Table of Contents
- Free trade
Joseph Stiglitz once said “What separates developing countries from developed countries is as much a gap in knowledge as a gap in resources.” In today’s globalised world, the stark difference in wealth and quality of labour between developed countries and developing countries has led to the governments of two categories of countries to face different set of problems and solutions due to different circumstances. The financial ability of governments developed countries has been reflected by their achievement of the economic milestone of 12,000 USD per capita, which gives governments the ability to choose between the extent of intervention to protect the interest of the nation, ranging from minimal interventions such as ?, to having a strong presence through active campaigning and definite bans. In face of problems such as demerit goods and policies that seemingly bring more harm than good to the nation, governments may choose to ban these goods and policies to remove the threat they hold over the nation’s society, sovereignty and economy. While severe problems call for extreme methods such as bans to be used, developing countries would be overly optimistic to assume that the total ban on goods or policies will be able to resolve such complex issues. Due to the infeasibility and undesirability of total bans, I believe that it would be more realistic to manage problems by implementing focused policies in various affected aspects to reduce the harm caused by these issues.
OV: Many might think that when it comes to drugs, banning and death penalties are the best solutions to drug abuse. Drug bans around the world has proved to be a rather successful deterrent. Singapore, being known for having one of the most stringent drug laws around the world, has managed to maintain a fairly low drug crime rate. Others might feel that to manage the issue on drugs is way too complicated as it delves into the socio-cultural backgrounds of drug offenders. Many of these drug offenders belong to the lower rungs of the social ladder and for governments to look into each case will be logistically impossible. Hence, proponents of this claim feel that it is more viable to totally ban drugs than to manage it.
CA: While it is true that drugs as a social vice have such crippling effects on society that it should be banned, we have to realise that merely banning drugs is not enough to solve the root of the problem. As recognised by the opponents of my stand, drug offenders often come from broken families and communities. Banning drugs often send these offenders into using illegal means to obtain their drugs. According to the United Nations Office in Drugs and Crime (UNODC), drug trafficking over the darknet saw an alarming 50% increase each year from 2013 to 2015. This proves that banning may have counterproductive and undesirable effects too. No matter how strict our drug laws can be, drugs will still permeate our borders. Instead, we should manage the problem by taking a multi-pronged approach on top of banning drug abuse. Taking a look at Zurich, Switzerland, which was known for being European’s biggest open drug scene in the 1990s. At the peak of the issue, drug-related crime rates increased by twelve fold. The turning point came when Switzerland introduced drug policy reform. Rather than doubling down on their drug ban,which proved useless, authorities took up a less punitive yet pragmatic approach. They provided therapy and treatment for drug addicts and assisted them in integrating back into society using countless social programmes. Although Switzerland still has the highest ratio of drug addicts placed on heroin substitution programmes in the world, authorities have managed to clear up the messy drug scene in the country. Today, new cases of drug addicts in Switzerland are extremely rare. Switzerland is the epitome of how bans might worsen the problem and how effective management solves the issue in a more all-rounded manner.
A particularly pertinent issue faced by many developed countries in today’s time is that of the refugee crisis. A contentious topic that has raised the ire of many,
OV: Some might think that it is better to simply ban the entrance of refugees altogether than to manage them as the latter is administratively, economically and socially taxing. An attempt to manage the refugee crisis, proponents of this stand believe, is simply biting off more than a nation can chew and only serves to create more problems rather than solve any at all. Such an argument might arise from statistics that put into perspective the alarmingly large sums of money as well as other intangible social costs involved in accepting refugees
Stats/Examples: On average, it costs about $15,000 to help settle a refugee, including both initial background checks as well as job and English training once they arrive. As refugees are also immediately eligible for welfare assistance and Medicaid, the government spends approximately $92,000 in governmental assistance for the first 20 years each refugee spends in the US.
CA: Though such a position would be understandable and even justified were it held by a less-developed country, it is unacceptable for a developed and wealthier nation to turn away refugees by pushing the narrative that they simply cannot afford to do so. As it is, there are more developed countries who are capable of managing the refugee crisis than we have been led to believe. Yet, according to reports from Oxfam International, currently only Canada, Germany and Norway are truly pulling their weight in tackling the issue. Unlike their poorer counterparts, countries such as France and the Netherlands who have pledged to take an especially low percentage of their “fair share” of refugees – as calculated by Oxfam International – can in fact afford to accept more refugees.
SV: Furthermore, were they to turn away refugees, developed countries would inadvertently create in other nations the very same administrative and social problems they purport to be defending against. From an international perspective, shirking their responsibilities would only serve to aggravate the refugee crisis. In countries such as Lebanon and Jordan, refugees comprise a shockingly large proportion of their inhabitants though their economies are considerably smaller than countries like the United Kingdom. Not only is such a gross distortion in refugee distribution unfair, it also evinces a selfishness and lack of ethical responsibility on the part of many developed nations. Considering that a key argument against accepting refugees is that the country cannot handle it, it is absurdly ironic and would hardly make any sense to force other less capable countries to shoulder so much more than their own share of such a burden – practically on their own. Whether developed nations like it or not, the refugee crisis is a collective problem of the international community that will not simply cease should they choose to ignore it. In the face of an issue of such behemoth proportions, what their actions – or lack thereof – would mean for other countries is that it is now an exponentially more difficult task to tackle the refugee crisis.
Given that the issue is worsened by the imbalance in contributions, it would be more globally sustainable for nations to coordinate their efforts evenly based on honest and fair distribution of responsibility. Various organisations like the Global Crisis Centre have shown support for systematic management of the crisis with recommendations for areas such as security, asylum applications and even repatriation should the refugees’ home states regain stability. It cannot be disputed that the refugee crisis is here to stay in our world for long time considering how it arises from a convoluted web of deeply entrenched factors. As such, banning refugees is simply not a viable option in the long run and the international community would stand to gain more from sensible management of the issue at hand.
OV: Some venture that developed countries should ban free trade in light of how its advent has had pernicious impacts on their economies over the past few decades, postulating how free trade has led to the structural decline of industries in developed countries, trade deficits and growing income inequality. It is argued that while free trade may be beneficial in developing the international economy, it also reduces borders between the economies of different nations, which has led to greater consumption of imports and relocation of production lines. A case in point proponents of this standpoint towards are the negative impacts that free trade has had on America – which pioneered the free trade system – over the past few decades. For instance, how the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement which America signed with Canada and Mexico increased America’s trade deficit by $181 billion and displaced 1 million Americans from their jobs from 1994 to 2014. Opponents of free trade thus premise their arguments that developed countries should ban free trade on these grounds.
CA 1: However, the aforementioned concerns raised by opponents of free trade are only valid when countries adopt unwise economic policies and unfavorable balance of trade with large expenditures and little export revenue. This explains why only developed countries like America and Canada who splurge on consumer imports, pursue hefty military budgets or undertake large fiscal expenditures in other sectors experience trade deficits, while other countries such as Germany and Singapore who are financially prudent do not. Rather than causing it, free trade is a mere phenomenon that serves to exacerbate these deficits. Through reducing monetary and non-monetary barriers to trade, it has allowed nations to import goods more easily, encouraging these developed countries to import more and thus compounding the size of the trade deficits which these nations have. Instead of banning free trade, governments should instead implement policies to redress the root causes of the trade deficits they experience. Such can be achieved through encouraging citizens to purchase domestic goods over imports, or finding ways to streamline military expenditures
CA 2: Next, although the advent of free trade has led to an outflow of blue-collared jobs due to companies offshoring to developing countries which offer lower labour costs, it has also created jobs for those in developed countries. Free trade has allowed for firms hailing from developed countries to expand their scale of production because they now have greater access to a consumer markets in other countries. This has manifestly created numerous employment opportunities for developed countries, balancing out the loss of jobs caused by the structural decline of sunset industries. To address these unemployment problems, the government can invest more money and efforts in policies that seek to train workers to work in nascent industries. Policies similar to the Singapore government’s setting up of the SkillsFuture Scheme and Continuing Education and Training centres that are geared are helping workers acquire new skills can be modelled by other developed countries currently facing unemployment problems as a result of free trade.
SV: While free trade has created and worsened problems on various fronts, it has recognisably brought about many benefits to developed countries as well. Banning free trade will lead to a loss of benefits such as giving consumers in these countries greater access to a wider variety of products and products that are cheaper than domestic substitutes. It has also allowed countries to consume beyond domestic production possibilities, generated employment opportunities and brought an inflow of investments into developed countries. Politically, free trade also provides a foundation for rapprochement and the formation of ties between developed countries and other nations. In light of these benefits, it is thus better for developed countries to find ways to mitigate the consequences of free trade rather than ban it altogether so that they may retain these benefits which free trade has on their economy and country.
In conclusion, when facing problems that bring massive negative impacts to the nation such as drugs, refugees and free trade, developed countries should not use bans to resolve problems, as it would be imprudent to throw away the baby with the bathwater, and the developed countries will miss out the benefits brought about the apparent problem. It would also be difficult and impractical to effectively put a ban in place as globalisation has developed a world with little physical and economical borders. Therefore, for developed nations to ban a problem as a means of resolving it would only be pulling wool over one’s eyes as it is impractical and undesirable.