Summers on Welfare State [...]

And, if free-trade advocates have given lip service to the idea of strengthening the welfare state in order to offset uncertainty and inequality, they’ve spent little political capital doing so. Which is why it is interesting to see that Lawrence Summers, who served as President Clinton’s treasury secretary during the headiest days of free-trade enthusiasm, is now having some very public second thoughts. Writing in the Financial Times, he noted that “[e]ven as globalisation increases inequality and insecurity, it is constantly and often legitimately invoked as an argument against the viability of progressive taxation, support for labour unions, strong regulation and substantial production of public goods that mitigate its adverse impacts.” But Summers argued that such an attitude was a political non-starter, particularly as globalization “encourages the development of stateless elites whose allegiance is to global economic success and their own prosperity rather than the interests of the nation where they are headquartered.” In a subsequent column, he concluded that the “domestic component of a strategy to promote healthy globalisation must rely on strengthening efforts to reduce inequality and insecurity. The international component must focus on the interests of working people in all countries, in addition to the current emphasis on the priorities of global corporations.” (Source)

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