So what’s this global sourcing of knowledge worders (see part 1) mean for ACS? Well, my experience is that the ACS is pretty much a middle class institution, so the closer the death-of-the-middle-class scenario plays out the more significant the impact. Our income and our volunteer resource comes from discretionary time and money. If sustaining a middle class lifestyle is threatened by new wage medians in a world labor market that are well below customary US salaries, then I don’t see how we could avoid impact. We seem to weather recessions well because we own the brand on a relentless disease. But a long-term downward pressure on living standards may be another matter. People may have to live on closer margins of disposable income or turn to liquidating existing assets to maintain lifestyle. Also volunteer time may be affected if unemployment increases or increased work hours are necessary to maintain living standards. In the long run I’d think the income of the ACS and the US economy have to parallel.
Of course, there are economists who see a rosy future. If there are more people in other countries with rising incomes then they can become customers for our goods and services. The economic stream can run in both directions. US workers just have to know how to make products for the Chinese market. I read that the Chinese government is investing millions of dollars to develop a module for SAT tests so US students learning about China will have an accurate gauge. And do you know anybody studying Indian culture—Asian Indian, that is?
That was certainly the vision for global free trade. The emerging nations would buy stuff designed in Japan, the US or Europe. The high-end product design and engineering jobs would stay in the richer countries. It’s just not working out that way. The Chinese are threatening to create their own DVD standard for their home market so they don’t have to pay royalties to Japanese companies for the existing proprietary DVD standards. And Microsoft is desperately trying to keep those countries from adopting Linux.
If we focus not so much on the fate of the ACS but on cancer itself, it seems to me there could be several upsides. I once picked out of the air a figure of $1 trillion as the cost to drive nascent biotech and pharmacological R&D to maturity, to the point where those technologies could create a real armamentarium of techniques to detect and treat cancer fully. If the intellectual and physical labor is done overseas perhaps a lot more could be done for the trillion. Also the regulatory process in China. India and Asia/Pacific would probably be less. Perhaps less heavily regulated clinical trials would get results faster and cheaper. There are definitely facilitators and pharmaceutical companies looking at these possibilities.
Another positive thing is that the cost of saving lives from cancer in the developing world has to be cheaper than in the US. The Gates Foundation certainly feels you can save more lives per buck in other places in the world. A lot of big donors these days have a more global perspective.
I’d like to see the ACS take advantage of the two-way street. I’m encouraged that we’re making moves toward Asian countries with things like ACSU. I’ve felt for a long time that the CA Division was a great gateway to the Pacific Rim because there are so many residents here with fully active relationships with family and business associates in Asia. I’d think other heterogeneous divisions have the same opportunity.
I’d like to see another goal added to the 2015 goals: Have the ACS foundation set up the World Cancer Society and by 2015 have active program and fund raising organizations in countries covering 75% of the world’s population.
I’ve even got staff in mind: June Chan, CEO, the World Cancer Society, China, and, Jyoti, the CA Div. Notes administrator as CEO, the World Cancer Society, India.