(FORTUNE Magazine) – Dear Bucky: I'm writing today in response to your letter to Brett Merton, president of our small rotating-parts division, which he received on the 16th and immediately faxed to me for my reaction--because he's my friend and had no particular desire to stab me in the back. At the outset, let me say that your offer to perform a significant portion of my duties as an "outsource solution" came as quite a shock. (Outsource my job? Let me see what I think about that...I know! I think it stinks!)

When you worked for the corporation, I thought we were pals, sort of. We drank too much at lunch together more than once, suffered through the planning and faulty execution of countless national management meetings in huge hotels too tacky to truthfully recall, feared the same dinosaurs, loved the same vice presidents, and generally took good care not to shove sharp objects up our respective noses.

So why this invidious proposal? Okay, I admit that on the surface, it seems fair enough. You offer to do a big chunk of the job I'm now doing for Brett and his far-flung operation for about one-tenth the cost--mainly by bringing years of excellent service without associated overhead, benefits, and pension costs. This kind of deal, as we all know, is referred to by human-resource types as pretty much ipso facto an extremely positive thing. Work without head count--that's the concept.

You quite rightly point out that since you left the organization, you've gained an enormous amount of experience in business management, as CEO of your own company, and that you are held in high regard by the entire industry, most former employers, and our entire customer base.

I'm going to leave aside the interesting stylistic touch of going completely around me and addressing my guy directly. Perhaps you didn't mean to tweak me. Perhaps you simply saw this as a business correspondence, pure and simple. Perhaps you didn't know that Brett would contact me on this as fast as he did, and instead thought you could work your way into a weakness in my personal infrastructure without my knowing about it. Perhaps you didn't care about my feelings because you're a thumb-sucking worm!

No, no. I'm going to take the high road here and deal with the philosophical threat that people like you pose to all hardworking dolts like me who slave from within an organization. Up until now, we have had no buzzword to characterize ourselves like you outsources do. Today, all that changes. From here on in, call us the insource. We're tough. We're resilient. And if you want into our corporations, you're gonna have to climb over us. I kind of like our chances too. Here's why:

We insources are on the scene all the time. You're not. You always come around when there's work to do, but where are you when the only thing scheduled is a two-hour chat with Walt about the superiority of Har- leys over BMWs? Where are you when it's time to go downstairs with Chester Roover from accounting, pick up a newspaper and a bag of nacho chips, and walk around the block talking about budget lines for a while? You're not here, that's where you are. Incorrectly positioned to perform all the indefinite functions that make up the real job of middle management.

You always have an agenda. We don't. And you know what? People hate agendas. More than that. They hate your agendas. You know why? Because your agendas were cooked up in responsible phone calls several days before. "Come on in, Bucky!" Finster the executive says to you on the squawk box as you both adjust your respective hairlines in different parts of town. "We'll talk about flute reamer inventory and management of fiduciary gumbo." Then ten o'clock on a Tuesday morning comes around, and there you are all squeaky in your new casual wear and hard-shelled briefcase, and does Finster want to talk about all that stuff? Of course not. He wants to talk about the Dallas Cowboys secondary for a couple of hours! You lose again, pal!

You're too darned energetic. We are not. You feel you have to justify every minute of your time, because you do. Since so much of our job is accomplished by simply being there, we're not under that kind of constraint. We can do the minimum when we feel it's appropriate, and people think we're smart.

You use too many goddamn overheads. Outsources always have visual backup, usually done in Powerpoint. This proves they worked at home. Sometimes they have color ink-jet printers that make you read yellow bars and light blue numbers on a dark blue background. Have you ever tried to do that? It makes you cockeyed! Insources rarely use these crutches because they don't have to prove they're doing anything substantial at all. They just have to have ideas when they're called upon to provide them at a moment's notice. Can you do that? No! Because...

It's all preparation and on-time delivery for you. What do you think we need around here? A pediatrician? No, man. Real life is glib. It's flip. It's shoot from the lip. And when we do need to come in fully loaded and ready to party, the preparation we do is effected by checking out beforehand, in detail, exactly what the other guys at the event want to hear, then giving it right back to them. You're in no position to do that. Why?

You don't know the culture, that's why. Even if you used to work here and are now seeking to replicate your function in a cheaper, more inconsistent way, you don't know what's going on anymore, Pinky. No matter how often you're briefed on the employee/gross revenue ratio or the accounts payable/accounts receivable quotient, you don't know that Rafferty's wife made him eat halibut last night instead of the two-pound T-bone he wanted. Or that Hebert in Boston is having trouble getting his Windows 95 setup to read his network correctly, and is despondent about it. Or that Burbage almost didn't make the industry dinner on time last night because he literally exploded out of his tuxedo and had to be pinned into it by six senior officers who thankfully were on the scene at the time. You don't know when to work and when to shut up. You don't know when to laugh at the bad numbers or cry at the good ones. Because you're in your own world, not ours. Because you're outsourced!

You have an opinion on everything. You have to. You're the outsourcing solution, and that's what you're expected to provide. Solutions. Except there are no solutions. We know that. As for us, we insources have no opinion on anything that's not absolutely, completely required. We've been asked about so many things in the past 48 hours, if we had an opinion on all of it we'd go insane! Who cares about most of this stuff anyhow? Nobody! Except you. Because you've been outsourced to care about it so we don't have to. Live with it.

We're grossly political when we have to be. You can't be. You have to identify with your client, the one who pays your invoices. Us, we can work both sides of the street, grab allies in alleyways, eviscerate our enemies with offhand barbs in washrooms and elevators. We can pick apart who's scheduled to assume Dwerblin's field-reporting structure when it's stripped from him in the upcoming InterCorp merger situation, pass olive branches to guys we've offended, stroke the unpalatable, poke the inconsequential. All the time weaving ourselves into the essential fabric of the company's daily operations. You can't do that. You're working, you poor schlep.

We're consumed with anxiety. You're not. Oh, maybe you worry about a troublesome task here and there, or pour yourself a double thinking about the wafer thinness of your profit margins (they have to be thin--you do everything so cheaply). But we insources are up late at night worrying about mutual stuff that makes us all crazy. We're the ones pacing the darkened bedroom at 4 a.m., gnawing at our lip about the impact of pension expense on bonus payouts. We're the guys looking out the window with pale expressions, worrying about how to make the numbers look better than they ought to at next week's budget presentation.

On the other hand, here's the one thing you have going: We cost a lot. You don't. We receive a salary, not a fee. We get benefits that protect our families and ourselves from all but the worst disasters. We get a pension when, after 20 or 30 years, we drag ourselves home either to die or become consultants. After a while, we even win a little respect and standing within the corporate hierarchy. Yep, price is the one real leg up you guys have on us.

On the whole, though, I don't think it's an easy sell. We've had about a decade of this particular fad, and frankly, it's wearing a bit thin. Around here, at any rate, insources seem to rule. There are, however, a host of things I could see you doing around here on an incremental, not a replacement, basis, both for me and for my guys. I'll be riding around all beered up with a few of them at a golf course in western Florida next week, and I'm sure your proposal will come up.

What would you like me to tell them?

Best, Stan

By day, Stanley Bing is a real executive at a real Fortune 500 company he'd rather not name.