Re: WTO the rampage! (fwd)

Ernest N. Prabhakar (
Thu, 09 Dec 1999 10:21:38 -0800

> Now, to contribute to the real discussion: The main effect of globalization,
> and one of the driving forces of its opponents in Europe (some, but not all
> of them sitting on "rust-belt" jobs) is that free trade and transfer of
> knowledge is not only about equal distribution of wealth on the planet: it
> is also widening the gap between the rich and the poor in national
> economies - you could say, it is also about the equal distribution of
> poverty. Exaggerated, what I'm saying is not that the third world countries
> suffer from globalization: the first world countries do.

Well, that is precisely my point. I believe in globalization because it
offers a tremendous opportunity to those who are desperately poor and have
very few options. Optimizing globally (as it were), that is worth the
effect of displacing the "relatively poor" of the West from well-paid but
low-skill jobs.

If people are just arguing self-interest, then they should do that. But I
don't think they deserve the title of liberal, at least from my naive
understanding of liberalism. Really they're just a different form of

In the end it comes down to moral philosophy. Do people have a "moral
right" to a well-paying job for unskilled labor? Or is it better to create
incentives for people to become educated and increase their skills, even if
it means some people will not be able to meet that challenge? Is humanity
measured by material accumulation, or how we handle difficult problems?

And maybe I'm oversimplifying, but it seems to me that poverty in the U.S.
is more of a social problem, rather than a fundamentally economic one. I
have had friends who would count as jobless and homeless. By and large,
the real problem seems to be some sort of social/psychological breakdown -
single parenthood, mental illness, addiction, lack of access to capital,
inadequate ability to hold a job, etc. I fully agree that these are real
problems -- and often not their own fault -- which need to be addressed.

However, that is quite a different thing that the lack of a functioning
economy, which is the plight of the poor in much of the world. There, the
problem is to jump-start the entire economy, not just help displaced
individuals integrate into the existing economy. I would think the moral
high ground is to let the WTO do the former, and focus on non-economic
solutions to the latter.

-- Ernie P.

Ernest Prabhakar <>
Darwin Product Manager, Apple Computer, Inc.