Reflections from under the Derby

you're not thinking about this stuff


Previous Entry Share Next Entry
On Globalization
rfk
docstymie
This morning I had the pleasure of attending a talk at the Donald Danforth Plant Sciences Center as part of their Seeds of Change event. The keynote speaker was Richard Longworth who is a member of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and author of the book, Caught in the Middle: America's Heartland in the Age of Globalism.

The premise of the talk was that the economic decline of the Midwest is essentially due to the decline of the manufacturing sector and the failure of the midwestern cities to embrace globalization effectively, i.e. realizing that the competition is in Beijing and Bangalore, not San Francisco or New York. Longworth used Chicago as an example of embracing being a "global" city paying dividends in their successful bid to attract the Boeing headquarters over Dallas and Denver (not considered "global" cities). But in spite of this positive example of Chicago embracing globalization, he admitted that Chicago still hasn't rebounded from a huge population decline from its peak. As I was sitting there listening to his talk, I thought of Bobby Kennedy's famous quote on the GDP in the context of our economic decline in the age of globalization:

Too much and too long, we seem to have surrendered community excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our gross national product ... if we should judge America by that - counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for those who break them. It counts the destruction of our redwoods and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and the cost of a nuclear warhead, and armored cars for police who fight riots in our streets. It counts Whitman's rifle and Speck's knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.

Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it tells us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.

As I thought about this quote in the context of globalization, I couldn't help but think that globalization has been driven by our thinking that has been dominated by the ideas in the first paragraph of Bobby's quote. These days, we are driven by the almighty dollar. We measure our value in material things. Our companies are valued not by what they create, but the value of the stock. Those are related, you say? If that is true, the value created by outsourcing jobs to China and India thereby increasing the company's bottom line has created decaying inner cities in the Midwest. The increased value of the stock has created a high dropout rate in the public schools of large midwestern cities. That higher stock value has created a jobs market lacking in good paying middle class jobs - those jobs that were key to building a vibrant Midwest. I would argue that our focus on the financial bottom line which has driven economic globalization has created the exact environment that Bobby spoke of more than 40 years ago.

What we need are leaders with Bobby's vision, that focusing our efforts on things that make life worthwhile - the strength of our families, the health of our public schools, the social safety net, the elevation of our public debate - will begin to reverse the economic decline driven by globalization. Sadly, there are no politicians on today's stage espousing these ideas. Instead, we have leaders who are embracing globalization with pushes toward more "free trade" agreements. Instead of increasing our quality of life, we are apparently in a race to the bottom.

Kiva - loans that change lives





hidden hit counter

  • 1
Very good, and thank you. I still have the biography of RFK that I bought during my six months in Lubbock, four years ago. It's something I want to finally read this summer.

Is it Robert Kennedy and His Times by Schlessinger? Excellent, but long read.

Yep, that's the one. Is there another you'd recommend?

I've read all of them that don't smell of conspiracy theory. This is the best of the bios.

Well, a few hours ago I packed it up with many other books that I'll be taking to my new place, roughly eighteen days from now.

On a not unrelated note, I came across this piece of art and thought of you:

http://www.20x200.com/art/2011/06/fup1968010k003-fup1968010k052.html

  • 1
?

Log in