[saymaListserv] Fwd: TQE#121
jhminshall at comcast.net
Thu Aug 25 13:48:25 JEST 2005
> NOTE: I recommend reading this letter on the web, where it has better
> formatting and where responses to it are also shown:
> THE QUAKER ECONOMIST #121
> Globalization and the World's Poor
> Do we have a realistic view of world poverty?
> by Janet Minshall
> Dear Friends,
> Globalization and its proponents are widely mistrusted and their
> achievements denied and denounced. Some vocal representatives of the labor
> movement have said that any production done outside the US or Europe which
> is provided at lower than US or European wages amounts to exploitation.
> Similarly they say any places and conditions of employment which do not meet
> the standards of those in the US and Western Europe are sweatshops. Further,
> anyone who works in production in countries outside of the US or Western
> Europe is said to be at risk for being kidnapped and forcibly enslaved.
> All of these conclusions are false.
> The clear implication of these messages is that we consumers in the US
> should feel guilty about buying anything made in other countries by
> "foreigners," and that we should demand that no one else in the world be
> permitted to do the work of US, European and multinational corporations but
> the highly paid middle-class workers who have done that work in the past.
> Those of you who actually research the issue of globalization will find
> that such misrepresentations are egregiously self-serving on behalf of the
> US and Western European labor unions and grossly unfair to workers and the
> poor in the rest of the world.
> The reality is that the overall effects of globalization are primarily
> positive. Globalization is actually achieving a major economic goal in the
> world which Quakers have long sought, i.e. rapidly bringing the poor out of
> poverty in those countries which are in process of globalizing.
> Nevertheless, there have been abuses of globalization. The situation is
> quite similar to the first burst of industrialization, when people flocked
> from the countryside to the new factories and mines of 17th century Britain.
> These new industrial workers felt that they had improved their lives - farm
> life was difficult and prone to disaster - but the fact remains that they
> were then exploited by the owners of the new factories. Beautiful townships
> were devastated by factory construction, and by air and water pollution.
> Entire livelihoods vanished almost overnight. Urban slums expanded rapidly,
> without public health or indeed any civic services or regulation. Only
> gradually, over a period of a century or more, were the excesses of rapid
> industrialization ameliorated. We can expect similar developments with
> globalization, though the evidence so far suggests to me that the negative
> consequences will be (a) mild compared to what happened during the early
> centuries of the industrial revolution, and (b) insignificant in comparison
> to the worldwide decrease in poverty.
> THE HARD EVIDENCE
> Economic analyses indicate that the globalization which took place in the
> early part of the twentieth century was actually more rapid than what is
> occurring at present. Because the process is now old enough to examine
> thoroughly, there are many good articles and books available on the actual
> effects of globalization on the peoples of the world. While some are slanted
> to support particular political agendas, many are written objectively by
> people from a wide variety of cultures and countries.
> For example, there is Martin Wolf's book, Why Globalization Works, published
> by Yale University Press, 2004. Martin Wolf is The Associate Editor and
> Chief Economics Commentator at the Financial Times of London. Another good
> book from a slightly different perspective is In Defense of Globalization by
> Jagdish Bhagwati, also published in 2004. Bhagwati is University Professor
> at Columbia University and Andre Meyer Senior Fellow in International
> Economics at the Council on Foreign Relations. He is also a former Special
> Advisor to the United Nations on Globalization.
> Contrary to what you may read in anti-globalization leaflets and press
> releases, between 1980 and 2000 75% of the world's population achieved an
> enormous increase in both average incomes and living standards due to the
> effects of globalization. Summarized from Wolf's book in the chapter "Why
> The Critics Are Wrong", p. 143, "never before have so many people, or so
> large a proportion of the world's population, enjoyed such large rises in
> their standard of living - India produced an approximately 100% increase in
> real GDP per head and China nearly a 400% increase in real GDP per head.
> This is an enormous improvement, experienced by some two billion people.
> Meanwhile, GDP per head in high income countries (with only 15% of the
> world's population) rose by 2.1% between 1975 and 2000, and by only 1.7% per
> year between 1990 and 2001.
> A much shorter piece appeared in the Nov/Dec 2004 issue of Foreign Affairs
> which helps, along with the data cited above, to explain some of the intense
> reactions against globalization by the middle class around the world
> (including many Quakers). The article is "Globalization's Missing Middle" by
> Geoffrey Garrett. He, too, describes the net positive effect of
> globalization on the poor of the world and admits that the rich also
> benefit, but his primary focus is the fact that "middle income countries
> have not done nearly as well under globalized markets as either richer or
> poorer countries..."
> He explains - as I too explained in a 2001 article in "Friendly Women" that
> was reprinted as TQE #23 - that the middle class workers in many countries
> like the US don't have the technical and scientific education necessary to
> compete for the higher wage jobs which have developed over the past twenty
> years or so. The relatively poorly trained and educated workers in the US,
> and Europe are vainly trying to force employers to keep those higher wage
> jobs at home, rather than outsource them to better educated and less
> expensive workers in China, India and elsewhere.
> THE ROLE OF LABOR
> To his credit, John Sweeney, President of the AFL-CIO, recognized the
> problem years ago. He funded programs to upgrade the education and skills of
> layed-off workers. However, many of those who might today benefit from such
> an upgrade think they are somehow entitled to their previous jobs for the
> rest of their working lives without any further training.
> Friends frequently express concern for truth, simplicity, equality and
> peace, all venerable Quaker testimonies. In keeping with those testimonies,
> Friends are required to search continuously for ways of understanding the
> realities of the world which put them on the side of the poor and the
> oppressed. Some middle class labor movement representatives have succeeded
> in convincing Friends that the workers in the US and European labor
> movements are the poor and oppressed and that we Friends should take sides
> with them against those who are truly poor in other countries.
> Companies that outsource generally pay significantly better wages, provide
> better benefits and combat sexual, class and cultural / tribal / caste
> discrimination more effectively than local employers in the countries where
> they send their work. These are effects that Friends want to support.
> SHALL WE DUMB DOWN OR TECH UP?
> As many of us have learned, it is the disaffected middle class which has the
> time and the resources to organize politically. Rather than organizing
> against the poor of the world, middle class people and those in middle
> income countries need to put their energy into innovation and change.
> Rather than "dumbing down" and trying to retain repetitive manufacturing and
> service jobs, they need to "tech up" their educational and training programs
> to acquire and keep the newer jobs being developed. Summarizing from
> Geoffrey Garrett's article in Foreign Affairs (cited above), organizing in
> middle income countries should focus on deep reforms in infrastructure and
> institutions such as "government, banking and law to transform economies
> that stifle innovation into ones that foster it with strong property-rights
> regimes, effective financial systems and good governance."
> A CALL FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS TO PUT ITS OWN HOUSE IN ORDER
> First and most importantly, we need to better educate and train our workers.
> To accomplish necessary institutional change in the US, after exposing the
> hypocrisy of Bush's "No Child Left Behind" policy, we need to replace the
> Republican's misdirected and ineffective efforts with significant and
> substantial upgrades to our educational system. Our workers need to be
> prepared for the jobs on the cutting edge of innovation and change rather
> than being dragged along behind the economy kicking and screaming.
> The efforts of crusaders like New York's Attorney General, Elliott Spitzer,
> who is calling major corporations and industries to account by cleaning up
> both their boards and their books needs wider support and encouragement.
> Examining the process for casting and counting ballots in this country is
> equally important and deserves our involvement.
> Finally, the McCain-Feingold initiative to reform campaign financing doesn't
> go far enough. We need to build a fire wall between our elected
> representatives and the corporate and other special interests who have
> apparently become their primary constituency. All of these efforts are more
> important for the survival and well-being of workers and their jobs in the
> US than uselessly shaking our fists at the process of globalization and
> WE CANNOT HAVE IT BOTH WAYS
> We, as Friends, cannot have it both ways. We have constantly demanded a
> higher income and a better standard of living for the poor for many, many
> years. Well, now we have both in developing countries that have globalized.
> To help our own we have to get tougher both on government and labor and
> insist that our educational system, especially our resources for college
> preparation, our community colleges and technical schools, be dramatically
> upgraded so that the middle and working class young people in the US can
> compete on "a level playing field" with the middle and working class workers
> in countries such as China and India. We need to upgrade our preparatory
> programs and then see to it that those prepared for the new job market can
> actually get into the graduate programs that they may then wish to enter.
> The question has been asked, "to increase the incomes of the poor in the
> rest of the world, are we willing to have less and buy less?"
> Well? Are we?
> Sincerely your Friend,
> Janet Minshall
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