The United States of Earth

Republicans go on and on about the evils of globalization as if liberals want to demolish nations and become the United States of Earth. I do not believe that the modern movement towards globalization is about anything of the kind.

The globalization of which we libtards speak has two parts. One is for the nations of the world to work together globally to be better caretakers of our planet. We have plundered our planet, trashed our planet, and moved harmful chemicals from places where they did no harm to places and in combinations where they threaten our clean water supplies and the layers of air above us that protect us so well from the airless space beyond. What will our planet be like without our ice caps? The very fact that they are melting is proof that earth is warming. As the earth warms our weather appears to grow more severe. Whether we caused this uptick in global heating or not, doesn’t it make sense to explore ways we could slow it down or reverse it? Climate deniers say earth is too big to be affected by human activities, but our planet seems smaller every day.

The other way that us liberal snowflakes use globalization relates to fighting poverty, illiteracy, disease, and lack of opportunity worldwide, especially in nations that may be challenged by harsh climate conditions or constant power struggles that savage land and people. The world has had to contend with at least two or three new diseases that seemed to emerge from these very same challenged areas. HIV had roots in Africa, Ebola virus did also, and West Nile virus, which holds horrors for pregnant mothers, seems to also have come from the tropics. In the past, when travel was difficult these diseases mostly stayed put (although previously some diseases were spread through shipping). Now they threaten everyone on the planet. Keeping people around our planet healthy may be altruistic, but it is also quite selfish. Although drugs can be and are developed to treat these new diseases, raising the standard of living for all people everywhere on earth will offer the best protection of all.

As I listened on this Tuesday, September 25, 2018, to Trump give his speech (Steven Miller’s speech) to the UN and tout the glories of the new nationalism, it did not escape me that the sense of barriers going up around states all over Europe arose from the very Pandora’s Box that the Republicans insisted on opening in Iraq (which they now blame on the Democrats because of Libya). The wave of war spread across the Middle East from Iraq until it arrived at Syria and sent migrants outward into Europe. People leaving a war torn nation where their leader used chemical weapons on his people; that’s a thing we should all comprehend. But the fear of people arriving in a settled nation in large numbers, the timing of these migrations after a long spate of terrorists activities in European nations, and the lack of a good plan for how to offer hospitality to traumatized families has set up new opportunities for power for those who give voice to anti-migrant speech.

Trump can sense fear in others because he feels it himself, hence his support for white supremacists. Trump can sympathize with the rise of dictators in Europe who promise to keep migrants out of their nations. By turning to policies of “our nation first” “earthlings” will lose the very important outcomes of the dual goals of globalization. As a result, Nationalism could destroy America as we know it, but it could also destroy our entire little planet out here in a lonely corner of space. Please keep the destruction down all you powerbrokers, until we find Earth B out there in the void.

Globalization, as us lefties define it, is not completely at odds with Nationalism, so stop making it look like we can only have one or the other. The New World Order is not a real thing. It is a made-up political construct, a conspiracy theory, to deliver a message that the left has extreme and diabolical plans for global domination. If anyone has such plans however, it is the right.

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – Blue Marble Review

From Silk to Silicon by Jeffrey E Garten – Book Review and Comments on Globalization

from silk to silicon big

I tend to think that we are living in the most global age ever and my take on global government often harkens back to the science fiction books I have always enjoyed so much, so my construct tends to actually be governance of the galaxy. In The Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov the Galactic Empire exists but it is on its way out. Preparations have already been made to train brilliant humans who will bring the Empire back from the Dark Ages into which it has been plunged. In Dune we have the Spacer’s Guild, the Bene Gesserit, and the noble houses in a feudal society with everyone owing allegiance to the Padishah Emperor. In Star Wars we know that there is a rebel alliance at war with the empire and prequels fill in the backstory showing us a government full of corruption, swollen, unwieldy, and divided.

So I often try to imagine what our government might be like if we did have a global government. I can imagine a system where we keep our individual nations but belong to some overarching body that coordinates everything and keeps a more and more complex world ticking along smoothly and peacefully (which you would think might be the United Nations, except that this idea makes some people paranoid). I realize that this is as much science fiction right now as any of my old beloved sci-fi books, but there is a corner of my mind that believes that we could possibly pull this off (a very optimistic corner of my mind).

But, Jeffrey E. Garten the author of From Silk to Silicon: The Story of Globalization through Ten Extraordinary Lives does not see globalization as something to be achieved in the future if we ever get our act together. He feels that people on this planet have been making the world smaller and more connected for centuries and he doesn’t even go back as far as the Roman Empire. He goes back to Genghis Khan (1162-1227) ravaging his way across most of Asia and even perhaps into a swath of Europe conquering and killing out of motives very like vengeance but also mixing cultures along the way, sending beautiful objects and bright people to live in the peaceful parts of his empire and setting up the trade routes that became the very well-traveled Silk Road.

He goes on to talk about nine more people who have connected parts of the globe and made it easier for goods, services, and people to wander further and/or faster or even to stay in one place and still connect with distant corners of the planet. He includes Prince Henry the “Navigator” (although he believes that name is a misnomer), too young a son to inherit a kingdom but driven to find his niche in Portugal and perhaps his legacy. He begins as a conqueror, continues as a sponsor of explorations, and sadly winds up bringing slaves to Europe from Africa.

We have Cyrus Field who tried time and time again until he devised a system that worked to lay a trans-Atlantic telegraph cable from Newfoundland to England allowing messages to travel in minutes rather than weeks and months. Garten tells us about a Jewish banker who went home to the Jewish ghetto each night but was trusted to bring funds and investment money to and from rich and even royal men all over Europe and England. He tells us how Mayer Amschel Rothschild continued to live in his old neighborhood even as he founded banks in all of the important European cities and sent his sons out to run them. Would we have a modern banking system without him? Maybe, but it might not have gotten off to such a prosperous start.

Even Margaret Thatcher, a Prime Minister who people love to hate, is given credit for breaking up socialism in England and sponsoring free trade, things which ended what might have been a long-standing recession in Great Britain, at least for a time. And he tells us about Andrew Grove, eventual CEO of Microsoft, with his grasp of detail and his apparently inborn work ethic who revolutionized the microchip production industry when no one else seemed to be able to manufacture microchips that had the necessary qualities of consistency and usability.

There are a few others I did not name in this book review (great book, you should read it) but one of his main points was about what these folks had in common. They did not set out to contribute to the overall globalization of the world. They were not even always people who you would want to be in the path of, they could be cruel, they were all extremely determined, and their goals were often quite narrow, but offered out-sized consequences, sometimes deliberate, sometimes not.

So it seems all our talk about globalization in the 21st century needs to be placed in the context of all the connections made on our planet which began long before any of us existed. In other words, there is a historical context in which modern globalization is a continuation of a human tendency, rather than an innovation that is just coming into existence. Who will be the extraordinary individual who takes the baton and runs the next lap? Is this person already here, or far in the future? Only hindsight will tell. It could be you.

TPP – Yesterday, the Negatives – Today, the Positives

Trade agreements, and in particular the TPP have not
been topics that I have researched in any great detail. But I am an American
citizen and I feel that I really should investigate the topic before deciding
whether to favor the TPP or not. So I will take you along with me into the
surprisingly unanswerable question of whether globalization or trade agreements
or both caused the flight of our factories and the loss of valuable American
jobs.
It seems as difficult to tell if globalization or
trade agreements or both caused manufacturers to leave us in the 80’s and the
90’s as it is to answer that old question of which came first, the chicken or
the egg. The two things were kind of concurrent events which makes it hard to
separate and assign causality. The flight of our factories to nations with
large supplies of workers who were happy to work for very low wages may have
started with just a few companies, experts say, and then snowballed as
companies learned they could not stay in America and compete  with low cost production values and cheap
imports. Most sources I looked at agreed that trade agreements played a role in
factory flight, but were not necessarily advantageous to the nations on the
other side of the agreements either. CAFTA and NAFTA definitely did not prove
efficacious for American and our trade imbalances increased.
Sources make the point, however, that factory flight
has already happened and that most of those manufacturers will not be returning
to the US. Even though there has been some movement in certain sectors (like
textiles) to return to America, machines do most of the work on the factory
floor and factories will probably never again employ Americans in the numbers
they once did. So the TPP is not likely to hurt our manufacturing employment
numbers in the 21st century the way trade agreements added to our
woes in the 20th century.
Some of the most recent articles mention several
positive reasons to make this trade agreement with the Pacific Rim nations (so
far, excluding China). One reason they mention is that we already have very low
tariffs for some of these nations and no tariffs for about half of the twelve nations.
When our factories left our intellectual properties
went with them. Nations sometimes have legal access to technical specifications
and sometimes they steal or hack them. We have not developed an effective
strategy for either keeping our patented information secret, for charging fees
to those who use our patented information, or for prosecuting those who break
our patents. TPP is supposed to address this intellectual sinkhole and allow us
to retain the profits that should accrue to us from our innovations. There was
one article that I found especially cogent. Here are the authors of this very
informative article speaking for themselves:
Opponents of giving President Obama fast-track authority to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) — the pending trade pact between the United
States and 11 countries in Asia and the Americas — cite the job-killing impacts
of globalization as a prime reason for their objection. The free-trade
agreement would lower tariffs and remove other barriers to imports from member
countries, which opponents fear would create steep competition for U.S. industries
domestically.
Still, we believe
blocking the TPP on fears of globalization would be a mistake.
There are several
reasons to support the TPP despite globalization concerns. First, the TPP —
which seeks to govern exchange of not only traditional goods and services, but
also intellectual property and foreign investment — would promote trade in
knowledge-intensive services in which U.S. companies exert a strong comparative
advantage. Second, killing the TPP would do little to bring factory work back
to America. Third, and perhaps most important, although China is not part of
the TPP, enacting the agreement would raise regulatory rules and standards for several of China’s key trading partners. That would pressure China to meet some of
those standards and cease its attempts to game global trade to impede foreign multinational
companies.
Our research indicates that rising import competition
from China accounted for 21 percent of the overall decline in U.S. employment
in manufacturing industries during the 1990s and 2000s. The wave of automation
that replaced middle-class jobs available to workers without a college
education added to those losses. We sympathize with the regions and families
that suffered, but halting TPP would not assist U.S. manufacturing or benefit
U.S. workers. The reality is that the globalization of manufacturing is a fait
accompli. Those manufacturing jobs are not coming back.
But if the TPP has
little downside for the U.S., what’s the upside? Why bother with the deal at
all? The reason is that the TPP is about much more than manufacturing. Most
notably, it promises to liberalize trade in services and in agriculture, sectors in which the United States runs
large trade surpluses, but which the World Trade Organization, despite 20 years
of trying, has failed to pry open internationally.
It also requires
protecting patents against infringement and safeguarding business assets and
revenues against expropriation by foreign governments. To the extent that Obama
succeeds in enshrining these guarantees in the TPP, the agreement would give a
substantial boost to U.S. trade.
Expanding global
trade has remade manufacturing, forcing workers, businesses, and entire regions
to endure often painful adjustments. However, much as we might like to return
to 1970 when manufacturing comprised a quarter of U.S. nonfarm employment, that’s impossible without massive protectionist barriers that would
isolate the U.S. economy and lower U.S. living standards. Blocking the TPP because of justified unhappiness over
manufacturing’s lost glory

would amount to refighting the last trade war — beggaring the future as
retribution for the past. A responsible trade agenda should instead seek to
provide the supporting policy structure – protections for intellectual property
and freedom from confiscatory regulations – that allows U.S. companies to excel
in the sectors where they are strong.
This article had the clearest and most complete
analysis, but the author is obviously for the TPP. I did not find many articles
that are against it given our current economic climate. Here is a list of other
sources I looked at:
If you really want to form your own opinion do some
reading. The truth is that there are times when it is difficult to foresee all
the future effects of current decisions. The big problem that I was left with
after reading these articles is that almost no matter what America did our
trade deficits increased. Perhaps right now it is impossible to reverse our
trade losses and only by helping trade equalize worldwide will we eventually see
the situation improve. I might be starting to favor the TPP, just because it is
a small agreement and most of the damage has already been done, and the
possibility of protecting our intellectual properties is appealing. Elizabeth
Warren has found a rather glaring omission from the agreement which has to do
with protections from the courts which needs to be taken into account, but
perhaps that can be dealt with by an addition to the agreement. People mention
that it will raise the cost of our medications, will affect the internet badly,
and will cause massive genetic modification of food making our food supplies
insecure. These problems also need to be addressed. I have not made my final
decision on this issue and what I think about it has no real import in the
grand scheme of things, but knowing something feels far better than knowing
nothing.

By Nancy Brisson

Surprises of Globalization

Photo credits: taken by Shamil Zhumatov, Reuters; shared by Fadhel Hawramany on Google+; Cheese-making in Kazakhstan
 
 
The admonition of our forefathers that “all
men (and women) are created equal” does guide a lot our decisions as Americans
and lately seems to keep leading us back to another old adage, that one that
says “no good deed goes unpunished”. The fact that it seemed wrong to many
Americans to enjoy relative prosperity while many others around the world
seemed to languish in poverty led to a belief that, although Americans lost all
of their jobs, the jobs that were created in places where no boom has gone
before (in recent memory) convinced us that this was, in some twisted
self-effacing way, a good thing for the whole world in the long run. Allowing
others to make puny wages doing jobs that provided Americans with great incomes
could be justified because it would eventually lift up workers around the
world, assuage our national guilt, and usher in a future that guaranteed human
rights for all. Not that we necessarily had a choice. Globalization happened. Actually,
of course, average Americans did not send their jobs to other nations; their
jobs were yanked away and bestowed elsewhere. Still it is somewhat comforting
to believe that losing our jobs makes us better Americans, adhering to the
ideals that formed the basis of our nation and the ideals that people around
the world have found admirable and desirable.

I don’t think we have been quite as happy
with the realities of the road to globalization. It will take many generations,
probably, for global economics to raise the standard of living for everyone. In
the meantime, Americans are left in a sort of economic backwater, a zone where
all but the wealthiest Americans are stuck treading water, and rather brackish
water at that. We don’t really want to be in this financial limbo and we may
not stay here for long. Hopefully we will find a way up and out, a way back to
the prosperity that makes America hum, that calms twitchy Republican
plutocrats, and gives us back our optimistic spirit. What we can’t know is how
long it will take for this to happen, and whether we will be able to pull
another rabbit out of our magic hat and find the next thing or things that will
take us to a new prosperity. Perhaps on our enforced hiatus from prosperity we
will learn to enjoy a bit of languishing, to slow down a bit and embrace a
simpler lifestyle that values intangibles like family and friends and leisure and
that does not so much rely on collecting more and more stuff, things, objects
we never have any time to appreciate.

Must everyone in America have granite
countertops and stainless steel appliances? I just saw that photo that you see at the top of this post, taken by someone at Reuters and shared
on Google+ that shows a Central Asian mother and daughter making cheese. They
are squatting in a hut with a straw floor forming perfect mounds of fresh
cheese on a wooden board probably getting ready to sell their cheeses at the
local market. Obviously the contrast between these two “kitchen” scenarios
exposes the distance the world must travel before there is any real economic
global equality of opportunity. If we find a way to restore the upward
trajectory of our economy the distance among nations will continue to widen or
at least maintain its current proportions. However, I don’t expect that we will
lag behind on purpose waiting for people in other nations to catch up.

In addition, economics is not the only
sphere of human activity that has been stirred by globalization. An absolute torrent
of hostility has been released, most of it religious in nature between people
who adhere to a set of stern religious laws and have practiced this demanding
religion since antiquity.  So we find
ourselves in the midst of a religious firestorm, a maelstrom that was
unforeseen by most of us. If you read science fiction, especially Frank Herbert’s
Dune books, the idea of jihad probably
did not come as a total surprise, but still, who knew; not us “ugly” Americans.
We did not know that modern communication devices like computers and especially
cell phones, and the penchant for tourism that arose with transportation
advances and increased prosperity would, just like disturbing a hive of
hornets, produce culture shock after culture shock, foment anger and violent
reactionary responses that would lead to the threat of terrorism that has
arrived on America’s (and the rest of the industrialized world’s) doorstep and
which has become a new fact of life.

Who knew that there are many people who
would want to resist globalization, who treasure their traditional lifestyle,
their religious isolation and who, once change began to rock their world, awoke
to a passion of missionary zeal that Allah requires once the infidel is right
in your backyard. Christians ought to understand the often unintentional
cruelties of the call to carry a foreign religious mission to “pagans” and “nonbelievers”.
Many of us did not foresee that what seemed like just simple economic change
would resonate through every level of the diverse cultures around the world and
make diversity one of the largest issues involved in globalization. Untangling
these belief issues and lifestyle issues requires delicacy and time, not strong
weapons in the American arsenal. We are spontaneous, well-meaning, earnest,
clueless; bulls in the china shop of global human interactions. We are not
known for either patience or delicacy.

Now that globalization has begun, it
probably can’t be stopped unless we go into another “dark” age which seems
unlikely. But the globalizations we are experiencing will probably not do away
with nations, nor will it probably do away with religions, at least not in any
of our lifetimes. Can we wend our ways through the minefields of culture shock
and religious intolerance and economic rises and falls to form a more perfect
union of the world’s nations that could bring to our little planet health and
peace? That is the challenge of this particular era of human history. Will
environmental forces trump all of it and drown us in global environmental
crisis? We live with that challenge right now. Yikes. I wish I believed that
this all arose from our belief that all men are created equal (and perhaps some
of it did) but most of this nexus of change arose from greed. Oh well, we are
what we are. Surprise! The key words here are delicacy and time.

 

“Canoodling” with Communists

 

In the past I have praised corporations for globalization.
Having a planet where the distance between the rich and the poor is so great
and offers such a miserable quality of life to so many seems wrong when we are
brought up in a land that says it believes that all people are created equal.
Albeit the distance between the wealthiest and the poorest Americans is still
very great, but, globally that gap probably exceeds the personal income gap in
America by at least several factors of ten. So it seemed fair when corporations
set up offices in countries where most citizens experienced very low standards
of living. At least it did until I thought about what is really, probably, just
an opportunity for exercising those greed muscles. Sometimes I let my idealism get
in the way of my cynicism. In my experience people who hold power and wealth
rarely do things for totally altruistic reasons.

When you think about it carefully it is almost like a scam.
Here we have workers who do not live in a democracy, or even if they do they
probably are not enfranchised. Along come some factories offering jobs; nice
steady jobs. There are no labor unions in these nations. Employees may be
subject to a totalitarian government which sets wages and determines hours and
other working conditions. These leaders may even be able to conscript workers
and move them around the country as needed. They may require them to live in
dormitories so that their work will be the focus of their lives. These people
will not ask for raises, they will not strike, they will not form unions. They
are not free people.

Perhaps instead of going to liberate people, our
corporations went to exploit captive workers who live under communism, at least
in the case of China and a few other third world nations. These “capitalists”
have the nerve to accuse Obama and the American people of being socialists
while they make enormous profits from a labor force that is almost slave labor.
It is wrong to call Obama a socialist while you are “canoodling” with communists
and to then use this form of government as a fear tactic against the President
of the United States. Surely you can see why Americans might find this
hypocritical.

Someday there will be nowhere to find cheap labor and
perhaps the gaps between economic classes will not be as large as they are
today and the American worker can once again rejoin the world’s work force.
Unless we have found better things to do or better places to be by then. It is
possible that there is room for both altruism and cynicism in globalization,
and we can see that it is changing the world forever, but I don’t think we
should just give these corporate manipulators a pass. Perhaps they are not true
fans of democracy and perhaps that is why we have to listen to libertarians,
who sound more like corporate shills and extreme right wing conservatives.
Small government would fit in nicely with their desire to have free rein
without having to deal with governments, elections, or a pesky thing like the
electorate. Get over yourselves, you people with all the bucks; the world you
envision would not be worth living in, even with scads of money!

If you are one of those non-wealthy people who spends time
moaning about how America is turning into a socialist nation you may be a
zombie created by corporate and wealthy special interest groups who have been
playing on the fact that you feel sidelined. They have you blaming your lose of
self-esteem on minorities and illegal immigrants when, in fact, they are to
blame for the fact that you now feel beside the point in America. Stand up and
ask for what we need and what we earned. Don’t think that you are valued by the
Republican Party which gets strong support from corporations and the wealthy. Fight for the social safety net; it is not socialist. Fight
for growth rather than austerity. Don’t buy that crap that the federal budget is
like your personal budget and must be balanced at all times. This is a great
big country we are running here, not a small household. The needs of 300+
million people hang in the balance: our schools, our highways, our environment,
our energy. Corporations want us to do only what will benefit them. They do not
care about the rest of us. That is our job. If you have been bamboozled, don’t
allow it any more. Elect Democrats in 2014.