Yesterday I finished off Making Globalisation Work by Joseph Stiglitz. Stiglitz was Chief Economist at the World Bank from 1997 – 2000, and was widely known as one of the more outspoken critics of globalisation. In 2002 he published Globalisation and its Discontents, which garnered a lot of publicity. Stiglitz was one of the first people from within the high echelons of the IMF/World Bank community who outspokenly disagreed with how the international institutions were managing globalisation. Making Globalisation Work is his follow up book, in which he outlines a framework of how we can restructure globalisation in such a way to be beneficial not only to those in developed nations but also those in the developing nations.
He seems to have a really grounded perspective on development, and talks about how we need “a vision of development that goes beyond GDP.” (Gross Domestic Product is the value of all goods and services produced within a nation in a given year.) He writes,
“Development is about transforming the lives of people, not just transforming economies. Policies for education or employment need to be looked at through this double lens: how they promote growth and how they affect individuals directly.”
He made a really interesting comment on the impact globalisation has on communities, which I had never thought about before: “(I) emphasized the important role that communities play in successful development; by weakening communities, corporations may, in the long run, even weaken development.” It is almost as if the rise of multinational corporations, as much good as they do, may simultaneously be weakening the structures that bind us together in common humanity. Stiglitz goes on to say, “We may increasingly be part of a global economy, but almost all of us live in local communities, and continue to think, to an extraordinary degree, locally.” What impact would it have if we though on a more global scale? I wonder about this a lot. The point Stiglitz is making is that we care more about one job lost here in our neighborhood than two jobs created in a community in Peru. I often rant and rave about how we need to care more about each other, and then I read this and think about my dad, and how I’d feel if my dad went out of business. (He’s a small-scale farmer as well as holding down another job, and with the likelihood that the CAP will be phased out in 2013, anything could happen.)
“In fact, since lenders are supposed to be sophisticated in risk analysis and in making judgments about a reasonable debt burden. they should perhaps bear even more culpability.”
In a chapter discussing the indebtedness of poor nations, Stiglitz poses the question of who is more culpable: the poor nation trying to feed its citizens or the richer, wiser nation who decided to lend it more money than it could pay back? It’s an interesting question…
Making Globalisation Work is a great book setting out a viable alternative to the way globalisation is currently managed. The question is, are we willing to pay the price that it will take to create a more just world?
“But there is a gap between the rhetoric and the reality – and many of these leaders are ahead of the people in their democracies, who may be fully committed to these lofty goals, but only so long as it does not cost them anything.”
Another world is possible…