Will seems to think that we could not get people to work hard to master skills or to be great innovators if they didn't have the prospect of earning billions or tens of billions of dollars. But if we look back through history we can identify an enormous number of tremendously talented and creative individuals who did not get fabulously wealthy or even have any plausible hope of getting fabulously wealthy.Dean is more patient than I am as I could not get past Will’s first paragraph:
Every day the Chinese go to work, Americans get a raise: Chinese workers, many earning each day about what Americans spend on a Starbucks latte, produce apparel, appliances and other stuff cheaply, thereby enlarging Americans’ disposable income. Americans similarly get a raise when they shop at the stores that made Sam Walton a billionaire.Ah yes – the canard that all Americans benefit from free trade with China. It is true that we get lower prices for apparel but has Will ever heard of the Stopler-Samuelson theorem? As prices fall for imported products, the wages of workers in the importing competing sector fall even more. And such not everyone gains from free trade. Also - is Will unaware that the wages of Chinese workers have risen considerably from the days when they made only $0.60 an hour? Table 1 of this excellent discussion of how apparel wages internationally evolved from 2001 to 2011 noted how Chinese workers were getting $114.86 per month in 2001 but their real wage rose to $324.90. Of course, these figures were in 2001$ and the consumer price index has risen by 34% since then. So either Mr. Will is unaware of the real wage growth for Chinese apparel workers over the past several years or he does not know how to shop for coffee.