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International Labor and Employment Law: The Continuing Conflicts

Thomas L. Friedman in his book, The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century (Farrar Straus and Giroux, New York 2005) at page 114 quoted the following African proverb: “Every morning in Africa a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn't matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle. When the sun comes up, you better start running.” If this is not a sufficient metaphor in connection with the difficulties companies in the U.S. have had with their competition, then another quote from Friedman's book, discussing the ability of the U.S. to obtain a competitive advantage because of its labor laws, certainly is: “The United States also has among the most flexible laws in the world. The easier it is to fire someone in a dying industry, the easier it is to hire someone in a rising industry that no one knew would exist five years earlier. This is a great asset, especially when you compare the situation in the United States to inflexible, rigidly regulated labor markets like Germany's, full of government restrictions on hiring and firing. Flexibility to quickly deploy labor and capital where the greatest opportunity exists, and the ability to quickly redeploy it if the earlier deployment is no longer profitable, is essential in a flattening world. If you survive competition within the U.S. you can then address the competition outside of the U.S. The matter of survival of the fittest is becoming even more complicated."
 

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