Dean Baker is the co-director of the Center for Economic Policy and Research.
He has published an article titled “Why don’t we have free trade for highly paid professionals in the U.S.?” on the PBS Newshour blog, “Making Sen$e.”
He argues that the cost of medical care could be lowered by opening our borders to doctors from abroad. For reason of restraint of trade, argues Baker, we pay our doctors twice what we need to.
The United States has supported cross border movement of goods and capital. (NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, 1994, is case and point. Prior to Donald Trump’s election to the office of President, other multi-lateral trade agreements were pending. Trump says his administration will negotiate trade deals on a bilateral basis.) To open the borders to the free flow of labor, as has happened in Europe, is another matter. Doctors from the Netherlands and truck drivers from Mexico can enter and work in the U.S. if they obtain the correct visas and licensing, but admission is based on an individual’s application, not on a country of origin.
On November 15, 2016 the Ford Motor Company announced that it is moving a small car factory from Michigan to Mexico. It will be importing other cars from India.
Why do we not import workers instead of cars? And what is a fair wage? US auto workers hired before 2007 earn between $28 and $32 an hour. Those hired since make between $16 and $20. And, Mexican auto workers make from $1 to $4 an hour.
It is hard to overstate the complexity of this problem. In a forthcoming posting I will look into the matter of medical licensing in Colorado. Medical care in Colorado is too expensive (as it is elsewhere in the U.S.)
Distributists seek local solutions, ones cut with surgical precision.
As a distributist, I hope that any eventual exchange is made medical board to medical board, and not trade representative to trade representative. Medicine is local. It is good that Dean Baker has raised the issue, but a race to the bottom wage-wise is not a solution. There are many other things that can be done.