Friday, August 24, 2007

Globalisation is Good


 

The world is an unequal and unjust place, in which some are born into wealth and some into hunger and misery. To explore why, in this controversial Channel Four documentary the young Swedish writer Johan Norberg takes the viewers on a journey to Taiwan, Vietnam, Kenya and Brussels to see the impact of globalisation, and the consequences of its absence. It makes the case that the problem in the world is not too much capitalism, globalisation and multinationals, but too little.

"Globalisation is good" tells a tale of two countries that were equally poor 50 years ago - Taiwan and Kenya. Today Taiwan is 20 times richer than Kenya. We meet the farmers and entrepreneurs that could develop Taiwan because it introduced a market economy and integrated into global trade. And we meet the Kenyan farmers and slum dwellers that are still desperately poor, because Kenya shut its door to globalisation. The Kenyans are suffering from regulations, corruption and the lack of property rights. The unequal distribution in the world is a result of the unequal distribution of capitalism - those who have capitalism grow rich, those who don't stay poor.

The film also explores the role of multinational corporations, especially the most criticized - Nike. In Vietnam we see that Nike's so called sweatshops give the Vietnamese better working conditions and many times the wages they would have otherwise. Instead of hurting the country, Nike contributes to rapid growth, poverty reduction and less child labour. Domestic factory owners visit Nike to get ideas on how to improve productivity and working conditions. If that is exploitation, then the problem in the world is that the poor are not sufficiently exploited.

The film concludes that we must fight for more globalisation if we want to help the poor countries. EU-protectionism is the worst obstacle today. We spend so much on agricultural protectionism that each of our 20 million cows could fly round the world once every year. The problem is not that we in the West are trying to trick poor countries into global capitalism. The problem is we are shutting them out from it. Therefore, the anti-globalisation movement is ignorant and dangerous. Far from protecting poor people the movement is inadvertently helping to keep them poor.

   
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6 comments:

Michael Turton said...

The idea that Taiwan and Kenya were equally poor 50 years ago is laughable. Didn't the man do any historical research at all? Taiwan was in a recovery phase attempting to return to the high incomes it had known in the 1930s, Kenya was developing. Taiwan had a much greater infrastructure base, including dams, farming associations, ports, railroads, and modern airfields and roads. Kenya had almost none of that. The Taiwanese were all literate, a third in more than one language, and so on. Only a completely clueless person could make such a claim.

Why is Taiwan now richer than Kenya? Two words: Cold War.

Michael

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