Wealth does not equate to happiness, a sense of purpose, dignity or respect. One of the key underlying assumptions of neoliberal philosophy, as derived from Milton Friedman, is that financial wealth is the ideal end goal of all activity. While financial wealth solves many problems it does not solve all problems. Opponents of globalization, whatever their other arguments, incorporate this understanding into their protestations.
Naomi Klein goes further, suggesting that the unequal wealth distribution in the globalized economy is deliberate. The march towards globalization is not an altruistic endeavor borne of a firm belief in the power of the free market, but is a calculated strategy on the part of the world's elite to seize the world's wealth and power at whatever expense is necessary. Indeed, any economic benefits realized by the masses are incidental. Casualties -- be they citizens of Iraq, indigenous peoples or indeed any of the world's poor -- are not an unfortunate side effect of globalization but were planned as sacrifices necessary for the greater good. This utilitarian view that the end justifies the means may hold as reasonable if the benefits were spread far and wide. Yet, the consolidation of wealth and power into the hands of a few hints that the benefits that will ultimately be realized from globalization will not be widespread but will be concentrated.
If this is the case, then the entire concept of globalization needs to be revisited. Ricardian capitalism, with trade based on comparative advantage, has clearly delivered a stunning growth in wealth when it has been implemented. Today's trend towards globalization has brought us as close to Ricardo's perfect trade scenario as we have been since Victorian era. We accept that there is an unequal distribution...
Fewer trade barriers will give individuals greater freedom. While the financial benefits of globalization are easy to see, the social costs are also easy to see. The model works for those who have had a hand in its design. There may not be any grand conspiracy as Klein intimates, but clearly the global economic system is a work in progress. The neoliberal view needs to be replaced with a more pragmatic view that reflects economic and social reality, rather than abstract theories espoused by neoliberal economists. Some of the theoretical benefits of globalization are just that -- theoretical.
Globalization is, on the whole, a positive trend. It is asking too much of our poor that they remain poor. There is no greater evidence of wealth inequality than hundreds of millions living in squalor, unable to obtain health care, food, education or even water. These are fundamental problems that can be solved through globalization and the free markets. We have seen this with every nation that has joined the global economic system. As Kwame Appiah (2006) notes, progress is not something to be shunned as all cultures must either evolve or die. The question before us now is how to incorporate a more complete ethical framework into globalization. That the global economy has been so successful at creating wealth is a reflection of the power of markets when they are freed from constraints. If market forces were directed towards all measures of wealth -- financial, social, spiritual and environmental -- then we could have a globalization that works for all, rather than just those concerned with making as much money as possible.
Harvey, D. (2007). A Brief History of Neoliberalism. New York: Oxford University Press.
Klein, N. (2007). The shock doctrine: The rise of disaster capitalism. Toronto: Random House.
Friedman, T. (1999). The Lexus and the olive tree. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux.
Appiah, K. (2006). The case for…
(Zinn 83) Human societies within the context of civilization most always are organized into deference periods. The Constitution is a product of worldviews developed within such a limited paradigm, as paradigms tend to be, whether individuals -- including the Founders -- were and are aware of it. This condition, in part, touches on what Heilbroner frames as "The Unresolved Problem of Economic Power." He accepts that the wonderful free market
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