Breezing through Alec Mouhibian’s latest column titled (“Private Dancer: Wake Up, Progressives,” Daily Nexus, Jan 24), one can only spread himself in the comfort of his lawn chair, take another sip of his margarita and graciously think to himself: “Oh, what a wonderful world we live in.” Suddenly, though, the margarita tastes disappointingly nasty, the lawn chair surprisingly breaks and a scary thought prevails: It is not all that great out there; multinationals are not doing it all right.
While I do not see globalization entirely as a brutal and evil development, I cannot accept the full and unconditional praise of it. As a liberal progressive, I deviate a little from my ideological pathway, and have no problem in saying that globalization in itself is not a bad thing. It is right that if a country produces the best pizza, that way of making pizza should be integrated into other nations as well, even if it is not part of the country’s culinary tradition. In a way, every country’s major contributions should blend in the modern culture of other countries, in an effort to have the best of all worlds present at every human being’s reach. But there is a limit to this, as multinational organizations should not use their power and wealth to crush local businesses or, worst of all, to take away land from local workers to put in their own, unhopeful workforce instead.
Let me bring you back to the real world, Mr. Mouhibian, taking into account you and your fellow conservatives’ favorite thing to come out of the last century, second only to the tax cut for the wealthy: Wal-Mart – a symbol of corporate power, multinational imperialism and management authoritarianism. Wal-Mart is at the heart of American economy. How admirable.
It is estimated that on average, about 100 stores go out of business in the area surrounding a town with a new Wal-Mart store. Well, you might say, at least they create new jobs for many underprivileged Americans seeking a way to make an honest living. According to Residents for Responsible Growth of Lake Placid, New York, for every job created by Wal-Mart, at least one and a half jobs are lost. A 1995 survey in Iowa revealed what happened in the state since Wal-Mart arrived in 1983, and here are just some of the results: 42 percent of variety stores had closed down, almost a third of hardware stores had closed down, 29 percent of shoe stores had closed down and 50 percent of clothing stores had ended business; that’s half of all the little “I.V. Surf Shops” that were in the state.
If a huge corporation like Wal-Mart can do such damage to communities in America, how do you think any other big, multinational company would affect a Third World country? Would Venezuela instead manage to incorporate the foreign superpower in a smooth and balanced way, still leaving room for small, local shops that have been there for generations? Very doubtful. Do not be surprised, then, if you see many students having concerns about this issue; it’s not all nice and pretty around the world now that multinationals are taking over, especially if you witness the anger of a south American farmer who all of a sudden was forced by his government to give up his land to Del Monte for the cultivation of pineapples for Americans to enjoy.
The problem intuitively lies in the corrupt governments who use their force to favor the installation of multinationals, with great loss to the local agriculture, and consequently push more people to work for Del Monte. This is why it is through diplomacy and the power of developed countries’ governments that the poorest countries should be helped; by giving aid, and at the same time holding local governments accountable for what they do, making sure they always make decisions that are in the best interest of the citizens.
Diplomacy, helpful governments and international humanitarian organizations help poor countries, not corporations and big multinationals; their interests are miles away from those of the South American farmer.
Elia Boggia is a junior political science major.