OPINION – Most of us tend to think of outsourcing exclusively in economic terms of jobs being sent overseas where labor is cheaper.
This can be a mixed blessing in that many goods can be produced at a lower cost — even when factoring in shipping — but there can also be drawbacks.
Just ask anyone who recently completed a frustrating telephone call with a thickly-accented customer service rep.
Even more revealing than the economic statistics is the number of things much closer to home that we now choose to outsource. There are corresponding benefits and drawbacks here as well.
Just two generations ago, child care was once done almost exclusively within a home or family setting. Now it is being outsourced to others.
Nine years ago, 59 percent of children between 3 and 5 years old were in day care in the U.S. Is it probable that those numbers have declined as fewer households are able to survive on just one income?
Is there a difference in how kids grow up when their child care is provided by family members versus paid strangers?
Now consider all the other things that people once did for themselves that are now being outsourced to others.
Food production has been handed off to corporate farms, making a vast majority of Americans dependent upon just-in-time delivery to keep their grocery stores stocked.
How many of us abdicate our cooking responsibilities at home in favor of dining out? It’s fun, tasty and often convenient, but it’s also a form of outsourcing.
Our entertainment has largely been outsourced to the point where we have stopped reading books and instead passively sit before screens absorbing what Hollywood feeds us.
The number of people who can fix or repair their own cars, homes and electronics has dwindled as specialists have become our preferred way of dealing with those problems.
Elder care is an industry worth hundreds of billions of dollars that has replaced the duty families once had to provide for elderly loved ones approaching the end of life.
These types of outsourcing are not necessarily bad in and of themselves.
Clearly, there is a significant degree of convenience that has come with each of them. They also provide a way for genuinely productive people to help us meet our needs. Often, they can do a higher quality job than we can.
However, there is also a corresponding degree of dependency that is attached to them. Very few people today have any connection whatsoever to producing their own food or believe that they can educate themselves.
We are practicing a form of learned helplessness.
Outsourcing has allowed us to delegate the responsibilities of caring for our children or aging loved ones to others in return for more time to earn wages.
This can only be seen as an improvement over previous generations if our standard of living is based purely on material measurements.
In some ways, we are poorer than those who came before us.
For instance, some of the biggest examples of outsourcing have involved handing over key responsibilities and accompanying freedoms to government.
Education has very nearly become a government monopoly as a result of this trend.
Public safety and security have likewise been outsourced to the point that virtually every dispute has become a police matter. The average citizen is more likely to call the authorities about weeds growing in their neighbor’s yard than to simply talk to their neighbor in person.
Perhaps the greatest outsourcing mistake society has made to date is the tendency to outsource the protection of our God-given rights and our liberty to the political class.
For all their lip service about how they are making our lives better, the actions of the televised suits have added very little of real value. They are far more skilled at simply extorting our earnings and telling us what to do.
Some things take on far greater personal and moral importance only when we provide them for ourselves.
Harry Burrows Acton said it this way:
When the government imposes its priorities it alters the balance of the choices which the individual can make for himself. … His sense of responsibility for what he is not allowed to decide for himself is likely to diminish, and it is possible that he will be less concerned for his health and his children’s education than for his amusements.
This is why we should exercise extreme care when we abdicate responsibility for our lives, our children, our well-being and our sense of moral direction.
The individuals who built this country and, against all odds, secured the blessings of liberty for the generations who would follow them, understood this.
The question isn’t “Who can we get to fix this?”
We must be brave enough to approach our problems with the question “What am I going to do about it?”
Bryan Hyde is a news commentator, radio host and opinion columnist in Southern Utah. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.