What would William Forster Lloyd say about the world today?
The 19th century British writer in economics was particularly interested in population control. In 1833, Lloyd introduced a scenario that would later be known as, “The Tragedy of the Commons.”
Imagine a flourishing, green, grazing area that is available to all the members of a town. There would be plenty of room for the members to bring a sufficient number of cattle to the green.
That is, if everyone acted in the best interest of the town. Unfortunately, greed takes over, and a small group of farmers exploit the green. The green is eventually overgrazed, and destroyed.
Thus, the tragedy of the commons.
Today, the farmers are corporations such as Nike and Apple. The green is the number of job opportunities American corporations should be offering their citizens.
Instead, Nike offers $200 shoes made by female workers who earn around 50 cents an hour in foreign countries.
Apple is no better. A 2014 report from BBC exposes the vast mistreatment Chinese workers faced.
These practices are hurting Americans too.
America lost 5.1 millions jobs from 2001-2011 due to outsourcing, according to US News & World Report. This only deepens the divide between the rich and the poor.
Outsourcing is not the only reason for the income divide, but it’s no coincidence that America’s income inequality is at a boiling point. In fact, the divide is the highest it’s been since 1928.
However, there is reason to be optimistic. 60,000 manufacturing jobs were added in the United States in 2014. The same article reports “only” 50,000 jobs were “outsourced,” in 2014.
2014’s net increase of 10,000 jobs was the first time in at least 20 years there had been an increase.
Perhaps that once green pasture of American jobs will return after all.
By: Jackson Rioux