[Letters to the editor]A modest proposal
I have observed that the presidential contest recently held in South Korea and the current primary race in the United States have something in common. Both exhibit an unnerving focus on the ills of free trade agreements.
The politicians in both contests pander to a constituency that fails to recognize the inevitability of global commerce and its potential to reshape job markets.
Of course, I acknowledge that free trade agreements are not a panacea to urban poverty, nor are they a fail-safe road to prosperity, but a consensus has emerged that a proliferation of FTAs is the best solution to economic stagnation.
However, in order to pacify and reinvigorate farmers, manufacturing workers and people in other lower-tech occupations, I believe it is the responsibility of all governments to introduce, debate and legislate what I would like to refer to as ETAs, or educational free trade agreements.
In the swiftly changing interconnected economy that we currently inhabit, withering automobile and steel plants can only be replaced with enhanced educational training in 21st century fields: biotechnology, information-based services, investment banking and other industries.
Since there is literally no effective, economically sound route to curb the closing of textile plants or the outsourcing of accountants, citizens need to accept economic realities and governments must assist in this intricate process of transition.
My plan would create a global community liberated from stifling educational visas that only hamper the exchange of knowledge, which is pivotal to international economic development. If professors and students around the world can communicate and work in each other’s homeland without the interference of intolerant governments, more jobs will be created and fear of globalization will gradually subside.
One example of how governments obstruct free-flowing connections are exorbitant visa fees that both China and the United States charge for tourists and educational observers.
For instance, I recently paid 100,000 Korean won ($105.40) for a single-entry visa to Beijing. A counterpart in Beijing would pay roughly the equivalent or more for an interview and a subsequent visa.
This is merely one example of governments choosing to work against each other rather than with each other. If joint agreements were declared to eliminate exorbitant visa fees, individuals would be able to participate in both the American and Chinese dreams.
I am fully aware of national security concerns and the role that visas play in deterring potential terrorists or illegal immigrants, but this is at the expense of sustained economic and educational partnerships.
Dennis Yang, English instructor,
Gimhae Foreign Language High School
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