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Response to Zalatix (Original post)

Thu Dec 29, 2011, 12:36 PM

30. Good question. Thoughts...

First of all, globalization is not simply market forces unleashed. Everything takes place within a structure determined by law. This structure - including trade agreements, immigration policy, and domestic law - has the effect of putting blue collar workers in competition with one another but in fact protects the earnings of certain elites.

Remember, the lion's share of income in this country is collected by the upper quintile (or decile, even).

With that in mind, let's look at an example. The AMA has successfully lobbied congress to enact policies that restrict the number of foreign-born doctors entering the US to practice. If we had something resembling "free trade" in medicine and achieved equilibrium among doctors' salaries in the US and western European nations, the benefit (in savings to US patients) would be about $80 billion per year. This is ten times the standard estimates of the gains from NAFTA. Doctors would still make good money, just not quite as much. And other Americans would see an increase in their standard of living, as their medical costs would go down. It would be possible to structure agreements with other countries where a condition of emigrating to the US to work as a physician would be to pay a small tax on earnings (maybe for a set period of time) that is returned to their native country to fund education, research and medicine there. This is a benefit to both countries.

International trade today is engineered for the benefit of a few, and does not provide equal gains for all countries or uniformly benefit the population as a whole within any country. It doesn't have to be this way.

I realize my answer does not address issues related to sustainability regarding resource consumption, pollution, etc.

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