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Globalization & The American Working Class

Globalization & The American Working Class

John Donvan
Thursday, June 28, 2018

And now it's round two: our second debate in three days here at the Aspen Ideas Festival. For this one, we’re mixing it up. Economists Jason Furman and Jared Bernstein are on the stage, but whereas in the past they paired up to compose a fearsome IQ2 debating team, this time they’re taking opposite sides on the following resolution:
 
Globalization Has Undermined America's Working Class.
 
Bernstein’s arguing for the resolution, teamed with Thea Lee, while Furman, on the other side, is paired with James Manyika.
 
And as for the resolution, it asserts an idea that played prominently in the 2016 election. But is it true? Globalization's proponents will tell you that a nation's prosperity hinges on global trade, the freer the better, such that capital, goods, and people (aka labor) can cross borders with as few obstacles in their way as possible (e.g., tariffs). Trade liberalism, they say, lowers prices for everybody – and a lower price on anything is always more money in your pocket. 
 
But opponents argue that globalization has created a sharp divide between the haves and have-nots, and that in the U.S., the have-nots are the many workers who have seen their jobs go away, often (but not always" replaced by lower-paid workers overseas. 
 
The latter argument was one that the president pushed hard, leading to his decision to put tariffs on imports from longtime U.S. allies in Western Europe and Canada. But Europe has retaliated, with a rather stunning unintended consequence, symbolism-wise. Harley-Davidson, that icon of American-made quality, has just announced it's moving some manufacturing to Europe, to duck all of the globalization-reversing trade warring.
 
So with all this in the news, we're delighted to be in Aspen, where so many of the week’s conversations have been examining the anger fueled by inequality and our inability to relate to "other." So, this debate is right on point, and is going to be fascinating. I hope you’ll join us at 5:30 MT / 7:30 ET.


Yours truly,
John

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