Globalization is good for you. Well, most of the time.
With all the talk in the presidential campaign about jobs lost overseas, the “failure” of NAFTA, building walls, etc., it seems we’ve lost sight of why globalization is good—and inevitable—unless we all get taken over by aliens who make us stop liking to save money when we shop or lose our interest in food and so many other products that are only available from somewhere else in the world.
It probably started before the mid-90s, when the Web started sticking its nose everywhere in our lives, but globalization is what’s made it possible for us to have low inflation for a long time now without having to give up things like salmon, dress shoes, Halloween masks, or gasoline because they just got unavailable or were too darn expensive.
Globalization is at least as old as the 50s, when we off-shored the manufacture of lots of goods, and eventually a big share of our auto industry, to Japan as part of our, yes OUR, recovery plan for our former foe. And while the Marshall Plan was at first a boon for US goods, it eventually helped re-build our appetite for European goods and strengthen Europe’s economies, leading straight to the EU and more competition for us. That’s what happens. Get over it.
Globalization, in one sense, is just the division of labor (remember econ 101?) taken beyond our national borders. If the Panamanians make Panama hats cheap enough to sell in the USA at prices American hat-makers can’t match, and enough of us still want Panama hats, then don’t try to tell me I can’t have my Panama hat, you commie. I don’t even know where my Panama hat came from, but I’ll bet it wasn’t Toledo.
Look, we need the rest of the world making stuff we want because if they don’t, we won’t have it. And they want what we make: social media platforms, Kindle books, wind turbines, Hollywood entertainment, and corn. They can’t get enough of it.
However, if we shut our doors and turn our backs on them, they won’t just sit around and say “Woe is us.” Read the ASEAN article on Wikipedia to see how other countries get together and work out systems for their economic advantage when we won’t cooperate.
Let’s figure out how to keep American companies from setting up shop out-of-town when its makes sense for all of us to keep them here, and how to encourage other countries to make the things they can make cheaper than us. Let’s get our education system working for people who need training on new-technology-based jobs…BEFORE those jobs get exported.
Keep doing what we do best; deal with other countries fairly and wisely; and educate ourselves to be more adaptable and resilient. Don’t build walls; build the global community that’s coming with us in the lead, or without us.