But I'm pretty sure protectionism isn't going to work (pun intended).

    What needs to happen is to get globalisation to work for jobs, not against them. Though one area that might help is to end the international moratorium on the taxation of aviation fuel. This would mean flying goods would become more expensive, and help keep the costs of locally producing them competitive.

    You pay tax on the fuel in your delivery truck, why should a delivery plane from some far off land be any different?

    To make this work the tax on aviation fuel needs to be split between point of origin and point of arrival. So there is no advantage in carrying excess fuel.

    Such a tax would introduce a little friction into globalised trade, making is easier to economically justify local production. And it isn't protectionist.
    • Re: jeremychappell

      There's actually a good example for how highway fuel tax is split among the states - it's called the international fuel tax agreement (because it includes Canada) and it works pretty well.
  • America was the first one to profit in the past

    America was the first one to profit from free trade first with a number of allies, then followed by globalisation. It was a mantra of the US foreign policy for decades: free trade. Which was fine, while US companies were snapping up foreign competitors and exporting goods, from films to computers, from heavy machinery to weapons. The rot started setting in when Japan learned the US lesson too well and it became a major competitor. Previously, Germany managed to export its Volkswagen beetles to the US, by the million, after the 1973 petrol crisis, while the US car companies insisted that Americans don't want cheap, thrifty cars and insisted on manufacturing gigantic gas guzzlers they couldn't sell - I just saw a vintage Life ad for the beetle: you could buy it for 2000 USD at the time. Conclusion: bite the bullet and, instead of whining abut the evil exporters, get more competitive, as you were in the past. The US has been telling everybody else how to be more open and competitive - time to swallow your own medicine. Good luck, as nobody will profit from the US getting in a mess.
    • Why do people whine?

      Because the companies doing the offshoring still get subsidies and bailouts from the government and think there is a double standard, for example?
  • Tariffs are an American tradition

    Remember George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams? They all favored tariffs and made sure the U.S. had stiff ones. Now, in the spirit of honoring our nation's founding daddies, let's look at today's situation. Just as back then our industry wasn't directly competitive with Europe, today we're not competitive with China.

    The RRR (Rich Republican Right-wing) solution is to impoverish American workers, who they believe are overpaid, as evidenced by their efforts to get rid of the paltry minimum wage law we have today and reduce the minimum to $0.00 per hour.

    A saner solution would be a minimum tariff of 25% to 30% on all imported goods and services. From the government's perspective, this tax would at least partially make up for taxes lost when work is done elsewhere instead of here. For workers, there would be some screaming fomented by the RRR crowd about paying twice as much for 1Pads.

    Except this is patently absurd, considering that intellectual property, mostly patents, is a large share of an iPad's value. In fact, most estimates claim the manufacturing labor portion of an iPad's retail price is about $10. Fine. Multiple that by four if the things are made in the USA, plus $0.001 for a "Made in the USA" sticker on each one. Big deal. In return for the assembly labor benefiting fellow Americans, we pay $40.001 more for an iPad.

    I know, the world is flat, free trade is our religion, blah blah blah.

    Except free trade is ruining our country. We sell so little to the major exporters that losing some of those sales won't hurt us enough to notice.

    So why aren't we setting up tariff barriers? They were good for the founding fathers, and they're good enough for me.
    • Jefferson was a free trader

      But Federalists like Hamilton and Adams did indeed believe in high tariffs for the purpose of protecting domestic industries, as did generations of Whigs and Republicans after them, with most Jeffersonians and Democrats opposed. Free trade was not seen as a conservative position in the U.S. until after WWII.

      Reply to HypnoToad:

      I hope so too, but I've seen a good deal of evidence to the contrary (I am [party] therefore I believe [position]; instead of the reverse).
      John L. Ries
      • Times do change,

        and even Abraham Lincoln was a Republican...

        But I think most people go by individual issues, rather than blindly siding with political parties out of intellectual laziness... I hope!
  • Not to mention

    Not to mention: the vast majority of private sector job losses incurred during the Obama presidency happened in the early months, before he'd had a chance to get his policies imlpemented. Over the past two years the economy has added about 3.5 million private sector jobs. This despite a GOP that had worked furiously to block any measures that might help stimulate the economy and get things back on track. Before the 2008 elections there was broad bi-partisan support for extraordinary measures to rescue the faltering economy (TARP was a Bush administration program, let us not forget). At the time the GOP had a stake in helping to rescue the economy because they still harbored dim hopes of reclaiming the presidency. The minute Barack Obama won the presidency, however, the party quickly reversed course, declared deficit reduction the #1 priority for the country and began pushing the "how much longer can Barack Obama credibly blame Bush for the economy?" meme. Rush Limbaugh was already referring to the economic situation as "the Obama recession" just weeks after the elcetion, and more than a month before the current president had even been sworn in. This coupled with the lie that Barack Obama caused the deficit to skyrocket in his first year (the 2009 budget was actually the last Bush budget, as this Libertarian CATO institute paper clearly shows: highlights the shameful dishonesty of the President's opponents.

    So the GOP's Modus Operandi has basically been: wreck the economy through short-sighted de-regulation of the financial sector (i.e the repeal of Glass-Steagal), poor oversight of mortgage lending practices accompanied by Alan Greenspan's foolish housing bubble-inflating interest rate policies. Then, when they lose the White House, do everything in their power to block policies that would produce an economic recovery while simultaneously blaming the president for not cleaning up their mess fast enough.

    They're a real piece of work, those Republicans.
    • News Flash...

      The DNC was in control for the first two years of Obama's presidency. They were in control of two thirds of government during the last presidential period, and they still control the Senate and the White House. Sorry, but it's not the GOP that is responsible for the mess we are in. If you want to blame government then blame those that have been in the majority.
      • The DNC controls nothing

        I suspect that you understand nothing of U.S. politics. U.S. major parties are highly decentralized and their committees are focused on elections rather than governing. The only party organizations with significant political power (apart from some local machines like the Democratic one in Chicago) are the caucuses in Congress and state legislatures, which are independent of and not answerable to presidents or governors of the same party.

        Thus, while the Democratic Party had the presidency and majorities in both houses of Congress in 2009-2010, the DNC had no political power at all, and the Democrats in Congress were not at all obliged to take orders from President Obama (though they were generally allied). In addition party discipline among Democrats has always been especially weak (it's somewhat stronger among Republicans).

        It's interesting that the U.S. President who vetoed the most acts of Congress was Franklin D. Roosevelt (a Democrat), whose party had majorities in both houses of Congress the entire time he was in office.
        John L. Ries
      • News Flash...

        do some web searching and, for the bulk of 2009-2010, Democrats' control was nominal at best - the margin was slim, Giffords had been shot and unable to do her duty, and other issues.

        Since the links I tried to post did not go through, that just means you'll need another 60 seconds to do your own searching to discover some inconvenient realities that blow your claim out of the water. But use search words like "progressive majority myth", "Obama and myth of progressive majorities", etc, and you'll find plenty.
      • Wake up and stop use your head.

        This may be true but if your going to choose to blame the President for all the issues on his policy then the same holds true for previous Presidents. That means that President Bush drove us into the ground. And yes it is the GOP that is responsible for the mess we are in. Just like it is the Dems responsibility as well. You need to stop being a Homer and realize they share the responsibility for the mess we are in. Also no matter what you say I can tell you for a fact that this country is in much better shape than it was 3 1/2 years ago when Obama came into office. That is a fact. The jobless rate supports this and so does Wall Street. The Republican party has strait up said it is more important to hand Obama losses than to work in a Bi partisan manner to help fix the mess they helped make.

        The president sets policy so he takes the blame good or bad. Things are getting better maybe not as fast as we would like. For this I am going to blame Obama.
    • So true.

      So true, and these things are easy to look up and verify if you take the time to think for yourself. Most people don't though. They would rather just blame the other party and say it is all their fault. People need to stop listening to politicians and start thinking about what their actions actually are saying. Both sides lie and the sad part is so many people fall for the lies.
  • Welcome to the Global Economy

    It's always interesting to see the extent that people will go to defend their favorite politician. Sorry, but I don't have time to look at all the fine print in labels and I never ask a service provider if he is using cheaper labor from India, Mexico, or the Philippines. The fact that the GOP or anyone else blames the "unblamable" Obama for the state of the economy is just fine with me. I understand that there is plenty of blame to go around and we can mock politicians till the end of time but the facts speak for themselves. Obama is not blameless and needs to take responsibility instead of blaming the GOP, Bush, and everybody else that doesn't agree with his philosophy.

    Thanks for sharing. I???m getting me one of those bumper stickers as soon as I finish posting this comment.
    • Why waste your money?

      And it's NOT fine that one side blames the other while being complete hypocrites about it. They shouldn't be running FOR votes in the first place. But do yourself and fellow countrymen a disservice by appeasing people who won't even say "thank you" - go find the news article where a group of GOP supporters asked for financial help and were kicked to the curb... there's party loyalty for ya, and I'm sure you'll find one where a DNC group got the same treatment too... though we both know which one you'll show and which one you'll try to pretend never happened...

      BTW - a lot of these issues started before 2009. Most people who are awake understand that. Both parties have had their blame, but don't act as if one even has your interests as a token value.
    • China will thank you for your buisness...

      Ok, I'm kidding. They'll just take your money without any thanks given. Obama Derangement Syndrome has set in strong, I see.
      • What?

        Please the republican party has been protecting the companies that are sending the jobs over seas for years. Funny how your not upset about that. Where was your voice while they protected the profits of Companies like IBM?
  • Leadership

    I find it rather sad that we really don't elect leaders, we elect con men who promise what they can't deliver and spout weird and dire warnings about the other side. The problem is the majority of voters could not tell the difference between a political con man and a leader. As a result, we get what we pay for in the silly two party two step that goes one step to the right followed by one step to the left repeating until we are stuck in a rut. I wish that the attempt to put "Neither of the above" as a ballot entry could have succeeded; it would have been a last chance for the voters to send a message to the candidates.
    • All starts with individuals

      Make sure you cast informed votes (voting always for the best available candidate, regardless of party), then encourage friends and family to do the same. And if you really don't have anyone to vote for, then write in a name. The recipient almost certainly won't win, but you will have expressed an opinion and the vote will be counted. Political operatives do keep track of how many people "waste" their votes by not supporting either major party candidate, as a candidate who wins by splitting the opposition is always in a weaker position than one with majority support.

      And if minority candidates win too often, it might just provide some incentive for requiring a majority for election.
      John L. Ries
  • No Irony in Sight

    Sorry, but as a free-market, Austrian School capitalist first and a Republican second, there's absolutely nothing ironic about the situation described in your article, David, try as you might to make seem that way. In fact, I think the situation actually underscores the GOP's point.

    Not all Republicans feel as I do, and I've seen many of them touting your "Buy American" mantra, but quite honestly, any capitalist worth his salt will support the best product at the lowest price irrespective of national boundaries. Protectionism is anathema to us.

    Of course we'd like to see jobs and a healthy economy within our borders, but we completely understand why offshoring happens (and not just the offshoring of jobs, but the offshoring of entire industries). Therefore, we don't just try to treat the symptom directly (Buy American!), but we try to address the disease which, in this case, is a hostile business environment. Get it?

    In other words, the fact that Verizon automatically routed a conference call to Manila completely outside of the GOP's control only highlights, bolds and underlines the entire point of their "Hype and Blame" campaign! THIS is what happens in a high corporate tax environment. THIS is what happens when an administration confuses American businesses about health care, banking/credit, and regulations. Jobs go elsewhere. Companies go elsewhere.