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CloudFactory and One Million Offshore E-Workers

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America is a land of sweet dreams and nightmares. Dreams of success and the betterment of the world, nightmares of disappearing jobs and class descent.

The notion of using the Internet to bring a million offshore workers online — the vision of a young Nepal-based company, CloudFactory — triggers dreams both sweet and alarming. It all depends on where you sit.

 

"E-WORK CAN LIFT THE 'THIRD WORLD'"

In 1999, we spoke at the United Nations and passionately shared a vision very much like CloudFactory's.

"The Internet, through virtual work, has created an incandescent opportunity for sustainable international development," we said. "Now, with the click of a mouse, work can be sent from the U.S. to any locale with an Internet connection, no matter how poor. And the 'First World' can open its markets to 'Third World' entrepreneurs, too. The implications are stupendous."

Thirteen years later, we still feel this way. But there are some somber colors in the rainbow now. These have been put there by the intervening years of experience helping thousands of unemployed Americans — most from the middle class — find work and studying and analyzing U.S. workforce trends.

 

U.S. WORKERS ON A DOWNWARD SLOPE

The quality of life for many Americans has been trending downward since the 1950s. The ongoing recession is only another dip in the slope.

And it's not just the middle class, either; class mobility itself has slowed dramatically. No one dreams any more of country club weekends or sunny retirements or shiny chrome cars in the big garage.

Rather, they dream of having a job that will be there when they wake up in the morning and having enough luck to avoid hospital bills.

 

E-WORK CAN LIFT MANY WORLDS

Virtual work can indeed bring income and opportunity to emerging economies; witness the hundreds of millions of dollars in IT projects alone that have gone to India. Closer to home, virtual work can be sent to Native American reservations such as Wind River and Pine Ridge. (Which begs the question, why has this not yet been done?)

American workers can take on projects from companies in Australia and the United Kingdom. Amazon, a U.S. company, sells e-books by American authors to buyers around the world. Authors from around the world sell their e-books to readers here. And a kid from anywhere can become famous on YouTube and make money at it, too.

We salute the vision and hard work of the CloudFactories of the world. We also salute the vision and the actions of an increasing few who would make virtual work the electrifying global reality it deserves to be.

Christine Durst and Michael Haaren are leaders in the work-at-home movement and advocates of de-rat-raced living. Their latest book is "Work at Home Now," a guide to finding home-based jobs. They offer additional guidance on finding home-based work at www.RatRaceRebellion.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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