Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Tired of Thomas Friedman

Yes, Tom Friedman (NY Times columnist), we got it. Globalization is the way of the future. It's here to stay, it's coming. And imagination and information, not "traditional" economic or political resources like capital, labor, land, or military force, will dictate the future. Fine. I heard the same thing in college 20 years ago with the Fukuyama "End of History" people trumpeting the end of ideological development of the world. This is all part of a conservative bent in scholarship. Sure, it would be nice, they say, if labor could be honored or if we could shop locally, but that's just pie-in-the-sky. Buy from Walmart and China and don't apologize. "Creative destruction" is just what's gonna happen. And in the end, a rising tide lifts all boats. Or most boats. Or the boats of those who learn how to sail, so go back and reinvest in your own personal education.


But we're sitting at the trough of a worldwide recession. The middle class in America invested in the stock market and real estate like they were told to, trying to "provide for themselves" while voting for politicians who dismembered the retirement/pension safety net and stood idly by while the cost of education and health care spiraled out of reach. Tese "suck it up" sentiments all come from safely tenured professors or - like Friedman - media personalities who have "made it." People who are safe, in other words, from the destruction of "creative destruction." So I'm getting tired of it all. Globalization is not a replacement for the social contract. Let me repeat: globalization is not a replacement for the social contract. Yes, globalization is going to happen and, yes, free trade will ultimately be superior to distortions caused by trade restrictions. But that doesn't mean that we should just give up on trying to improve our society through political action. Far from it. More than ever we need our political institutions to set policy goals and work through, with, or around institutions of private wealth to achieve them.

Those goals: 1. Universal childhood education. 2. Universal medical care. 3. Equal access to post-secondary education for all. 4. Good housing for all. 5. Personal safety. 6. Human rights. 7. Good jobs with good pay and good vacation for all who are willing to work. 8. The security of knowing that high medical costs or unemployment will not ruin you and your family and leave you destitute or homeless. 9. Safe, high-quality food at affordable prices. 10. A secular state that provides freedom for expression of all religions and philosophies, except for those portions of the religion or philosopihes that demand intolerance of one kind or another, where the expression can be tolerated but the intolerant behavior must be restricted. 11. Family-friendly workplaces and schools that coordinate child-rearing with work schedules and do not discriminate against "mommy track" or "daddy track" in hiring and promotions. 12. Justice. 13. Access to justice. 14. Safe working conditions. 15. An end to hunger, homelessness, child labor, human trafficking, and sexual exploitation. 16. Respect and dignity for the elderly. 17. The right to make choices about one's personal destiny, including with respect to reproduction, health care, end-of-life care, and death. 18. The right of persons belonging to a minority group to be free of oppression by the majority. 19. Democracy. 20. No permanent aristocracy of wealth. 21. A clean environment and an end to global warming.

None of these things will come from globalization alone. All require political action. We know this not just from philosophy, but from experience. We have tried the "pure free market" approach, and it doesn't work. It will provide none of these things.

1 comment:

eiscremeluvr said...

Wow, LTG--your new Bill of Rights has 21 parts!