Monday, October 04, 2004

Outsource jobs to Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Business Times: "If we use our local expertise in health care, law, accounting, engineering, advertising and other professional services to collectively search outside the region for businesses, we can create genuine growth opportunities. In reality, our region has real cost advantages that -- combined with our technical sophistication -- make Pittsburgh very attractive.

I'd agree that Pittsburgh rocks in terms of health care and engineering. The others present a stretch. They sure don't count as genunie growth opportunities.

In advertising, we might be a good consultant for branding blunders. In law, we might present genunine growth in how to bring suit and prohibit valid voter petitions from making it onto the ballot. The other professional services make cutting-edge statements, more often than not, into old-school ways and a legacy build with bricks of discrimination.

Pittsburgh has a corner on the market on many fields, but sadly these fields are the wrongheaded ones that others who know better don't care to emulate.

Our legal profession's reputation for expertise in intellectual property is nice, but the world is turning to open source software. The GPL (General Public License) and CC (Creative Commons) have their roots in Boston at Harvard/MIT and the Bay Area at Standford. That is where the action is going. CMU is in the game too, but this game isn't a downtown corporate strength.

How can we be a source for international business when you can't get there from here? Pittsburgh is know more for its lack of international residents.

Yet, the average hourly fee paid by a business for an associate lawyer in the Pittsburgh region is $169. Compare that to $231 on the West Coast, $232 in New York, $302 in Washington or even $194 nationwide and you begin to see the picture.

The logic presented in this article, from $169 to $194 nationally, is frail. For starters, much of law is local. What knucklehead in Kansas City is going to outsource a zoning issue to a firm in Pittsburgh to save a few bucks? Beyond the local scope of the law is the local networks that play so loudly in law's practice. And, cheap legal advice is a headscratcher. Don't cut corners on the patent application, representation to the FDA or finance deals.

... the professional services community continues to use a somewhat inefficient economic model in which individual firms market themselves separately -- and often end up as competitors for national business. Perhaps a better solution would be a collaborative approach in which professional services companies would market the region's advantages while making national calls. It's a novel approach, but it just might bring in more new business.

Sigh. Competition provides the real roots for efficient economic models. The article has it all wrong. Let's drive for more competitors and competition, not less.

Summary: We need a free market mindset to flourish again. We need to push each other and have brushes with greatness. We don't need a cooperative, easy, lame, boosterism approach where everyone goes to the same beat in lockstep. We had one airline, and we needed more competition. We have one political party, and we crave more options.

The examples are endless. We had dozens and dozens of glass companies. We had many mines. We had many operators on the rivers. We had lots of steel, iron and finishing outlets. We can move goods on many rail lines. Give us an authority and a monoploy and watch us die on the vine and lag some more.

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