On Monday the private, non-profit, and nonpartisan think tank Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE) held was the site of a one-day conference, Ethics and Globalization: The Tradeoffs Underlying Our Policy Choices, where a varied and distinguished group of professionals were heavily engaged in several lively and informative discussions dealing with the ethics of globalization.
According to PIIE, participants addressed the challenges of considering duties to domestic versus global welfare, balancing economic goals between generations, expecting ethical duties from private actors, and reconciling global governance and local accountability. Economists, philosophers, political scientists, and policymakers from the DC area participated, and attended the packed conference area, and recently retired the Honorable Barney Frank (D-MA), a 32-year congressional member from the US House, gave a lunchtime keynote presentation. .
For those who can't see what DC government officials or city residents can take away from attending the event PIIE Editorial Director and Public Policy Fellow Steven Weisman remarked, "We're trying to address the effect of the global economy on the United States - a problem, for example...the inequality in the United States economy. Since the District is very much effected by it [the US economy], we would hope an event like this would shed light on the fact that local economies in DC neighborhoods, as well as communities outside of the Beltway, can be greatly effected and suffer major setbacks with budgets if we aren't looking globally."
World-renowned ethicists William Galston (University of Maryland) and Thomas Pogge (Yale University) sat on a panel moderated by Weisman, along with Anne Krueger (John Hopkins) and Arvind Subramanian (PIIE) debated their personal thoughts on the future direction and pursuit of domestic versus global welfare.
One attendee during the conference poised this question to the panel: "It seems like institutions like IMF and the World Bank haven't gone so far as to say that these are the kinds of thing that we need to do in order to have equitable globalization, and it seems to stop eight there. But how about them talking about a proper minimum wage?
Krueger tackled the question by responding, "That's a question that many people have argued. A minimum that's relatively low, i.e. that's considerably below the mean wage in the country, may - if enforceable - be able to bring up some profits, but, in many countries minimum wage isn't set high enough and have precluded almost all industrial employment."
The conference was cosponsored by The New Republic and support by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.
The institute was founded back in 1981 by C. Fred Bergsten, a former assistant secretary for international affairs at the U.S. Treasury Department. PIIE has been ranked as the world's leading think tank in the area of international economics by University of Pennsylvania's Think Tanks and Civil Society Program. The organization's president, Adam Posen recently had a piece featured in New Your Times Magazine.