Liberal Globalization

Globalization has brought huge overall benefits, but earnings for most U.S. workers — even those with college degrees — have been falling recently; inequality is greater now than at any other time in the last 70 years. Whatever the cause, the result has been a surge in protectionism. To save globalization, policymakers must spread its gains more widely. The best way to do that is by redistributing income.

Kenneth F. Scheve and Matthew J. Slaughter
From Foreign Affairs, July/August 2007

It seems the neo-liberal plans for the world are coming undone and, god forbid, they may be on the verge of calling for universal health care in the United States or something. Talking about “redistributing income” was once political mutiny. Clearly something has gone very wrong. What’s fascinating is the way they puzzle over the fact that so few– outside of the business community anyway– like globalization.

We are all mainly consumers, so of course we should thank the neo-liberals for all those open markets and cheap goods. Never mind that, according to Human Rights Watch, Wal-Mart and its ilk may in fact be violating international labor laws here and abroad. Or, perhaps we should show gratitude that 1 out of 3 U.S. jobs pay low wages (“$11.11 per hour or less”) according to the Center for Economic Policy and Research.

The “free markets” turn out to mostly create freedom for capital to maximize profits; this seems to be sinking in at some level. “Americans consistently say,” Scheve and Slaughter write, “that they would be more inclined to back trade and investment liberalization if it were linked to more support for those hurt in the process.” The Republicans seem to be choking the goose that laid the golden egg, and even Wall Street is thinking Democratic.

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol]

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