Friday, April 25, 2008

The importance of separating globalization from politics

I don't really want to get into politics on this blog, but Nicholas Kristof makes some excellent points in his oped Better Roses Than Cocaine.

While I am an admirer of both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, I have been quite disappointed with their take on globalization (for the record I consider myself, among other things, both pro-trade and liberal).

At the core of the world's troubles is a question of economic security; you are more likely to be tempted by radical ideologies if you don't have it. In effect, when you have nothing to lose you become fertile ground for anti-social behavior.

Obviously, a lack of economic security isn't the only cause of radical ideologies, and there are many examples of those who are economically secure acting in anti-social ways. (I'm currently reading Confessions of an Economic Hit Man which provides enough examples)

All that said, global stability is obviously good for everyone, but it is especially good for the US as many of the world's problems often come washing upon its shores. Promoting economic security around the world is a far more effective way of, to paraphrase, fighting problems abroad so they don't have to be fought here.

The issue is neatly summed up here:

As she clips flowers in a vast greenhouse, Ms. Reynosa knows that her future depends on access to the American market. She agrees that Colombia has human-rights problems, but she argues passionately that the free-trade agreement is the way to register continued improvements. More trade will mean more jobs and more security and human rights, she argues.

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