West Wing
Talking Points

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Trade (And Intellectual) Deficits

Elsewhere, Nancy "Too-Tall McCall" McNally strolls into Debbieland and introduces Debbie to Katherine Harper, the president's new NSC deputy. Debbie apologizes to Kate for the fact that Jed is running late. "That's okay, ma'am," says Harper. "Please call me Debbie," Debbie offers. "Thank you, ma'am," Harper replies. My, how droll. Too-Tall explains that Harper was at the top of her class at Annapolis. Before you know it, Harper is taking note of Debbie's locator screen, which shows where the members of the First Family are. Debbie starts to explain what it is, but that's not what Harper means. What she means is that maybe Debbie should be concealing that screen better, since people with inadequate security clearances might be in this area. And might, I guess, be cruising for the location at that very moment of one of the Bartlettes? Whatever. Debbie just regards Harper with a sort of irked curiosity. Unhappy with the presumptuous scolding from someone she's just met, Debbie then makes the obvious "you can go back to calling me 'ma'am,' bitch" joke here, at which point Too-Tall and Harper exit. Seriously, if Harper had that as a concern, the thing to do would have been to say something to Too-Tall and have Too-Tall address it. Because you just don't tell people what to do the first time you meet them, whether you're right or not. That's in The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People Who Manage Not To Get Their Lunches Spat On By Those Around Them.

Josh is in a meeting with the lobbyist for JCN, played by Daniel "Frank Ryan" Hugh Kelly. He asks whether it's true that they're shipping 17,000 jobs overseas, and Lobbyist Frank calls that information "proprietary." Josh presses, asking why India would be signing this deal, given its long string of past objections. Lobbyist Frank gives up that yes, it's possible that some programmers will be moved to India. Josh tells Lobbyist Frank that this is unfair, given the stuff Josh negotiated for him in other areas, like copyright enforcement. Lobbyist Frank replies that, actually, that made it safer to move, since they'll be protected against the possibility that their poorly paid Indian programmers will run off with their treasured secrets. Josh argues that perhaps in the long run the job losses are necessary, but that they can't do it now, especially with no warning. Josh tries to claim that he's been misled, but Lobbyist Frank has zero sympathy. Josh further argues that now he's got problems even getting the deal passed, given that he's sure to have problems with the union and, as a result, with Congress. Lobbyist Frank pledges support in handling those issues. Josh argues that it won't pass with 17,000 jobs being lost, and Lobbyist Frank says it's actually more like 3.3 million jobs that will be lost in the long term. All he'll offer is to hold the announcement on this particular round of 17,000 jobs until after the deal is through. But, he continues, Josh needs to understand that American programmers make $40 an hour, and Indian programmers make $10. They go back and forth a bit about the foundations of free trade, and Josh grumps that he may have understood that blue-collar people would lose their jobs, but not well-off computer programmers! The horror! Of course, the stupid thing is that if Josh was so quick to advocate retraining for farmers in Europe so that they could turn to neckties, surely he knows that it would be easier for programmers to retrain themselves. I mean, if that's the panacea, then it should go for everyone equally. Moreover, Josh is woefully ill-informed about the economy if he doesn't realize that a lot of "blue-collar" jobs are, in fact, well-paid middle-class jobs. Go to a town that's just lost a steel mill, and ask the guys what they were making, and ask them whether they're going to make that kind of money in any other kind of job being offered to them. Believe me, the people who lose jobs in manufacturing plants can't turn around and replace their jobs by working the shoe-rental counter at a bowling alley.

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West Wing




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