Accelerating the Achievement
of Social Agendas
Imagine a car with a manual transmission. Those who claim that globalization lacks a human face are saying that the car is in reverse gear. I have argued here that this is wrong; in fact, the car is moving forward. But where globalization takes it into the third gear, appropriate governance can be devised to move it yet faster in fourth gear, and even into fifth if it is a sports car, where you shift again at something like ninety miles per hour (as I discovered once to my alarm on a narrow French road when my host, an affable but shy economist who turned out to have been a test pilot for the Royal Air Force during the Second World War, was driving an Alfa Romeo with a gusto that I had never seen him display before).
The debate, then, should be not about whether we should be content with the pace at which economic prosperity, aided by globalization, proceeds to reduce, say, child labor, but about what additional policy instruments we can deploy to accelerate that pace.
To use an apt analogy, if a woman is crying for help, saying, “Help, help, my husband is beating me,” you would not say to her, “Hang in there—economic growth will take care of you in a couple of decades.” Yes, a growing economy with more jobs should help eventually, because it would probably increase the likelihood that she could walk out on her husband since she could likely find a job and be able to support herself. But you will want to rush in and nail the beastly fellow immediately to the wall! The question before us is what exactly this analogy implies in terms of concrete social-outcomes-enhancing policy actions for a variety of social agendas.
The best way to sketch the nature of the debate today on appropriate instruments is to hang my remarks on the peg provided by the agita