The ne plus ultra in outsourcing

David Barboza of the New York Times wins my Outsourcing Outrage of the Year award with, “Ogre to Slay? Outsource It to Chinese” : One of China’s newest factories operates here in the basement of an old warehouse. Posters of World of Warcraft and Magic Land hang above a corps of young people glued to ...

By , a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast.

David Barboza of the New York Times wins my Outsourcing Outrage of the Year award with, "Ogre to Slay? Outsource It to Chinese" : One of China's newest factories operates here in the basement of an old warehouse. Posters of World of Warcraft and Magic Land hang above a corps of young people glued to their computer screens, pounding away at their keyboards in the latest hustle for money. The people working at this clandestine locale are "gold farmers." Every day, in 12-hour shifts, they "play" computer games by killing onscreen monsters and winning battles, harvesting artificial gold coins and other virtual goods as rewards that, as it turns out, can be transformed into real cash. That is because, from Seoul to San Francisco, affluent online gamers who lack the time and patience to work their way up to the higher levels of gamedom are willing to pay the young Chinese here to play the early rounds for them. Read the whole thing. This is the perfect outsourcing story to generate outrage among perennially indignant. Why? 1) The story highlights the apparent sloth and excessive affluence of Americans that inflames the passiuons of the puritanical left and right; 2) The transaction -- Chinese gamers taking care of drudge levels of computer games -- has that whiff of cheating that will spark the ire of social conservatives (not to mention hard-core gamers); 3) The idea that sums of money are being paid for what appears to be an unproductive economic activity will cheese off traditionalists who believe that unless a job is located in an industrial factory, it serves no good purpose; 4) The Chinese benefit, which will annoy the realists; 5) In the process of the transaction, the U.S. is outsourcing its decadent Western culture to the Orient, which will annoy those uncomfortable with American power. I eagerly await the first calls for legislation banning this kind of offshore outsourcing.

David Barboza of the New York Times wins my Outsourcing Outrage of the Year award with, “Ogre to Slay? Outsource It to Chinese” :

One of China’s newest factories operates here in the basement of an old warehouse. Posters of World of Warcraft and Magic Land hang above a corps of young people glued to their computer screens, pounding away at their keyboards in the latest hustle for money. The people working at this clandestine locale are “gold farmers.” Every day, in 12-hour shifts, they “play” computer games by killing onscreen monsters and winning battles, harvesting artificial gold coins and other virtual goods as rewards that, as it turns out, can be transformed into real cash. That is because, from Seoul to San Francisco, affluent online gamers who lack the time and patience to work their way up to the higher levels of gamedom are willing to pay the young Chinese here to play the early rounds for them.

Read the whole thing. This is the perfect outsourcing story to generate outrage among perennially indignant. Why?

1) The story highlights the apparent sloth and excessive affluence of Americans that inflames the passiuons of the puritanical left and right; 2) The transaction — Chinese gamers taking care of drudge levels of computer games — has that whiff of cheating that will spark the ire of social conservatives (not to mention hard-core gamers); 3) The idea that sums of money are being paid for what appears to be an unproductive economic activity will cheese off traditionalists who believe that unless a job is located in an industrial factory, it serves no good purpose; 4) The Chinese benefit, which will annoy the realists; 5) In the process of the transaction, the U.S. is outsourcing its decadent Western culture to the Orient, which will annoy those uncomfortable with American power.

I eagerly await the first calls for legislation banning this kind of offshore outsourcing.

Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast. Twitter: @dandrezner

More from Foreign Policy

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping give a toast during a reception following their talks at the Kremlin in Moscow on March 21.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping give a toast during a reception following their talks at the Kremlin in Moscow on March 21.

Can Russia Get Used to Being China’s Little Brother?

The power dynamic between Beijing and Moscow has switched dramatically.

Xi and Putin shake hands while carrying red folders.
Xi and Putin shake hands while carrying red folders.

Xi and Putin Have the Most Consequential Undeclared Alliance in the World

It’s become more important than Washington’s official alliances today.

Russian President Vladimir Putin greets Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.
Russian President Vladimir Putin greets Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

It’s a New Great Game. Again.

Across Central Asia, Russia’s brand is tainted by Ukraine, China’s got challenges, and Washington senses another opening.

Kurdish military officers take part in a graduation ceremony in Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdistan Region, on Jan. 15.
Kurdish military officers take part in a graduation ceremony in Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdistan Region, on Jan. 15.

Iraqi Kurdistan’s House of Cards Is Collapsing

The region once seemed a bright spot in the disorder unleashed by U.S. regime change. Today, things look bleak.