Globalization begins at home25 Jul 2001
I came to work this morning to find a new Power Mac G4 waiting to be unpacked. Alas, I don't get to keep it, but I did get to set it up (being the only one here who's ever worked with Macs), and take a look at OSX for the first time. Being curious admins, the first thing we did was set up the root password and see what happened when we did a 'kill 1'.
Despite all the evidence to the contrary from Genoa over the weekend, I still believe that democracy works and that diplomacy works.
As a student of economics, I know for a fact that globalization and free trade can bring benefits to all parties. I also know for a fact that real world distortions can quickly erode these benefits. The critics of globalization do have some good arguments with respect to debt relief and fair trade, and they need to be considered by world leaders. But while the fringe of a G8 conference is a good place to get attention, it is a bad place to be listened to and to be taken seriously. The G8 or the EU are not world governments, and decisions are not made at summits. Politics takes place at the national level, and issues of globalization needs to be brought up at this level.
Take, for example, agricultural subsidies, and the particularly crass case of the US sugar industry. In a free market, the US would be importing most if not all of its sugar from developing countries. Instead, US sugar prices are held 50% higher than world market prices, and imports are blocked by quotas. The winners are corporations like Archer Daniels Midland (since it would make no economic sense for ADM to produce corn syrup with low sugar prices).
Money and power go hand in hand, and even in a democracy, money and politics are inseparable. But money is not the only influence on politics. The supporters of fair trade and debt relief need to raise these issues in the national political arenas if any action is to be taken, and not in the midst of a (police-provoked) riot.