Monday, July 18, 2005

Economic Dualism

I’m really tired of Thomas Friedman and other economists setting up the debate as an either-or choice to the world’s countries: join the modern globalized economy by offering corporations low-wage, long-hour, unprotected workers while (maybe) giving the workers some health care or education, or stagnate like Germany, France and America, where workers have fought for and won higher wages, shorter work-weeks, and (maybe) some vacation, health care or education – all of which are now being eroded by the competitive race to the bottom.

These policy wonks are making a basic assumption that the world’s people are not required to accept: that the purpose of human labor is to maximize shareholder profit for corporations, regardless of the cost in human suffering and environmental destruction. An equally valid assumption that would lead to entirely different global, national and regional economic policies, is that the purpose of human labor is to meet human needs for goods and services like food, shelter, health care, education and clean energy, by compensating the people who provide those goods and services for their time and effort. That’s not how it is; it’s how it could be. But such a course must be explicitly chosen by workers as citizens.


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