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Monday, September 3, 2012

Globalization and the United States

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Part 1


Introduction


Globalization is about worldwide economic activity �


As all of you know, globalization is about open markets; competition and the free flow of goods, services, capital and knowledge. In other words, the world as we know it is getting increasingly smaller with the advancement of technology, i.e.- the Internet, and planes and soon to come out, telecommunication over the Internet, but that’s another story. Because of this technology people around the world are more connected than ever to spread new ideas.


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Information technologies are the key driver of globalization, they open up a huge potential for greater efficiency through e-commerce, the Internet and the instantaneous delivery of information anywhere in the world, at any time. They also provide greater access to information and knowledge, THEY are the raw materials of innovation, and spread the free flow of information from all sources, which authoritarian regimes cannot stop even if they wanted to. Technology and innovation cut costs to the direct benefit of consumers. Some view it as a process that is beneficial�a key to future world economic development�and also inevitable and irreversible.


Yes this is globalization, but what is the role of the US They are the big brother, they are the ones who can prosper without global trading…it is the developing countries that truly depend on the United States


Kevin A. Hassett and James K. Glassman explain that


Rarely in history has one nation been as dominant in the world economy as the United States is today. The U.S. (GDP) -- exceeded $10 trillion in 00. Thats greater than the total GDP of the next five countries combined. All told, the United States, with 1/0th of the worlds population, accounts for one-third of the worlds output and, last year, more than three-fifths of its growth.


The U.S. economy is so large that its metropolitan areas produce more than entire countries. For example, in 00, Chicago had about the same GDP as Australia. Boston had the same as Taiwan; Dallas, the same as Saudi Arabia; San Francisco, Hong Kong; and Milwaukee, Pakistan.


Its only natural that such a dominant position can sometimes provoke envy and anger from other nations, but the truth is that economics is not a zero-sum game. In a world that is tied together by trade, the United States wins when other nations prosper -- and other nations win when the United States prospers.


The notion that wealthy countries and big businesses are the main beneficiaries of global free trade is flat-out nonsense. The United States could continue to prosper if it backed away from the world-trade stage. Even if it stopped trading altogether, the United States would continue to enjoy a high standard of living, with a GDP of more than $0,000 per person. Americas lifestyle might slip from 00 levels to mid-10s levels. Thats all. But if trade stops or even slows down, developing countries would be devastated. No longer would citizens be able to get quality goods at bargain prices. No longer would smaller nations be able to increase their markets on a vast scale.


But the United States understands the responsibilities that come with being the worlds largest economy.


Does the US take advantage of their position?


They must be if sweatshops exist, I mean, why do they exist


US Companies Profit From Chinese Sweatshops


By Jim Lobe, IPS, 1 March 18


WASHINGTON, Mar 1 (IPS) - U.S. clothing and footware companies, which import more than 15 billion dollars a year in Chinese-made goods, are profiting from sub-contractors whose mainly young, female workers toil in sweatshop conditions, according to a new report released here.


The report, which covers 1 factories in China, found that the foreign-financed boom in southern China is being fuelled by poorly-educated women from rural areas, who are unaware of their legal rights and forced to work up to 1-hours-a-day, seven days a week - for as little as 1 cents an hour.


Working conditions in China actually violate Chinas own labour law and internationally recognised worker rights, as well as U.S. coprorate codes of conduct, according to Charles Kernaghan, director of the National Labour Committee (NLC) which released the report Wednesday.


Yet the workers - whose conditions approach indentured servitude - have no independent unions, human rights, womens or religious organisations to protect them, and US companies take advantage of their vulnerability, said Kernaghan.


Kernaghan used the release of the report, Made in China Behind the Label, to launch a national campaign to press these companies, which include some of the US most fashionable labels, to fully disclose the conditions under which their merchandise is being produced.


The public has a right to know in what countries and in what factories American corporations are producing and under what human and labour rights conditions, he said.


Several Democratic lawmakers have pledged to push for legislation this year that would ensure greater disclosure(discovery). The bottom line is that the American people should not, unknowingly, be purchasing products made in sweatshops, said Rep. Bernie Sanders.


Named in the report are such companies as Ralph Lauren, Ann Taylor, Kathie Lee, Wal-Mart, Liz Claiborne, Esprit, J.C. Penney, The Limited, and K-Mart. Most of these firms maintain that they monitor factories where their merchandise is made, but investigators from the Hong Kong-based Asian Monitor Resource Centre and China Labour Bulletin found evidence of widespread, unregulated subcontracting among the sector of foreign, privately- owned factories booming in the south of China.


These factories operate in climate of secrecy, according to the report, often with no signs posted and frequently not even listed in business directories.


American companies are actually lowering standards in China as they shift their production from publicly-owned factories in the north to private, foreign-owned sweatshops in the south, slashing wages in the process, eliminating benefits, imposing excessive mandatory overtime hours, and tolerating widespread arbitrary firings and unsafe factory and living conditions, said Kernaghan.


In the Liang Shi Handbag Factory, which makes Kathie Lee handbags, for example, a work week consists of seven 10-hour days for wages as low as 1 cents an hour, according to the report. The factory has no fire exits and workers are housed in dirty, cramped dormitories, five to a room. After paying for one weeks worth of food and lodging, workers are left with only .44 dollars.


In the Yeu Yein Factory, which makes Nike and Addidas shoes, 50,000 to 60,000 young women ages 18 to work six or seven days a week, 10 to 1 hours a day, for 1 cents an hour, the report said. In some cases, workers living in factory-built dormitories are subject to constant surveillance.


Independent unions are illegal in China where, according to Sally Chun of China Labour Bulletin, workers lack minimum social guarantees and ...are subject to government repression and violence when they voice their demands.


She and Apo Leong of the Resource Centre expressed scepticism about the effectiveness of US corporate codes of conduct which have become more widespread in recent years, in part because of publicity generated about apparel-making sweatshops discovered in Central America and the Caribbean by Kernaghans NLC.


In an open letter to the White Houses Apparel Partnership, Kernaghan called for an immediate review of factory working conditions in China for their compliance with international standards and a ban on unregulated subcontracting. He also called for companies to ensure that their codes of conduct are posted in subcontracting factories and that human and worker rights groups are given access to workers.


The Partnership, which consists of six rights groups, two labour unions, and eight companies, including several of those named in the new report, has spent more than a year negotiating the mandate of an association that would certify companies compliance with a tough code of conduct. Such a certification would then permit them to tag their merchandise with a No Sweat label.


The Partnership has agreed to the elements of such a code, which includes virtually all of the demands put forward by Kernaghan, according to its co-chair, Linda Golodner, who is president of the National Consumers League.


The Partnership still has to work out details on what constitutes a living wage and how the code should deal with countries, like China, which do not permit freedom of association. Once these matters are resolved, it hopes that most other companies in the apparel and shoe industry will join the effort.


This reports poses a lot of very important questions for the companies and our own government to look at, said Golodner told IPS. She noted that Washington has done nothing to discourage companies from investing in China, despite the absence of workers rights there. This needs to be looked at very seriously, she added.


At the Tianjin Yuhua Garment Factory in China a young woman earns cents an hour. For over 60 hours a week she sews clothing to be sold in Wal-Mart stores across the U.S. She works in a sweatshop, but the profit margins from her sweat are not enough for some. Soon she may be laid off, as Wal-Mart moves its contract to a privately owned factory in the south of China with less regulations and even lower wages. There, Wal-Mart’s contractors can pay workers as low as 1 cents an hour to sew the same garments. Wal-Mart is the largest retailer in the world. They control almost 15 percent of the US retail market. And selling goods made in sweatshops helped their 18 revenue rise to $11 billion�$4 billion more than Canada’s 18 revenue.


Those who are accused of exploiting workers to maximize profits often respond by calling sweatshops an unfortunate, but necessary evil of economic growth and free markets. Claims are made that sweatshops are the only way to meet consumers demand for low-cost goods and that they provide jobs that otherwise would not exist.


And yet, sweatshops are not inevitable. They are not a necessary by-product of economic growth or the intended outcome of some dangerous force in the economic universe. They are the result of corporations single-mindedly seeking the fattest bottom line. This race to the bottom line squeezes out savings and profits at every level, but ultimately, from the sweat of the workers squeezed at the bottom of the cycle.


These factors drive demand for sweatshops Corporate greed U.S. and manufacturers have found that they no longer need to operate their own factories. In a world virtually free of borders, they look for subcontractors in countries where regulations are weak and labor and operating costs are lowest.


International policies


Governments, international trade regulatory agencies like the World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Bank and other foreign lenders create international trade laws and lending policies requiring developing nations to bolster their economies by creating export industries regardless of implications for social justice and environmental sustainability. And Third World countries desperately need the foreign money. But these policies have created a excess of manufacturing plants and plantations (often in countries with poorly developed labor and environmental laws), which allows U.S. corporations to dictate their purchase prices.


More specifically


ESPN Exposes NIKE


On April , ESPNs Outside the Lines ran an hour-long show on Nike and Reebok sweatshop abuses in Vietnam.


The crew also interviewed a 5-year-old female worker who - just a week prior - was grabbed around the collar and hit on the head by a male Korean guard as she departed a Nike factory during a shift change.


Some of the problems at the sneaker factories appear to be caused by language barriers. Many of the supervisors speak little or no Vietnamese. And some of them prefer a militaristic approach in dealing with workers.


When asked to account for these instances of abuse, Nike executive Tom Clarke kept talking about these events being taken out of context. He failed to explain what sort of context might justify physically abusing workers.


Aside from the physical harm in these sweatshops workers have to deal with ridiculous conditions


Workers in the Nike and Reebok factories breath a toxic mix of chemicals with only useless cotton masks for protection. Dara ORourke, an environmental consultant for the United Nations and human rights activist who has visited several Vietnamese shoe factories, says Wearing a cotton mask to protect yourself against hazardous solvents is like wearing flip-flops in the NBA, she said. It just doesnt work.


Nike says that it is working with its subcontractors to offer an environment that protects the workers health and safety. Health concerns were raised, however, when an inspection report that was prepared for Nike was leaked in November to the New York Times. Ernst & Young found that workers at one factory were exposed to a chemical that exceeded legal standards by 177 times in parts of the plant and that 77 percent of the employees suffered from respiratory problems. Although Nike says those readings are impossible, it was Nikes own accounting firm, Ernst & Young, which documented the readings.


There are other people that oppose world integration because they feel that it is another way of saying Americanization


Have you heard the word Americanization? In the early 100s Americanization meant taking new immigrants and turning them into Americans...whether they wanted to give up their traditional ways or not.


Critics now say globalization is nothing more than the imposition of American culture on the entire world. In fact, the most visible sign of globalization seems to be the spread of American burgers and cola to nearly every country on earth.


Even globalization champions like Thomas Friedman see it. In a recent column describing why terrorists hate the United States, Friedman wrote


...globalization is in so many ways Americanization globalization wears Mickey Mouse ears, it drinks Pepsi and Coke, eats Big Macs, does its computing on an IBM laptop with Windows 8. Many societies around the world cant get enough of it, but others see it as a fundamental threat.





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