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Questions must be asked before competing in global economy

Sunday, May 25, 2014
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Questions must be asked before competing in global economy

Economic isolationism may be a good policy for our society in the end. Globalization has been advertised as a desirable tool to advance societies from the beginning of recorded time; from settlers to spice traders. The interconnectivity between people, information, and goods has mostly been seen as a positive achievement. But, this supposed benefit is only true if you consider of whom you are asking the “beneficial” question.

While transparency is always paired with globalization, I am not arguing against the former (yet). As a society, we must consider for whom globalization benefits. While interconnectivity creates a flattening of societies (a la Thomas Freidman), and this can be beneficial in many ways, it also creates a multitude of problems. For example, it benefits large and well-established corporations and creates static or lower wages for its workers, with wider profit margins. And while technocrats will argue that informational democracy is always good, I am not sure that if you asked the family of a victim of the “Arab Spring” uprisings, you would get the same response. Typically in history, a slow revolution results in less casualties than an abrupt and violent one.

There is a “commoditizing-effect” of jobs when globalization takes root in an industry, specifically for knowledge-based workers. To find examples of how this is affecting our society, merely look around and see how technology and globalization has pigeonholed workers at best, and/or eliminated their job at worst. For examples you can study any multinational corporation, or as an example, our industrial food system.

We should be asking: “What do we want our society to look like in the future?” — all the while recognizing that even if we are able to enact the changes we want, it will be only a slight version of our desires.

This is due to the nature of humanity and the inclination of individuals to modify circumstances to benefit themselves. If we are to embrace globalization, first we need to decide if we want to enter into that situation, what we are competing for, and we must make sure that we can honestly compete with the world.

Andrew Lancaster

Saratoga Springs

 

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