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A map to a global economy

  1. Dec 16, 2007 #1

    Ivan Seeking

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    I am a believer that globalization is not only unavoidable, but also that in the long term it is good for everyone. However, we see tremendous inequities between developed and developing nations in the labor and environmental protection laws, safety laws, enforcement of these laws, and oversight of the manufacturing base generally. In developing nations we have seen child labor exploited, lead used in the paint for childrens lunch boxes and toys, and fantastically polluted rivers, oceans, and air. We have seen anti-freeze put in toothpaste and medicines produced that don't work. At home and abroad we have seen dead pets, and people who died from contaminated mouthwash. We see generally inferior products, and the practices and safety standards applied of the competition suggests that it would be national suicide to allow globalization to run amok. There is no way to compete when your competition has relatively few or no rules. And it has already proven to be dangerous.

    How can the exportation of US jobs be throttled and the field leveled so that the concept of "a free market" makes sense? It makes absolutely no sense in the present context. Currently, "a free market" means only that the biggest exploiter wins. And I’m not inclined to assume that other cultures and standards will change overnight. I think this will take time – at least a generation. In the mean time, I think this will all require careful planning – a good map - if disasters are to be avoided both nationally, and internationally.

    I am sure that plans for this do exist but I have never seen them discussed. Also, if they do exist, then I have no way to know whose interests they serve.
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2007
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  3. Dec 16, 2007 #2

    mgb_phys

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    Ideally the free market will solve the problem!
    If nobody will buy Chinese goods because of safety concerns that is more likely to prompt a change in Chinese standards than an international treaty.
     
  4. Dec 16, 2007 #3

    russ_watters

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    I'm not sure if you meant it this way, but your post implies that the countries doing the cheap labor are losing out somehow. This is, in fact, untrue. The primary reason poverty in the world has dropped by half in the past 20 years is due to the growth in China's economy, and a large part of that is the exporting of manufacturing and low-wage jobs.

    That isn't to say China couldn't be doing better, but the primary impediment to China's improvement isn't capitalism being bad, it's bad implimentation of capitalism by a primarily communist government. To the main thing that needs to be done to combat that is that China needs to adopt and enforce the same labor and product safety laws that the West has enacted, in many cases, as much as a hundred years ago.

    And mgb is largely right about how the free market will fix product quality. It will do for China what it did for Japan.
     
  5. Dec 16, 2007 #4
    I would hate to sound off-topic and out of order, but I believe the true growth of the global economy is firmly rooted by the legal system of all countries. We all too often read the newspaper to find outside the US, that women have been lashed for having been raped, children left abandoned by their parents with no reprimand or a religous group arrested and imprisoned for their beliefs.

    I know it is not worth much, but it is said that a picture is worth a thousand words; this is worth a look in my opinion.

    I am not trying to break the endless cycle of republican/democratic, social policy vs capital market reforms or dictatorship/democracy, but if the legal system is at the heart of the matter, as has been noted in the OP, then it should be worth knowing the consequences of adopting a radical (religous) legal system vs common law or a more passive legal procedure like civil code.
     
  6. Dec 16, 2007 #5

    Ivan Seeking

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    I see no evidence that this works. People are buying Chinese goods by the boat load. In spite of the tremendous bad press of late, at most it made a tiny ding. And how does a free market address environmental issues, or child and other labor standards? These issues require regulations and enforcement. Even here we struggle to keep the corporations in check.

    Note also that Japan was an occupied country with a heavy western influence. There is no reason to assume that Japan will serve as a model for China.
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2007
  7. Dec 16, 2007 #6
    China makes a lot more than just toys. It is difficult to find consumer goods smaller than refrigerators that are not made in china. Look at the bottom of your keyboard.
     
  8. Dec 16, 2007 #7

    Ivan Seeking

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    Of course they benefit economically, but I'm saying that they play by a different set of rules. This, for example, has resulted in great damage environmentally in China and other countries, that would never be tolerated here. I am also saying that unless country X has the same or better labor laws and standards as we have here, what governs the market are not free-market forces, rather, the market is driven by the inequities between the systems. It naturally favors the exploiters.
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2007
  9. Dec 17, 2007 #8

    russ_watters

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    You mean that would never be tolerated here today. The US and every other country that went through industrialization 150 years ago went through much the same thing that China is going through today. In London, up until the 1950s, the weather conditions that trap fog also would trap soot on colder days, and kill hundreds (occasionally thousands) of people at a time.

    http://www.epa.gov/history/topics/perspect/london.htm

    It is a shame that China's ideology is preventing them from learning from our mistakes.

    Actually, it isn't quite that simple. People like to call the US imperialistic, but we should be doing more to demand that they learn from our mistakes. Air pollution is actually a good example - with the Montreal Protocol on CFCs, China was given a softer implimentation schedule, but was still required to eventually phase out CFCs like everyone else. As I've said before, the primary flaw in Kyoto is that it gives them a completely free pass.

    It can/should go further than that, of course. The UN has a declaration of human rights that it doesn't work to enforce. It's more fun to go after the US for having a death penalty than to go after China for persistent, systemic violations. That's largely because the UN is a democratic organization that allows many of the worst violators to make/enforce the rules. Organizations like the EU and NATO do a better job because they are private clubs that require compliance as a condition of membership.
    I object to the blanket term "exploiters", but otherwise agree that inequities in the markets are driving forces - though I would also say that that is free market forces.
     
  10. Dec 17, 2007 #9

    mheslep

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    Agreed. More specifically Id say because they are ... all democracies that have to answer to voters. Therefore I suggest the UN (as is) should become 2nd or 3rd tier vehicle for world diplomacy and 1st place should be some kind of new democracies only organization. Russia under Putin, say, would have a hard sell to get in to such an organization, China no chance at all, all the middle eastern countries save Israel & Iraq no chance at all.
     
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