Home Today's Paper Most Popular Video Gallery Photo Gallery
Subscription Blog Signin Register
Logo
Thursday, January 19, 2017 12:11:05 AM
Follow Us On: Facebook Twitter Twitter Twitter Twitter

Rethinking labour mobility

By
11th-Jan-2017       Readers ( 52 )   0 Comments
Comments
Share your thought
Post a comment »
Read all (0) »

Harold James  :
The past year will be remembered as a period of revolt against what US President-elect Donald Trump likes to call "globalism." Populist movements have targeted "experts" and "elites," who are now asking themselves what they could have done differently to manage the forces of globalization and technological innovation. The emerging consensus is that people and communities displaced by these forces should be compensated, perhaps even with an unconditional basic income. But that strategy has many hazards. People who are paid to do meaningless activities, or nothing at all, will likely become even more disengaged and alienated. Regions that are subsidized simply because they are losing out may demand more autonomy, and then grow resentful when conditions do not improve.
Thus, simple transfers are not enough. Humans are ingenious and adaptable, but only in some circumstances; so we must continue to search for viable opportunities that allow people to participate creatively and meaningfully in the economy. To that end, we should look to history, and study what happened to the "losers" during previous periods of rapid techno-globalization.
In the Industrial Revolution of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, technological innovation, especially in textile machinery, displaced skilled artisans and craft workers en masse, and left them deprived of any real safety net to cushion the blow. But, in retrospect, it is not obvious that governments could have done anything to compensate Silesian handloom weavers or rural Irish artisans. Although they were hard workers, their products were both inferior in quality and more expensive than what was being manufactured in the new factories.
Instead, many displaced workers emigrated - often long distances across oceans - to places where they could take on new forms of work, and even prosper. As the late Thomas K. McCraw's brilliant book The Founders and Finance shows, America's tradition of entrepreneurship is a testament to inventive migrants.
To see the benefits of migration, we need look no further than Kallstadt, a town of small-scale farmers in southwest Germany where Friederich (Fred) Trump - Donald Trump's grandfather - was born on March 14, 1869. He moved to the US in 1885 (his wife was also born in Kallstadt, and he married her there on a return visit in 1902). The father of the founder of the food giant Heinz (now the Kraft Heinz Company), Henry John Heinz, was born in Kallstadt as well, in 1811, and emigrated to Pennsylvania in the 1840s, to escape an agricultural crisis.
But just one century later, emigration was no longer an option for people whose economic activity had suddenly become obsolete, not least because most countries had imposed tougher barriers against migration. In the first half of the twentieth century, the most vulnerable producers were rural, small-scale farmers who could not compete with expanding food production elsewhere in the world.
This was especially true for European farmers, who responded to their sudden impoverishment and bankruptcy with the same sort of populist politics that featured so prominently in 2016. They formed and voted for radical political movements that blended economic and social utopianism with increasingly militant nationalism. These movements against globalization, which culminated in World War II, helped to destroy the contemporary international order.
In the aftermath of World War II, politicians in industrial countries found a different solution to the problem of displaced farmers: they subsidized agriculture, supported prices, and sheltered the sector from international trade.
In the US - which, tellingly, avoided the nationalist surge - this effort had already been embodied in the 1933 Agricultural Adjustment Act. In Europe, price maintenance and supranational protectionism formed the political basis for European integration in the European Economic Community, which would become the foundation for the European Union. To this day, the EU budget is overwhelmingly devoted to the Common Agricultural Policy, the system of subsidies and other measures to support the sector.
Agricultural protectionism worked well for two reasons. First, US and European agricultural products in this new regime were not fundamentally worthless, as handmade, technically inferior cloth was during the Industrial Revolution. American and European producers still fed the populations of rich countries, even if they did so at a higher cost than was economically necessary. Second, and more important, workers were able to change occupations, and many moved from the countryside to fill attractive, high-paying jobs in urban manufacturing and services.
Of course, today the threat posed by globalization extends precisely to these "new" jobs. Europe and the US have long attempted to support "losers" in manufacturing and services through various small-scale programs that do not, in fact, benefit many workers. For example, the US Trade Adjustment Assistance program, which was augmented under the 2009 Trade and Globalization Adjustment Assistance Act, and the EU's Globalization Adjustment Fund are small, complex, and expensive measures to compensate displaced workers.
As a result, many of the dilemmas that confronted nineteenth-century policymakers are confronting their counterparts today. No one can deny that it is a waste of human and natural resources to prop up occupations that create unwanted or obsolete goods. Earlier generations had emigration as a release valve, and many people today, especially in Eastern and Southern Europe, are responding to poor local economic conditions in a similar fashion.
The most important form of mobility is not physical; it is social or psychological. Unfortunately, the US and most other industrialized countries, with their stultifying and rigid education systems, have failed to prepare people for this reality.
(Harold James is Professor of History and International Affairs at Princeton University and a senior fellow at the Center for International Governance Innovation).
Courtesy: Project Syndicate

0 Comments. Share your thoughts also.
Write a comment
Tariff
Add Rate

News Archive

Inside The New Nation

Editorial »

Social forces are helpless for fighting corruption


While addressing a workshop titled "Our expectation and role in Preventing Corruption', the Director General of the Anti-Corruption Commission stressed on mobilisation and engagement of social forces to reduce corruption. When the responsibility is shifted to social forces, one must know how helpless these forces are. Social forces are not ...

Football »

AFC Wimbledon's Dean Parrett escapes the tackle of Sutton United's Kevin Amankwaah during the English FA Cup third round replay soccer match between AFC Wimbledon against Sutton United at Cherry Red Record Stadium in south west London on Tuesday.


Entertainment »

Ridhi Dogra hopes playing negative in Woh Apna Sa won’t typecast her


In an industry, where one role defines an actor's entire career, not allowing him or her show their versatility by making them stereotyped can be the scariest things to deal with. That’s exactly the concern of actor Ridhi Dogra too, ahead of the premiere of her new television show, Woh ...

International »

World needs China, US to have stable relationship : Xi


Reuters, Beijing :The world needs China and the United States to have a stable and cooperative relationship, Chinese President Xi Jinping told U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, just days before new uncertainty looms with Donald Trump taking office as president.Meeting on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, ...

Editorial »

Merger of poorly run banks with stronger ones


AS per media report Finance Minister AMA Muhith has made the point that merger of poorly run commercial banks with stronger ones makes sense when they are struggling to survive and crowding without enough businesses. The country has too many banks not even justified by the size of the economy. ...

Sports »

Nadal overcomes Mayer to advance at Open


AFP, Melbourne :Rafael Nadal powered into the second round of the Australian Open with a commanding straight-sets win over Germany's Florian Mayer on Tuesday.The 14-time Grand Slam champion looked back to his healthy best after an injury-riddled 2016 as he beat the 49th-ranked Mayer 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 in just over ...

Football »

Maradona welcomed 'home' by Napoli fans for anniversary


AP, Italy :Even 30 years later, Diego Maradona remains revered in Naples.When he walked on stage at Naples' opera house on Monday, he was greeted by a roar of applause and cheers from the audience. It was as if he was back playing at San Paolo Stadium across town.The Argentine ...

Entertainment »

Don`t want to talk about my fall out with Kajol: Karan


Karan Johar has opened up about his fallout with friend Kajol in his autobiography, but the filmmaker says he does not want to speak on the same anymore and rather cherish the good memories he shared with the actress.The book, An Unsuitable Boy, reveals that Kajol and KJo’s friendship ended ...

Entertainment »

‘Partners in crime’ Akshay, Twinkle clock 16 years of marriage


Actor Akshay Kumar and his author-wife Twinkle Khanna clocked 16 years of their marriage on Tuesday. Twinkle says her husband is her ‘partner in crime.’ Twinkle shared a video on Twitter, where the duo is seen running towards each other. “16 years of trying to kill each other and we ...

City »

Public Administration Minister Syed Ashraful Islam visited different projects of the Designated Reference Institute for Chemical Measurements of Bangladesh Council for Science and Industrial Research at its conference room in the city on Tuesday.


International »

Growing list of Democrats boycotting Trump inauguration


AP, Washington :More than 30 House Democrats plan to boycott President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration on Friday, casting the Republican businessman as a threat to democracy.Reps. Steve Cohen of Tennessee, Jerrold Nadler of New York and Don Beyer of Virginia on Monday joined a growing list of lawmakers who will not ...

Editorial »

Problems of foreign medical students need urgent solution


AROUND 1,200 MBBS students of the University of Science and Technology Chittagong (USTC) face uncertainty, as Bangladesh Medical and Dental Council (BMDC) has refused to register them for the University's Violation of Admission rules, as per a report of a local daily.The USTC, a private institution, admitted around 400 students ...

Cricket »

Kohli, Jadhav centuries help India beat England


AFP, Pune : Skipper Virat Kohli and Kedar Jadhav hit blistering centuries to help India chase down 350 and stun England by three wickets in the first one-day international in Pune on Sunday.Kohli (122), who was leading the limited overs side for the first time, and Jadhav (120) put on ...

Football »

Real Madrid's Toni Kroos, right, and Sevilla's Vicente Iborra challenge for the ball during La Liga soccer match between Real Madrid and Sevilla at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium, in Seville, Spain on Sunday.


Entertainment »

Dilruba Sathi passes seven years in her hosting career


Sheikh Arif Bulbon :Viewers’ choice popular host Dilruba Sathi has passed seven years of her career. From that point of view she has been passing ‘Lucky 7’ now. As a host, she started her career through a dance show on Bangladesh Television. Later her hosting in a special programme on ...

 
Items that you save may be read at any time on your computer, iPad, iPhone or Android devices.
 
Are you new to our website? Do you have already an account at our website?
Create An Account Log in here
Email this news to a friend or like someone
Email:
Write a comment to this news