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The Low-Carb Economy

by Bernie Mojzes

It is, of course, clandestine.

The training camps are built in secret using money from abroad, and are scattered across much of Idaho, where farmers and others whose livelihoods until recently depended on the production and distribution of crops, or in the support of the same--dispossessed of land and homes and employment in the wake of the low-carb diet--find themselves invariably drawn into that shadowy realm.

In these camps, men and women receive training, some more specialized than others, in computers, electronics, phone systems, security systems--anything and everything, really. And when they are ready, they are sent to work.

The economics are quite unusual. The collapse of the dollar on the international market makes the outsourcing of call center and technical support functions less attractive, unless, of course, the foreign call centers reduce their prices dramatically. At a certain point, the Indians so employed realize that this is worse than a dead-end job--their wages continue to be cut as the dollar declines. Conventional wisdom in America continues to hold that outsourcing technical support is necessary to remain competitive.

Thus the Idaho camps. The Indian call center companies, eager to return to profitability, have set up call centers in Idaho, employing cheap American labor. The technicians, of course, go through an intensive language immersion program. Each tech must sound like an Indian trying to sound like an American, lest the public realize that the calls, which are dutifully routed to India but then routed back to Idaho, are being answered by ex-potato farmers.

The deception is crucial. If it became known that the calls were answered by Americans, but the profits going overseas, there would be public outcry, demanding that American companies employ these call center workers directly. But then the workers would come under standard labor law, making them far more expensive to employ, thus inducing the companies to outsource abroad.

This is the beginning of a significant underground economy, one which is, on the one hand, reviled by those who know of it, and on the other, left unspoken. For who wants the tax burden of supporting these poor, bankrupt souls when Indian call center corporations will do so, while providing a value-added service for our own struggling enterprises?


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