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Great Questions of Economics

Companies maintain that they seek the lowest possible cost for producing their goods and services, and that they must be able to do so if they are to remain competitive. Certainly the consumer purchasing items at Wal-Mart that are not just manufactured in Asia but also designed and prototyped there are not interested in how many American workers it would takeùand at what costùto produce those same goods. Even the consumer who might resent reaching a call center in India when they have a question about their personal computer would balk at paying the higher prices for their computer should the manufacturer pay American wages to work the call center.

Thus while there may be considerable hand-wringing over the loss of white-collar jobs to developing countries, it is difficult to believe that social pressures in developed countries will reverse the trend. More likely, there will be downward pressure on wages in developed countries in order to compete with those overseas, and upward pressure on wages overseas, at least to some degree, until some type of equilibrium is reached. Given that human resources cannot freely move across borders as does capitalùimmigration remains a political issue that places far more limits on the free movement of humans than on machineryùthis question of wages and outsourcing is likely to remain highly politicized for some time to come.

Information, more than any other commodity, has always found ways to move around the world and across borders despite the sometimes drastic measures taken to limit its availability. Information has always followed traders, whether the traders moved in camel-led caravans or on multi-storied ocean-going freighters.

Today, mobile phones, the Internet and television send information around the world that is nearly impossible to control. Some countries have sought to control access to the Internet, or to monitor its use by citizens. Still, newspapers, books and leafle...

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Great Questions of Economics. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 22:36, July 22, 2017, from
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