"Outsourcing" has become such a dirty word that it's hard to believe there could actually be something called the International Assn. of Outsourcing Professionals. What next? The Society of Professional Child Molesters?
The IAOP's modest claim is that it is "the leading professional association for organizations and individuals involved in transforming the world of business through outsourcing, offshoring and shared services." The group promotes a list of the 100 "best" outsourcing companies, and even has an annual "Miss Outsourcing" beauty pageant. (That last item's a joke. The rest is all true.)
In the presidential campaign, President Obama is trying to paint Mitt Romney as an incorrigible outsourcer, as if it were obvious why this is so terrible. Maybe it seems obvious: People lose their jobs when companies transfer parts of their operations overseas. But most economists believe in the theory of free trade, which holds that a nation cannot prosper by denying its citizens the benefit of cheap foreign labor.
It's a hard sell because the victims are concentrated and easy to identify, while the benefit is diffused through the whole economy. That's why so many politicians pay obeisance to free trade in the abstract but oppose it in the particular.
Obama decries Romney's practice of outsourcing as if he thinks that all outsourcing is wrong, even if it can't or shouldn't be made illegal. Obama proposes a heavy dinner of grants, subsidies and tax credits to discourage outsourcing and encourage "insourcing" — bringing jobs from abroad back to America — all of which are bad ideas. Among other reasons, one nation's insourcing is another nation's outsourcing, and retaliation can quickly lead to a trade war in which everybody loses.