Slavery has long been abolished in North America, but to understand its new incarnation, we must examine its origins.
Slavery took root in America when the factor limiting how much money one could make was how much land one could farm. This was in turn constrained by how many people one could get to work those lands. However, a labour shortage was created by the simple fact that there was little or no barrier preventing a person from traveling off into the frontier and establishing their own farm, reaping the rewards for themselves. Why be a mere employee, labouring for the benefit of another, when one could pursue the American Dream. This led to widespread use of forced labour.
This same type of situation has become evident once again, as globalization, outsourcing and the infinite reach of the internet drastically reduce the barriers to self employment. The most talented engineers and developers venture off into the frontier, creating their own businesses and working for themselves, or at least with a greater sense of self determination. It recreates this labour void, which is left to be filled with excessively cheap (slave) labour from India, and Eastern European countries such as Romania and the Ukraine. Why would talented young developers work for an employer, when there is so much more to be gained by setting out into the frontier in search of their own fortune? Of those developers who do work for an employer, most only see it as a means to an end; a steady pay cheque while they develop their ideas, and plan their start up. While not all of these engineers and developers follow through on those plans, for whatever reason, the fact is that those plans exist.
The quality of the transaction, email based, rarely using even video contact, affects both the outsourcer and the provider. It is like driving a car. You don't see people, you see a vehicle; you assume the worst and don't get any clues to the human situation that gives rise to the interaction on the road. It's possible to see outsourced work priced at outrageously low rates, which would insult anyone in North America or Europe, and there is nothing in the form of feedback or negotiation possible. Again, you don't see the people. Bids on work come in, and micro transactions get fulfilled. Humanity is ancillary to the transaction. Perhaps this is how we want it.
By: +Allan Jude
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