Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Globalization Pittsburgh

I contend that globalization is the great debate of our time. I agree with Thomas Barnett and his thesis that much of today's military conflict largely concerns the advance of economic integration around the world. The Wall Street Journal tackles this controversy, outlining the battle over globalization in an article titled "Pain From Free Trade Spurs Second Thoughts--Mr. Blinder's Shift Spotlights Warnings Of Deeper Downside":

His critique puts Mr. Blinder in a minority among economists, most of whom emphasize the enormous gains from trade. "He's dead wrong," says Columbia University economist Jagdish Bhagwati, who will debate Mr. Blinder at Harvard in May over his assertions about the magnitude of job losses from trade. Mr. Bhagwati says that in highly skilled fields such as medicine, law and accounting, "If we do a real balance sheet, I have no doubt we're creating far more jobs than we're losing."

Mr. Blinder says that misses his point. The original Industrial Revolution, the move from farm to factory, unquestionably boosted living standards, but triggered an enormous change in "how and where people lived, how they educated their children, the organization of businesses, the form and practices of governments." He says today's trickle of jobs overseas, where they are tethered to the U.S. by fiber-optic cables, is the beginning of a change of similar dimensions, and American society needs similarly far-reaching changes to cope. "I'm trying to convince a bunch of economists who are deeply skeptical and hard to convince," he says.

The dramatic social upheaval that Mr. Blinder describes is a good way to characterize the reason for resistance to globalization in other parts of the world. Global economic integration may have many long-term benefits, but Mr. Blinder endeavors to caution us that the resulting transformation will come as a massive shock.

The short-term prognosis is one of economic, political, and social instability of the kind that Mr. Barnett captures in his map of conflict around the world since the end of the Cold War. I think you could look at the 2008 US Presidential election as dealing with issues of globalization, including what to do about Iraq. However, the debate isn't framed in those terms, but I think it should be.

1 comment:

merjoem32 said...

The upcoming 2008 presidential race should deal with globalization, immigration, the War in Iraq, health care and other issues. The candidates should present their stands and solutions to these issues.