Did you know if the minimum wage had kept up with productivity since the late 1960s, it would be about $18 per hour? Or that countries joining the European Union are required to provide workers at least four weeks paid vacation?
This would all be old news if you were at our Monday evening salon with economist Dean Baker, who discussed topics from his latest book, The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive.
Of course, if you skipped it to watch the (boring) BCS Championship game – or even just had to make dinner and pick up the kids – have no fear! Here’s a rundown of Dean’s three main points – as well as a video link to the entire salon.
Dean’s top three discussion topics from Monday night:
1. Patents and copyrights: Patents and copyrights, particularly on pharmaceuticals, distort an otherwise free market by creating a legal monopoly that makes drugs very expensive. As an alternative to the patent and copyright system, the federal government could expand federal funding for biomedical research. Dean also touched on the Apple and Samsung patent wars, and the absurdity of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).
2. Trade policy: Dean’s second point relates to how we structure trade and protections for workers. Here’s a teaser: “Trade agreements have been designed to make it as easy as possible to get clothes, steel, all these manufactured goods from the cheapest producers with the lowest cost labor. This is explicit policy. And the predicted result of that is to drive down wages of our manufacturing workers… The exact opposite has happened with foreign doctors coming into the country. We rigged the institutions to ensure doctors would get high wages…[Doctors] don’t face the same type of competition as steel workers.”
3. The structure of the labor market: The U.S. has, by far, the longest average work year of any developed country. We’re also one of the few countries that does not require paid sick days and paid family leave. Dean also talked extensively about work-sharing, which actually helped the Germany economy lower it’s unemployment rate during the depths of the recession.
Watch the video below – and be sure to join us at our next salon (for supporters of EOI)!