Refitting The West's Winning Economic Model

NEW YORK: The advantages of the West's economic system defeated communism in Eastern Europe and set back economic nationalism and populism in much of the Third World. Yet, in the West itself, a flaw in the system has become glaring -- and damaging -- to all.

The system no longer offers a fifth or more of its active-age members enough economic opportunity to integrate them into society. In the U.K. and U.S., pay has fallen too low for the self-support and job stability of low-end workers. In Western Europe and Canada, to varying degrees, such low pay is ruled out by law or wage-setting bodies, but these block low-end workers from jobs. The resulting idleness, deprivation, drugs and crime pose costs and hazards to everyone.

With damage so widespread, a broad-based political bargain to correct the flaw is now feasible. To conceive the needed package of reforms, though, we must first understand the West's economic model: how its parts were designed to work and how it can be refitted to regain its capabilities.

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