Every once in a while there is a book that I read that I think every person who has the ability to read should pick up and consider regardless of political ideology, education, career etc. I recently finished the updated and expanded edition of The World is Flat, by Thomas Friedman, and this book is not only well-written but has some fabulous ideas related to globalization, the economy and the future viability of America's competitiveness abroad. I tend to be quite stubborn about my viewpoints, but reading this book completely changed how I thought about globalization.
The conventional wisdom about globalization is that it's generally a bad thing. After all, we lose jobs every day to developing countries where companies can make their athletic shoes by paying a 6 year-old 5 cents an hour to work 80 hours a week in poor conditions. While Friedman doesn't take the opposite viewpoint, since he does acknowledge many of the negative aspects of globalization, he does take the viewpoint that globalization is here, and it's in our best interest to figure out how to work within it, rather than opposing it and falling further behind competitively.
I am not writing a book report here, so if you want to know more about the book, take your curious ass on over to Amazon and order a copy or visit your local public library. This website is not a replacement for actual reading.
The main point that I wish people would understand and could get if they took the time to read Friedman's book is how critical education is to our economic competitiveness. India and China are kicking our asses right now in science and engineering. This should scare the shit out of us, but the public outcry has been pretty limited. Our complacency about education is going to put us massively behind other countries in terms of innovation, so that essentially if we continue to fall behind, we're going to be someone's bitch economically speaking. Our dependence on other countries for oil is already hosing us economically, and our lack of concern for the declining quality of education is only going to stifle economic progress in the long run.
The other fantastic point that Friedman makes as a positive aspect of globalization is that countries that are linked together economically, primarily through global supply chains, are highly unlikely to start wars against each other because of the vested economic interest each country has in the other. If you look at the countries that we tend to fight, they're not our economic partners. Globalization increases those linkages between countries, and will decrease military conflict in the future as more countries get a piece of the pie.
It's one of those times when I wish the President would read something other than the Bible and children's books, because I think he could take some ideas an really make improvements in his economic policy. Unfortunately, it looks like we've still got a few more years of "run and gun" left before we see the end of this era.