Friday, October 2, 2009

The World is Flat- Part 3 of 6


And so..
Compared to the sober, earnest voice of Joseph Stiglitz beguiling his readers to view the world through the forgotten lens of the have-nots, Thomas Friedman’s tone is a striking contrast of the same topic; globalization. Friedman conjures up an image of a child at an amusement park, amazed to see all sorts of new, thrilling rides that are nothing similar to the familiar backyard swing; this young child sees many opportunities for unexplored fun before him, and begins to visualize just how much ‘fun’ is to be had as he skips through the park. On the other hand, Stiglitz conjures up the image of an older child, an early teen perhaps, who although excited about being at the park, has already been on many of the rides and is read to offer suggestions as to how to make the rides more fun. Stiglitz takes a completely different approach to globalization; he speaks as a former Chief Economist of the World Bank and Chief of Council of Economic Advisors during the Clinton administration. 

Albeit the fact that both books likely relied heavily on research, The World is Flat is written more in the character of a educating charge, while Making Globalization Work reads like the analysis of a veteran amidst a long mission, after exposure to both sides of a conflict. The most striking element of Stiglitz’ writing voice is his sincere concern for the citizens of developing countries; those who have been bypassed by globalization. These are global citizens whose corners of the world were either not flattened by Friedman’s forces, or who have not had a chance to reap the benefits of the flattening.  
Stiglitz determines that globalization began about 150 years ago when nation-states across the globe began to strengthen in identity and boundaries. In the U.S. this strengthening was realized as the government took a more central role in the regulating the economy and developing the country’s infrastructure and young technologies. This ‘version’ of globalization seems to stem from a mostly economic necessity for the nation-state to assert its position, and then evolving to accommodate the changing societal and political spectrums. In effect, as we are able to look back over more recent years, Stiglitz proclaims, “ Economic globalization has outpaced political globalization” (20).   In following Stiglitz’ discussion of globalization, it is extremely important   to note one component of his discourse; that there is a serious problem with the way globalization had played out so far, and the clock on reform is ticking. The general problem with globalization as Stiglitz sees it, is that it is producing “unbalanced outcomes both between and within countries…and these global imbalances are morally unacceptable and politically unsustainable” (8).
Having first-hand experience in making economic and political assessments allows Stiglitz to pinpoint the problems in globalization. He identifies the unfair rules of the global ‘game’, stating that they are specifically designed to benefit the advanced industrial countries (the U.S. & Europe).In distinguishing between developed and developing countries as they are affected by globalization, Stiglitz notes that the sovereignty of developing countries has been taken away…and as a result, democracy has been undermined. 

While Friedman talked about the exposure of free-market capitalism to more people after the collapse of the Berlin Wall, Stiglitz highlights that economic systems have been forced upon developing countries- typically the Americanization of economic policy & culture. Part of the problem is also that “globalization advances material values rather than values such as environmental concern or concern for life itself”, and the culmination of these issues results in more losers than winners in the benefits of globalization (9). 

More Friedman


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