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Crime networks were all operating very well long before our modern fear of globalization came to be -- "modern fear," because, as asdf pointed out, globalization is nothing new, even if it's much faster today.  Globalization has changed nothing about the drug trade except perhaps the communications.  At the end of the day, a certain group of people will want to get high, and producers will meet that demand.

The best answer we have so far to human trade, if we really want to work toward solving it, is more liberalization of immigration laws.  People shouldn't have to seek out brutal thugs who will make them slaves simply to go looking for a better life.  We should be welcoming them.  But, if I walked outside, right now, and told people -- even those who claim the throne of "moral outrage" -- that it was part of the solution, they wouldn't listen to me.  They would be angry, because I, the obnoxious liberal, believe "in lettin' them there 'furreners' take our jobs!"

People aren't buying and borrowing their way out of North Korea or Haiti because of globalization making it easier to get to China or Florida.  They would've tried to get out, anyway.  Young Asian women were being sent to Los Angeles as prostitutes long before anyone had even considered NAFTA.

These acts are carried out because of a lack of freedom and opportunity -- and, obviously (in the case of said brutal thugs), because business is apparently good.  Just as with drugs, if we'll only take away their market by opening up, they'll all fall down.  Why pay for a fake green card and a drive over the Mexican border inside the dashboard of a truck when the country you want to join will happily let you in, anyway, and even offer you help to get here and get back on your feet?

Relating poverty to environmental catastrophe is certainly reasonable, and Lord May is right to bring up Africa.  What we need is reform of institutions like the WTO, building around the focus of trade with environmental and worker rights -- ending child labor, establishing the right to organize (the right to unionize being included in that), and so on.  If countries choose to allow, for example, children (or any other workers but especially children) to be forced to work in factories under incredibly dangerous conditions, sanctions should automatically follow.  No subjective analysis.  If you commit crime A, you suffer penalty x until you've solved the problem.  Period.

Globalization can be our best friend or our worst enemy.  It is what we make it.  Poor people in globalized economies were poorer prior to globalization.  (Many have made the argument to me that globalization has caused the poverty we see in the developing world.  In some cases, this is probably very true, but it is largely false.)  When Roy, the auto-worker from Michigan, loses his job at the Buick plant and cannot immediately find another job, he can go to the state and federal governments and receive at least a minimal level of help.  When Hu, the auto-worker from Guangzhou, loses his job and cannot find another one, he might not eat.  I've said it many times: A low-paying job that barely keeps the lights on every month is better than no job at all.

People in industrialized cities are China are, in some cases, buying apartments that they could never have imagined three decades ago.  Surely this is not a bad thing.  It's globalization that has allowed China to boom for so long.  It's the revenue from that boom that has allowed the government to begin looking at policies to relieve poverty and truly-massive inequality in the rural provinces.  This is a good thing.

We need to set the rules of the game on a global level, beyond the narrow scope of our current international institutions.  They only enforce what they are required to enforce.  Governments and institutions do not feel obliged to solve problems, because they are not required to do so.  And they will not be required to do so until there is a sufficient demand.  It's our choice.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Feb 28th, 2006 at 01:40:43 PM EST

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