Sunday, July 31, 2016


The railroading of the Trans Pacific Partnership trade pact that will be attempted after the election makes an old subject -- outsourcing -- current again.
Outsourcing of jobs -- under one name or another -- has been going on for some years, but now conflicting forces are pulling at it.
It’s become somewhat less popular as wages in third-world countries begin to rise to poverty level from slavery, where they’ve been. If the trend continues long enough it will eventually make sense to bring those jobs back. Wages being equal, patriotic firms will want to employ our poverty-level workers.
The TPP, however, could once again make outsourcing popular, in the tradition of previous trade agreements. (It would also have other disastrous, although not unintended, consequences, but -- one disaster at a time.)
The one thing you can count on during the negotiation of these trade pacts is that there will be conservative commentators justifying the agreements on “free market” grounds. While there will be some period of “adjustment,” they tell us, the invisible hand of the free market, now leveraged on the long arm of the trade agreement, will work its magic and everyone will be OK in the long run.
The operative principle in this is that these people -- the economic gurus and business analysts pushing the pacts -- do not expect to be among those who will lose their jobs in the ensuing “adjustment.” There will always be the need to explain how things work or why they didn’t, and they’re the people who do that.            They will be OK long before pie-in-the-long run day.
Wouldn’t it be fun if their jobs were exported? 
Knowledge and communication have expanded worldwide; surely there are people in other parts of the world qualified to take over that work and willing to pontificate for less money. Everyone would win. We would get a fresh perspective. Economists in other countries would find work. And our domestic commentators would have the ultimate scientific experience: the chance to observe at first hand the effect of a process they advocate but know only theoretically. 
Here’s to the Economic Commentary Export Act.