Friday, December 22, 2006


Remember that famous song "Downtown" originally performed by Petula Clark in 1964? Okay, now get that tune in your head, and sing the following lyrics:

Does work that you know
Seem like it's suddenly flowing
To some parts unknown?

Are you getting worried
While your programming hurries
To a new time zone?

Is it a sucking sound we're hearing?
Is our edge now disappearing?
Can we survive when Asia thrives
On outsourcing our coat strings?

Stop now and think.

The lock's off Pandora's box
Now that the whole world is wired
Can't turn back the clock
We go Offshore...plants are much cheaper there
Offshore...workers delighted there
Offshore...our cost center's waiting there

The voice on the phone
Knows all the team scores at home
Though he's in Bangalore

Must we get frightened
When cheap labor's enlightened?
Have we sold the store?

Au contraire--production's where
It can be most efficient
Our advantage lies to utilize
The global market system

The tide lifts all boats..
It's time to go blaze the trail
We need to master the structure
Think on a new scale
And go
Offshore...Technology's moved the bar
Offshore...Don't wait a minute more
Offshore...Adapt to the future for

To make the world a safer place
Our thinking must be global.
Let's create-not legislate
And let the unseen hand go
Guide things along.

We hope that we'll see you then
As living standards get better
We'll all prosper when
We go
Our key is to innovate
Profits to generate
And now we must go for trade...offshore.
I received this alternative rendition of the song from billionaire Sam Zell when I was CEA Chair. (See Zell's current holiday greeting in my previous post.) The song came as part of an odd globe-like object. When you pressed a button on the base, the globe spun and increasingly cities around the world started lighting up, while the above song played.

Of course, as a federal official, I was not allowed to receive gifts. So the object was sent to the White House gifts office, which said I could keep it only if I compensated Mr Zell for the appraised value, which I did. It was the only time in my life that I sent a personal check to a billionaire. Mr Zell wrote back, saying he applied the funds to a charity.

The globe is one of my favorite souvenirs from my time in Washington, in part because I have long been a Petula Clark fan.