by Rob Kall
Globablization is destroying too many American jobs, too many American Industries. Thomas Friedman observing the effects of globalization on business and culture, referring to comments by Nandan Nilekani, the CEO of the Indian company, Infosys, says.
"Infosys said all the walls have been blown away in the world, so now we, an Indian software company, can use the Internet, fiber optic telecommunications and e-mail to get superempowered and compete anywhere that our smarts and energy can take us. And we can be part of a global supply chain that produces profit for Indians, Americans and Asians.
"Al Qaeda said all the walls have been blown away in the world, thereby threatening our Islamic culture and religious norms and humiliating some of our people, who feel left behind. But we can use the Internet, fiber optic telecommunications and e-mail to develop a global supply chain of angry people that will superempower us and allow us to hit back at the Western civilization that's now right in our face."
The walls are down. Our own government, our internet, satellite and other technologies have blasted the walls to oblivion. We are exposed, naked and sadly, particularly the middle class, suffering terribly as opportunistic predators and competitors have raced in to make the most of the opportunities. These include transnational corporations that have no loyalty to any nation, only the dollar, or euro, dinar, ruble or rupee. Uninhibited by rules or laws, these economic opportunists take advantage of the wide open, unprotected prime markets, the wealthiest customers with the best credit, our ideal laws that protect businesses and legal transactions,our lenient tax laws.
Take the wall/ barrier metaphor a step further, imagine a child born without a skin, or an adult who suddenly loses his skin-- to a fire, lets say. Long-term survival would not be possible. That's what the long term experiment of Globalization ( that's how the Harpers magazine cover article The End of Globalism by John Ralston Saul characterizes it) has done to the US-- flayed off our skin, torn down our walls, leaving us totally exposed to economic infection and bleeding to death. But it doesn't have to be that way. The alternative tearing down the old protective walls-- the old way of thinking, does not not require rebuilding of old walls. Instead of walls of protectionism, we need a membrane.
A membrane, in biology is sort of a barrier between two spaces, but it allows some things through and acts like a wall to block other things. www.dictionary.com defines a biological membrane as:
A thin, pliable layer of tissue covering surfaces or separating or connecting regions, structures, or organs of an animal or a plant
And it defines a chemical membrane as:
A thin sheet of natural or synthetic material that is permeable to substances in solution
And permeable is defined, at dictionary.com, as:
Capable of being permeated, or passed through; yielding passage; passable; penetrable; -- used especially of substances which allow the passage of fluids; as, wood is permeable to oil; glass is permeable to light. --I. Taylor.
Fortunately, just as medicine has been able to synthesize artificial or laboratory-grown skin, it is also possible to create economic laws, policies and regulations that act as subtle, selective protective membranes rather than total walls. These globalistic laws would allow international trade with reasonable openness at some level, regarding some issues, while still protecting American industries and jobs and more. We're not just talking about economics. Globalism impacts upon laws that have been democratically decided upon. Being signatories to NAFTA and the WTO we have agreed to accept decisions by anonymous men in closed committees, decisions that can reverse laws democratically decided by US voters.
This may not make some countries and many transglobal corporations happy. Too bad. All the countries in the world are not equal. The US has invested its share of citizen blood in building and creating a nation with assets, resources, strengths and MARKETS that are incomparable.
It is time to rein in the corporations that have been given total freedom to leech off America's opportunities, especially those that have thrown away their US "citizenship" to avoid taxes. They've had no loyalty to the US, and the US should treat them as less favored than companies that remain tax loyal to the US.
There will be right wing and corporate Chicken Littles who chant the mantras of free trade, and they'll whine that the sky will fall if any restraints are put on the current feeding frenzy. But as Thom Hartmann so eloquently argues in his article, Democracy - Not "The Free Market" - Will Save America's Middle Class . That's the title, and here's what Hartmann says,
"The conservative belief in "free markets" is a bit like the Catholic Church's insistence that the Earth was at the center of the Solar System in the Twelfth Century. It's widely believed by those in power, those who challenge it are branded heretics and ridiculed, and it is wrong.
"In actual fact, there is no such thing as a "free market." Markets are the creation of government."
Just as the Bush administration has engaged in experimentation with preemptive war-- albeit without wisdom, intelligent planning or anticipation of consequences-- Bill Clinton started us on the road to Globalism, by signing NAFTA and the WTO.
Even arch conservative Pat Buchanan, in an article on worldnetdaily sees the problem. He comments,
"They're calling it a jobless recovery. Wrong. Millions of jobs are being created. They're just not being created here in the United States.
"The reasons can be traced to these four acronyms: NAFTA, GATT, WTO, PNTR. These are the trade treaties and global institutions that have permitted the historic substitution of foreign labor for American labor, to the enrichment of the transnational companies that look upon the Congress as a wholly owned subsidiary.
"Numbers do not lie. In 2003, America exported $1 trillion in goods and services. Almost 10 percent of GDP. Excellent. By the Clinton-Bush I rule $1 billion in exports creates 20,000 jobs that $1 trillion worth of exports created 20 million jobs. Exports are good for America.
"The problem? We imported $1.5 trillion in goods and services. That created or supported 30 million jobs abroad. But even this understates the case. For foreign workers can be hired at a fraction of the cost of a U.S. worker. Our $1.5 trillion in imports is probably supporting 150,000,000 jobs abroad.
"The U.S. trade deficit is the greatest foreign aid and wealth transfer program in history, and our workers are paying for it by the loss to their families of the American Dream."
Bush energetically supports this GLobalism experiment gone awry. He accuses Kerry, who, the last time I looked, was still pro WTO and NAFTA, of isolationism. Bush says that isolationism is "a recipe for economic disaster," that it might hurt international companies.
This is the kind of black and white, simple-minded "wall" thinking that is about as appropriate in the year 2004 as the abacus, hand typesetting or the pony express.
"The crisis of the Bush dynasty is that, like the Bourbons of France, they have learned nothing and forgotten nothing. They do not understand that we have entered a new world where the old ways no longer work. They yet recite the old litanies that lost their relevance in the Reagan decade."
And he goes on to say, "
"Republican free-trade dogma inhibits action to protect U.S. jobs. The GOP is hogtied and hamstrung by its ideology in dealing with the crisis. Its only response is to mutter with Dr. Pangloss that it is all for the best."
"The GOP is fortunate its opponent in 2004 is John F. Kerry, who is as clueless as they are on the new world economy that has been designed, and is operating, to loot America of her patrimony."
Of course the problem is that where black and white thinking doesn't work, subtlety and nuance must be adopted.. The Occam's Razor rule that the simplest solution is preferable has been tried and it failed, in terms of free trade.. So we have to punt and move to an approach that is the simplest, yet which deals with all the issues of the problem.
This kind of approach does not fit the 5 second sound byte very well, so it will be necessary to create simple metaphors that encapsulate the basic ideas. The concept of an economic membrane, or skin, is not too difficult to digest or communicate.
The challenge will be to determine what we let in and what we block. The interesting thing about membranes is that they often have gradients, that change the rate of flow of one substance through them. Those gradients change as conditions change on either side of the membrane. If there's no salt on one side of the membrane, and a lot of salt on the other, then salt can easily move through that membrane. But as salt levels build up on the other side, then less salt will move through. Balances develop. Those balances can be moderated by other factors. This could apply to products coming into or out of the US, to jobs being outsourced, to ecologic regulations, greenhouse gases... the possibilities are endless. The point is, that with a membrane model, balances and interactions can be addressed, where, in a no-walls, totally open free market model, there are no rules of balance.
Economic growth, even explosive economic growth, that occurs at the same time that millions of jobs are being lost is a result of an experiment gone awry-- a globalism economics counterpart to chernobyl. It will take vision, leadership and out-of the-box thinking to harness the energy of the wild economic growth that is failing to help solve the jobs problem.
Rob Kall firstname.lastname@example.org is editor/founder of OpEdNews.com. This article is copyright Rob Kall and originally published by opednews.com but permission is granted for reprint in print, email, blog or web media so long as this credit paragraph is attached. Over 85 other articles by Rob Kall