Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Me and Mr Friedman

I was listening to Midday on the car radio yesterday. Having come into the program midway, I didn't catch who the speaker was, but he was saying something that interested me. He said that there is no war on terrorism. We're waging war on terrorists, on individuals, not on the culture from which terrorism is spawned. Until we begin fighting the root causes of terrorism, we will never eliminate terrorism. As one terrorist is eliminated, another will replace him. You can only eliminate terrorism by removing the urge to commit terrorism. If the folks in the White House would only look at our decades-old "war on drugs", they would see that this approach has failed before.

I later learned when I checked the online schedule that the person I'd been listening to was none other than Thomas Friedman, the conservative globalization-hugging columnist. He and I have never agreed on anything. Mr Friedman seems to not understand that trade globalization--in the widely-used model he so enthusiastically endorses--not only destroys the economies of struggling, smaller nations (Venezuela) but damages our own economy when we outsource to rising economies such as India. Studies performed with real-world models have shown that when a highly developed country with high wages (the US, for example) outsources to a rising economy with lower wages (India, for example), the wages of the developed country will decline as the wages of the underdeveloped country rise until both achieve a median wage. It's a lot more complicated than that, but in a nutshell the end effect is that American wages will decline while the price of goods rise or remain the same. For those of you who don't remember the '70s & '80s well, that's called "inflation", and it's bad for an economy.

BTW, Mr Friedman's speech can be heard here.


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