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Globalization is the global interconnectedness of economic activities. It is characterized by new technologies, new structures, new economies and new cultures. All these are structured around global financial flows that are based of computer simulations and speculations. The resulting global economy is very turbulent due to non-linear feedbacks and it is easily influenced by political events and influential analysts’ projections. These is seen when there is instability in the stock markets in certain countries like the United States of America. The instability affects all other stock markets in the world. But is globalization global? The global economy sees some areas as invaluable and politically irrelevant and often such areas are excluded from this global economy. The idea of globalization was conceived by leading capitalist countries, global financial institutions (World Bank, International Monetary fund (IMF) and World Trade Organization (WTO)) and transnational co-operations.
The minds behind this idea of globalization thought that this was one way of improving the livelihoods everybody in the globe but as we shall see later on, the models used to come up with globalization had major loop holes. Global information communications and new technologies have played a big role facilitating globalization. This is through the computers, Internet and mobile phones. This has made business transactions easy such that by the click of a button, a lot of money circulates around the globe. New innovations have resulted in increased productivity and competition. These technological advances have lowered the costs of transport and communication. Computers have made it possible to handle large amounts of data in a short time and information storage and retrieval has been made very easy. On a positive note, the new technologies have in one way or another helped in growth of economics through sharing of ideas. On the other hand, these advances in technology have led to homogenization of cultures. Globalization has increased the profits and productivity of multinational corporations.
With free trade rules, some few people, the global elite has become richer and others who are the majority have become poorer. The free trade rules has enabled multinational companies invest their money in emerging economies and removing their money once they speculate that that economy is not doing well. This has wrecked the economies of many countries. Another issue is that this big multinationals have swallowed the small companies leading to losses of jobs. Capra, 2002, in his book ‘hidden connections’ says that most of these multi national companies always try to evade taxes and benefit from subsidies. As a result, their products are cheap and this outcompetes the local companies, which can result in more job losses. But on the other hand, globalization can become a scapegoat for failed national policies.
Embezzlement and mismanagement of public resources and corruption deeply rooted in some countries should not be blamed on globalization. In any case, a government should be able to provide the needs of its people. According to the 2002 report on the international forum on globalization, the free trade rules set by the World trade organization consolidate power to a small corporate elite. Globalization has erased political and economic boundaries such that power has shifted from the people and communities to financial speculators, global corporations and leading capitalist countries. As a result, currency markets have made governments unable to control their economic policies because it is this markets that determine the values of national currency. According to Capra 2002, large economies are able to absorb these turbulences but for developing countries, this is a big problem. This financial crisis has led to developing countries to seek for aid and as a result, they have sunk to endless debts. It is important to note that aid is basically a tool for manipulating developing countries.
It is important to note that in globalization, capital is global while labour is local. This means that the globalized capital has the economic power leaving labour disintegrated. Labour itself can be divided into professionals and unskilled workers. Globalization seems to favour the professional laborers while the unskilled laborers can be fired anytime. This has led to social inequality and polarization. Many jobs nowadays are on contract basis and forming labor organizations to bargain for better working conditions is not easy because of fear of loosing jobs. People working in multinational companies operating in their countries fear bargaining for better terms of employment because they fear loosing jobs as the company can move to another country. As a result, people have to put up with poor working conditions and wages.
Increased trade as a result of free trade by the World Trade organization has led to increased pollution of the environments. Trade has also resulted to introduction of invasive alien species to new environments. From the ecological perspective, trade, which has increased in the recent past, is the major route in which invasive alien species are introduced to new environments. According to the Convention for Biodiversity, invasive alien species are the major causes for the loss of biodiversity. The environmental impacts are heavily felt in the countries in the south. The free market idea by the World Trade Organization has resulted in constant search for access to natural resources, and this has led to so much pressure on the Earth’s limited natural resources.
Another bit is the destruction of the environment, which has led to floods, droughts and other catastrophes. Increased shipping has lead to pollution of waterways. Globalization has also favored monoculture to enhance a nation’s competitiveness in the global market. This has put more pressure on the limited natural resources and use of chemicals to enhance production, which further exacerbates the problem of pollution. Globalization has also penetrated into power and politics. Most of these multinational companies and lobby groups normally finance political candidates in countries of interest so that if the person gets into power, he/ she may create favorable conditions for their activities. So in a way, these companies and lobby groups control a country’s economy. Rise of globalized criminal gangs is another problem that stems out of globalization. Boosted by easy communication networks, criminals have found it easy to conduct their businesses.
Recently, a drug cartel involving Mexicans, Kenyans and the Dutch was uncovered and this is a classic example of criminal gangs operating on a global scale. WAY OUT. With Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) press release of 2010 estimating that 925 million around the globe are undernourished, something must be wrong somewhere. As already noted, globalization is to blame social inequalities which can be seen from the widening gap between the rich and the poor. Borrowing from title of the first annual World Social Forum held in Porto Alegre in Brazil, another world is possible. First, change should first start with the ruling elite. With the help of international nongovernmental organizations there should be a power transformation from the global elite to the human society.
These global elites together with World Bank, IMF and World Trade Organization should be more transparent in decision-making. In is also very important to include various non-governmental organizations representing interests of social justice, human rights environmental interests and democracy in the decisionmaking processes. Most of the countries affected by globalization are developing countries and most of these countries have very huge debts. It seems impossible for these developing countries to put tight rules on international organizations in order to protect the local companies. But with the help on lobby groups, it is possible for government to remove subsidies and exemptions offered to these multinational corporations. These multinational corporations should also be held responsible for any wrongdoing like destruction of the environment.
Cancellation of debts will help developing countries grow economically but these countries too should have leaders who are accountable to the citizens. On that note, corruption and lobbying should be dealt with at every level. This is to ensure fair competition of business deals. It is important to empower workers so that they can bargain for better working conditions.
National governments can also protect their people by defining working conditions to investors setting up enterprises in the country. Finally, it is important we practice ecological sustainability. Proper waste disposal, use of alternative fuel sources (scientifically proven to be sustainable), efficient and ecofriendly technologies, sustainable farming practices and strict environmental practices are some of the ways of making the world sustainable. The most important part of sustainability is educating everybody on the importance of conserving the environment so it’s important to take environmental movements deep down to the grass roots. Remember, it starts with me and you and the future generations will be thanking all of us.
A better world is possible: Alternatives to Economic globalization Report summary 2002 International forum on Globalization. Capra fritjof, 2002. The hidden connections Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations: Economic and Social Development report, September 2010 http://anticap.wordpress.com/2011/03/14/what-globalization-paradox/ (Website I downloaded the cover picture).