Labor Issues of the Future
As one looks to the future, it is certain that many of the issues of the past will continue -- they are perennial, predictable, and represent merely continuations of old trends. Others are new, for each generation is surprised by sharp departures from the past. The prophet is also subject to the human bias of wishful thinking, on the one hand, and exaggeration because of fear of the unknown on the other. The pitfalls of long sight would seem to argue for only a limited forward gaze, but the critical importance of challenging perplexity of what seems to be potential developments in the ordering of man's economic affairs dictates a bifocal view.
Most of the issues of the immediate future will be extensions of the present, but new emphases and new directions can be anticipated. Assuming that no major international catastrophe occurs, the following kinds of problems involving labor will probably be paramount.
The main economic problem of the next decade is likely to continue to be the search for the proper mix of economic policies to maintain the relatively full employment of human and physical resources and stable prices in an internationalized information society. Greater attention undoubtedly will be given to international economic issues in order to modernize the rules for international trade, development, and investment. The international monetary and financial systems established following World War II served the world reasonably well until the 1970s, when those institutions were rendered less effective by the emergence of multinational corporations, growing international interdependence, the emergence of Japan and the European community as major international economic powers and the relative decline of the United States and the United Kingdom, and the international oil crisis of the 1970s. A major governance problem is caused by the fact that many economic problems are international and the main mechanisms to deal with those problems are still national. These developments will require the fashioning of more effective means for international cooperation in the decade ahead.