Tag Archives: globalization

Globalization and the Poor

globalization image 1
“It has been said that arguing against globalization is like arguing against gravity.” ~Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General

Summary
Globalization Today
Conversations about globalization talk about it as if it were a homogenous, one-dimensional system. However, modern globalization (i.e. post-Cold War) looks very different than its earlier versions.

  • Characteristics of modern globalization (Bhagwhati):

1) Rapid technological change
2) More government intervention
3) Quick movement of capital
4) Greater sense of economic insecurity due to increased competition from more countries entering the market
5) Fear that too much interdependence limits a nation’s ability to provide for its citizens

  • Globalization has also moved human activities from local to global settings and created a global society and economic system with diminishing barriers to trade (Micah Network)

Anti-Globalization Debate
The globalization and anti-globalization debate has many faces:

  • Anti-capitalism: Largely an attitude of the young, who see that capitalism has not meaningfully addressed social issues or created economic opportunity. Young anti-capitalists do not know how to alleviate suffering; so, capitalism becomes their scapegoat. They see corporations as exploitive. (Bhagwhati)
  • The Right: Focused on national identity and sovereignty; this focus tends to extend into anti-immigration attitudes. (Bhagwhati)
  • Communitarianism: Characterized by social checks and balances; everyone in a community is expected to make shared efforts towards goals. It also calls for placing limits on markets.
  • Anti-Americanism: Characterized by resentment towards the U.S.’s rise as a “hyperpower”. Being anti-globalization is seen as a way of hurling contempt on the U.S. (Bhagwhati). The image below characterizes this attitude well.Anti-American image
                                • Wage inequality and outsourcing: Even high-skill jobs are going abroad as competition increases. Though globalization has increased overall incomes, the wages of “unskilled” workers are falling; this leads to greater inequality. (Stiglitz)
                                • Mismanagement: Globalization needs to be managed better, with more concern for improving the lives of the poor everywhere and developing democratic political institutions (Stiglitz)

Our Response
How can we respond to the challenges globalization presents?
1. Ignore the problems and accept growing inequality: Leave the market alone and it will produce good jobs. (Stiglitz)
2. Resist fair globalization: Superpowers should use their combined power to manipulate the economic rules to favor and protect their position. (Stiglitz)
3. Accept and re-shape globalization with a multi-pronged approach including:

  • Upskilling labor
  • Strengthening safety nets
  • Investing in research and promoting access to knowledge
  • Developing fairer trade policies
  • Focusing on environmental preservation
  • Committing money to fight poverty
  • Reforming global financial systems and instituting legal reforms (Stiglitz)

4. Out of a Christian vision, advocate for the poor by:globalization image 2

  • Strengthening democracy through transnational  grassroots movements
  • Changing patterns of consumption
  • Utilizing technology to make information accessible to the poor, responsive to needs and fit within varying cultural contexts
  • Providing pro-bono lawyers and economists to poor nations to get fairer trade terms
  • Focusing on debt servicing and eliminating corruption/tax evasion

(Micah Network)

Expansion
The Micah Network holds a Christian worldview on globalization. One key tenant is that globalization acts as a catalyst through which injustice can spread, rather than it being the actual cause of injustice. To achieve justice, one must cut at the root of injustice, the heart.

  • Daniel G. Groody argues that the main cause of human depravity stems from our broken relationship with God- our sinful nature. His main point: Globalization is now an integral part of humanity, and its issues stem from our deprived hearts. Globalization itself is responsible for channeling the good and evil throughout the world, but is not the root of the issues that stem from it.
  • Some, like Thomas Friedman, note the technological advancements and economic fruit that have come from globalization. Friedman is a stark believer that proper integration into the globalization system is the answer to poverty and injustice. It is not solving a heart issue, but committing to free-market capitalism and information sharing that will bridge the gap between the rich and the poor, eventually leading to equality.
  • Another critic, economics professor Robert Wade, concludes that World Bank statistics on world equality through globalization are skewed based on improper methods of research, and that falling inequality is not a characteristic of the global economy even by the most favorable measures. Globalization has done more harm than anything.

To reiterate, the Micah Network focuses on globalization’s negative effects, primarily, the tendency for the more powerful cultural icons and practices to dominate the less powerful given the huge inequalities of economic power between cultures and the control of global media by a handful of giant corporations.globalization image

Resources
1. Economist Ian Goldin discusses the potentials and pitfalls of globalization, detailing what he calls the “Achilles heel of globalization”. This is a good comparison between the arguments for and against the current complex global system.
2. In this week’s reading Stiglitz discusses outsourcing and the justification officials use to sell outsourcing to Americans; they say that with job loss comes job gain and “Americans didn’t want those low-wage, low-skilled jobs”. The Centre for Research on Globalization expands on the negative impact of outsourcing and the need for corporations to cease their short-term mentality.
3. Many in favor of the current global economy cite the improvement of living standards globally as evidence to support the positive influence of globalization. This Center for American Progress article expands on the positive influences that the global economy has had on a few nations.
4. This article from The Economist briefly summarizes important studies both for and against globalization.

Questions
1. We have read many definitions of globalization- sociological, economic, political, and biblical. What are some of the overlapping characteristics of these definitions? What were your opinions on globalization before starting the ICD program and how have they changed or been strengthened?
2. In The Queretaro Declaration, there is mention of the “one human family in mutual dependency”. How has globalization helped and hurt the global family we exist in?
3. In her VERY moving TED Talk, Lisa Kristine uses photography to expose modern day slavery. How does globalization play any part in supporting such slavery? Can our consumption of goods be said to support slavery?