Reevaluating ethics in the global economy

Aaron Booe, Social Media Editor

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When asked to consider almost anything as human beings our first inclination is to think in terms of self-interest. That is to say when things arise resulting in a need for critical judgment, we think primarily about how something will affects us before making a decision. This is more present than ever in our globalized economy in which people, businesses, and even countries are pitted against each other every moment. Selfish desires drive our economy, and it must change.

Interestingly, the recent rise in individualism has coincided with the move amongst governments of the world to lower tariffs in the name of creating global economic prosperity. This move to decrease tariffs, known euphemistically as “free trade” has offered the world cheap and affordable commodities while also resulting in a more interconnected global market. Yet, the human elements behind free trade leave little noticeable “economic prosperity.”

Now, developing countries play a significant role in globalization as they are the countries which developed core countries rely on as a means of producing raw materials. Yet, this was not always the case for these countries. Much of these developing countries are located in Latin America and Africa where, at one point or another, they fell prey to European empire building, quickly becoming colonies under imperial rule. There they stayed, until with the end of the ideological Cold War, when the fall of collectivist Marxist utopias signaled the superiority of capitalism.

Having no other choice but to act on the whims of the few economically dominant powerhouses, such as the United States and the United Kingdom, these developing countries were forced to participate in the global economy. Where they would experience a state of economic stagnation and subjugation that resulting in economic exploitation on behalf of faceless multinational corporations.

This history begs the question of when do we, as individuals, recognize the right of other individuals to choose. The very institution of globalization allows for the establishment of the steady decaying of rights for the citizens of developing world as they often face long hours of strenuous work for very little pay. On the flipside, contemporary globalization also results in the domestic dislocation of production based jobs as felt by denizens of the Rust Belt.

The jobs created by outsourcing (because globalization) are jobs with no possible future. To believe that a career in manufacturing and mining still has a future is as laughable as it is pathetic. It makes very little economic sense to want to offer jobs to people who expect higher wages than those who would take the job for a wage Americans would not consider livable. The future does not and will not wait for these individuals to stop nostalgically dreaming of a past that no longer exists and wake up to the reality of our globalized economy.

I propose that Americans opt for an ethical reevaluation. No longer can we allow a system to exist that hurts so many while economically benefiting so few. The modern system of free trade faces far too few restrictions and fails to provide the advantages that allow for developing countries to do more than merely continue in their economic stagnation. A commitment to ensure economic prosperity occurs on an international level rather than an individual nationalistic one. While I understand how my ideas may come off as too socialist, I just merely cannot fathom how a world lacking more economic prosperity would not be beneficial to every individual. There is a genuine egocentric argument for a more regulated “free trade,” as well.

The economy is driven by innovation, and innovation is heavily influenced by the needs of its markets. When you have corporations operating across multinational lines it only makes sense that they would be dramatically impacted if suddenly there was a global demand for a particular item. The corporations would find themselves pouring large numbers of financial assets into their research & development departments to ensure the creation of whatever particular item was desired by its consumers.

Innovation driven by supply and demand allows for more educated people capable of contributing to the global economy.

A form of free trade that aids developing countries and allows for greater opportunities for their citizens will foster a cycle of benefits. This trade would ensure equity and enable those in developing countries to pursue an education opening up the market and creating a larger demand. There would be more contributors to the global community, allowing new industries to flourish. The economic stagnation of today’s world provides wasted human potential and the degradation of these individuals’ autonomy. It is a system that benefits the very few of society’s elites while hurting the larger. Thus, I propose that should we want to move from a realm of economic stagnation and human exploitation, that we should push for a form of trade that helps the many before the few.