Despite trade’s intractability, we still have a lot of room to address the impact of trade on our economy. Trade with China and other nations may be all but inevitable, but growing wealth inequality and disproportionate pain (blue-collar workers losing their jobs, investors reaping a fortune) are not. There is much we can do within our borders to address the unequal impact of global trade. We can educate children for more competitive careers, train displaced workers for new industries or even directly compensate those who fail to benefit from global trade.
That, in fact, is what the people of Assur did, 4,000 years ago ... Trade brought enormous wealth to a dozen or so families. But rather than hold all of it for themselves, the wealthy were made to redistribute a high percentage of their earnings through taxes and religious foundations that used the money for the public good. This way, the wealth created by trading with Kanesh made nearly everybody — at least every free citizen — better off.
"Made to," I note this says.
That means that those rich guys don't give it away voluntarily.
Then or now!