The global debate around free-trade and its consequences has evolved tremendously in recent years -from that old hippie dude who runs your organic food store, right through to the policy makers of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) who no doubt had to go back to the drawing board more than a few times before they enforced their big bold plans to globalize the world.
On the one hand, you’ve got the nationalists who very rightly have come out strongly against free trade, pointing to endless reams of footage of shut down American and European factories that once housed hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs to well-trained workers. But in the end, that’s exactly the reason those factories were closed down – those workers were too well paid, and they were in fact also too well trained for the work they were doing. The solution? Outsource the low-skilled jobs to countries that could get the job done for half the price and in half the time, using twice as many workers getting paid about a quarter of the salary. And there, of course, is the problem with outsourcing those jobs in the first place. Who is there in Bangladesh and India checking that the factories are safe to work in and that the workers are getting well treated and that they’re all of legal age to be working? Nobody. And so the debate goes, with Adam Smith’s unrelenting invisible hand driving production lower and lower, while left-wing activists rally to the support of those getting a bad deal, well, everywhere.
But is a lose-lose situation really the only way a free global market can be run?? Shouldn’t such drastic structural adjustments to the way the world operates actually lead to, um I dunno, a better world?? The answer, if you ask one slightly crazy Dutch guy named Guido, is YES!!!! There is a way that both consumers can benefit from the better value derived from outsourcing the value chain to developing countries. Sounds crazy, but it’s true. Its called FairChain. Read more about this Guido character here. Read more about the FairChain revolution that’s rocking the way the world does its business here.