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Roger Marolt: Roger This

Roger Marolt
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

Here is something I don’t get: There are people in this country who are against sending jobs overseas and at the same time are against opening our borders to allow foreign people to come here and do them.

OK, I lied. I actually do understand it and even know what they call these types of people – foolish. The goal is to preserve the American way of life in which we make the rules and force everybody else to play by them. This system works well if you live in a castle surrounded by a deep moat. And, up to now, the Atlantic and Pacific have proved to be sufficient proxies for the moat. Our mistake was not to install drawbridges across the Rio Grande, so now we are building a wall there instead.

The problem is that we arrogantly assumed that our poor neighbors wanted to cross the border to come here and live the American Dream. The real issue, however, is that the people who want to come here to work don’t really give a twit about an American Dream. They have their own dreams in their own countries with their own families and friends. All they need is money, and that is the primary reason they come, not to make sure all menus at fast-food restaurants are in English and Spanish.

I’ll let you in on a secret, though: Keeping aliens out of our country has backfired. Yes, we have made progress in preventing foreigners from entering our country to help make new houses and consuming organic produce more affordable for us. But walls, armed border guards and razor-wire have not been able to stop our jobs from going over the border the other way. By making it hard for people to come here to work, we have given them incentive to lure our jobs to their countries instead. And they’re happier for it.

What a surprise. In an era when you can cross an ocean as quickly as you can pull up your Web browser, how tough is it to sneak a few thousand jobs past an electrified fence? Globalization is not just about keeping track of Lady Gaga’s whereabouts on Twitter. It’s also about matching people with jobs, here or there, whichever is most efficient. Have computer, will work. Glad to do it in my hometown. Thanks!

Given this, building a wall along our borders now to “preserve our way of life” makes about as much sense as allocating resources to create a device preventing the illegal pirating of music from eight-track tapes. Our wall along the Mexican border is a monument to our naivete. Seriously. It’s like we are about 30 years behind the East Germans.

So, share we will whether we like it or not. The economic waters of globalization are seeking their level. What this means is that the standard of living in the world will approach parity. Many nations in the world have lots of room to move up. We have plenty of room to go down. The fact that American wage growth has been stagnant over the past decade (at least) is evidence that this is happening.

Don’t blame the foreigners, though. Ironically, this lubricated worldwide flow of information and jobs came about through a large dose of American ingenuity in creating the technology that encourages it. Yet, this doesn’t necessarily mean that we in the United States have to suffer a huge decrease in our standard of living. We have to embrace what is inevitable and foster the changes that lead to increased productivity throughout the world rather than stand in the way and waste our resources building walls.

If we don’t, would-be menial-job laborers in other countries soon will be telling us gladly to clean our own toilets; first of all, because they are not going to do it for us and second, because we can no longer afford maids since all our jobs have been exported. As an alternative, we need to encourage and help people around the globe to become prosperous on the leveling playing field.

Then, we take advantage of their new wealth. We figure out what we can produce most efficiently and sell it to them. That’s the selfless American way. Actually, it’s the Chinese way, but let’s not confuse the issue.


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