Ethix Forum – Issue 33

Do you see business globalization as a good trend for the world, or one worth protesting? Why?

Environmentalists and unions are concerned about the global trade rules that promote “free” trade. Global trade does have its benefits. However, under the guise of “opening up markets” trade pacts also harm our environmental and worker protections. They limit the consumers’ right to know how a product was produced. They force nations to weaken their protections for clean air, water, and safe food. They remove local, state, and national governments’ rights to enforce health and safety protections. In an open, democratic process, perhaps trade rules could help make the world safer and cleaner. But under the closed-door, multinational corporations-run system the Bush administration advocates, the rules result in creating the cheapest, least safe products possible, protecting only corporate profit. “Free” trade comes at an enormous cost to all of us.

Kathleen Casey
Acting NW/Alaska Regional Field Director
Sierra Club

I don’t believe that one should argue “good or bad”for business globalization. Business globalization is inevitable in today’s society. The current trends in technology and business infrastructure will continue to blur boundaries, create opportunities, and elicit protectionism as economic necessity drives businesses to seek lowest cost alternatives.

Great challenges and opportunities will arise as people of different cultures are forced to interact and communicate. We need to encourage political and economic leadership that can embrace globalizing influences without losing the unique nature of what their culture has to offer. I believe that negative issues arising from globalization trends can best be mitigated by focusing public and private spending on education and retraining of national workforces.

Villette Nolon
Seattle, WA

The globalization of business has a history going back centuries, and is fast picking up steam as the world becomes one borderless marketplace whose continuing growth is unstoppable. Businesses of every kind are benefiting as their access to resources from raw materials to manpower and markets increase, with consumers the ultimate beneficiaries of this heightened competition. And behind it all is the explosive growth of electronic commerce and the World Wide Web bringing a heretofore undreamed of efficiency to global commerce with no end in sight.

Carter Henderson
Ponte Verde Beach, FL

The globalization of business has pluses and minuses. On the one hand, globalization can increase choices for consumers and working people. On the other, it can increase environmental impacts, dislocate communities, and shift power from local authorities and democratic governments to unaccountable corporations and faceless market forces. Protest can be useful–not to blindly oppose globalization, but to create public demand for global trade rules that promote, rather than undermine, safeguards for the environment, workers, and human rights.

Dan Seligman
Director of the Sierra Club’s Responsible Trade Program
Washington, D.C.

I think globalization in itself is not bad or good; it is just a fact of life in an increasingly interconnected world.

What IS worth protesting is the fact that the organizations that govern international trade aren’t sufficiently democratic or transparent in their operations. The sovereignty of democratic people should never be usurped by a trade agreement.

Trade agreements so far have successfully globalized corporate rights, but not the rights of the members of the communities effected by the agreements.

Kevin Osborne
Seattle, WA