by John Brian Shannon
Please read “King Ludd is Still Dead” by Kenneth Rogoff — at Project Syndicate.org.
Professor Rogoff’s excellent article has outlined the way our modern economic systems work and his statement succinctly describes the need for change to our present paradigm;
Workers do become obsolete and must then train for other jobs. Which is VERY inefficient from the national economy standpoint. Not to mention lowering the quality of life for that worker and the family that worker supports.
I believe it is in our best national interest to enhance the ability of skilled workers to continue in their chosen career — rather then having their careers suddenly ended by the economic whims of a local marketplace.
Which is why economists everywhere should be proactively calling for the freedom of movement for skilled labour and semi-skilled labour to match local market demands all over the planet.
For just one telling example, take the people who work in high steel. These are the people who build skyscrapers, communications towers and bridges. These are highly skilled workers and it would be a shame for them to become unemployed, or under-employed on account of local conditions.
Such workers add to the knowledge base of a nation and for them to enter training programs to become bus drivers, painters, or insurance salesmen, is deplorable.
But this is what is happening all over America and other Western nations — and not just to the workers in high steel!
Rather than list all of the skilled occupations which face such calamities worldwide, (that would be most occupations which require skilled workers AND also suffer from the boom and bust economic cycle) suffice to say that many skilled workers can be laid off as a national economy tanks. What then?
Economists should be leading the charge in calling for an international treaty to guarantee and enhance the ability of skilled and semi-skilled labourers to go to where the work is, to live in that country with their immediate family until the project is completed, and then move on unhindered to the next project — wherever it may be in the world.
Most often, these workers will return to their home country when their own nations’ economy rebounds and they are again in demand at home.
Instead of staying in the U.S.A. and becoming bus drivers or shopping mall security guards, they will still be in top form — having kept their skills sharp in the interim and will have learned new techniques and practices from working in different jurisdictions around the planet. They will return with a sharp skill-set, positive experiences, they will be more rounded-out and their quality of life will have been enhanced.
This contributes more to the national knowledge base than allowing these people to drift into other employment, unemployment or under-employment during local economic slowdowns.
Economists should not be leading from behind on this, but should research and arrive at a common position which they should present to politicians and separately to the UN, in order to facilitate economic change for the better — change that will benefit all nations. If economists don’t impart this knowledge to political leaders, then who will?
Freedom of skilled labour to swiftly and easily move to where the work is — equals a more efficient world economy, better quality of life for those workers and their families and additional knowledge for the national skilled labour knowledge base.
John Brian Shannon
- Rogoff: King Ludd is Still Dead (economistsview.typepad.com)
- King Ludd is Still Dead (project-syndicate.org)
- The good news? King Ludd is still dead (japantimes.co.jp)
- Skilled workers needed for economic reforms: Moily (news.in.msn.com)
- Singapore: Economic slowdown opens foreign labour debate (bbc.co.uk)
ABOUT JOHN BRIAN SHANNON
I write about green energy, sustainable development and economics. My blogs appear in the Arabian Gazette, EcoPoint, EnergyBoom, Huffington Post, United Nations Development Programme, WACSI — and other quality publications.
“It is important to assist all levels of government and the business community to find sustainable ways forward for industry and consumers.”