By Jeffrey Pfeffer, guest contributor
FORTUNE -- The U.S. seems to be shocked that its economy isn't creating many jobs, and each monthly report on the unemployment rate and the number of new jobs somehow stimulates more handwringing. I'm not an economist, labor or otherwise, but simple observation suggests one significant contributor to the nation's job crisis -- for a long time, maybe even decades, we have been waging war on jobs and those who hold them.
At a board meeting of a human capital software company I had attended, the managing director of a major venture capital firm asked the CEO to describe the company's outsourcing strategy. The VC then proceeded to tell us that it was increasingly common for the venture community to evaluate investment opportunities partly by whether the company had a strategy for off-shoring work to less expensive locales.
The logic was that shrewd business people -- the sort that deserved financial backing -- would have thought through how to lower their labor costs, even while their product or service was being developed, and then over time as the business grew and matured. This meeting took place nearly a decade ago, and what was then a new way of thinking is now taken for granted in the start-up and VC communities.
At a UCLA conference on corporate governance and social responsibility, a wealthy and powerful CEO of a major U.S. money management company who had partly funded the gathering remarked on the successful turnaround of the U.S. automobile industry. He verbally applauded the industry's move to less vertical integration and outsourcing and seemed particularly pleased by the ability to use the distressed condition of the labor market to negotiate salaries that were, in his words, about the same as those earned by workers in Mexico. More
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