Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey on Outsourcing

Last week I posted about a Times editorial on outsourcing. Today the commonwealth’s Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey came to The MathWorks to present us with a proclamation and thank us for being a good Massachusetts business.

(You can add her to the list of other American politicians I’ve seen in person — strangely, all Republicans: then Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, then Wyoming Congressman and now Wyoming Senator Craig Thomas, and then Vice President and now village idiot . . . J. Danforth Quayle.)

During her remarks, she made her own comments on outsourcing. She was careful to acknowledge the high cost of homeownership in Massachusetts as something that drives people away from relocating their families here — they have a plan for that, don’t you know — and (in typical small-government fashion) suggested that there was too much bureaucratic overhead contributing to slow new job growth. All rather tame and factual.

But then she said that companies like The MathWorks have realized that outsourcing is counterproductive for a very obvious reason: “Employees in Massachusetts can think better than people overseas or in the Midwest.” I caught myself from groaning aloud.

It’s true that brain-drain doesn’t happen in the commonwealth nearly as much as it does in Iowa and Wyoming and India. And as the Bay State’s principal cheerleader, it shouldn’t be surprising that she’s hyping Massachusetts. But perhaps she should read the writing on the wall . . . or at least the website:

Our customers are 1,000,000 of the world’s leading technical people, in over 100 countries, on all seven continents. These technical people work at the world’s most innovative technology companies, government research labs, financial institutions, and at more than 3,500 universities.

Massachusetts does attract a large number of well-educated researchers and engineers from around the country and the world, but we don’t have a lock on brainpower.

Ms. Healey did admit that we need to get better at teaching our students math and science. Of course, she also joked about how bad she is at mathematics and told the Natick city councilmen present not to expect much additional state aid in coming years.

Update, 19 January 2006: Gov. Romney proposed increasing the amount of state aid to cities and towns for education last night in his state of the state address.

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