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June 08, 1984 - Image 6

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Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1984-06-08

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I

OPINION

Page 6
01 be tdtga Bil
Vol. XCIV, No. 14-S
94 Years of Editorial Freedom
Managed and Edited by Students at
The University of Michigan
Editorials represent a majority opinion of the
Daily Editorial Board
PSN gets sloppy
F OR SEVERAL YEARS, the Progressive
Student Network and its allies have
fought the good fight. In the face of growing
student apathy, the PSN has taken bold and
controversial stands on a variety of crucially
important issues.
Last week, however, PSN's act began to
wear thin.
On May 31, PSN and the Michigan Alliance
for disarmament chose to descend, uninvited,
on the home of Ann Arbor Mayor Lou Belcher
at 7 a.m. to present a two-page "Bid for
Peace." It informed the mayor of numerous
civic concerns ranging from the lack of low-
cost housing to the increasing city solicitation
of weapons reseach contracts. The demon-
stration lasted less than ten minutes.
Despite the ceremony's brevity, PSN and
MAD managed, through a carefully or-
chestrated public relations effort, to get their
pictures plastered over the local papers.
Unfortunately, the demonstration may have
done more harm to their causes than good.
As PSN quite obviously realized, presenting
a petition to the mayor of Ann Arbor in his
bathrobe in a bizzare-make that rude-way
of getting a point across. Unless an activist
group has a very compelling reason for such
behavior, people will not take the group
seriously. The cause will be trivialized; the
group will come off as a bunch of cranks.
The protest can hardly be seen as a
legitimate act of civil disobedience, since the
group had not exhausted all of the non-
disruptive alternatives available to them.
Civil disobedience suggests an illegal action
taken because it is the only possible way to
prevent a greater harm.
By the group's own admission, little effort
was made to contact the mayor in a less ob-
noxious manner. PSN could have made their
presentation to the city council.
Of course, the City Council chambers are a
far less dramatic set for a PSN performance
than the mayor's residence-especially when
the audience is the local media.
Further, PSN's single perfunctory phone
call to the mayor's office did not show any
willingness to use the conventional means
available. It instead showed a bad faith effort
to justify a selfish exploitation of the mayor's
privacy.
PSN's cause is too important to be
trivialized in this manner. Certainly at
times the severity of-an issue justifies rude
behavior. Sometimes it is necessary to cause a
commotion and to pull someone out of a
shower. But doing so just for attention
weakens the credibility of an organization
and, more tragically, weakens the credibility
of their cause.

Friday, June 8, 1984 The Michigan Daily
Barbados: Where the jobs are
ment-nearly $3 million-and Through an agreement with the
By David Beers expertise will make the differen- Academy of Sciences in Peking,
ce this time. Fuchs, an Pacific Data Services teaches
American, predicts that his Chinese students English and
BRIDGE TOW N, B AR - payroll of 200 Barbadians, most typing, then hires them to key in-
BADOS-The lure of cheap labor, of whom are women, will expand to computers legal data ranging
coupled with advances in com- to more than 400 by the year's from court reports to volumes of
puters and telecommunications, end. statutes. Workers earn about $7 a
is spurring some U.S. companies Fuchs' confidence seems to be week, and, according to the com-
to shift office work such as word shared by the Barbados gover- pany, their rate of accuracy is
processing and data entry over- nment. 99.95 percent.
seas. A "SERIOUS, hard-sell Meanwhile, American labor
Much of it comes to Barbados, strategy" has been developed to unions and industry analysts are
an island that hopes to become attract more U.S. clerical wok to eyeing warily the trend to offices
America's "offshore office" in the island, according to Rawle overseas.
the Caribbean. Chase, general manager of the "We're concerned, and we are
For several years now, U.S. state-financed Barbados In- going to have to take a much
firms have shipped invoices, sub- dustrial Development Corp. The closer look at just how many
scription forms, questionnaires incentives offered are enticing: computer-type office jobs are
and other paper work to Bar- duty-free importation of equip- leaving the states," says Michael
bados, where operators paid less ment, raw materials and data; Donovan, who heads up the AFL-
than half the U.S. rate key them relatively cheap office space, full CIO's arm in the Caribbean, the
into computers. Stored on repatriation of profits and a cor- American Institute for Free
magnetic disks, the information porate tax of 2.5 percent. Labor Development.
then is shipped back to the home What does Barbados receive in DONOVAN, based in Bar-
office. return? "Jobs," Chase says, bados, says the offshore push
ONE DRAWBACK that has "and a population with more comes after a decade-long "con-
kept this quiet trend from familiarity with computers. We certed effort to organize more
becoming a boom is the inconven- expect to be part of (futurist U.S. white-collar workers," a
ient time lag built into sending in- Alvin) Toffler's 'Third Wave.' " drive he calls "very successful."
formation back and forth by air Chase says his nation's high But any proliferation of of-
freight. literacy rate-97 per- fshore offices can't help but erode
Now, however, the latest com- cent-English language, stable the bargaining power of the U.S.
pany to set up a data entry shop politics and excellent telecom- white-collar workers, says Lenny
in Barbados, American Airlines, munications-"as good or beter Siegel, who, as director of the
is using satellite telecom- than in the U.S."-make it a Pacific Studies Center in Silicon
munications to speed up the natural setting for the offshore Valley, follows labor practices in
process considerably. If office. the electronics industry.
American's experiment proves HOWEVER, HE admits that Peter Cervantes-Gautschi of
successful, it may begin what other Caribbean countries, with the Santa Clara Central Labor
some industry watchers have even lower labor costs, are Council in Silicon Valley says:
been dolefully predicting: a qualified, too. "Obviously, the flight of office
major exodus of office jobs from "Throughout the region, I'm work overseas is going to have to
the United States. not sure there is an awareness be stopped in Washington. And
Every morning, a quarter ton yet of the potential that the in- we have plenty of options open,
of used passenger ticket coupons formation services industry ranging from a tax placed on
is delivered by air to Caribbean holds," he says. corporations to finance
Data Services, American's The practice is not limited to retraining of laid-off workers to
wholly owned company in Bar- the Caribbean. An estimated 40 duties placed on the import and
bados. The facility looks like a companies in the United States, export of electronic data.
transplanted chunk of Silicon Australia and Japan now send "Office jobs are considered the
Valley: Equipment hums and their labor-intensive clerical biggest potential for growth in
keys click as workers sort the work to operations in Ireland, In- America's new high-tech
tickets, then feed pertinent in- dia, Taiwan, South Korea and the ecomony," he says. "If we can't
formation into an array of com- Philippines. even keep those in the country,
puter terminals. That data is BARBADOS and the other we're headed for a major
funneled into larger computers, countries might soon face stiff depression."

I
I
6
I

then beamed via satellite back to
the airline's computerized ac-
counting center in Tulsa.
CARIBBEAN Data Services
managing director Samuel Fuchs
says that since December all
American Airlines tickets, about
a million a week, are processed
at the facility. "With technology
where it is now, we had no reason
to keep this operation in
America," he says.
The reason for the move is
clear: Data-entry operators in
the United States earn from $5 to
$15 an hour; Fuchs says those at
Caribbean Data Services are
paid between $1.75 and $3 an
hour, near the bottom of the Bar-
badian wage scale.
Even with satellite tran-
smission costs, American repor-
tedly will save up to $4 million a
year with its remote facility.
SIMILAR, BUT smaller,
satellite-linked offices in Bar-
bados have proved unprofitable
in the past. Fuchs thinks
American's large invest-

competition for American office
work from a less-expected sour-
ce: China. There, more than 200
data-entry operators are em-
ployed by Pacific Data Services
headquartered in Dallas.

Beers, a correspondent for
the San Jose Mercury News,
wrote this article for Pacific
News Service.

0

LETTERS TO THE DAILY
Totalitarian seatbelts

To the Daily:
In his letter (June 1) criticizing
your May 23 editorial on seat
belts, Kenneth Warner sees a
seatbelt law a "public good." He
lists sundry reasons for it (lower
healthcare costs, etc.). What he
does not list-what he cannot list,
since nobody can-is the "good"
in intangible things, like the ex-
pansion of freedom.
Expansion? A seatbelt law
would contract freedom. A seat-
belt law would be a form of
totalitarianism, at least for
motorists. It would mean Big

Brother's nose into every vehicle
in Michigan!
I'd like to remind Mr. Warner
what year this is-1984. While not
precisely the 1984 of Orwell's
novel, the two are still too close
for comfort. What Mr. Warner
would do is make the calendar-
1984 coincide with the one of the
novel. His intentions are good,
even the best. Except that "The
road to hell is paved with good in-
tentions."
-S. Colman
June 5

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