A Failed Debate




What would you like to see debated?

Unfortunately this political season is not proving to be particularly illuminating. There are so many important issues to be addressed and the greater focus appears to be on noise. I saw the following item in Bloomberg Business recently. I don’t agree with every conclusion but some of it is illuminating. I highlighted some of it.

Currently we are seeing the shallow nature of the political discourse and how obstruction and failure of vision has cost us dearly. Too often it seems we avoid dealing with the social part of economics and our national needs. It is worth much more thought.


From Bloomberg Business 8/1-8/7 edition.

The liberal economic order created in the second half of the 20th. century has rarely seemed in such danger. The threat is that dithering and incompetent governments will prevent a liberal economic order from realizing its full potential. Unless something changes, excellent opportunities for spreading prosperity farther and faster will be lost.
To seize those chances, leaders need to understand why globalization works, be willing to make the case to skeptical voters, and do more to support those workers whom international trade — or any other kind of economic disruption—threatens to leave behind.
Globalization is simply competition writ large. One of the few things economists know for sure, maybe the only thing, is that competition spurs innovation and efficiency, making products better and cheaper and raising living standards in the aggregate. The wider the scope of this competition, the better. What about the idea that trade should be fair rather than free? Some rules are needed, of course, to avoid labor and environmental abuses and to guard against predatory subsidies and exchange-rate policies. Past and prospective free-trade pacts aren’t lacking in such rules. Yet the claim that trade with low-wage countries is unfair in and or itself is both economically specious and morally bankrupt. When goods are made at lowest cost, it’s a win-win for trading partners. And make no mistake: Free trade is anti-poverty.
It’s vital that political leaders make this case. When they bow to demands for trade barriers rather than propose help for workers whose jobs are displaced by competition, they abdicate their responsibility. The right approach is to provide effective safety nets, better vocational education, help with moving and retraining to find new jobs, employment subsidies for low-wage workers, and fairer, simpler taxes.
I don’t agree with all aspects of the argument but it is illustrative and shows the flaws created when narrow ideology is applied. It relates to the current debates about economic policy which are argued in a wilderness devoid of social needs and consequences and diverse perspective.
Again we come back to vision.

There is food for thought here.

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

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