Free Trade with Almost Free Labor

Globalization, in economic terms, is basically the interconnection among world economies. Countries have traded among each other for centuries, so there has been some amount of globalization going on for quite some time. With advancements in technology and communication methods, globalization has been able to occur at a more rapid rate. This sounds like a great thing, since trade among countries has become so easy.

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Is globalization actually a good thing? I feel that the answer to that falls into a gray area. It seems to really matter where you live and what your socioeconomic status is. If you are an investor in a Western country, you probably view globalization as a fantastic thing. Globalization allows investors and big companies to outsource their workers and have items made for dirt cheap by people in countries that lack labor laws and minimum wages. If outsourcing weren’t so easy, big companies would have to pay people at least minimum wage in order to have the same item made.

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On the other hand, if you are in a third world country, it is likely that you, or someone you know, is working very hard every day in order to produce items for leading companies. The people producing these items are making very small wages in return for their labor. They work hard producing items that they cannot afford to own for themselves. I cannot imagine that globalization is good for these people who are being exploited for the fact that they live in countries that lack labor laws. Globalization and outsourcing are not friends to these people.

What about the people who are not investors or higher ups in a corporation, but are also not poor laborers of a third world country? Is globalization a good or bad thing for them? Let’s look at lower and middle class Americans; there are certainly advantages as well as disadvantages for them. This easy trade has made it so that items can be made at very cheap prices, which means that the average American can own something that would cost much more if the company had paid someone minimum wage to produce it. This means that we can afford these items that we otherwise would not be able to afford, which is a nice luxury. However, with outsourcing, we lose job opportunities within our own country.

It seems that globalization is a different experience for everyone. For some it is bad, and others it is good, and it will continue to change with time. I would hope to see a change for the positive where universal labor laws are developed and exploitation becomes a thing of the past. Or where corporations become humanitarians and want to pay people what they deserve for their hard labor. Although these are unlikely to happen in my lifetime, I would feel satisfied knowing that globalization is somehow headed in this type of direction.

 

And this picture in spirit of the season:

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