Democrats & Liberals Archives

Agog at Glitzy Globalization

Globalization is good, good, good. It’s opposite protectionism is bad, bad, bad. This is the mantra of Bush, as well as of practically all of the so-called “experts.” This is too black-and-white for me. Some globalization actions are good and some are bad. Some protectionism actions are good and some are bad. Not “good” or “bad” for business, for growth or for a few powerful people, but “good” or “bad” for the majority of Americans.

In India, Bush said that America should not fight globalization with protectionism. There's that black-and-white stuff again. You are either with us or with the terrorists, you either fight my war or you're a traitor. Now it is, you are either for globalization or protectionism.

This is a false choice.

Have you noticed that the choice is presented entirely from the point of view of Big Business. What is meant by "globalization"? Who does most of the globalizing? Huge multinational corporations. They love globalization because it enables them to spread their tentacles of power throughout the world. Good for them. But what does this mean for ordinary Americans? We can just as easily do without the glitz and call it "trade."

What does "outsourcing" mean? Are corporations buying nails, cement or wood? We're talking about people here. People are not commodities to be bought and sold at so much a pound. There is no "outsourcing" here. The globalizer is running a "layoff of workers." And the long range purpose for the globalizer is to reduce the wages of the few workers it needs to retain.

Then there is "protectionism." Globalizers are knocking businesses who they think don't want to compete fair and square and do things to "protect" their business from foreign competition. According to them, this is terrible because it reduces "efficiency," hurts "capital flow" and is bad for "free enterprise." A better word for "protectionism" may be "saving jobs."

Instead of choosing "globalization" or "protectionism," we should choose trade policies that are good for America. By that I mean that these policies should benefit not merely big corporations, but the great majority of Americans - most of whom are workers. Here are three major policies to determine if trade is good or bad for America:

  • INCREASES AMERICAN EMPLOYMENT - We should modify our laws and tax system to encourage corporations to stay and to return to the U.S., if they have left. IBM selling its Personal Systems Group to China's Lenovo for $1.75 billion is a calamity: it transfers high paying research and manufacutring jobs out of the country for many years to come

  • INCREASES AMERICAN WAGES - We should prevent manufacturers from laying off workers and shipping the jobs overseas. Through our laws we should reward those who increase employment, especially high-wage employment. We should punish an outfit like Intel, when it launches the Centrino Duo mobile chip in India. Instead of tax favoritism for capital equipment we should have tax favoritism for employing in America skilled and educated workers

  • SUPPORTS OUR FOREIGN POLICY - For example, don't allow an untrustworthy Dubai Ports World to operate American ports. When occupying a country like Iraq, we should encourage local businesses to take over most of the infrastructure tasks, not outfits like Halliburton
Yes, globalization is glitzy. However, we should concentrate on writing trade laws and developing a tax system that benefit most Americans, not merely a powerful few.

Posted by Paul Siegel at March 10, 2006 6:29 PM
Comments
Comment #132726

//
The original point of globalization was that they thought it would prevent wars, and make the economies of all nations interdependent. The problem that became apparent was that old single crop plantation economies continued to exist and not diversify. Many countries produce one main product for export, and get a global market price for that product. Oil producers get a high price, because the exporters entire military and governmental expenditure is included in the price of the oil. Food producers are never going to get their military budget included in the price of a banana. People will just buy the bananas elsewhere.
///

Posted by: ohrealy at March 10, 2006 7:04 PM
Comment #132745

Paul,

I agree that we should be promoting the best interest of the American people in international trade. The Bush Regime, the Republicans, and even to a lessor extent the Democrats, all serve the interests of the “global” multinational corporate “oligarchy.”

But, I also think that some of your proposals are too “protectionistic.” Because, I am one of the few “economics” enlightened liberals that believes in free trade. While there will always be individual winners and losers - free trade - real free trade that is - benefits everyone. The problem is that China, Japan, Mexico, and others do not have an open free market.

What happens when a free market economy like the U.S. trades with a closed economy like Japan, China, or Mexico, is that the free market economy (that would be us) gets cheated. Take Mexico or China as examples. Both countries allow multinational corporations to evade environmental laws and basic rights of workers to collective bargaining, as well as, health and safety. So, American multinational corporations can go to these countries and rape the environment that everyone in the world depends on for survival - and they can rape, cripple, kill, and unfairly exploit the workers. These factors create defacto subsidies for these corporations to move production to these countries. Therefore these countries are not practicing free trade. They are subsidising the corporations to move production to their country. This puts downward pressure on the ability of American workers to earn a living wage under survivable working conditions. It is a race to the bottom.

In true free trade, production would move to these countries, but they would need pollution control equipment - machine tools - engineering services - standard of living and wages would rise - which would create new markets for American products - which would create new economic opportunity for Americans - everybody would win. That is not happening. That is not, and never was the intended policy of this regime. The policies of this regime have always been ideally suited to serving the interests of the rich powerful and privileged elite against the interest of the working class, poor and disenfranchised.

More and more of our productive capacity - more and more of our economic power - more and more of our “equity” and ownership of our own country, is transferred over the border as we borrow more and more money to buy more and more products from more and more countries that cheat us in international trade by subsidising our amoral multinational corporations to transfer production to their countries without giving us a fair opportunity to sell our products to them.

Japan is a little different case. They invaded our markets while keeping their markets closed to us. Their markets are still largely closed to us. They cheated us starting in the 70s and they are still cheating us.

Increasing industrial productive capacity in China combined with decreasing industrial capacity in the U.S. will make China into the worlds only super-power.

So… it is clear that the real agenda of the Bush Regime is to serve the amoral UnAmerican American multinational corporations, and that this regime does not care about the real interests of the American people.

Here is a couple of entries from Ray,s Brief Dictionary of Political Buzz Words:

Economy (Ē-cŏn-nō-mē΄) noun. 1.) A system of organizing labor, capital, and resources to produce the goods and services that people need. 2.) A system for making the rich richer. 3.) The Holy Temple of the Almighty Dollar. 4.) Something that is far less important than making sure that two adult men do not have the right to enter in to a civil contract of marriage. As in: People will vote against there own best interest on the economy in order to prevent gays from getting married – because?… if two consenting adult men got married – that would just be the end of the world – for sure – because?… all the closeted fags in the Christian right coalition would become liberated?… and run off and marry each other?…

Economist (Ē-cŏn-nō-mǐst΄) noun. 1.) The High and Holy Priest of the Holy Temple of the Almighty Dollar. 2.) Someone who advocates for “free trade” agreements like NAFTA that allow a third world country to subsidize industry by not demanding reasonable environmental standards or that workers be empowered to be anything more than slaves. Also someone who advocates for “free trade” agreements that allow third world countries to subsidize industry by not requiring any health and safety standards for workers. 3.) Someone trained to understand the complex inter-relationships between labor, capital, resources, and, goods and services. 4.) Someone who knows how to make the rich get richer on the blood, sweat, and tears of the working class. 5.) A General in the class war against God fearing hordes of subhuman workers.

To read more of Ray’s Brief Dictionary, go to: Ray’s Political Blog

Posted by: Ray G. at March 10, 2006 9:07 PM
Comment #132754

” Bush Regime “

Ray G.,
How many presidents do you think we should have at one time?

Paul,
“This is the mantra of Bush, as well as of practically all of the so-called “experts.” This is too black-and-white for me.”

It’s no different than any other ‘hot button’ issue. I know- the reds have ALL the power.

Posted by: bug at March 10, 2006 10:22 PM
Comment #132759

It seems most Americans have a negative view on globalization. Not only does this policy promote peaceful relationships between nations but it is also distributing the wealth between the rich industrial nations to the poor debted ones. It is allowing small companies to extend their services globally and have a some what even playing field with the large rich ones. I recommend that you should all read The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman.

Posted by: greenstuff at March 10, 2006 11:25 PM
Comment #132763

Greenstuff is right. And the reason Paul’s “so called experts,” i.e. economists, embrace free trade is because their profession calls them to heed evidence. And there is mountains of it that free trade, or globalization, benefits worker and CEO alike.

The world has witnessed two extended periods of liberal trade, the Pax Brittanica (late 19th and early 20th centuries) and the Pax Americana (post-WWII). In both, the nations that were most open to trade benefitted with higher living standards and innovation.

Consider that in the 60 years of post-WWII liberal trade, there has been a greater expansion of scientific knowledge than in all of previous human history combined. Living standards, infant mortality, life expectancy, literacy, welfare provisions, education, and many other key indices have increased dramatically.

Maintaining an open market enables American consumers to buy goods and services less expensively (freeing capital for other pursuits)AND enables foreign producers to raise their standards of living. A vote against free trade is explicitly a vote in favor of continued poverty for less developed countries.

Paul’s presecription for “protecting jobs” would hurt workers and consumers here and abroad. Consider the “protected” farmers of Europe and the US. Consumers pay above market price for agricultural goods (sapping money they could use for other purchases or investments)and foreign producers are artificially prevented from competing in our market, depriving them of desperately needed income. Next time you think about donating money to an international aid organization, think of reducing tariffs as well. The average European cow earns more (2 Euros a day) in subsidies than the average worker in developing countries. One price of “protecting” jobs.

History has also witnessed the self-centered protectionist policies Paul describes. In the 1920’s, countries increasingly followed “beggar they neighbor” policies in which they artificially protected their industries and workers with tariffs and currency devaluations at the expense of trading partners. This vicious cycle led to the Great Depression and created an atmosphere ripe for Hitler’s rise and WWII. You can look it up.

More recently, our current president enacted tariffs against steel imports to protect domestic producers. The result was that every American manufacturer using steel paid higher production costs and passed the increase on to consumers. The average “protected” American steelworker earning $40-50k cost the American taxpayer over $100,000 each.

Paul provides absolutely no evidence whatsoever that globalization has caused an aggregate loss in jobs or competitiveness. Perhaps because job losses to outsourcing have been a miniscule percentage of the total (less than one percent) and they are usually replaced by new and often higher paying jobs.

Anyway, I hope I’m not coming off as too surly because, although I thoroughly disagree with Paul, it’s good he raised this issue. It’s one of the most widely misunderstood in our polity.

Posted by: boojum at March 11, 2006 12:12 AM
Comment #132784

This post, if read correctly, exposes some of the thinking of the anti-globalization advocates. And, in some instances, it has very little to do with globalization. Xenophobia, prejudice, extreme jingoism, but not even economics.

Bringing up the Dubai port issue is an indication of the thinking here. “Untrustworthy Dubai …” By whose definition are they unworthy? Cetainly not the Brits who wanted to sell to them. Not to other countries where the Dubai company operates ports. And besides, how many ports in this country are run by American businesses? A small percentage. China, Denmark,and other foriegn firms operate a majority of our ports. Where’s the outrage?

So far as “protecting American jobs” with susidies and tariffs, a majority of economists will tell you that this kind of protection is a good way to destroy an economy. Let’s face it folks, the global economy of the 21st century is a different animal. It bears little resemblane to previous centuries. It is hard to adapt to a new way of doing things, but those with the vision and courage will reap the rewards. Luddites will be sitting around pining for the good old days. There are three kinds of people in the world: Those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened.

Posted by: John Back at March 11, 2006 6:30 AM
Comment #132793

boojum,

I also agree with much of what you say. However as I explain in my earlier post, I do not think that the problem is with free trade - not true free trade - the problem is that the trade is not free enough.

China does not allow their currency to float. They hold the price of their currency artificially low relative to the dollar. They allow corporations to rape the environment and unfairly exploit their workers. These are subsidies. We pay a hidden price when corporations rape the environment in China because we live in one world - one ecology - and the winds carry the pollution here.

The corporations do not want true free trade. They want labor (slave labor) and hidden environmental subsidies, and as you correctly pointed out - when subsidies exist, everybody loses. The corporate mantra for free trade is actually an Orwellian chant meaning; let us rape, destroy, and exploit for short term profit and pleasure, without having to concern ourselves with the long term costs that our descendants will be forced to pay.

So, the “protectionist” are naive but they are reacting to those real loses.

Posted by: Ray G. at March 11, 2006 11:20 AM
Comment #132804

Although I don’t find myself in agreement with Paul very often, and I personally am a free market guy (Libertarian), he did say one thing in the initial thread that made some sense to me.

I like the idea of offering tax breaks to corporations based on the number of NET new American jobs they create stateside. If we can show companies that it will be more profitable to do their work here in the U.S. using American labor, then it makes sense that many companies will bring their jobs back here. Outsourcing would disappear if it became profitable once again to employ the American worker.

Manufacturing here in the U.S. has to be cheaper than manufacturing overseas and then shippping here. So if a company can break even on labor — between what they pay out in wages to American workers vs. the break they would receive on taxes for employing American workers — their net profit would go up due to reduced cost of transportation of goods to market. Thus encouraging even more future growth.

Posted by: Lee at March 11, 2006 12:37 PM
Comment #132813

I believe the United States needs to be a part of the global economy, but in a smart way, not just turning over jobs so that executives can get giant bonuses. I am in agreement with the tax cut idea. Of course that was Kerry’s idea and I voted for him.

Posted by: Max at March 11, 2006 1:27 PM
Comment #132814

greenstuff,

“It is allowing small companies to extend their services globally and have a some what even playing field with the large rich ones.”

In order for small companies to compete globally, first of all the markets must be open to them, and then they must be able to produce their products cheaply enough that regular folks can purchase them.

Realisticly, how do you think a small company that does it’s manufacturing in, say, Fargo ND, is going to be able compete with a large company that does it’s manufacturing in Bangladesh?

Globalization on a trade level, is only important to the have’s and escews the have-not’s, yet again.

Do you really think the third world farmer gives a rat’s ass about globalization?

Posted by: Rocky at March 11, 2006 1:28 PM
Comment #132815

As I expected, some of you are repeating the usual propaganda multinationals spread about how globalization is the best thing that has happened to us. But I agree with Boojum that much of globalization is not “free trade.”

Anyhow, I never said I’m against globalization. I think sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s bad - depending on how it affects the majority of Americans, not merely multinationals.

Posted by: Paul Siegel at March 11, 2006 1:41 PM
Comment #132819

Paul,

Unless I misunderstood boojum or you, I think that it is me that you are agreeing with about globalization not being equal to free trade.

Posted by: Ray G. at March 11, 2006 2:13 PM
Comment #132833

What happens to globalization if there’s no more cheap oil?

Posted by: Tim Crow at March 11, 2006 4:24 PM
Comment #132851

Ray,
Good question about oil. Although I can’t foretell teh future, we can look to the past. As I mentioned in my previous post, the first of the two great periods of free trade, occurring during the Pax Brittannica in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, predated oil-based economies. Presumably, and hopefully, non-petroleum alternatives will emerge. That is another discussion in itself, but the key point here is that free trade is not oil-based.

Ray and Paul, you’re correct that free or liberal trade and globalization are not synonymous. However, free trade is the economic heart of what we generally refer to as globalization.

Ray, your point about China and other semi-closed economies is well taken. However, the goal should be to open those economies, incrementally if necessary, rather than retaliate with protections of our own, a path that hurts us directly and provides a pretext for other nations to follow suit.

The China example is a little off the mark. Rather than prohibiting foreign firms from doing business there, they have strongly encouraged (sometimes with statutes)that foreign firms partner with domestic firms, or set up manufacturing facilities in country. While this is not classical trade liberalism at its best, we and the Europeans have taken similar measures with local content requirements, etc. One of the reasons Toyota, et al built factories here in the first place was to avoid tariffs and non-tariff barriers.

There certainly are downsides to globalization. Yes, economic adjustments cause some people to lose jobs, but again this is usually in the short term. New jobs are created and it’s incumbent on us to provide re-training so workers can perpetually avail themselves of new opportunities.

And yes, globalization often comes at the expense of traditional cultures, the environment, etc. The way to deal with these issues is through multilateral institutions like the WTO so everyone can sign on to the same standards—no easy task. Otherwise, individual countries are left with a blank slate to say arbitrarily that “hey, we’re only raising tariffs to protect our farming, which is a key part of our culture” or because trading partners don’t live up to their envronmental standards. Hopefully it’s easy to see how this can be abused out of naked political motivations.

Do we really expect relatively poor emerging markets to be able to afford to pay their workers what we do, or enact the same strict environmental measures. I wish it were so, but not yet. The best hope for their economies to converge with ours, history tells us, is through continued free trade.

Finally, just want to congratulate Paul, Ray, Tim etc for engaging in this discussion without the all-too-common partisan jingoism like “you’ve only saying this because you’ve been brainwashed by Bush, etc.” Free trade has traditionally enjoyed bipartisan support.

Cheers,
Boojum

Posted by: boojum at March 11, 2006 6:50 PM
Comment #132858

Paul,

There’s something wrong with, in regards to terrorism (key word: terrorism), that “you’re either with us or against us”?

Of course there’s not, that’s why you felt compelled to re-word it to: “you’re either with us or you’re a traitor”. You would be right to let your version confuse yourself … how could someone be from another country and be a traitor against the U.S.? But telling them they need to pick a side on the fight against terrorism is much different and, imagine this, the actual reality of Bush’s remarks. (NY Times & SF Chronicle journalists rolling over in their graves with such a rash suggestion of “actual reality”.)

Is there some non black & white issue I haven’t been made aware of yet regarding terrorism? If they blow up just buildings and not actually kill anyone … is that some gray area perhaps? But what if they intended to blow up someone? What if another country funded terrorists or just gave them land but then scolded a terrorist act they only supported so deftly and indirectly … yesssss, I’m starting to see that difficult gray area now …

Anyway, no one has yet to out-debate me on the problem of telling other nations they need to pick a side on the fight against terrorism. What reasonable 1st world nation has had a problem with these remarks? It’s a fair warning seeing how it’s a global issue … or should we just let another 9/11 happen lest we offend some poor government by asking them to make a decision on the matter? It’s not like it’s a tough decision.

It’s not economics, it’s not the environment, and for everyone else but American liberals it’s not even politics . . it’s a “Well of course we will fight terrorism” from the good countries and a “Harumph! Well, I dunno. Some terrorism perhaps?” from the bad countries. Since most people, even liberals (ref: UAE Port Deal Uproar), would agree we have a global war on terrorism on our hands . . is it such a horrible idea to ask nations what side they’re on?

I’ll certainly read the rest of your post but I wanted to ask that question, and of course completely debunk the “traitor” quote you attribute to GWB before I went on. He used no such word.

Posted by: Ken C. at March 11, 2006 8:03 PM
Comment #132862

Okay, I got past the traitor comment.

My only other issue is Halliburton and then I have (ta da) a sincere compliment.

The issue of Halliburton as some right wing money machine is ridiculous. Lady Bird Johnson’s family has much more invested than Cheney ever did. And, when I was in Somalia in 1994, the trailor where I hit the head and took a shower was from Brown & Root. Brown and Root also built Tent and then Tin City in Aviano, Italy for the fight in BH. It was a gigantic complex of mini-barracks, heads, phone centers, office building for the various units, etc. That was all during Clinton’s term. Who is Brown and Root by the way? THERE A SUBSIDARY OF HALLIBURTON!! USED EXTENSIVELY BY THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION IN SOMALIA AND MANY BASES IN ITALY NOT TO MENTION IN BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINIA ITSELF.

Dems have some good arguments they can make … why are we only inspecting 5% of our shipping containers? Tax cuts are nice but why are we spending so much? Every program helps someone but we have to prioritize better. Cash is finite!! You have a couple other good arguments (don’t want to give them all away.)

But when dems/libs (to include much of the democratic leadership by the way) complains about things like Halliburton . . it may be media-sensitive but then there’s people like me, who know more than the hype, saying “Whine about some topic your less ignorant on!!!!”

Anyway, enough of that. Excellent job with your ideas! I wish the dem leadership would do more offering of ideas (besides just posting them on a web page) and do less “Wahhhh!!! Wahhhhh!! Wahhhh!!” Your ideas are generally good I think but the nitty gritty details would be the difference between successful and failed implementation. My one question here is “Has the Bush Admin changed something from the Clinton Admin to promote out-sourcing or are you just saying ideas like the ones you proposed are right for the times?”

Posted by: Ken C. at March 11, 2006 8:21 PM
Comment #132903

http://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/?article=189
Lest there be no discouraging words about the wonders of globalization, the above’s a link to a commentary on Friedman’s The World Is Flat, and indirectly on globalization as well.

Posted by: Tim Crow at March 12, 2006 12:01 AM
Comment #132913

Globalization has many good points and, unfortunately, many bad ones. The biggest problem I see with it is that it allows American corporations to exploit and harm people in ways that it could never get away with in America. This needs to be stopped; if a corporation wants to do business here, wants to profit, flourish, and take advantage of our freedoms, then they should be held to our laws and standards in their practices abroad.

Look, for example, at multinational pharmaceutical companies new-found (well, not that new actually) ability to use (poor, foreign) human beings as guinea pigs for drugs without a proven track record for safety. Are human medical experiments now acceptable to us in the new global economy? Nigerian families go to a tent to receive what they believe are safe and tested antibiotics for their children, and instead are given a horribly dangerous and untested new fluoroquinolone antibiotic (Trovan, brought to them by the people at Pfizer) which ends up seriously maiming and killing these innocent children.

Look too at some of the indigineous tribes of south America (the Huaorani for example), many of whom were given scraps of sheet metal by oil companies in return for raping the land their people had flourished on for countless generations. Their water runs black with oil, and their people are sickened and dying, but hey, the companys stock is soaring, whoo hoo! Companies make millions of dollars selling what should belong to these people (its sitting beneath their land) and they pay for it in aluminum worth pennies. Just because the government down there is being bought by these companies and wont protect them, doesnt somehow make it okay.

Or look at countries where they were forced to privatize certain aspects of their economy (water, health care, etc…) in order for their government to acquire loans from the World Bank. People living on less than a dollar a day are then forced to pay for water they cant afford. People with AIDS (and other diseases) who were once receiving free care at their local clinics are now forced to pay what they dont have; they die. I dont think that this is the cure for AIDS that everyone is seeking.

Before any of you label me as just an anti-corporate hack, please let me say that I am not anti-corporation, merely pro-human rights. All humans, not just the ones in this country who look and think like me. If you found out that these things are going on here, that Americans were being seriously harmed in situations like those above, would you be okay with that? Oh, wait…they are. Do some research into DES (diethylstilbestrol) or the adverse reactions of fluoroquinolone antibiotics (tens of thousands of Americans are being cruelly tortured, every day, all day long for years after taking one of the drugs in this class), or even silicofluorides.

I firmly believe that if any company wants to do business in America, we must hold them to certain ethical standards if they want that privilege; anything less is condoning their actions.

If we are now going to say that we invaded Iraq to save the people there from being hurt and exploited, than I say that we must hold everyone we can to the same standard; especially those who reside and have their headquarters here. Why can we invade a country to protect its citizens, but we cant punish a corporation and its owners for the same egregious violations? Why is killing the offenders okay in one instance, but even jail time is too harsh in the other? (I am in no way saying that we should kill the CEOs, just using a real-world comparison to ask why fines are the only form of recourse we have.) If I was to kill or maim someone (anyone), I would be thrown in jail or possibly even executed, but if a corporation does it knowingly on a massive scale (isnt a corporation legally considered a person?) then the harshest punishment they receive (if any) is merely monetary; a slap on the wrist before we look away and allow them to do it again.

If we wish to export democracy and our way of life, we must start with the human rights aspects of it. Showing people that we care for humanity all over the world will not only guarantee their futures, but our own as well. We must show them why our ways are better if we hope for change to ever occur. There are reasons why people all over the world hate us, some of them are valid; this doesnt make us completely evil, nor does it make the people who admit this and want to stop it America-haters; it just means that we can and should (are ethically required to) do better. We become evil when we know that this is occurring and choose to deny it, enable it, or even just simply do nothing to stop it.

Posted by: Liberal Demon at March 12, 2006 12:38 AM
Comment #132922

The central point is that I guess I don’t really care what is good for the world if it means I lose my job. Globalization is all well and good and I believe we all may need to sacrifice for the greater good but I will fight for my family and my ability to provide for them. And frankly, I don’t want a president to think what is best for the world first and best for Americans next. As if Bush gives a crap what is best for the world or what is best for the average american. Globalization is good for big business and that ultimately brings the average americans income down because big business would benefit from that. It has nothing to do with what I think about other countries or its denizens.

Posted by: Travis at March 12, 2006 1:52 AM
Comment #132927

Tim,
Just got done reading the review of Friedman at the link you referenced. It’s late so I’ll keep this brief. You’ll note that I did not cite Friedman in my writings. While I think he’s generally a perceptive observer, his content is usually economics lite. Good intro stuff for the layperson, but not good for critical analysis of complexities.

Will try to write more tomorrow…

B

Posted by: boojum at March 12, 2006 2:46 AM
Comment #132928

http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2006/03/11/globalism_democracy_and_the_ports_deal/

Another discussion about holes in security in the rush for free-trade globalization.

Posted by: Tim Crow at March 12, 2006 4:07 AM
Comment #132932

Every one is right and every one is wrong. Globilization is good and bad. Yes, through specialization globilization fosters interdependence which in turn fosters peace and cooperation . It also assures scarce resources are used as efficiently as possible. However, every arguement that has ever been applied to capitalism can be applied to globilization.

Globilization does to the world what capatilism has done to America. The working class of the world has been reduced to wage earning automatons. Large companies expand their business worldwide in order to exploit a less enlightened, less organized working class.

America fought back against capatilism with socialism. Business became regulated, minimum wages were set, unions were organized. In third world countries this degree of working class organization does not exist. There is no government regulation fighting for the welfare of the working class. Big business is free to exploit these people to the greatest possible extent. In return for labor they supply there workers with a bare subsistence.

Exploitation has always been a worldwide phenonenmon. Today however, it is led by American big business, the greatest tyrants ever to rule. President Bush is the greatest advocate and King of these tyrants.

Posted by: tom at March 12, 2006 7:57 AM
Comment #132949

I agree with much of what Liberal Demon says. I would suggest a “free trade”, “invisible hand of the market place” compromise that would be at least an improvement on the current situation. We know that our government - Democratic or Republican - is as a result of our campaign finance situation - pretty much a wholly owned subsidiary of big business. So we cannot trust the government to enforce human rights, environmental, or child labor rules. International agencies are even less effective.

I think a good free market approach to this problem would be to create seals of approval sort of like the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. Create a child labor seal of approval. Create an environmental seal of approval. Create a human rights seal of approval. Pass a law that requires products sold in the U.S. to clearly display two sets of the seals on it, or on its packaging. One set would relate to the raw materials that where used to manufacture the product. The other set would relate to the manufacturing of the product.

Companies would be free to lie and put any seal on thier product that they wanted to. But give child labor, environmental activists, and human rights groups the right to sue any corporation that sells products in the U.S. - in order to force the company into accurate compliance with the seals of approval. Do not allow any monetary damages in the law suits - only the right to obtain court orders forcing accurate seal of approval labeling - this would prevent frivolous law suits and ensure the activists only brought suits against violators.

The child labor seal of approval for example could contain three levels - green, yellow, and red. Green would be a certification that no child labor was used. Yellow would certify that any child labor that was used at least met some minimum standard of safety and human rights. Red would indicate that child slave labor was used to obtain the raw material or manufacture the product. Then let the American people decide whether they wanted to buy the product or not. Let the child labor activist groups “police” the issue and sue the most egregious violators.

The same sort of thing could be done with environmental and human rights issues.

This would not constitute a trade barrier. Any country or company is free to manufacture their products where ever and however they want, and to sell those products in the U.S. But they have to display the “seals of approval” and they are subject to legal action in a U.S. Court if they lie. Any country or company has the ability to make sure that their products are manufactured without child labor, environmental rape, or human rights violations. Countries can control their country and companies can control where their products are manufactured, how they are manufactured, and who they hire to manufacture them. The same applies to the raw materials that are used to manufacture the products.

Posted by: Ray G. at March 12, 2006 10:44 AM
Comment #132984

Tom

I agree with your statements—it’s difficult for me to see the advantages of globalization when the disadvantages of capitalism are so inherent in the system.

Posted by: Tim Crow at March 12, 2006 4:06 PM
Comment #133019

If there’s something better than Capitalism, do tell. Globalization isn’t a decision, it’s an inevitability as the world grows more free markets. To do otherwise is economic isolationism which some just call “isolationism”. But much like our own stock market, there’s protections which need to be in place as globalization grows . . nothing should happen at any great speed and there needs to be a stop when something gets too disproportionate.

And to call all Big Businesses “Bad” and Bush the leadder of the tyrants … my God, as if Clinton didn’t hype the stock market growth of big businesses. Big businesses employ a lot of people, they offer health care in greater quantity and quality than small businesses on average, they are the reason you enjoy many of today’s new technologies, they are the reason acquiring groceries or furniture or clothes isn’t in some 2 hour drive to some remote part of your state. To damn big businesses to Hell would be a death sentence to our economy, our ability to sustain a middle class, and our ability to help those in true need without asking for reimbursement. So, get on that extremist liberal horse and ride it into the sunset if you want … call Bush a tyrant … but in the end that’s all people will remember . . tyrannical name calling with a political chaser.

Posted by: Ken C. at March 12, 2006 9:17 PM
Comment #133028

Ken C,

PULEEEZE!?! Clinton has been impeached…it’s Cheney/Bush’s turn now.

Business doesn’t need your protection. Mega-Corps ARE bad. Bad for the economy and bad for the ecology. They also steal everything that isn’t tied down. Normal business is GOOD for the economy and with supervision can even be good for ecology, but Wal Mart, GE, Halliburton, AT&T, et al are far more harmful than they are good.

Posted by: Marysdude at March 12, 2006 10:25 PM
Comment #133031

Tom,
You say CEO’s are “tyrants”? That is sandbox leftism, the hyperbole of a poseur radical. If the Bill Gates’ and Jack Welch’s of society are “tyrants,” what language is left in your moral universe to describe Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, Castro, Saddam, etc.?

Separately: Tim, indeed there are problems with capitalism—recessions, inflation, income disparities, etc— as virtually any capitalist will admit. But is that not a relatively empty observation in the absence of a better system? I am eager to hear of a system that facilitates innovation, wealth creation,resource distribution,upward mobility, personal freedom, improved living standards, etc better than capitalism. The 20th century witnessed prosperous capitalist societies trying to smooth out the rough edges of commercial society and the simultaneous failure of socialist/communist systems to provide even fundamental human needs. Which do you prefer as a starting point?

Ray: Your system for child labor-related labelling sensible, but is there really a flood of such products in our market to justify it? I am curious to see some data, because I’m not up on it.

Posted by: boojum at March 12, 2006 10:55 PM
Comment #133032

Marydude,
Perhaps GE is not quite the whipping boy it used to be in the environmental category. Their new CEO has undertaken pretty ambitious new initiatives which may guide the way for othe corporations. You can read more about it here:
http://www.grist.org/news/muck/2005/05/10/little-ge/index.html

Posted by: boojum at March 12, 2006 11:02 PM
Comment #133042

Boojum,

There was more than just child labor. I just used that as one example. However, we don’t have an efficient way of knowing which companies and products use child labor. We do know that globally we do have a major problem with child labor. Globally we also have major problems with slavery, human rights and environmental abuse. Globally that is as in globalization The following links for child labor, human rights, and environmental abuse involving Coke and Nike are two examples. Of coarse, these have been in the news but forcing companies to put labels on their products would make consumers much more well informed at time that they make their purchases.

Nike

Coke

Posted by: Ray G. at March 13, 2006 12:08 AM
Comment #133044

Ray,

You assume that companies offshore care about using child labor.
You also assume that the rest of the world wishes to live by our (American) standards.

I find it interesting that folks that never considered themselves poor (one doesn’t really need money or the trappings that come with it to live a rich and rewarding life), now can find that they live in brutal poverty.

Posted by: Rocky at March 13, 2006 12:14 AM
Comment #133049

Rocky,

Did you read the rest of my posts in this thread? I assume that the companies offshore do not care about child labor, human rights, the environment, America, or American values. So I am not sure if I misunderstand you or if you misunderstand me? I think I agree with you. Here is a listing of my posts. Please read them and give me a more complete explanation of your thoughts so that explain my points if they are not clear.

Posted by: Ray G. at March 10, 2006 09:07 PM
Posted by: Ray G. at March 11, 2006 11:20 AM
Posted by: Ray G. at March 12, 2006 10:44 AM
Posted by: Ray G. at March 13, 2006 12:08 AM

Posted by: Ray G. at March 13, 2006 1:32 AM
Comment #133055

“The 20th century witnessed prosperous capitalist societies trying to smooth out the rough edges of commercial society and the simultaneous failure of socialist/communist systems to provide even fundamental human needs.”

Maybe the failure of communism to provide fundamental human needs is a precursor for capitalism’s failure. Perhaps the verdict on capitalism isn’t in yet—but I suspect we are already seeing some tell-tale cracks in the model for capitalism, the USA.

I am not willing to embrace capitalism just because we can’t come up with something better. Capitalism is failing millions of people everyday—and those numbers are growing. In the US alone, poverty has been growing over the last five years, and those statistics are using outmoded measuring sticks that cover up the true number of those in poverty. $12,700 for two is poverty?! That’s slavery, not poverty. If the truth be known, the real number for poverty is more like 60-70 million, not the 37 million the government admits to.

I believe there is room for new ideas about how things should work economically. I can’t belive that communism and capitalism are our only choices. If someone pressed me to the wall and insisted that I declare myself economically, I’d probably call myself a democratic socialist. What does that mean? It means I recognize that communism has failed, and that I have deep suspicions about capitalism. I’m in the market for a new way of looking at things—free market fundamentalism shreds the idea of the commons, the responsible stewartship of the environment, the welfare of the nation as a whole instead of the almighty investor.

I believe globalism ultimately will fail—not because of government interference, or protectionism or isolationism. The time now has never been better for foisting this mindset on people. I think it will fail, as envisioned now, because it is not responsible to the real people that make it work—the workers. Now corporations can play the Hondurans off against the Filipinos,the Indians off the Kansans, the Thais off of whoever is in line to get ripped off this month. Money can move like lightening in an hour—truth, justice, they move much more slowly, but they are inexorable, and will not be denied.

And, as I have said earlier, this whole global economic edifice is resting on the shakiest of foundations—the absolute, unsustainable and insatiable need for cheap oil to grease the entire machine. Oil discovery has declined dramatically over the last five-ten years, while demand with globalization’s crown jewels China and India for oil has risen dramatically. There is no alternative fuel in place now, or in ten years, that will seamlessly transfer this global economic edifice to an equally cheap, portable and easily useable source of energy. None.

I don’t pretend to understand the intricacies of global economic policy—hell, my hands are full balancing my checkbook. But all you have to do to accurately judge this globalization mania that’s going on is to see the economic condition of this mania’s flagship—the US. An 8.5 Trillion dollar debt? The hemorraging of jobs overseas? Nine hundred billion dollars in tax cuts to create jobs, then only 2 million being created? There would have been more jobs created in any other regular recovery without the tax cuts—and now there are less, and we’re a trillion dollars further in the red?

The bankruptcy bill was a good example of the Lords of the Free Market System giving tough love to the consumers—live frugally, live within your means,don’t borrow so much—in short do everything we’re not doing. The majority of the people declaring bankruptcy weren’t gaming the system—they were the ones who had lost their jobs, had a divorce, or a medical emergency. And guess what? Seventy-five percent of the people that couldn’t keep up with their medical bills HAD INSURANCE!

What does this have to do with globalization? The United States does not have it’s financial house in order. It takes alot of hubris and downright arrogance to lecture the world on what the world needs economically.

Freedom. The people who run this country (and I’m not just talking about the Republican administration), wouldn’t know freedom if they fell over it. With all the tax dodges and special dispensations for corporations, and no-bid contracts and union-busting laws, and the down-right refusal to take into account the basic human needs (like universal medical care), capitalism is heading off the same cliff that communism did. The crash will be much louder though, because the arrogance of its divine
‘specialness’, and it’s refusal to consider its own flaws and considering other methods outside the box, will probably hasten it’s fall.

I wonder if what is happening in Africa is a preview of coming attractions world-wide—disease of untold magnitude, gang and tribal warfare over arrible land, water: oil.

We have some very serious problems—some that could mean the end of humankind as we know it today. You’d never know it to watch TV, or read the paper. Globalization? In twenty years, you mention that word to a youngster, they’ll look at you like you just said “twenty-three skiddo and a boop-boop baby.”

Posted by: Tim Crow at March 13, 2006 2:41 AM
Comment #133066

Tim,

I enjoyed your post. I don’t have time to give a complete response now. I agree with your main theme. I would just say two things. I don’t think that this is really a pure capitalist system. Russia certainly was not communist. So the flaws in this system are not necessarily simple capitalist flaw and the collapse of Russia is not really a failure of communism. We use labels like these are simple systems of political economy, but there are many variations and corruptions of both systems. In my younger days I was a Marxist Socialist. I turned away from that for a variety of reasons. The analysis that made the most sense to me at the time was that Marx had analyzed the British system of Mercantile Capitalism and determined correctly that it was doomed to collapse from its own internal contradictions. He thought that the American system of industrial capitalism was only a slight variation. He was wrong. The American system was qualitatively different. Of coarse, we are not really following the original American system. We are probably best described as an evolution of the old British system with some socialist elements blended in. The worst of both worlds, perhaps, or maybe the best of both worlds, I don’t know it is above my pay grade. While Marxist Communism has never been tried, I believe that it is also riddled with internal contradictions. I agree with you, that it is a little soon to congratulate ourselves and conclude that our system is infallible and able to answer any problem and meet any challenge. I believe that America is like Rome in the Golden age. We are essentially running a global imperialist empire. When Rome collapsed from its internal contradictions the world sank into the dark ages. As bad as Rome was, it was the best thing going. The same is true for the U.S.A. We can be critical of our country and its imperialist policies. But we are the best thing going and if we collapse the world will see a new dark age - much like you described in your post. The Bush Regime has led us into a no win situation which could lead us to collapse.

Posted by: Ray G. at March 13, 2006 10:44 AM
Comment #133067

Tim Crow,

Capitalism walks hand in hand with manifest destiny, and therefore with Christianity.

Christians don’t belive that we are here as stewards, they belive we are here to exploit the planet, because God gave it to us to exploit.

Posted by: Rocky at March 13, 2006 10:45 AM
Comment #133070

Rocky,

I still don’t understand your earlier comments about what I wrote, but I agree with your last post as a practical matter, however there are some Christians who understand “dominion over the earth” to mean good stewardship of the earth. In practice they are in the minority, or are neutralized by silly cultural issues like a couple of men “getting it on” “in the closet.”

Posted by: Ray G. at March 13, 2006 11:36 AM
Comment #133072

Ray,

They were actually meant as retorical questions, not as an insult.

Most Americans have difficulty seeing past the borders of their own cities, let alone states etc…

“In practice they are in the minority, or are neutralized by silly cultural issues like a couple of men “getting it on” “in the closet.””

This again is an indictment of the typical American attention span.
While there are indeed some in this country that appreciate the world around them, most of the others get distracted by the meaningless drivel that passes for news.
Still others would rather prostelatize, and force their own narrow interpretation of a book that has been translated into near insignificance, than pay attention to the real problems facing humanity.

Posted by: Rocky at March 13, 2006 11:54 AM
Comment #133087

Our country is in grave danger of being sold out from under us. We have all been sold rancid baloney about so-called free trade. This misnamed version of managed trade has not produced more jobs in America. It has cost us jobs. It has eroded our manufacturing base. It has empowered foreign countries to exert more and more control over our destiny. According to this site, link text, (www.economyincrisis.org) foreigners own 27 percent of our mining industry; 24 percent of our information industry; 20 percent of our manufacturing industry; 20 percent of professional, scientific and technical services; and 11 percent of our finance and insurance industries. Furthermore, 45 percent of U.S. government debt is foreign-owned.

Trade deficits don’t get much play, but they are important. When we buy more from a country than it buys from us, that foreign country ends up with a stack of dollars. Foreign countries have been using these dollars to buy American businesses and natural resources. Last year’s trade deficit was $700 billion and change. But why, you might ask, does it matter who owns an industry as long as it’s located in me U.S.? Well, my answer is profit. An American-owned industry would invest its profits in America and in the communities where it is located. Profits in a foreign-owned industry flow back to the foreign country. The profits earned by Chrysler, now a German-owned firm, flow back to Germany. Profits from Honda and Toyota flow back to Japan.

When President Bush, in pushing yet another free trade agreement, claims that Americans can compete, he’s either showing his ignorance or he is lying. How can you compete with somebody willing to, or is forced to do the same work for $4 a day? Labor is the main ingredient in manufacturing. That’s why so many American manufacturers have moved their manufacturing operations to cheap labor countries. They are now beginning to outsource their service sectors. We have lost whole industries, and we’re in the process of losing more.
What is needed is fair trade. If the labor cost for a pair of bluejeans in the U.S. is $20 and the labor cost for a pair of bluejeans in Honduras is $3, when you slap a $17 tariff on the jeans from Honduras. That’s how you level the playing field. That’s how Americans can compete on a fair basis.

This country did not grow rich on free trade. Before income tax, the tariff was the major source of income for the federal government. Tariffs should be used to equalize the labor costs and thus end the incentive of American manufacturers to move their production overseas. That’s not isolationistic. That’s just good old common sense.

Posted by: Marysdude at March 13, 2006 1:51 PM
Comment #133112

Regarding the comment “…distributing the wealth between the rich industrial nations to the poor debted ones…” I want to help those poor nations but; that wealth being redistributed has to come from somewhere and it is not coming from big business. I think it will come from you and me and I don’t have much.

Posted by: earthlingok at March 13, 2006 3:48 PM
Comment #133119

“But we are the best thing going and if we collapse the world will see a new dark age - much like you described in your post.”

Ray:

I agree, we are the best thing going. I want to make clear that my criticism of our government, its economic and foreign policy is (I fervently hope) out of love, and a deep distress that some seriously wrong choices are being made. I weary of being negative or critical all the time, believe me. I feel like a canary in the coalmine. But, often, when I have discussions about politics, economics, ethics, I am (increasingly) the oldest one in the group. And I often get the uncomfortable feeling that there is an unspoken deference to me because of it. It feels very wierd.

So I feel it to be my duty to impress on younger people that mass surveillence of American citizens is not business as usual in the history of this country; torture, unprovoked attacks on foreign nations, ignoring the Constitution is not the way this country was designed to work. Younger people don’t know, unless we tell them.

I remember when I was younger, the people that made the most impact on me. It wasn’t so much what they said as it was how they said it. You can hear it in their voices, confidence, optimism, “don’t be discouraged”—those are the ones that make an impression.

So, I’m worried about the direction this country is taking—I’m angry, too. But I am not discouraged. There are too many incredible people in this country, Left and Right, Republican, Democrat, Green, Socialist, there are too many people that love this country to be discouraged.

Posted by: Tim Crow at March 13, 2006 4:40 PM
Comment #133123

Marysdude,

I agree with most of what you say, yet draw different conclusions. I work for General Motors which has been and is being hurt by the unfair trading practices of our trading partners. For example, Japanese markets remain closed to American products. The Japanese people actually have a preference for American products, cars in particular, American cars are considered cool, but their market remains closed to us through a variety of subtle barriers. No, we can’t compete with workers that work for a dollar a day… but even in “high wage” GM labor is not the major cost in manufacturing. Of coarse those poor people need to eat too. The multinational corporations have a mantra of free trade - as you correctly point out - they don’t want free trade - it is Orwellian - call it free trade - but find an advantage. On other hand free trade, true free trade, does benefit everyone. We do need cheap labor. Rail roads were built by Chinese immigrants that worked for virtually nothing for example. But those workers need basic human rights, the ability to collectively bargain, the opportunity to have a rising standard of living that will open new markets and new opportunity. That is not what the corporations want. That want savage environmental and human exploitation. Go back to my earlier post and click on the “Coke” link and see what Coke has been doing. You and I agree on this stuff. Where I differ, is that I think we need to work toward true free trade (see my earlier post for an explanation of what I mean by that). I have to go.

Posted by: Ray G. at March 13, 2006 4:51 PM
Comment #133124

Earthlingok:

“I want to help those poor nations but; that wealth being redistributed has to come from somewhere and it is not coming from big business. I think it will come from you and me and I don’t have much.”

Boy, I’m in the same boat, too!

Posted by: Tim Crow at March 13, 2006 4:59 PM
Comment #133183

Tim,

I have lots of opinions, but no answers. These are difficult questions. Protectionism and isolationism does not work. We can give all of our work away through so called free trade and redistribute all of our wealth and the world is still going to be poor and so will we. Shipping our work to low wage countries drives our wages down but also provides inexpensive products for us. But I think most of those cost savings go into the pockets of corporate profits. Still, the profits do get distributed through stock dividends. But much of the dividends that are paid go to the rich, and increasingly to foreign countries as result of the massive trade deficits that we run which gets reinvested in American stocks. As a result of the way we finance campaigns these multinational (American) corporations have an excessive amount of power and essentially form an oligarchy that controls our country. Inexpensive products and corporate profits create cash flows that can be reinvested in the U.S. and around the world which can expand production - bake a bigger pie - for all of us to share. So this is not a static problem. It has many variables and is extremely dynamic. Every change that you make has many intended and unintended (often unexpected) effects.

I think that my idea, that I listed above, of creating mandatory seals of approval for child labor, environmentalism, human rights, and perhaps also one for the fair trading practices of the country of manufacturing origin, should be given more serious consideration. It would be one way to at least begin to level the playing field to some slight degree without creating trade barriers. Free trade really does benefit everybody - but this really is not free trade. The so called invisible hand of the market place can work to resolve many issues but there are too many things that are not accounted for in the economic system like the environment, the safety of children, and human rights. What is the economic value or cost of Coca-cola plant managers having eight union leaders killed in Columbia? How does one account for that in the economy? It saves Coke money, therefore it is good for the economy - unless it costs them sales - which it can if it gets publicised. My seal of approval idea, as listed above, would force Coke to publicise it.

Posted by: Ray G. at March 13, 2006 7:48 PM
Comment #133355

This is an article by Thomas Palley that gives an overview of some of the advantages and challenges of globalization. Not definitive, but a place to start.

http://counterpunch.com/palley03142006.html

Posted by: Tim Crow at March 14, 2006 2:36 PM
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