Monday, April 05, 2004

Left Behind

Oliver Kamm's comments in a thread@Harry's Place

The principal economic need - not the only need, for liberties such as freedom of association are also necessary (though there is some evidence from the work of Robert Barro that economic growth does stimulate political liberalisation) - in developing countries is to eradicate poverty. One method that has been effective in countries that were poor a generation or two ago but are no longer is to industrialise and boost real wages, which reflect the marginal product of labour. Making trade agreements conditional on a 'level playing field' (dreadful cliche) will, so far from enhancing the marginal product of labour (which is substantially lower in China than in the US) cut real wages by stimulating inflation.

The AFL-CIO understands this process pretty well, which is why it long ago forfeited any claim to be taken seriously by those of us who believe in progressive politics. That is not to say we progressives should be unconcerned about, e.g., sweatshop conditions - there is a role that more responsible NGOs ought to play in monitoring working conditions - but the effect of 'equal rights' would be to make it more difficult for poor countries to become richer.
Testify, brother Oliver!

That is all.