Friday, June 24, 2005

Why Globalize?

One of the main reasons I started reading Friedman was to understand why countries should globalize - and who better to tell me than one of the most staunch proponents of globalization. But some 200 odd pages into The Lexus and The Olive Tree, I'm rather disappointed. The answers Friedman provided to my question were something to the extent that

1. Everyone else does it, so you too should.
2. That's how you get your economy to grow at high rates.

The first statement is possibly the worst kind of logic I've ever heard. It can barely even termed as "logic". Its implicit assumption is that one is not intelligent enough to make a decision for oneself, and it works better if I choose to follow the herd. As for the second line of reasoning, later in the book Friedman does a good job of explaining how your economy could get screwed a lot faster once globalized.

What I have come to understand from Friedman so far is that Globalization is a high-risk high-return strategy (and estimating the risk is next to impossible). So if a society/country is risk-averse, why should it go for globalization? Friedman, are you listening? (Note: Answers to this question in the comments section will not be appreciated :p )

Its funny that I have such a bad feeling towards globalization when my job has been made possible by this very thing! But I cant help but think of that 40 year old 12th pass Manikandan who works as a driver in the State owned public transport service and sends his children to "convent schools" in the hope that they would rise up in the social hierarchy. What happens to all that when his corporation is privatised, and when he'll probably lose his job? Alan Greenspan and Thomas Friedman would probably answer the question with a standard reply: "It is going to be difficult for people. But what we need to do is to retrain them with the skills they need to provide value in the new world order". Greenspan did say something similar during the outsourcing debate. But I have come to believe that no one has any clue about what these skills are, or how to get 40-50 yr olds to learn new skills when their unemployment status would've already badly hit their family's economic position?

Finally, there's just one question in my mind. If one knows the stick is real and a very heavy one at that, and the carrot looks extremely hazy and doubtful why will he decide to live according to that system? Won't he just revolt against the system?

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