How to Understand the Pros and Cons of Globalization
Depending on how it affects you, the term globalization may induce a warm and fuzzy feeling, or it may scare the daylights out of you.
One fact we can’t get around is when we look at all the products and goods we own, many of them aren’t made in our country¹. Therefore, we could assume this is one of the good things about globalization.
But not so fast …
We don’t know who or what people may have suffered in the process of getting those products into our possession². So that might be a bad thing about globalization.
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Although widely acclaimed by many who hold large platforms, globalism has become a double-edged sword of sorts. It’s quite easy to preach from the back of your limo how great globalization would be — but do you really even know what’s best for the world's populous? Probably not.
So we need to look closer at the ramifications.
Examples of globalization and its definition
Globalization can be viewed as a greater enhancement of connections between the countries of our world³. For centuries, we’ve seen the embracing and adopting of different cultures among said countries. And we’ve also seen world trade, marketing, and business get more established worldwide.
Believe it or not, we even see some tolerance of different faiths and religions in many nations — although we still have a ways to go.
The results of globalization can be seen when McDonald’s and KFC restaurants begin popping up in Japan and India. Or when we see foreign films playing in the United States.
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However, the globalization that some world leaders and organizations (like the European Union) are seeking goes deeper than this. Their vision of globalization seeks to put more of the world’s population under a common government, a common currency, and a common economy.
How globalization could help the world’s landscape (pros)
There is an infinite number of factors when trying to evaluate the workings of a big global community. Let us examine the most vital of those elements⁴, as those receive the most focus from supporters of globalism.
Enhanced transportation and communication through technology
Without a doubt, one of the biggest drivers of globalization has been technology. Thanks to developments in telecommunications, the world has gotten smaller. You and I can blast a tweet, text, email, or post that can literally be heard around the world — instantaneously.
And if that doesn’t do the trick, we can set-up video conference calls with people all over the globe. The only limiting factor is time zones — deciding which party gives up their sleep time for the call.
In addition to this, planes and trains are getting faster and increasing in number. We can travel anywhere in the world easily within a day — for the right price. Look for them to only become larger and quicker in the future.
Globalization could apply consistent regulation and standardization of these existing transportation and communication methods. Such oversight should make them more efficient.
Freedom of residence and capital
People living within a globalist society should have more access and freedom to many things. Among those are choosing where to live and managing their money.
As transportation is enhanced, so are the people’s choices about where to live and where to work. Borders between nations would essentially dissolve, and everyone would be free to roam.
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An assortment of investment and finance opportunities would open up to world citizens. The world’s financial markets would be much more accessible, as would the world’s banks and lending institutions.
Sharing of knowledge
In theory, we should expect advancements to grow faster as all knowledge would be easily and openly shared.
All new inventions become commonly known much faster, and all bright minds would contribute to its development. Higher quality products and services would result from many great minds coming together — rather than just a few small teams.
This sharing of knowledge concept would apply to every industry that is important to our society, such as technology, health care, medicine, education, and humanities.
Developing countries can reap the benefits of current technology without undergoing many of the growing pains associated with the development of them.
There will be more access to foreign culture in the form of movies, music, food, clothing, and more. In short, the world has more choices.
How globalization could hurt humankind (cons)
People who oppose globalism also have valid concerns. We would be foolish as a society not to consider, research, and account for any potential setbacks and obstacles⁵.
Unfair parsing of jobs
We have all heard about corporations who seek out underdeveloped countries for their labor needs. When they manufacture their products using cheap labor, it drastically increases their profits. This practice is not new; powerful nations have been hiring people from developing countries and paying them a pittance for generations.
Many people believe that globalism will give these corporations more access to this cheap labor pool from underdeveloped countries. Worse yet, people fear that many existing jobs will be lost to these developing nations — because companies could cut their payrolls by 50, 60, or 70%.
Dilution of culture
As different cultures of the world begin interacting with one another, their customs will blend. Over time, the richness of all cultures will get dimmer as it loses its individuality.
Before long, people will forget who they are, and their culture will become meaningless. No longer will we have a heritage, much less claim that heritage with any pride and passion. Any society without some semblance of national pride is often doomed⁶.
Dilution of knowledge and skills
As with the dilution of culture, people with different skill sets and knowledge levels will also become diluted. Like it or not, those who excel tend to motivate others — they inspire competition, which also induces higher performance.
The Ancient Greeks once lost their entire culture through war and natural disasters. They went from being among the most vibrant cultures on Earth to becoming an illiterate society within a few generations⁷. And it took them centuries to rebound.
Unfair management of precious resources
Existing underdeveloped nations today already suffer from the unfair management of precious resources. This is because most of the wealth harvested from those resources flows to 1% of that country’s population. It’s a huge contributor to world poverty.
Some might say that globalism would eliminate such corrupt practices. Others argue that globalism gives world leaders greater access to the world’s precious resources. They believe world leaders would willingly swap resources — without ratification from elected officials.
A sharp decrease in the quality of health care
One precious resource that we tend to forget is health care and medicine. Its availability is also limited by the number of doctors and nurses and the number of hospital beds.
There are only two models with which to distribute precious resources: 1) offer it at different price points, or 2) ration it out to everyone. Most of us would choose 2), but what if you are poor and have a child with a rare disease where medication alone costs over $5000 monthly?
Today, a group health insurance plan would pay for your child’s healthcare, but don’t count on a government-provided plan to pay such costs. While rare, this scenario occurs, and it’s a huge concern⁸.
Reduction in law and order, greater instability
Those of us who love history are well aware of how powerful empires have fallen in the past. And when you look close enough, you’ll often see common signs before their collapse.
There’s generally a sharp drop in patriotism followed by a sharp rise in individualism. We also see attacks upon the nation’s most basic institutions like religion, laws, political philosophies, economic ideologies, and even the education system.
Supporters of globalism will argue that globalization hasn’t even occurred yet. And there is no country to be patriotic about, and there are no established institutions either. These are great observations, but there’s a bigger point here.
The reason those powerful empires failed was their massive size. Big empires are resented by many; therefore, they become targets. Each year, they need a bigger military — which citizens eventually resent paying for.
Simultaneously, people’s needs continue to grow, and more funding is required for social programs. All the while, corruption, and bureaucracy makes it more inefficient and diminishes its ability to solve daily problems.
When empires reach the point their problems grow faster than their ability to solve them, it crumbles⁹. This is what most every massive civilization in history has experienced.
Doubters believe that globalization will be nothing more than an injection of corruption resulting in the greatest bureaucracy the world has ever seen.
: Mark J. Perry. (February 4, 2017). My personal global economy — 20 products from 11 different countries touched and improved my life today. https://www.aei.org/carpe-diem/my-personal-global-economy-20-products-from-11-different-countries-touched-and-improved-my-life-today/.
: Benjamin Powell, David B. Skarbek. (September 27, 2004). Sweatshops and Third World Living Standards: Are the Jobs Worth the Sweat? https://www.independent.org/publications/article.asp?id=1369.
: Jason Fernando. (December 12, 2020). Globalization. https://www.investopedia.com/terms/g/globalization.asp.
: Fredrik Erixon. (January 2018). The Economic Benefits of Globalization for Business and Consumers. https://ecipe.org/publications/the-economic-benefits-of-globalization-for-business-and-consumers/.
: Ivo Pezzuto. January 7, 2019). Overcoming the Challenges of the New Era of Globalization Creating Shared Value. https://www.thestreet.com/economonitor/europe/overcoming-the-challenges-of-the-new-era-of-globalization-creating-shared-value.
: William A. GalstonMonday. (July 23, 2018). In defense of a reasonable patriotism. https://www.brookings.edu/research/in-defense-of-a-reasonable-patriotism/.
: Cristian Violatti. (January 30, 2015). Greek Dark Age. https://www.ancient.eu/Greek_Dark_Age/.
: Robert Pearl, M.D. (May 16, 2017). Why A Government-Run, Single-Payer Healthcare Approach Is Doomed To Fail. https://www.forbes.com/sites/robertpearl/2017/03/16/why-a-government-run-single-payer-healthcare-approach-is-doomed-to-fail/.
: KhanAcademy.org. Comparing the rise and fall of empires. https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/world-history/ancient-medieval/classical-states-and-empires/a/rise-and-fall-of-empires.