We the People of the United States of America,
In Order to Form a More Perfect Corporate Globalization.
There has been a lot of discussion recently about the process of the globalization of companies and the advantages that this process has with it. Sadly though, we do not see the economic forest for the fires of greed and personal power that are consuming it. Generally it’s believed that the movement of jobs out of the U.S. and other developed nations to the “third world” countries as not being such a bad thing. It translates to cheaper products at home, and honestly who doesn’t love a deal. We are on the verge of what could become either the next great installment of the story of America or staring headlong into a chasm that could one day be defined as one of the darkest moments in the history of America, or perhaps even mankind itself.
The actual process of the company globalization has been going on for a long time, in one form or another. The East India Company of British fame had been trading goods around the world from sixteen hundred until eighteen seventy four. The real problem isn’t in the globalization itself. It is the way in which it is being done. Companies these days search for the cheapest labor and production costs they can find. Although, this would certainly fit into any business model one might chose in order to have a successful business. The current companies that are vying for world domination of their products might very well find it in their own best interests to deter warfare in the countries where they have planted the flags of their corporate empire.
They still need those countries to continue providing cheap labor. In fact the cheaper the better, they routinely look the other way while their host country violates the rights of its own citizenry and keeps their average citizen impoverished and why not, after all cheap labor is one of the founding principles behind what former President George H. Bush called The New World Order. Where the men and women in charge of these behemoth companies find that oppression starts at home, spreading outwards form there with a draconian zeal not seen since the Middle Ages.
According to Amnesty International,“two thirds of the world does not have access to justice. Fifty four countries have a trial system that is considered unfair. Ninety eight countries are accused of torture or severe mistreatment. Eighty nine countries restrict freedom of expression.” Unfortunately, these are the types of countries that have cheap labor and leaders willing to exploit this for their own personal gain.This is current business model for many companies seeking globalization of their business’ and the expansion of their profits.
Oppression starts at home? Yes unfortunately these days it does. Let’s take a second to look at what has been going on here in the U.S. over the last few decades. It is a sad and enraging picture that needs to be brought into focus so we can truly begin to understand the current underlying problems with the current efforts in globalization, we’ll start back in nineteen eighty one. Then President Jimmy Carter had lost his bid for a second term as President of the United States to Ronald Reagan. Reagan’s presidency would on the surface be a lot of chest-thumping to such slogans as “America is Number One” and other patriotic catch-phrases.While behind scenes the country was being set-up to be plundered in ways that would make the Vikings of old look like sissy disorganized street thug wanna-bees.
Reagan spent a lot of time looking for a fight. His antics included arguing and posturing with the Soviets mostly over already obsolete cold war issues. The eventual and even without his help, inevitable tearing down of the Berlin wall. Finally, Reagan got his war in the U.S. invasion of the tiny third world island country of Grenada over reasons though stated, were not entirely clear. All of which was spun to put on a good show of how effective and benevolent a President Reagan was for the American people. Meanwhile Reagan, his friends and political allies quietly began the process of neutering the general populace.
They did this in what can be deemed a multi-pronged attack. They started this by First breaking the labor unions ability to conduct strikes, a sometimes necessary tactic that allowed them to influence companies to treat employees fairly. The long term effects being that companies were able to more rapidly devaluate all of the jobs they desired to, without the fear of reprisal that strong labor unions could bring to bear. Second, they pushed legislation through making it easier to move jobs out of the country. Third, they began deregulating the mortgage and loan industries allowing banks and other financial institutions to increase the debt load on the American people while allowing these companies to both maintain paper control of real estate, and destroying the average Americans use of home ownership as an asset towards retirement or other personal ventures, by essentially wiping out any true profit made by having a home that is worth more than they paid for it. Ultimately, giving the illusion that although salaries were dropping and benefits were going away, there wasn’t initially any big change in quality of life for the average person just a widening of the gap between the American people and those who control the money, and what they do with it. They also assisted with setting the stage for this new stronger incursion into the global markets.
These actions further facilitated the globalization of companies most of which were controlled by their friends and political allies. They did this in a way that allowed the heads of these companies if they so chose, like the rulers of old, to plunder the economy and in essence subjugate the people, all to their greedy heart’s desire. Prior to Reagan, American companies had to play by a very different set of rules.
The nineteen seventies was another important time in corporate globalization. Like today the companies themselves were strong. However, back then the companies had the unions and the government as well as other special interest groups watching them. This forced them to require that employees in their overseas operations be treated similarly to their American counterparts.
For example a coalition was formed by the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, United Steel Workers, United Electrical Workers, AFL-CIO, United Auto Workers, Joint Furriers Council, International Longshoremen and Warehouse Workers, American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, United Mine Workers Union, and The Polaroid Revolutionary Workers Movement. They worked with companies like General Motors, U.S.Steel, Polaroid, and thirteen other major U.S. companies at the time to put pressure on the government of South Africa to end apartheid.
This joining of Unions and Companies caused the South African Government to make changes resulting in the raising of the quality of life for many in the severely oppressed black population in South Africa. For the first time blacks were being paid fair wages for the work they did. They were able to advance at the American companies in areas that would not have been possible only a few years earlier or had they work for a South African company. Some of them were even able to get out of the ghettos and buy homes in formerly white only areas of towns. All because the South African Government and the South African companies doing business with the Americans wanted their business more than they wanted apartheid. With all this happening, it was still profitable enough for the U.S. companies to be willing to stay while the evils of apartheid slowly but steadily disappeared. They stayed until the rest of world led by the U.S. imposed sanctions against South Africa for its unwillingness to swiftly and completely abandon apartheid. Then things started unraveling and apartheid was reinstated full-force, taking at least another ten years before they finally and correctly abandoned it for good.
In today’s globalization there isn’t the same concern over the exploitation of the workers both here in the U.S. and abroad. Yes in some ways for the overseas workers their quality of life is raised, when they work for a global company as opposed to companies local to their own country, but that has more to do with the company’s own ideas of how subjugated their workers should be. In other words, they step from one bottom rung to another bottom rung with only the definition of how bad, bad should be as the only real distinction of progress.
Even in America the backlash of the global exploitation has reverberated here. Average salaries are dropping to all time lows. People are having a hard time finding full-time employment having instead to rely on multiple part-time jobs with no little or benefits. According to some economists the average American worker is making the same level of income that people did in two thousand and one, ten years ago. However, inflation and overall costs of living have continued to go up. The same economists are reasonably confident that in another ten years this will all straighten itself out. Can you wait that long?
American companies claim they have jobs available, but there aren’t enough people available with the required skills to fill these positions. Why is it our country can still produce some of the top educated graduates on the planet. Yet have trouble filling these positions? That’s simple; education in America works best for those can afford out of pocket the education they desire. But for most of the American people education beyond high school can end up becoming a series of compromises between trying to get themselves educated, verses their ability to qualify for assistance such as grants and student loans. If their unable to qualify for these they have to attend school while working one or multiple part-time jobs to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table and pay their tuition, while they try to attend school in hopes of bettering themselves. You cannot blame the schools for these issues.They have to survive this current economic hardship just like everyone else.
Companies should have been and should be, more vested in the continuing education of their employees. If they had been, there might not have been this shortage of people trained in the areas where they’re claiming a shortage is now. But they’re not. The reason is cheap labor here is as important to them as cheap labor abroad. Look at all the people who earned MBA’s through those streamlined programs and are now competing for low level management jobs that a few years ago they would have baulked at. Too often in America higher education is viewed as something unobtainable, either because of the intellectual demand it places on people or the misguided notion that something is potentially wrong with the types of people who seek higher degrees, that they’re perceived as socially inept, not to forget the high costs involved and possibility that there might not be a job waiting for them when they do finally graduate.
Even if some of these MBA’s decide to try their hand as the owner of their own business, the problem arises that small businesses are the canaries in the mines of the business world. Unless you’re opening a Dram Shop or one of the other types of businesses that can thrive in economically depressed times. Most small businesses in down economies struggle worse of all.
So how can we as a people, a nation, or a world survive this process of globalization? Is there a way that an enlightened business world and an enlightened people could be created? In a way that will give some measure of guarantee that global companies will not be exploiting their employees and that all employees of the company can feel they too have a chance for advancement and toshare in the good life.
Yes, but like almost all real solutions to real problems, there are no perfect answers, no answers that will work in all cases or situations. Nor is there only one specific way to achieve the ultimate end. There has to be a dialog between people, companies, and their representative governments that will give a balanced approach to the process of globalization. Companies cannot be allowed to make up the rules. That needs to be done by the individuals whose jobs are to make the rules. The rules for the process must be standardized in way that promotes compliance by companies, governments, and the people that comprise both. There also needs to be a representative body that watches over and assists in employee/employer disputes. It could be Unions or some other labor based organization.
Sadly over the last twenty years, Unions have been much maligned. Sadder still, Americans forget the days when American children worked ten and twelve hour days in deplorable conditions earning pennies a day just to help their families make ends meet. Many Americans’ in that time were lucky if they could boast an eighth grade education. Americans also tend to forget how hard those people fought to get unionized, how companies hired Pinkerton guards to not only lock the workers out of their jobs but to beat up protesters, harass and beat union organizers and other even worse atrocities. Is this where we’re willing to let ourselves backslide to? If the current form of globalization is allowed to continue and take hold, don’t think it couldn’t or wouldn’t happen.
Beyond the unions or another form of employee organization, governments need to step up too. Without a positive influence from governments,who are willing to take the responsibility to assist in watching over and also making sure that both the people and the companies are not being taken advantage of nor are the ones taking the advantage. Without their critical participation any system of checks and balances simply will not work.
Finding in that balance a triumvirate of people, government and company to insure fairness and equity for all.Will certainly not be easy, but as President John F. Kennedy said during his speech about why we would go to the moon he stated. “We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.” The task that lies ahead if we choose is not an easy one but it is one that the American people can rise to.That if they do other nations would follow, and the ones who would resist would find themselves compelled to comply. Allowing all of us to live in a world where everyone has a chance to better themselves, keep a roof over their heads and food on the table.
When a disaster strikes somewhere in the world America and its allies send help. When somewhere in the world needs peace-keepers, America and its allies step in. When the world needs someone to step in a put globalization on the right track why can’t America and its allies step in, man the switches and the signals and keep corporate globalization running on the right track. If America and its allies took up this noble cause even the countries that didn’t want to conform, would find themselves being compelled to comply or risk being ostracized and isolated by the other countries while perhaps risking open rebellion at home.
“Societies exist under three forms sufficiently distinguishable. 1. Without government, as among our Indians. 2. Under governments wherein the will of everyone has a just influence, as is the case in England in a slight degree and in our states in a great one. 3. Under governments of force: as is the case in all other monarchies and in most of the other republics. To have an idea of the curse of existence under these last, they must be seen. It is a government of wolves over sheep. It is a problem, not clear in my mind, that the 1st. condition is not the best. But I believe it to be inconsistent with any great degree of population. The second state has a great deal of good in it. The mass of mankind under that enjoys a precious degree of liberty and happiness. It has its evils too: the principal of which is the turbulence to which it is subject. But weigh this against the oppressions of monarchy, and it becomes nothing. Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem. Even this evil is productive of good. It prevents the degeneracy of government, and nourishes a general attention to the public affairs. I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.”
Thomas Jefferson wrote that as part of a letter to James Madison in seventeen eighty seven. It still has meaning today. We are still barely holding on to the number two form of government that Jefferson described. However, we are clearly heading towards number three. It’s not too late for us to start the process of correction and the redirection of our efforts making the process of the globalization of American companies, a positive and profitable force for the good of all Americans and our partners abroad wherever they may be. As Americans we like to think we’re living in the best country, and in a lot of ways we are. Our country was founded on high minded idealism with a hope that it might one day become a utopian model for the rest of the world, with the wisdom to understand that it might not. They did their best to give us the tools to set our own destiny, while knowing that misuse could be our undoing.
As Americans we went to the moon, liberated Europe from the influence and domination of Nazi Germany and ended Germany’s slaughter of its Jewish population and since then countless other acts of bravery, heroism, and compassion. Not because it was easy, nor did we do it just because it was hard. We did them simply because it was the right thing to do.
Quod Erat Demonstrandum.
“amnestyinternational.org.” amnestyinternational.org.N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Nov. 2011. http://www.amnestyinternational.org
Rogers, Harold. “U.S. Trade Action Against Apartheid.” Conference on Solidarity with Liberation Struggles of the People of South Africa [New York] 1 June 1976: 1-8. Print.
“The History Place – Great Speeches Collection: John F. Kennedy Speech “We choose to go to the Moon…”.” The History Place.N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2011. <http://www.historyplace.com/speeches/jfk-space.htm>.
“Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.” Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.N.p.,n.d. Web. 14 Nov. 2011. <http://www.monticello.org>.
Roughly translated from Latin: I prefer dangerous liberty to quiet servitude.