Thursday, September 29, 2005

David Ricardo is smiling :)

The economist David Ricardo is credited with the first clear articulation of the concept of "Comparative Advantage",, via his 1817 book, The Principles of Political Economy and Taxation. This rather simple concept states that all parties/countries involved in commerce (domestic or foreign trade) are better off if there is a "specialization of labor" -- perhaps with one trading party producing guns and another party producing butter for those of you who have fond memories of Economics 101.

I was reminded of Mr. Ricardo's 188 year old concept today while reading the following story in the Bangkok Post newspaper during my trip to Thailand:

"Singapore to host world's first Toilet College"

The purpose of this college is described as -- "We are going to train the toilet cleaners to upgrade himself or herself to a level where he or she (no gender bias in this industry mind you!!!) can take care of the entire toilet, including changing bulbs, repairing leaky tabs, technical cleaning, taking away salt urine inside the toilet..........." , said Jack Sim, President of the World Toilet Organization (WTO) which is based in Singapore. The WTO (no, not those free traders in Geneva) is the founder of the toilet college. One final note here is that the college curriculum will not just be limited to cleaning because in 2006 they will offer courses in "toilet design and architecture" which is a great subject for a future posting regarding how dynamic, service economies constantly create higher-paying, value-added jobs as newly developing economies take over the lower-value added products and job functions (such as removing salt urine from toilets!!).

Now that is what I call comparative advantage and specialization of labor!!

Working to expand free trade,


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