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Globalization: Good or Bad?

The debate may be moot

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In his book The Lexus and the Olive Tree, Thomas Friedman wrote:

"Globalization is not a phenomenon. It is not just some passing trend. Today it is an overarching international system shaping the domestic politics and foreign relations of virtually every country, and we need to understand it as such."

As thoughtful people concerned about world affairs, our job is to pick up "globalization," examine it from all sides, dissect it, figure out what makes it tick, and then nurture and promote the good parts and mitigate or slow down the bad parts.

Fire Good. Fire Bad.

Globalization is much like fire. Fire itself is neither good nor bad. Used properly, it can cook food, sterilize equipment, form iron, and heat our homes. Used carelessly, fire can destroy lives, towns and forests in an instant. As Friedman says:

"[Globalization] can be incredibly empowering and incredibly coercive. It can democratize opportunity and democratize panic. It makes the whales bigger and the minnows stronger. It leaves you behind faster and faster, and it catches up to you faster and faster. While it is homogenizing cultures, it is also enabling people to share their unique individuality farther and wider."

Globalization has dangers and an ugly dark side. But it can also bring tremendous opportunities and benefits. Just as capitalism requires a network of governing systems to keep it from devouring societies, globalization requires vigilance and the rule of law.

Checks and Balances Needed

Anti-trust laws, the Securities and Exchange Commission, labor unions, charities, the Federal Trade Commission, and countless other agencies and organizations keep American capitalism in check. Similar transparent mechanisms are needed to make sure globalization is a positive force in the world.

Globalization will always have cheerleaders who are blind to the destruction globalization can cause. And it will always have strident opponents blind to the way globalization gives some people their first opportunity to fulfill basic aspirations.

As with most issues, the majority of people will be in the middle. They will see globalization not as something to worship or demonize. Instead, they will see it as something to mold, shape and manage for the betterment of everyone.

What is globalization?

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