Thomas Sowell

Progress means change, whether those changes originate domestically or internationally. Even when a given job carries the same title, often you cannot hold that job while continuing to do things the way they were done 20 years ago -- or, in the case of computers, 5 years ago.

The grand fallacy of those who oppose free trade is that low-wage countries take jobs away from high-wage countries. While that is true for some particular jobs in some particular cases, it is another half-truth that is more misleading than an outright lie.

While American companies can hire computer programmers in India to replace higher paid American programmers, that is because of India's outstanding education in computer engineering. By and large, however, the average productivity of Indian workers is about 15 percent of that of American workers.

In other words, if you hired Indian workers and paid them one-fifth of what you paid American workers, it would cost you more to get a given job done in India. That is the rule and computer programming is the exception.

Facts are blithely ignored by those who simply assume that low-wage countries have an advantage in international trade. But high-wage countries have been exporting to low-wage countries for centuries. The vast majority of foreign investments by American companies are in high-wage countries, despite great outcries about how multinational corporations are "exploiting" Third World workers.

Apparently facts do not matter to those who are manufacturing confusion about manufacturing jobs.


Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate