James Fallows, writer on Asian issues and moderate proponent of globalization - or so I gather - on the cash value of the enterprise:
First is the social effect visible around the world, which in homage to China’s Communist past we can call “intensifying the contradictions.” Global trade involves one great contradiction: The lower the barriers to the flow of money, products, and ideas, the less it matters where people live. But because most people cannot move from one country to another, it will always matter where people live. In a world of frictionless, completely globalized trade, people on average would all be richer—but every society would include a wider range of class, comfort, and well-being than it now does. Those with the most marketable global talents would be richer, because they could sell to the largest possible market. Everyone else would be poorer, because of competition from a billions-strong labor pool. With no trade barriers, there would be no reason why the average person in, say, Holland would be better off than the average one in India. Each society would contain a cross section of the world’s whole income distribution—yet its people would have to live within the same national borders.
We’re nowhere near that point. But the increasing integration of the American and Chinese economies pushes both countries toward it. This is more or less all good for China, but not all good for America. It means economic benefits mainly for those who have already succeeded, a harder path up for those who are already at a disadvantage, and further strain on the already weakened sense of fellow feeling and shared opportunity that allows a society as diverse and unequal as America’s to cohere.
I have but three questions for the present moment, though I imagine I'll have much more to say about all of this in the future.
First, should we regard this as just in the relevant sense, that is to say, consonant with our obligations towards our fellow Americans?
Second, if we decide that justice is not implicated in any of this, how should ordinary Americans think about this, given that the perception of justice - or, perhaps, a torpid, cynical shrug that there is nothing more one can do than receive the shaft - will be critical to the acceptance of this more nearly Hobbesian future?
Third, in what sense is this future desirable? At all. Bill Gates and the barrio. Who, other than those who either know, or will gamble, that they will be numbered among the fortunate few, would accept, in full cognizance, this (cough) social contract? And, given that so few people are in fact cognizant of any of this, though it is really as simple as arithmetic, what are the consequences for representative, republican, deliberative governance of such radical alterations in our mode of existence, brought about without deliberation, and without knowledge on the part of the people?
OK, so that is five questions, though numbers four and five follow upon the third. Readers likely already know where I stand: this is unjust, the people should recognize it as such, it is highly undesirable, only the morally stunted or somnolent would accept it, and it entails the evanescence of republican governance. This is the "cash value" of that "natural level of wages."