An Interesting Debate on Labor in the East Vs. West

Thursday, July 17, 2008 7:53
Posted in category The Big Picture

Was recently alerted by the Economist of a debate they are having about the dynamics of globalization, and whether or not the West is losing its competitive edge to the East.

It is a hot topic for many, for some it is white hot, and in some parts of the world (Ohio for example) it is a topic that can become very emotional very quick.

For me,  I am not a big fan of broad stroke debates like this on the whole as I feel they are founded more on the poles and generalizations portrayed in the media rather than on specifics, but this debate has me interested.

For starters, this debate is not one built on the typical economics, trade patterns, and currency discussions.. it is based on the quality of labor, and the arguements are being put forward by some pretty smart people

So, if you have some time, have a read through and cast your vote.  Right now, the vote is rougly 60 %/ 40% in favor of the West is not losing its competitive edge, and while I won’t tell you how I vote, I can say that I hope that discussions like these happen more frequently.

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4 Responses to “An Interesting Debate on Labor in the East Vs. West”

  1. Fons Tuinstra says:

    July 17th, 2008 at 8:28 am

    Unfortunately, the debate is already over. The Economist is pretty good in hiding this kind of public debates….

  2. Rich says:

    July 17th, 2008 at 8:36 am


    The actual debate is over, but it is still possible to read the scripts and comments, and then vote.

    I agree on that last point. In their email they said it was already over… I encouraged them to give me a bit more notice next time.


  3. Duncan says:

    July 17th, 2008 at 8:36 pm

    I was back in the UK talking to a bunch of people from small and medium sized businesses in Manchester recently, most of whom were in manufacturing. We were talking a lot about the “where else if not China” question, including whether stuff would shift back west. Somewhat depressingly while there was some talk of manufacturing shifting back to the US, or maybe eastern Europe, the response when I asked about the UK was a very curt “never”.
    My personal thinking is that people are really discounting the potential for a big shift in manufacturing back closer to end markets in the longer term (rising fuel costs and the absence of another big “one-stop” like China being the underpinnings). Perhaps it’s time to come up with a word meaning the opposite of “offshoring”…

  4. Rich says:

    July 17th, 2008 at 9:33 pm

    Hi duncan,

    it is interesting you mention this as I just read an article at Technology Forecasters that essentially asked the same thing on their post If Not in China, Then Where

    and as I just read that 80% of Vietnamese factories do not follow the basic environmental standards, I am hoping that the answer is not Vietnam.