When we were kids, we all understood the importance of playing by the rules. How many times do you still hear the words “No fair!” ring out from the playground? We start out with an instinct for justice, and then as we age and presumably grow wiser, lose the understanding as to why it is so important.

Put into the context of a global economy, it is clear that you cannot have competition where one team works for twenty-five cents and another twenty-five dollars an hour, to do the same job. The cut-rate workforce will always win (or, rather, those that employ it). Is it any wonder then that our jobs continue to migrate overseas?

We view justice narrowly by setting excessively high minimum wages and requiring comprehensive and expensive HR requirements and benefits at home, while accepting the complete absence of such requirements for our competitors, and benefitting from the low priced goods flowing across our borders. It’s a formula for short-term affluence and long-term disaster, but no one’s ever accused us (or our legislators) of taking the long view.

So now we’re entering the predictable disaster phase and everyone is belly-aching, “I ate ten pounds of chocolate and now my stomach hurts.” Instead, maybe we should stop eating the chocolate and spend a bit more time yelling, “Play fair!”

Just a thought.

Next: What to do for economic dyspepsia.


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