Debunking the debunking of (Myths of) Economic Globalization
A point by point rebuttal.
Economic Globalization Is Inevitable
The primary function of these bodies is to place economic values above all others, and to establish rules that suppress the ability of nation-states to sustain laws that protect nature, workers, consumers and even national sovereignty and democracy if they can be construed as slowing down free trade. The net result is the greatest transfer of economic and political power from nation-states to corporations ever in history.
The Bretton Woods Agreements (see http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/decade/decad047.htm) did not specifically say or imply"... on a globally centralized system with global corporations as the engines of economic growth." -- this is misinterpretation.
Allow me to restate one of the basic lessons of Economics. Trades occur between two informed, consenting parties because it is beneficial to both parties. Which part of this is difficult to understand? The nations involved want to make those trades so they can advance.
We Need Globalization To Feed the Hungry
"The globalization of corporate industrial-style agriculture has failed to address the world's hunger crisis; in fact, it makes it worse."
Are there facts to back this up? What were the figures like for before and after? How do you know this to be true? This claim is so insanely stupendous that it is overwhelmingly difficult to back this up. Just think about the statement above for a minute. Firstly it claims that globalization directly led to "corporate industrial-style agriculture", then it claims that the world's hunger crisis has actually worsened since the onset of "globalization", finally ending with the ridiculous claim that globalization, and only globalization, was responsible for making the world's hunger crisis worse.
Global trade put local farmers out of business because it was to the country's benefit to import the same food from overseas rather than grow it themselves. Cheaper food brought about by improved agriculture technology (not globalization) allows cheaper food to be bought and thus land to be released for other purposes. Would city states such as Singapore or Hong Kong be anywhere near as successful as they are today if they had to grow their own food?
But what about the local farmers? Should the country continue buying food from them at an inflated price instead of buying it from the open market at a cheaper price? Old practices are only good in the face of an unchanging environment. Under pressure from an expanding population, the old ways of farming are bound to be insufficient to feed the growing masses.
A recent United Nations study confirms that the world already has enough food to feed the global population. The problem is one of distribution. Global trade rules put food production and distribution in the hands of agribusiness giants, supplanting the traditional system of local production for local consumption. As a result, the world is producing the wrong kind of food for export to the already well-fed, by a process that leaves millions of people landless, homeless, cashless, and unable to feed themselves as they traditionally had.
I agree that the problem is one of distribution. Since we agree on this point, I would seriously like to hear how scrapping free trade would help this issue. If the excess food produced in one country is not allowed to flow to countries that need it, how the hell can an isolationist policy possibly be any better?
Globalization Will Alleviate Poverty
This has been the theme strongly trumpeted since Bretton Woods; free trade and globalization will "lift all boats," and end poverty. But in the half century since this big push began, the world has more poor and more hungry than ever before, and the situation is getting steadily worse as we approach the millennium.
I submit that the world has "more poor and more hungry than ever before", not because of globalization, but rather because of improved healthcare and sanitation causing such a rapid increase in population that the economies of the poor countries could not grow at a sufficient pace to support them.
Ask anybody from one of the Asian Economic Tigers whether or not they would prefer global trade to be a reality or not.
There exists much statistics about how concentrated wealth is but there is precious little research into how concentrated wealth was before free trade? Why do we never see those figures?
Taking this point further, I would also like to point out that the poor and hungry of this generation are generally better off than the poor and hungry of past generations anyway. Take any country that is not currently or recently ravaged by war and I think that the findings will be similar there.
Economic Globalization Increases Choice
Before the reality of today's trading market, trade between countries was so sparse that only the rich could afford the speciality products of each and every tribe from weird and exotic nations. The poor handicraft makers, spending all their time fending for their own food, had little time to make crafts. Today, I can walk into a mall and purchase crystal from Austria, Pewter from Malaysia, newspapers from New York, anime from Japan, hard disks from Singapore, opals from Australia ... think of how many models of cars were available (and at what price) before and after trade barriers were lowered in your country.
I will take global trade any day for choice of products, thank you very much.
Economic Globalization Increases Environmental Standards in Developing Countries by Making Countries Wealthier
Globalization is inherently destructive to the natural world because it requires that products travel thousands of miles around the planet, resulting in staggering environmental costs such as unprecedented levels of ocean and air pollution from transport, increased energy consumption and use of fossil fuels (furthering climate change), and increased use of packaging materials. It also requires devastating new infrastructure developments: new roads, ports, airports, pipelines, power grids--often constructed in formerly pristine places.
Hands up, everyone who would like to live in a country without airports, ports, electric power, roads ...
The costs (economic and environmental) of buying goods from overseas and transporting to your home country MUST be less than the cost (economic and environmental) of producing those exact same goods in your own country. If not, market forces would dictate that someone in your own country would produce those goods in your country. It makes sense. Why is this point so difficult to understand?
As to saving the environment, an often forgotten point is that only wealthier (as in not poor) countries would have the educated populace to understand the benefits of saving the environment.
Opposition to Economic Globalization Is Protectionist
If protectionism refers to protecting local jobs, public health, cultural diversity, and natural resources, then protectionism is a good thing. The structure of economic globalization is itself corporate protectionism, because it is set up to protect corporations from the regulations of democratic societies.
Protectionism also leads to old, inefficient industries being supported. Is this really a good thing? Before the invention of the loom, cloth used to be woven by hand. This, of course, took at least 10 times as long and many times more workers than the mechanical machine that replaced them. Should we go back to the times when weavers wove cloth from thread? Should we protect the weavers' jobs?
As for protectionism protecting public health, cultural diversity and natural resources? Hah. The most culturally diverse nations in the world today are those that have the most vibrant economies (hint: they also tend to be pro-globalization). Public health? The public health system will be fine as long as the economy can support paying for it. I suspect this will happen better in a healthy economy. Natural resources? Far more resources are consumed by inefficient practices than by moving goods around the world.
Developing Countries Are Depending on Economic Globalization To Achieve First World Standard of Living
Developing countries are, in fact, becoming poorer, not richer. They are already paying the highest price for globalization. This is because the rules of the global bureaucracies invariably favor Northern corporate interests.
-- uhuh, right. Ask any resident of Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan ... ask them how much being involved in the global market has helped their economies.
There are other examples of poor countries, of course, but figures are always left out of these claims because these neo-nazi-protectionist-environmentalists-anti-globalization pundits will not bring up concrete examples to prove their case as there are none.
There Is No Realistic Alternative to Economic Globalization
We should move away from economic globalization--and toward a revitalization of local political and economic control, self-reliance and ecological preservation.
I agree - there should be more local interest in the economy, self-reliance and preservation of the environment. However, I fail to see how this has anything to do with globalization. These are two separate issues and anyone making this kind of statement is commiting the logical fallacy called a complex question, also sometimes known as a "double-barrelled question".
There is a realistic alternative as Cletus_the_Foetus has said - more freedom.
More democracy! More capitalism!
Debunking of the debunking of the debunking
Added April 12th, 2002
Cletus_the_Foetus has said that the two parties who participate in a trade do so because they believe that they will both benefit, not because they will both actually benefit from this trade. This is true. I do however, submit that any party that continues to be party of trades that are detrimental to its own health will end up in self destruction before long. Such is capitalism. The weak get culled.
Much has been said by both Cletus_the_Foetus and Eclectic_Scion about how wrong I am for saying that improvements in healthcare and sanitation are responsible for the huge increase in population, which is, in turn, responsible for the food shortages in those countries.
Take your mind off the extreme cost of high end medical care in developed countries. CAT scans, MRI scans, radiotherapy, chemotherapy - these are all examples of expensive medicine.
Think about cheap medicine. Antibiotics are cheap. Penicillin has been out of patent for a very long time now. Teaching villagers to boil water to help prevent cholera is cheap. Sleeping with mosquito netting is cheap. Simple "hole in the ground toilets" are cheap and function far better than centuries old "just bury it" or "just go in the river".
Populations have boomed because death rates have gone down faster than birth rates. Infant mortality is down, people are living longer - even in the poorest countries. They may not have access to even X-ray machines, never mind CAT scans but their doctors can still prescribe Amoxicillin (the pills themselves cost less than US$1 per course per adult) to cure their productive cough.
Specifically for Eclectic_Scion
I suggest that you take a step back and take the big picture view. Capitalism is a bad system, but it's the best system we have. Capitalism will even save the environment.