Wednesday, January 16, 2008

An Interesting Take on Job Competition

Economist Stephen E. Landsburg wonders:

All economists know that when American jobs are outsourced, Americans as a group are net winners. What we lose through lower wages is more than offset by what we gain through lower prices. In other words, the winners can more than afford to compensate the losers. Does that mean they ought to? Does it create a moral mandate for the taxpayer-subsidized retraining programs proposed by Mr. McCain and Mr. Romney?

His thesis is that there may be no difference morally (and thus as a policy imperative) between going to buy one's meds on the Web rather than the local pharmacy because it's cheaper, and buying one's labor in a cheaper labor market. One wouldn't compensate the pharmacist for lost income; Prof. Landsburg asks why compensate a worker whose job has gone overseas?

I think it's an interesting argument. I myself am not sure there is a moral component to this; as a practical effect, I don't think government is morally obligated in this area. This is quite apart from any moral obligation that Christians have to help each other out. That may be quite a different thing entirely. But the whole argument is worth a read, nonetheless.

See what you think. Comments always welcome!

No comments: