Whenever someone uses the word ‘free’ in relation to economics, it means ‘tax-free,’ and/or ‘free from regulation,’ so free trade simply refers to trade that is free from regulation and taxes. The government has almost always taxed or regulated trade in some way, but in the digital age, it is very difficult for them to tax and regulate services performed in other countries and transferred back through information systems.
I think that in an age of heavy government regulation, it is necessary to have barriers to trade in order to keep wealth inside the United States, but I also think that if the government alleviated its regulation on businesses, free trade would be better because wealth tends to gravitate towards free markets. In other words, if we’re going to have an unregulated economy, let’s have fully-unregulated economy, but if we’re going to have a government-regulated economy, let’s commit ourselves fully to that. Regardless, free-trade is unlikely to happen in a day when the government needs every penny it can get due to budget deficits.
New middlers are going to have service-related jobs that are ‘untouchable.’ They are going to have to be able to collaborate and orchestrate collaboration within and between companies. Mainly, they are going to have jobs in sales, marketing, maintenance, and management. Also, many will involve making supply chains more efficient (supply-chain management).
There was a part of the reading that talked about the ‘shrinking middle class,’ and it caught my interest, because I often hear that the middle-class is shrinking on the news and from politicians. However, in my opinion, Friedman’s train of thought about the disappearing middle-class is illogical. He implies that the ‘flattening’ of the world is causing middle-class jobs to disappear. To begin with, the ‘flattening’ of the world is basically information technology being available to everyone. How does this decrease jobs in any way? When technology increases and is more available to people, jobs don’t decrease. They increase. To illustrate, go back about a hundred years and think about what the new-and-exploding automobile industry did for our country. Yes, many stable-keepers and horseshoe-blacksmiths lost their jobs, but that doesn’t mean that jobs were decreasing. They were just changing. Suddenly there was a gigantic demand for assembly-line workers, engineers, businessmen/women, bookkeepers, etc. New demands for steel, rubber, leather, and plastic would create a myriad of jobs in other industries. The same thing is happening today. As information technology is becoming more and more widespread, jobs are increasing (with the exception of the recent recession). Yes, many currently-available jobs will become obsolete, but many new jobs and skillsets will become highly-demanded. The need will continually grow for programmers, computer engineers, IT systems analysts, digital forensics experts, etc., as will the need for countless jobs in computer-related industries such as plastics, aluminum, electrical-power, and waste management. Those who resist this shift in work will not succeed, just as a 20th-century horse-carriage builder wouldn’t have succeeded if he resisted the onslaught of the new automobile industry. To concede, it is true that many of these new jobs are being outsourced to India, China, and other countries, but as this continues to happen, wealth will grow in those countries. As wealth grows in them, they will demand new products and services like never before, creating even more jobs from within, and they will continue to grow to the point where they, too, will begin to outsource. Maybe one day China will be outsourcing to the United States.
CQ (curiosity quotient) + PQ (passion quotient) > IQ (intelligence quotient) means that although intelligence is important for future workers, passion and curiosity are more important. I couldn’t say enough to emphasize how true this is. There is no amount of self-discipline or studying that can match the information ingested and retained by a passionate person. For this reason, it is important that people pursue professions that they are passionate and curious towards.