Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Tom Friedman were on the PBS News Hour (transcript) last week arguing the problems and virtues of globalization, and the contrasting views of their own books, Dorgan’s Take this Job and Ship It and Friedman’s The World is Flat. The flat world as Friedman sees it is basically due to computers, the internet, and software that enable business to be conducted worldwide.
I agree that there is an international class of business, professional and managerial types capable of throwing together a business pretty much anywhere on the planet, anywhere there is cheap labor. But the title of Friedman’s book suggests a level playing field and equal opportunity. That’s the part that his bosses at the New York Times eat up because, being in New York, the hub of international capitalism, the idea of a wave of business washing over the globe raising all boats is close to nirvana. The truth is different.
Much has been made of India’s booming economy, but India has a literacy rate of only about 60-percent, according to online encyclopedia Infoplease. In a country of over a billion people, that equates to around 400-million people who are illiterate. That’s about the population of the United States and Mexico combined. The situation in Africa is similar if not worse.
How will these people ever access the new global economy that Friedman talks about? What is the World Bank doing to address this? As the affluent pull away from the rest and inequality becomes even more pronounced, what will those societies look like? Think they’ll be stable?
During the “debate” Tom Friedman was quick to point out that globalization was not hurting the U.S. as evidenced by the its low unemployment rate.
If the Friedmans come over after work, we can make lasagna or open a can of spaghetios. Either way, it’s supper. The idea being, the old jobs were better than the new jobs, by and large, with better insurance, better pay, better retirement plans.
I like Byron Dorgan and two of our kids were born in North Dakota. North Dakotans are always preparing for tough times, namely winter, flood, or drought – or dealing with tough times. It’s a place that’s hard on the unprepared and the procrastinator. Those that feel the early chill and get the jump on freeze-up, and get busy winterizing the house and the vehicles, are likely to be ok.
The economic conditions in the United States are bad enough now for some but the trends in growing inequality and a shrinking middle class are cause for serious concern. Where will the downward trends in middle class wealth ultimately take us? What will reverse the trends?
The points in Dorgan’s new book are what the Democrats should be all about and especially talking about now, before the whole country suffers a Foley-news overdose and forgets what this mid-term election is for.
Cross-posted from SustainableMiddleClass