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Re-thinking Globalization

by Vince Page


It seems now that one of the beneficial outcomes of our unjust war against Iraq is a general re-thinking of globalization. As consequences go, you can be sure that this one was unintended. Nevertheless, at the highest levels the world over, globalization is being given a second look. On May 10th, even the Pope — heretofore an ardent and unconditional supporter of globalization — said that globalization in the future needs to be "guided and regulated". It seems that greed has turned the predicted win-win for globalization into a decided lose-lose situation, and world leaders are not amused.

You will recall that one of the advertised benefits of globalization was the general "lifting up" of poor countries. Instead, corporations have taken advantage of the situation. Just like the Standard Oil debacle at the beginning of the 20th century in which the Rockefeller's owned everything from the well-head to the gas pump, 21st century corporations are shopping the world for peasant labor, supplanting their "high-priced" indigenous labor with workers who will do the job at pennies on the dollar. A monopoly on low-cost peasant labor is the modern goal. The result? A gradual but certain "dragging-down" of real wages in the industrialized world. World leaders are just now realizing that the law — international law in this case — is a detriment to both low and middle income workers, and that substantial change is needed to rectify the situation. More on this at the end of the article.

On March 19th, 2003, the BBC reported that the IMF is even re-thinking its policies [2]. A report by Chief IMF Economist Kenneth Rogoff states that there is no proof of a beneficial outcome when poor countries join the global economy. It further states that only a handful of countries like Russia, Indonesia, Brazil and Argentina have followed the IMF's advice to open their countries to foreign investment, and were promptly burned when those same foreign investors yanked their dollars out-of-country at the first sign of economic trouble, thus shoving these fledgling open economies into recession. Admittedly, graft and corruption inside these countries did not help matters.

There is also discontent over the World Trade Organization. On May 7th, 2003, the WTO authorized the European Economic Union to levy $4 billion in tariffs on U.S. goods unless we modify some of our legislation passed in Congress [3]. The people who should be most upset about this are American voters, because their Congress is being blackmailed by foreign entities. Moreover, significant tax dollars are spent fending off these threats from the WTO and the EU. Once again, the advertised benefit of a World Trade Organization was a harmonization of trade practices which would be beneficial to all. Although the law which led to the construction of the WTO was called the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the prime beneficiaries of WTO policy since its inception in 1995 have been countries in Western Europe. When America needs help, WTO officials can be found at Geneva's tea houses pretending not to notice. American politicians are rightfully wondering where the "general agreement" has gone.

Then there's the United Nations, with which we have recently become all too familiar. Ted Turner might be the last man in America to think kind thoughts of the UN. The rest of us now recognize it as a pompous, America-bashing institution and realize that it has always been so. It is now clear that its policies are controlled by greed and avarice more than anything else. Why then belong to such an organization? If the UN's purpose has degenerated into the passage of self-serving legislation for the rest of the world, are we not better off without it? Can we not pass all of the self-serving legislation we want in our own Congress? Should we work with the UN if the UN isn't willing to work with us? The sad fact of the matter is that the only remaining reason for the U.S. to belong to the UN is to exercise our veto power. And for that, we pay a bundle of money — and provide acres of office space — every year.

We are not obliged, however, to pony-up the lion's share of men, materiel and money for the UN. We need to negotiate a reduction in U.S. manpower and money for the UN, and if they don't agree, we need to invite them to find new office space elsewhere. It is clear that UN delegates have no respect for Americans or our hospitality. This was illustrated quite dramatically on May 3rd, 2003 when UN restaurant workers walked off the job — as it is their right to do — after learning that they would not be reimbursed for some of their vacation time. What ensued was a free-for-all by UN delegates. The UN delegates looted and stole food, liquor, tablecloths, silverware and just about everything else from the restaurant areas until the restaurants were picked clean [4]. We can really do without this sort of aggravation, which is about the only thing the UN seems to give us.

In his recent book entitled Taking America Back, Joseph Farah — former editor at both the Sacramento Union and the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, and current editor at WorldNetDaily — comes to the following realization about the UN [5]:

The UN is not just, as many Americans suspect, a group of incompetent busybodies. It is instead a global criminal enterprise determined to shift power away from individuals and sovereign nation-states to a small band of unaccountable international elites. Here are some of the ways the UN has trod on U.S. sovereignty in recent years:
The UN has designated American geographic wonders from Niagara Falls to the Grand Canyon to Lake Tahoe as "World Heritage Areas," and instructed the citizens of the United States on how we should behave around these "international" treasures.

The U.S. Army has, in the case of Bosnia and elsewhere, been drafted into service to the UN. Michael New, a serviceman who swore allegiance to the Constitution and the United States when he signed up for duty, refused to don UN colors and serve under UN command. He was court-martialed and dishonorably discharged for his principled and logical stand [6].

The UN sent an investigator from Senegal into the United States to look at capital punishment as a human rights abuse, based on a Geneva-based commission's report about an increase in U.S. executions, racism in the use of the death penalty, and other complaints.
As a result of this and other UN aggravations, H.R. 1146 — A Bill to End Membership of the United States in the United Nations — has recently been introduced in the House of Representatives [7]. Significantly, it has twelve co-sponsors as of mid-May 2003 and may well gain additional support if constituents ask their representatives to sign-on.

Historically, the most prescient of commentators on the globalization issue in general and European competition in particular has been Lawrence Eagleburger, former Secretary of State under George Bush the elder. In a 1985 lecture at the American Enterprise Institute entitled High Technology and American Foreign Policy, Mr. Eagleburger said:

The Esprit program of the European Economic Community (EEC), an effort to develop a Common Market information technology, envisages EEC Commission, member government, and private industry cooperation aimed at overtaking the U.S. and Japanese lead in information systems in ten years. Imaginative as this program may prove to be, it is avowedly aimed at taking the European market away from U.S. and Japanese firms, though even here one must wonder if it can be truly successful with so many U.S. companies already present in Europe through subsidiaries or cooperative agreements of one kind or another.
Mr. Eagleburger was talking specifically about the computer industry, but Western European powers have found a way to succeed across the entire spectrum of manufactured goods through the unfair tariffs levied by the World Trade Organization. Some politicians in the U.S. are beginning to feel that they were rushed into signing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.

And, of course, this article could hardly be considered complete without talking about the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which will celebrate its 10-year anniversary on January 1, 2004. It is an uncontested fact that, as far as wages are concerned, Mexico has been the prime beneficiary of the NAFTA agreement. Even at that, the gross wages of the highest paid hourly employees in Mexico are $3.75 per hour as of this writing. That's up from about 58 cents per hour ten years ago. American workers have paid dearly when trying to compete.

This brings us back to the Pope's address of May 10th, 2003 in which he said, "Globalization needs to be inserted into the larger context of a political and economic program that seeks the authentic progress of all mankind."

In other words, exploitation must be replaced by policies which truly help the poor and do not penalize those who have reached middle income status. The WTO can help, but will it? Tariffs which serve to equalize the wage disparity between countries can be implemented, but will the WTO implement them? If it takes 100 man-hours to build a car in Mexico, and Mexican assembly line workers are paid $3.75 per hour in wages and benefits whereas the gross wages of their Detroit counterparts are $30 per hour, then a tariff of $2,625 should be applied to every new car entering this country from Mexico. If Mexican automakers don't like the tariff, all they have to do is raise the wages of their workers. Mexican and American workers will then both win because they will no longer be pitted against each other in a battle of mutual exploitation.

American politicians should be asking themselves two questions. First, is such a proposal any more protectionist than the $4 billion in tariffs recently slapped on the U.S. by the WTO? And secondly, what good is the WTO if it refuses such a modest proposal in favor of the poor? The WTO will have become nothing but a good ol' boys club for Western European powers.

If this happens — if the WTO refuses to implement wage-leveling tariffs — then we should repeal GATT and back out of the WTO. NAFTA should then be amended to include the wage-leveling tariffs which the WTO refused to implement, and these tariffs should then be applied equally to any goods imported into the Western Hemisphere from elsewhere.

For other reasons mentioned above, we should also require UN members to fund the UN on the same per-capita basis that America does, and then reduce our funding, materiel and manpower contributions accordingly. If the UN balks, we should invite them to find new office space outside the United States and reduce our funding in that fashion. And if the UN gives us too much grief about that, we should pass H.R. 1146 and pull out of the UN completely.

American politicians are finally coming to the conclusion that they do not need GATT or the WTO or the UN to resolve these problems, and that fairer and more expedient solutions can be implemented outside these organizations. I say more power to them. It has been a long time in coming.


[1] See Globalization and Its Discontents by Joseph E. Stiglitz

[2] See BBC News: IMF admits policy failures

[3] See World Trade Organization News

[4] See Time Magazine: Food Fight

[5] See Taking America Back by Joseph Farah

[6] See Michael New - Mercenary... or American Soldier by Daniel New

[7] See HR1146: To end membership of the United States in the United Nations



Vince Page is the Communications Director for the Texas State Constitution Party and is a District Deputy for the Texas State Knights of Columbus. He can be e-mailed at vincepage@ifriendly.com

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