Skip to comments.(Vanity) The Lexis-Nexis and the Oligarchy (with apologies to Thomas Friedman)
Posted on 10/08/2006 12:25:42 PM PDT by grey_whiskers
Some time back, The New York Times Foreign Affairs writer, Thomas Friedman (liberals genuflect here), wrote a fascinating tome entitled The Lexus and the Olive Tree. I was living and working in Minneapolis when I had the chance to see him speak about the book. By the way, if I heard him correctly, he said he had grown up in St. Louis Park, which is where pesky Air America liberal Al Franken now lives. Coincidence?
The point of the book was based on some thoughts he had, in having seen the advanced robotics being used by Toyota to create their Lexus automobiles, and then shortly afterwards reading of one of the incessant Arab-Israeli skirmishes in the Middle East. The contrast between the two led him to the observation that globalization, with its forced homegeneity, and leveling of cultures, would inevitably come into conflict with peoples desire for some unique culture of their own, or even what they would consider traditional religious or moral values. And in this conflict, he proclaimed himself very much on the side of globalization.
One of the arguments he used in his book (which was for a liberal, very cogent and well written) was that globalization was inevitable. He felt that any country that tried to buck the system would be isolated by being economically isolated by all the countries which were in favor of globalization. He used the term the electronic herd to describe the elements of the herd. Short-horn cattle are those with a short-term interest, such as bond traders and currency traders. They supply the liquidity for capital improvements. Long-horn cattle are the large multinational corporations (GE, Intel) which have to consider long-term costs when deciding where to build new plants, with the attendant economic growth (jobs and increased economic activity from supporting the plants). The idea was that in order for any nation-state to participate in the benefits of globalization, the leaders would have to adapt a golden straitjacket : that is, openness of markets, adaptation of realistic accounting, organic growth rather than growth by government fiat, and the like.
The book was written in 1999. It is less than eight years old. How are its predictions panning out? Let us look at a couple of case studies. First, consider India. Following its independence from Great Britain, India had long been considered an economic basket case. (For example, the noted liberal Paul Ehrlich, in his 1974 The Population Bomb, had predicted that the United States would one day be forced to cut off food aid to India, as it became clear India was beyond hope.) The status of India as downtrodden was kicked away in the same time frame in which India adopted more captialistic approaches rather than socialistic ones, and as the promise both of its large market and relatively well-educated workforce became apparent to the herd. The phenomenal rise of outsourcing, for example, and the recent rise of Mittal Steel, bear witness to this. OK, chalk up one for the Subcontinent. They are not a perfect example, though, as lack of infrastructure (read: roads and electricity) have prevented manufacturing from *really* reaching world-class status there.
Speaking of manufacturing, there is another manufacturing power which has hit the news recently. China. Right now it looks like China is dumping its goods on the United States, and is attempting to export its way into prosperity without considering the needs of the common citizen. In addition, it has commonly been credited with using up such enormous quantities of commodities such as cement, timber, steel, and oil, that it has changed the supply and demand for these quantities on a global basis. But this success has come at a price. First, there are large areas of China which are ecological disasters. From the major benzene spill at Harbin, to runaway industrial pollution. Secondly, if were going to be serious about the flow of capital, please note that in 2005, foreign direct investment in China was about $60 billion, according to The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. In the meantime, China carried a trade surplus with the United States of some $114 billion, according to The International Herald-Tribune. That means China was making twice as much from trade with the US alone, as ALL the money the herd could pour in. And of course, thats not even allowing for the estimated $900 billion in non-performing loans and bad investments (government-run cartels, anybody?) So China is not exactly fitting the bill, either.
Moving along from China, we get to the Middle East. One doesnt have to be much of a news hound at all to find issues there. From the unspeakably corrupt Oil-for-Food program, used as economic Viagra to keep the regime of a world-class standing firm, to the hundreds of billions of petrodollars washing into the coffers of those who fund Wahabi terror schools worldwide, and the money pouring into the state coffers of (America and Israel are the Great Satan) Iran. Why is it that these countries which routinely suppress all the things the New York Times holds dearfull participation for women in society, gay rights, the mythical separation of church and stateare not subject to the golden straitjacket?
And one other thingif we consider the Middle East, where Israel is an international pariahwhy on Earth is one of the pre-eminent members of the electronic herd, Warren Buffet, making a multi-billion-dollar investment in an Israeli firm?
Hey, g_w, stop sounding like somebody who knows some stuff...you're making some of us (er, me) look bad.
Good to hear from you!
That's OK, my wife will make *ME* look bad when she gets home and finds out I haven't done any cooking or cleaning while she was out camping with the Girl Scouts...
Full Disclosure: Who needs a college degree when you have Google? ;-)