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An oldie...

Posted 14 May 2002, 2.46 am by Jake

This is a paper I wrote a while back about the negative effects of economic globalization. Bear with it, because it IS kinda old, mainly deals with American viewpoints and some of my opinions have changed slightly since then. Have fun... EDIT: When I switched to single-space it screwed my format, my indentions disappeared. Curses.

There seems to be an outpouring of new world views lately. Some are based purely on human rights, some on ecological sustainability, and a few that are based on politics. The most prominent worldview right now, however, is globalization. As trillions of dollars are made in international business transactions everyday, some people wonder as to why we don’t set the system of “global economics” into action. Most people don’t analyze all the drawbacks of such a system, or most people don’t care to. Of course. They’re the ones making these international trades and bargaining for their next trophy stocks.
Lawrence Summers, former chief economist of World Bank, states that “There are no…limits to the carrying capacity of the Earth that are likely to bind at any time in the foreseeable future. There isn’t a risk of an apocalypse due to global warming or anything else. The idea that the world is headed over an abyss is profoundly wrong. The idea that we should put limits on growth because of some natural limit is a profound error”(qtd. in Rees/Wackernagel 363). Not only is this statement unbelievably arrogant, it is a “profound error” as well. We already live in an overpopulated world filled with consumption. If we factor in more economic growth, even the profits projected won’t hold a candle to the amount of natural resources used/destroyed to make that growth happen. Biomass, building products, electricity…each of those are a component of business growth. You can’t build chain stores without land and materials. You can’t run those chain stores without proper utilities. To assume that an already stressed ecosystem is going to provide room for billions of job opportunities is a terrible mistake. Sadly enough, most people subscribe to the same beliefs as Mr. Summers. Of course, this isn’t the only problem with globalization.
“Globalization is a myth, it never occurred anyway,”writes economist Alan Rugman. A professor at Indiana University, he wrote a book called The End of Globalization in which he touts globalization as being a myth largely due to the fact that manufacturing and service activity is regionalized locally, not globally (qtd. Ferkiss 16).
Even if the phenomena has never occurred, could it? Since corporations gained the upper hand after the Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad trial during which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled private corporations as “natural people” under the Constitution and therefore were entitled to protection under the Bill of Rights, they have little or no restraint to do what they please (Lasn 68). Even if corporations do go global, what’s to stop them from carrying these policies and freedoms into a foreign country, or even abolishing these in order to take advantage of freedoms at their destination?
“In many ways, business is the primary engine driving globalization, but it would be a mistake to conclude that the implications of globalization will be limited to the commercial arena”(qtd Rothkopf 266). Not only will we have to worry about the homogenization of economics, but globalization is bound to take a cultural turn as well. Many American brand names are already embraced overseas (Coke, McDonald’s). English is being spoken more often by foreigners, and the constant exchange of information practically requires people to become multilingual. Many people see this as an interesting phenomena, because it would promote unity. Unity on a planet of billions of people, all different in their own right? Seems to be an odd(and nearly impossible) accomplishment. The only drawback to cultural globalization is the loss of cultural diversity. Whether it will be a massive or insignificant loss cannot be foretold.
“Rather than measure the success of an economy according to gross domestic product (which includes, among other anti-human measurements, the cost of weapons building and pollution cleanup expenses), quality-of-life indicators measure an economy by how well the people are doing. These take into account infant mortality rates, hunger rates, literacy rates, and the like. Redefining the world according to people, not profit, is the ultimate objective”(Hartman 19). Our government, with its numerous financial advisors and experts, could re-organize the gross domestic product a little more effectively. For example, riding a bicycle or city bus contributes less to the GDP than driving your own vehicle. Raising your own food contributes less to the GDP than buying it at a supermarket. The GDP fails to take into account negative factors such as the depletion of resources, air and water pollution, and human health problems. If economists are to gauge the progress of the new global economy, maybe they should reform the GDP system before they put it into effect. As Mr. Hartman said, maybe using quality-of-life indicators is a smarter move. Human life and progress should be their primary concern. After all, they can’t sell their products to a dwindling population. Yet again, greed overpowers common sense, and it is likely that they will institute the GDP system as a global yardstick of progress.
With the impending clash of cultures over the policies of globalization, the outcome of America’s race for global economics may never take full effect. Indigenous peoples around the world are battling for their own rights, and they don’t exactly welcome global economics. Protestors are taking to the streets in front of summits such as the World Trade Organization to make their opinions heard. People from different countries are gathering on Internet message boards to exchange their theories on the new policies. And with the rise of opposition to the facets of globalization, global economics may end up as only a myth.

Works Cited

Ferkiss, Victor. “Is Globalization a Myth?” The Futurist Nov. 2001: 16.
Hart, James E and Mark Owen Lombardi. Taking Sides: Clashing Views on
Controversial Global Issues. Connecticut: McGraw-Hill, 2001.
Hartman, Andrew. “The Globalization of a Movement.” The Humanist Nov.-Dec. 2001:
Lasn, Kalle. Culture Jam. New York: HarperCollins, 2000
Rees, William E. and Mathis Wackernagel. Investing in Natural Capital: The Ecological
Economics Approach to Sustainability. New York: Island Press, 1994.

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