Following the fall of the Berlin wall, many developing countries began liberalizing their economic markets and seeking membership in supranational organizations like the World Trade Organization (WTO). Large developing countries like China, Brazil and India began to produce commodities sought after by the consumers of developed Western nations.
The economies and markets of each nation began to intertwine and become more dependent on the global economy. This continual integration of the international community, nations’ economies and politics is what defines globalization.
Western corporations soon realized that they could save money by outsourcing expensive and competitive American jobs to poorer nations like India and China, where there are fewer regulations, worker’s benefits and competitive salaries. Companies like Nike and Apple began building factories in China, while Western banks and corporations outsourced their entire information technology departments and customer support departments to India. NAFTA, an agreement made in 1994 among Canada, the United States and Mexico erased trading barriers in order to provide more business opportunities among the three nations. This agreement is a key example of what policies need to be created in order for globalization to increase. However, this agreement actually ended up costing about 700,000 American jobs, according to economist Robert Scott of the Economic Policy Institute.
So is this force called globalization good or evil? For American workers and families, it is very much evil.
As the pace of globalization increased, Americans have steadily lost their jobs, prices on necessities like gas have risen and production of exports like clothes and technology have decreased. In 2008, we learned of another issue. Instead of an isolated recession for one country, we experienced a domino effect, and as a result, all western economies slipped into a deep recession. Our economy is currently stagnant, and it is difficult to believe that our jobless ‘recovery’ is gaining any legitimate traction.
In a capitalist economy, the more exports and production a nation has, the more wealth the nation’s businesses and people will receive. GDP stands for gross domestic product. It is a numerical value that represents the worth of final exports in a certain country. Countries that have high GDP tend to have more efficient and stable economies and growth in standard of living. Countries with low GDP show signs of economic hardship and a decrease in the quality of life. According to the World Bank, China’s GDP annual growth rate as of 2011 is an impressive 9.1 percent, and India’s annual GPD growth rate as of 2010 is an even more impressive 10.4 percent. America’s annual GDP growth rate as of 2011 is at a shocking 1.7 percent. While it is true that developing countries usually have higher GDP growth rates than already developed countries do, our current GDP growth rate of 1.7 percent is still way too low, especially since we need higher than usual growth rates in order to finally recover from the recession and compensate for all the damage it has caused. According to NPR, most economists agree that a healthy GDP growth rate for our recovering economy would be at around four percent. Looking at these statistics sends the message that globalization and the growing integration of the ‘global community’ is hurting the United States while throwing money at China and India. In other words, globalization is good if you are part of the emerging Indian or Chinese middle class, but it is evil if you are part of the threatened American middle class.
Sure, we just looked at one method of economic sampling, granted a very important method, so we would need more information in order to draw a logical conclusion. Lets translate these events into a social context that applies to us all here at Stony Brook University.
A lot of us here are American and have been brought up in an individualistic society where, for the most part, culture revolves around the individual and his/her choices. What globalization has perhaps inadvertently done is take away the emphasis on things like individuality, nationalism, sovereignty and independence and replaced it with collectivism and community.
The fact that the world is rapidly becoming more integrated sounds like something positive, perhaps even natural, but I personally like to weigh things based on the following quote made by my middle school social studies teacher: “Does the end justify the means?” If we examine the economic tragedies that have recently struck the American public, and if we examine the social repercussions of erasing good old American values and innovation, I believe that the promises of globalization are not worth the means of obtaining them.
I believe that it is not feasible to grow an economy without jobs, sending jobs and money to other countries does not help us, and finally I believe that supporting the agenda of globalization while putting our future generations in debt is both unwise and unsustainable. Do we want to be global citizens or do we want to be our own citizens? As an individual, I say we should remain our own citizens in order retain our unique identities. After all, we aren’t drops of water in the ocean, we’re human beings.