Is globalization good?

Globalization must be defined first. Most people would focus on the economics of globalization and others more broadly. For this discussion we will think of it in the broadest sense but in layers. The lowest layer or foundation is population and resources. So it is a matter of "Scope". We have been global for centuries. However, more recently the balance of our reliance and interdependence has risen significantly. This has been somewhat by necessity and at other times by convenience. Necessity grows as the population increases and resources become tighter. There is no stopping the population growth as we quickly grow from 7 billion to 9 billion people.

Advances in key areas "enable" globalization - technology, communications and transportation. The Internet and computers have made the intellectual side of businesses amorphous. Skills and talent can be acquired anywhere in the world and used for developing, diagnosing and service. Advances in transportation have increased the speed and decreased the cost of making products in one part of the world then sell it in a different part. The rest of the equation is merely the competitive advantages of doing it. Today the point is, the stress on resources are only going to increase and our ability to conduct business globally will improve also.

The consequence of the situation is that we are forced into needing ways to deal with global commerce even more. Global competition drives the second layer where we and the rest of the world into more military and security engagements and confrontations. Unfortunately, the technology used by the military and security agencies has also gotten more powerful and invasive. The ability of the criminals, terrorists, government entities and power hungry people are equally able to do as much damage offsetting the benefits of globalization.

This in turn drives the next layer - "Rules of Engagement". These rules include governance, monetary policy, currency exchange, intellectual property rights, environmental regulation, law enforcement and fundamentally "who" gets to define and control the Rules. As you can see, the dimensions of the challenge are immense. I have argued that globalization has actually hurt the industrialized countries and benefited the third world over the past 25 years. However, during the same period imbalances may have been equalized and we have seen a flattening of the economies between rich and poor countries. That is the optimistic side of the question. The U.S. is probably in a better position and has a better understanding of how to compete. Pessimistic side is that we have less international influence over the Rules of Engagement. Another consequence is that fewer people and corporation have become more powerful and influential. The wealth-gap between rich and poor is alarming. Concentration of wealth has historically been shown to be divisive and dangerous.

The overriding question is What should the U.S. role be in the World? As many people would say that we should provide leadership but at the same time, they cringe at the abuses we have imposed on others in the past. We can not claim the moral high road and at the same time overreach with our military force, economic power and technology. We in the U.S. have a choice. Will we walk the talk or choice to be selfish and insular. I will propose at least a guiding principle. We need to promote a new way of measuring success.

If the message from the U.S. is predominantly about wealth and money then the ultimate consequence will be disaster both in the U.S. and our position in the world. It will drive decisions where rightfully we will not be trusted, nor should we. If our Metric of Success is fairness, healthy competition, caring globally for our fellow man and the environment then we will be trusted more. Long term more people will be happy and content with their lives. The point is we have to choose which principles drive better behavior. Greed is selfish and destructive. Caring more about others leads to security, happiness and a better life for all.

Globalization could be Good!

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