Friedman’s response

Dear Tom Tomorrow,

Thank you for your message. I thought this might be useful to you and your readers.

Mr. Friedman informed us of the following regarding your concerns about the t-shirt mentioned in his column (3/7), “The Secret of Our Sauce.”

“The argument seems to be that it was a British Web site that came up with the idea of the T-shirt — “My job was lost India and all I got was this lousy T-shirt” — and therefore the whole premise of my column was wrong, that Americans are not innovative.

First, all one has to do is Google that phrase and you will discover that it is not only a British Web site offering this t-shirt for sale, but that a U.S.-based Web site, indeed one located in Palo Alto where so many jobs have been lost, has been selling the same T-shirt for some time. It is the online design-your-own t-shirt and apparel store,

So either someone in America copied it — or independently came up with the idea themselves and therefore it is not a British exclusive. The point I was making about the innovative nature of American society and institutions obviously rests on more than a T-shirt.”

I include a link to the T-shirt shown on below:


Arthur Bovino
Office of the Public Editor
The New York Times

My original posts are here and here; I leave it for the reader to decide for him or herself if the point I was trying to make is that “Americans are not innovative.” (Hint: pay special attention to the speculation as to whether such t-shirt sales are likely to supplant a regular income and health insurance benefits.)

(…I have a Cafe Press store, and thanks to my cartoon’s relative visibility and this site’s traffic, I probably do about as well with these print-on-demand shirt sales as pretty much anybody — and I’ll tell you, if I had to live off what I make there, I would, quite literally, be living in the street.)

…At any rate, I should acknowledge that I was at least partially wrong in the post below, since there was, in fact, an American making these shirts as well. As to whether or not the the anecdote is therefore valid — well, I tracked the guy down and sent him an email to see if he is/was unemployed and making “all kinds of money” off his shirts. I’ll be sure to let Tom Friedman know if I get a response. (I intend to respect this guy’s privacy, however, so if I don’t hear back, I’m not going to post anything more about him. He didn’t asked to be used as the anecdotal evidence for a ridiculous newspaper column.)

…this isn’t about the shirt, but here’s an article from the Times of India about an American who printed shirts with a similar slogan: “My job went to India and all I got was a pink slip.” I have no way of knowing if this is the article which Friedman’s source read, of course, but the creator of this shirt, while undeniably innovative, seems less than sanguine about the whole experience:

WASHINGTON: Nothing in Scott Kirwin’s resume or background suggests he’s xenophobic, much less an India-hater or -baiter. He is a widely travelled American, lived in Japan for five years, trekked through Africa, loves Indian food, and has even enjoyed some turgid Bollywood movies.

Yet, he’s now a one-man army who has put India on the anti- outsourcing radar and is raising alarms about the issue in the United States . Scott’s gripe? He hears what he thinks is a giant sucking sound of India cleaning out white collar jobs from the United States.

Scott Kirwin’s pain and rage began with his own job loss . An American software programmer, he worked for a US finance major which decided in 2001 to outsource the responsibility of his department to an Indian company. For nine months, Scott worked alongside three Indian programmers on temporary visas at the firm’s Delaware facility, teaching them the ropes, and expecting to stick around as manager when the work moved to India.

Last March, he got a pink slip.

Since then, Kirwin has parlayed his unemployed status into a cause calibre, knocking together an organization (Information Technology Professionals Association of America) and a website that has becoming the stomping ground for the anti-outsourcers.

The website ( even sells anti-outsourcing products, including a T-shirt with the legend “My job went to India and all I got was a stupid pink slip,” and bumper stickers saying “Outsource Bush.”

In fact, Kirwin is far from unemployable, and has even got job offers from India (including one at $ 20,000 a year, which he says is “plenty in India but won’t pay my bills in America.”) But he appears to have made a career out of being laid off — he is quoted in dozens of stories – although he claims the website itself is a labour of love (and loss) and funding is difficult to come by.

(Edits, and more edits)