Jobs, Wealth and Values in a Globalized Economy

Globalization is integration of trade and investment among countries, facilitated by free movement of capital and with reliance on market forces as well as transport, telecommunication and other technologies. However, U.S. consumers may think of it as how to reconcile purchase of low cost products made abroad with lingering fears of whether their purchases may mean a loss of work for Americans or unacceptable pollution. It is these issues of individual values around which we will evaluate the jobs, wealth creation and other aspects of globalization.

The phenomenon of globalization’s explosion in the last half century was made possible by technology advances in transportation, computers and telecommunications. Globalization accelerated after the collapse of communism and central planning. These have largely been replaced by the acceptance of market based economies and relatively free movement of goods, capital and labor across borders. Whether human rights and freedom are as essential to globalization as open markets are some of those values we will analyze, along with labor and environment policies associated with producing goods available for sale in markets around the world.

To view globalization in specific terms, we will focus on issues and systems like containerization, logistics, China, Wal-Mart, wages, working conditions, education levels and discrimination, as well as the wide array of local and worldwide pollution and environmental conditions and how they vary. Finally we will analyze money as it fuels the growth of globalization as well as how much new wealth is gained, who gets it and how that might change in the future of our complex and often troubling globalized economy.

Jobs, Wealth and Values in a Globalized Economy

In our stridently polarized national outlook and values, it is refreshing to find an area of unanimity, particularly relating to our globalized economy. However, US consumers, who are our largest political constituency, are in nearly complete agreement on their right buy the widest range of products and services at lowest prices and with highest quality, regardless of where or how they are produced. Some of us are uneasy about who makes what we buy, whether workers are treated fairly, if are neighbors’ jobs are threatened or if environment harm occurs. It is less clear that we alter our choices if these values result in higher price.

This conundrum is the essence of the visceral and passionate feelings on what we call globalization, a phenomenon no more than the integration of trade and investment among countries, facilitated by relatively free movement of capital, labor and resources across borders with market forces determining price. We pride ourselves on innovations and technologies that facilitate globalization, but are uncertain how they pertain to our values of freedom, democracy and justice. It is around this pride and these values we will evaluate the jobs, wealth, human rights, productivity, benefits and shortcomings of globalization.

Explosive growth and economic advances since World War II were spurred by new technologies in ocean shipping, computers and telecommunications. It spread and accelerated after the collapse of communism and its misguided reliance on central planning, now replaced nearly everywhere by market based economies. Where human rights, freedom and environment loss fit are less clear, but critical to our assessment. Along with asking about how many jobs and how much wealth was created, we will explore how they were distributed and what were resulting losses from depletion, pollution, and shameful working conditions.

To accomplish this, we will focus on specifics like containerization, logistics, China, Wal-Mart, productivity growth, wages, working conditions, regulation, education and discrimination, as well as pollution and depletion. Finally we will analyze money as it fuels and finances the growth of globalization, provides an accounting of how much new wealth is gained, who gets it and who doesn’t, and perhaps how it even may be a key to intractable problems like the Persian Gulf, Middle East and even our own US economy..

In first sessions, we will discover how international trade since the Phoenicians and technologies since the Industrial Revolution laid the base that led to what we see in today’s global economy. We will then focus on US progress in production, consumer demand and productivity, as well as the evolution of our values on fairness, work and environment. We will compare this to other countries and regions that differ in development, resources and ideals. And we will analyze likely changes that will result.

An old sage once said about weather, another topic talked about incessantly, ‘Weather isn’t good or bad. Weather just is.’ Perhaps, globalization too. But we don’t create weather, while globalization is simply the sum of our applied innovation, technologies, laws and values. Does that mean we can also direct our global economy to better serve our needs by harnessing its benefits and curtailing its abuses? Over the coming weeks, we will attempt to address these critical aspects of the way we live.


Course Outline Highlights

Class I Slides: Global to 1945

Class II-IV Slides: Global 1945-Present

Class V Slides: Jobs and Wages

Class VI Slides: Regulation and Environment

Class VII Slides: Financial

Bibliographical Books Article s Links

OLLI Bibliographical Books Article s Links

Class Session Outline

OLLI Class Session Outline

Round Round World

Breakthrough Industry Timelines

Other Industry Timelines

Technology Timelines

Inventors Hall of Fame Summary

Inventors Hall of Fame Detail

US Business Innovators

US Innovators, Builders, Business Hall of Fame

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