In Praise of Cheap Labor

Paul Krugman, writing for Slate back in 1997:

Such moral outrage is common among the opponents of globalization — of the transfer of technology and capital from high-wage to low-wage countries and the resulting growth of labor-intensive Third World exports. These critics take it as a given that anyone with a good word for this process is naive or corrupt and, in either case, a de facto agent of global capital in its oppression of workers here and abroad.

But matters are not that simple, and the moral lines are not that clear. In fact, let me make a counter-accusation: The lofty moral tone of the opponents of globalization is possible only because they have chosen not to think their position through. While fat-cat capitalists might benefit from globalization, the biggest beneficiaries are, yes, Third World workers.

Keep in mind that Krugman is, by anyone’s standards, a true liberal.

Friday, 3 February 2012