Saturday, February 13, 2010

Globalization: Good vs. Bad

"At first glance, of course, one might think that globalization is a good thing: each country or people liberated to exchange the fruits of their labor on the world's markets; each culture free to learn from all the others; more buying and selling, higher standards of living, and modernity; less poverty and backwardness. In practice, however, much of globalization tends to promote an extremely selective, and often quite destructive and unjust, distribution of power and wealth. It supports certain cultures and communities and eliminates others. Its successes tend to be measured by the simplest and least humane of economic measures -- more economic activity, more 'wealth' understood purely as purchasing power -- while its crushing human and ecological effects are ignored. Above all, globalization's transformations of the way people work, live, and raise families are not democratically chosen but created and managed by political and economic elites."
"To get a sense of globalization's dark side, consider and example of the international production of energy involving Enron in the Indian state of Maharastra. Enron contracted to build power plants there, and Maharastra agreed to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in return. Because the resulting facilities produced electricity that was between two and seven times more expensive than previously existing Indian plants, a new state government attempted to break the disastrous agreement. Pressure was applied by the U.S. ambassador (who soon retired from government service to become an Enron director), and soon a new contract was signed that was even more expensive. Millions of dollars of bribes to local officials secured the contract, threats from U.S. and other global institutions solidified Enron's position, and Enron made billions in profits. An already poverty-stricken area of a third world country became poorer, but economic activity measured as the exchange of funds increased. National boundaries, and to some extent national sovereignty, were diminished. Some people did quite well out of the deal, but many more suffered."

"Another harmful impact of globalization arises when subsistence farming is replaced by huge plantations growing a single export corp, and peasants who used to support themselves on the land move to already overcrowded cities with high unemployment. In such cases, people who had been living a reasonably secure existence, with access to land and food, get turned into consumers who must pay for everything they need. Economic activity increases, more money circulates, but the loss of access to their own fields, forests, or coastlines is not registered as a monetary loss, and because the ensuing poverty involves more cash flow, it can be seen as a 'better life.'"

1 comment:

Rebecca The Greeniac said...

Or, take the case of NAFTA & CAFTA and their impact on the rural economies of rural Mexico & Central America. Basically, giant US agricultural businesses have flooded those markets with corn sold beneath the cost of production (subsidized by US tax payers). So there's just no way that the small farmers in those countries could compete.

So all the little Mexican & Central American corn farmers go belly up, causing the rural economies of those countries to crash, creating a whole pile of starving Mexicans & Central Americans, causing them to come to the US illegally where they get to work at slave labor wages for... guess who... the giant American agricultural corporations! Are you sensing a theme yet?

It just makes me sick. Sure it's great for those billion dollar corporations, and I suppose you could say that it's great for the urban and wealthier Mexicans & Central Americans who are getting cheaper corn. But it seems to me that its all at the expense of the people on the bottom - not to mention the American tax payer!

And then people here have the nerve to blame the starving folks for coming here illegally! I wish some of those folks in Arizona would put their energies toward fixing the real cause of the problem... like the farm bill and NAFTA/CAFTA instead of just spreading more hate...