Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Is Globalization really that bad?

Have you ever envisioned a world without globalization?  What would America be like if we never outsourced our goods and services?  What would happen if certain diseases had never infected American citizens, but instead infected only people from another country?  What would our world be like if politics, economics, and culture were not globalized?  The effects would be simply unimaginable.  The potency and importance of globalization is immeasurable because it serves as the basis for America’s (and the world’s) overall development and progress.

            America’s outsourcing of goods and services is one of the main reasons why so many of us have iPods that are much more advanced and cheaper as compared to when they were first produced.  And remember those huge car phones back in the 90’s that used to be considered so incredibly high-tech, yet so expensive? I doubt that it ever occur to any adult at that time that a small, sleek mobile phone would be free with a wireless subscription in 2011.  One of the ways this type of technological progression can be made possible is through globalization.  As demand for technological products (such as the mobile phone) increases, new firms enter the market.  The industry expands, outsourcing becomes more and more prevalent, and production and resource costs lower.  Thus, such products like the iPod become available to more people.  With this said, outsourcing can positively impact other countries as much as they impact America.  An American company that establishes a large factory in Indonesia is going to provide many Indonesians with jobs and essentially experience significantly lower labor costs as compared to having a factory within the U.S.  Globalization, as presented as the method outsourcing, therefore, affects the world in so many positive ways.

            Aside from its heavy economic impact on the world, America also plays a fundamental role in medicine.  Imagine if millions of people suddenly died from an infectious disease that only prevailed inside of Africa, yet the disease wouldn’t affect anyone in America.  How fast would American researchers find a cure or treatment, given that a treatment is feasible?  I’m sure that if the disease had actually spread to America, not only would people in the U.S. be treated as soon as possible, but those infected in Africa would also be treated at a higher, faster rate.  This serves as another example of how globalization benefits everybody, even in other countries.

            Globalization is essential to the world’s development.  Without it, would there be any advancement in technology? I can’t possibly describe all of the positive aspects of globalization without writing nearly a book.  Globalization takes on many, many more economical roles than mentioned above, along with political and more cultural roles.  So should we pause globalization, given our economic condition today? What would happen if we stopped globalization?  Taking both the long-run and short-run into consideration, I’m not so sure limiting globalization would be the answer to solving the world’s problems.

The meanings of texts

Today (december tenth, the last day of class) we discussed Derrida and his statement that "there is nothing outside the text" or something along those lines.  This was explained as saying that once an author has written something, they are then "dead" to the text and it is up to the reader to give it meaning.  While there can be importance in this view of literary works, I feel that it does not give the whole picture.

When we read a book, there is obviously some purpose behind the book.  Do we write simply for the sake of writing?  Or do we mean to show something through our words?  In writing this am I leaving it up to your interpretation that could have very little do with my original intent?  I would say that when something is written it has some inherent purpose, something that is trying to be conveyed.

If I write a letter wishing someone to get better quickly, my intent is to let them know I hope them a speedy recovery and nothing else that they might decide they'd like to have received more.  Likewise, if I were to write a book describing a healthier way to live, it is meant to be followed according to plan and not for someone to pick and choose what they want of it.

Picking and choosing from such a text may work to some extent in its own right; however, doing so diminishes the effectiveness of the intended outcome.  So is this applicable to philosophical texts as well?  I think it may be even more deeply ingrained in philosophical texts from their nature.  Finding truth and determining why things are the way they are, this needs clear statements and not random interpretations.  So even if the author is dead and we cannot know what they were intending, do we still not look and try to analyze what they meant by what they said?

My thought is that the text receives its meaning from the author and it is our job to determine what they intended and not to give it a new meaning that we deem appropriate.

Maybe Globalization Should Wait

When you look at the present situation of many of the first world countries that are expected to take the helm on globalization and helping promote the state of developing countries, does it hit you that maybe they should take care of themselves first?

Im not saying that we should completely ignore other countries, obviously that doesn't work, but maybe we should deal with the problems, particularly economic, in our own country before we throw money at other countries.

There are many economic problems in our country today. Obviously the economy is struggling overall, but there are many Americans that don't have the basic luxuries most of us at Rhodes consider a part of being American. Some don't have clean water, or consistent electricity, or jobs for that matter. I think that these problems are now in the spotlight because of the failing economy. However, when most people think of humanitarian work or helping impoverished people they immediately think outside of our borders. There are many places, especially border towns, where, if the average American just saw pictures or video of the town, would never believe it was in the US.

The reality is there is a need for globalization within the country. We should focus on our fellow Americans and our economy, then we can better deal with problems in other countries.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

My problems with "The Problem with Globalizaition"'

[This is a response to MVP's post: "The Problems with Globalization"

For starters, we must bear in mind that Wall-e presents a world that is highly improbable if not impossible. For us all to be a bunch of overweight slobs in hover-chairs that wore the same clothes and ate the same food would merit that we all had the same tastes and preferences. (I have many other economic problems with the movie such as the question of where they got the resources for food etc. that they seem to just dump into space - but I digress.) You have a point that aid agencies give a lot - America as a whole gives a lot of financial aid. But that does not mean they are doing all they can; in fact, their giving money may be hurting as it goes to no useful/efficient end.

"Let's face it: there's always going to be a discrepancy or a gap between the rich and the poor... it will still exist so long as technology and capitalism... exists."

This is in places misguided and in others economically untrue. There don't have to be poor people for there to be rich people; life (and economics) is not a zero sum game. This view of the world assumes that when people voluntarily trade, one party is made worse off. To illustrate my point further, I'll present a hypothetical:

You can live in one of two worlds:
In World A - you have an income of $200,000 a year while everyone else makes $100,000 a year.
And in World B - you have an income of $300,000 a year and everyone else makes $500,000 a year.
Bear in mind that these amounts a real money terms: thus, in world B you can purchase 50% more than world A while everyone else can purchase 400% more in world B than in world A.

Think about your answer before you shout out the answer.

Most people I have asked will say "World A." Unless you think everyone being poorer would somehow make you better off (say you are malicious), this is the wrong answer. Relative wealth shouldn't matter - if it did, we should have a legitimate reason to hate Warren Buffett for being a smart investor. There may always be a gap between the richest person in the world and the poorest person in the world, but that doesn't mean there have to be poor people - we can all be rich.

As for your problem with globalization (as I understand it there is something wrong with you needing to be connected with the internet) this isn't really a problem with globalization. Globalization is in part about reducing barriers to trade, transportation, and information sharing. Your needing to visit facebook is a personal problem - the fact that you have access to facebook is because of globalization: do you see the difference?

"But now it's a much more dangerous device that even grown ups can't live without.

I'm not sure this is rational. Or at least any more rational than being in the 19th century and saying that we are becoming too dependent on candle power (for more fun on candle power, see Bastiat's "Plee of the Candlemakers"). It's technology. The danger always lies in the fact that one day (for some inexplicable reason) we might lose it and go back to scratching the dirt for subsistence. But that is not a legitimate argument against globalization - just because we fear not having technology, does that mean we shouldn't use it now?

After all, he was the walrus.

At the end of this search for values we talked about Derrida. Derrida said “there is nothing outside the text.” All we, as readers, have to go off of is what we have on the page. The author is not there to clarify or explain. This means any text can be de-contextualized and re-contextualized.

This, like existentialism, has been treated as devoid of morality. However, to cite Sartre in defense, we are ultimately responsible for creating meaning. For existentialism and post-modernism to be excuses someone has to chose to make it an excuse. Anyone can make an “ism” into an excuse but they are only cheating themselves (acting in bad faith). Like my earlier comment about Nietzsche’s discussion of Christianity as a crutch, it is only a crutch if someone decides to let it be a crutch.

It is strange to even refer to existential thought and “ism.” The whole point is that you are thinking and by yourself come to conclusions. You are not ascribing to an ideology when you are an existentialist, you are ascribing to your own will. And will, according to Kant is the only good thing, right?

I’ll leave you with a quote from that I thought I understood but now has new meaning for me (how’s that for Derrida?!) So to quote Ferris Buller “-Ism's in my opinion are not good. A person should not believe in an -ism, he should believe in himself. I quote John Lennon, ‘I don't believe in The Beatles, I just believe in me.’ Good point there.” Good point, indeed.

An Economic World

Steger discusses the economic, political, and cultural dimensions of how the world, as we know it, has been globalized. However, I believe the international economic scene has further globalized the world more than any other dimension. "Economic globalization refers to the intensification and stretching of economic interrelations across the globe." These interrelations involve nations all over the world who open their doors for trade. Countries have become so involved and tight nit, that some could not survive without the goods and services of the other. Today's markets are universal, therefore linking the economies of just about every nation. Steger also mentions how massive corporations now operate on an international basis by manufacturing goods one place and selling them on the other side of the globe.

I don't understand how political dimensions could systematically globalize the world as economics has. I know that there are a lot of policies involved with a nation's economy but most countries rely on trade for goods that help sustain the nation's well being. Without these goods the nation would fail along with its political system. Why is trade considered a bad idea? Through comparative advantage, a country can use its resources to produce goods that it is most efficient in manufacturing, and trade for everything else.

How has the world been globalized through cultural dimensions? I don't think languages would be emphasized in schools if we were not involved with foreign nations, or people economically. Without an interlocked economy, what motives would there be for being cultured in a foreign nation?

The Problem with Globalization

Maybe it's just the capitalist sentiment in me, but I get weirded out when people start talking about foreign aid. Shannon's post below this one dealt with the issues regarding aid agencies not doing enough. From a political standpoint, they're doing as much as they can with what they have. A majority of the aid money comes from first world powers, and since first world powers are primarily capitalist and rationally self-interested actors, the aid agency has little to work with in the end. But could first world powers be doing much, much more? The rational answer is no. Let's face it: there's always going to be a discrepancy or a gap between the rich and the poor, and no matter how much we attempt to close that gap, it will still exist so long as technology and capitalism in the system exists.

The other problem I had with globalization is its effect on day to day life. I'll be honest, I'm pretty much addicted to the internet. When I'm not connected, I feel like I'm out of touch. It's now I get 1) my TV 2) my news 3) my facebook 4) my email etc, etc ad infinitum. Same goes for my phone. It allows immediate connectivity for myself and any of my friends. We've been hearing the same advice since we were kids: turn off the TV and go outside. But now it's a much more dangerous device that even grown ups can't live without. Are we doomed to a Wall-E future, with little chubby people floating around in their hoverchairs, constantly connected in 10 different screens at once, and yet never really reach out and touch someone?

I hope not. Though if it happens, I'm banking on a rusty little robot to zoom past me and bump me out of my chair.