Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Corporate globalization—economically, ecologically disastrous

WHAT WE FILIPINOS SHOULD KNOW: The almost 50-year American occupation of the homeland has been very profitable for American companies. After WW2, the American government used blackmail by the imposition of "continued free trade and parity rights" (Bell Trade Act), 99-year Military Bases Agreement, etc. as conditions of US payment for war damages; and thus assured the continuation of such profitability. In 1950, Daniel W. Bell, President of American Security & Trust Company, headed his Bell Mission and reported to US President Truman that the Trade Act was agent in the near bankruptcy of the Philippines and kept the common people in poverty.

In a report by the late nationalist and Senator Jose Diokno, American companies made and mainly repatriated a profit of almost $4 for each $1 invested (also per study by UP Law Center for 1946 to 1976); add the fact that American companies mostly borrowed locally and did not bring in capital. Note that we have been brainwashed to believe that that our country then did not have capital, thus foreign investors should be welcomed.

Fast forward today, among developed nations (G7 nations), the "free trade" that America almost exclusively and historically enjoyed in our homeland has been transformed into the more destructive vehicle of neocolonialism: “globalization", the last stage of modern capitalism. It is enforced via the WTO rules and supported by the IMF and World Bank - which bring poor nations to their knees. All these latter institutions, founded supposedly with noble missions, are controlled by the same G7 nations. While Marxism proclaims the "dictatorship of the proletariat", Neoliberalism leads to the "dictatorship of the transnational corporations (TNCs)" --though discreetly and subtly.

Globalization turns the world into a big global market, facilitates the (outflow) of capital/profits from countries and closing/moving of facilities to the cheapest countries, pushes an already poor country into deeper debt, devaluates its currency to buy its assets cheaply, kills its nascent industrialization and agriculture, etc.; and makes national governments, especially of underdeveloped nations like our homeland, become helpless and unable to assert sovereignty (in fact signing into the WTO causes that).

The WTO has come to rule the economies -therefore the politics and lives of citizens- of the WTO signatory countries. In the game of globalization, the winners -always the G7- do very well; it’s “tough luck” for losers - always the already underdeveloped countries. Globalization is simply designed to serve the rich (the elite in the G7 and their TNCs).

Thus to an underdeveloped country like our homeland, the quick and unquestioned embrace of globalization by the successive governments of Ramos-Estrada-Arroyo have expedited the gravest impoverishment to majority of Filipinos. The Filipinos-in-the-Philippines have become victims of a marked drop in their living standards attributable to: loss of jobs and social services, devaluation, greater foreign debt, privatization of public utilities (higher costs and worse services rendered, more expensive education, etc); and the greatest rate of enrichment of the local minority socioeconomic-political elite and partners of the TNCs. Lastly, all these plus the continued sellout of the national patrimony guarantee more hardship for future generations of Filipinos-in-the-Philippines.

The New Catholic Times article below provides an overview of globalization.

"The selfish spirit of commerce knows no country, and feels no passion or principle but that of gain" - Thomas Jefferson, 1809

"You show me a capitalist, I'll show you a bloodsucker" - Malcolm X, 1965

"Capitalism and altruism are incompatible; they are philosophical opposites; they cannot coexist in the same man or in the same society" - Ayn Rand, 1961

"The chief business of America is business" - President Calvin Coolidge, 1925

"The glory of the United States is business" - Wendell L. Willkie, 1936

"What else do bankers do -- walk-in and turn-off the lights in the country." - William Slee, 1978

"I sincerely believe that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies." - Thomas Jefferson, 1816

Corporate globalization—economically, ecologically disastrous
New Catholic Times, Sept 7, 2003, by Ed Finn

Economic globalization--sometimes called corporate globalization or just neoliberalism--has made great strides over the past 20 years, driven by international trade agreements (free trade) and the removal of regulatory and other controls on corporate activity.

It is a system designed and created for one overall purpose: to give primacy always and everywhere to corporate values above all other values. In the process, it has engineered a power shift of awesome proportions--away from national, regional and local governments and communities to transnational corporations, bankers, and the global bureauracies they have created to administer and enforce their worldwide corporate agenda.

These agencies--the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Trade Organization (WTO)--set as their top priority the transformation of local, self-reliant economies into export-oriented economies dependent on foreign investment and integrated into a single centralized super system.

The methods used to open national economies to global corporations spanned the whole range of neoliberal policies: the privatization of public services, the opening of national borders to unrestricted capital movement, the dismantling of social, labour and environmental safeguards, and the unlimited exploitation of natural resources. Poor countries with rich resources were persuaded to go into debt to follow the dream of export-led economic growth, and then forced to borrow more and more to pay the interest on the loans when the promised prosperity failed to materialize. To qualify for such additional loans from the World Bank and IMF, they had to agree to cut social spending, privatize public services and open more of their resources to foreign ownership and development.

The results of this "structural adjustment" have been disastrous, not only in human and environmental terms, but also financially. In the past 20 years, the total external debt of all developing countries has soared from $609 billion to $2.4 trillion. In 2001, sub-Saharan Africa paid $3.6 billion more in debt service than it received in new loans and credits. Africa now spends about four times more on debt-service payments than it does on health care.

In the Western industrialized countries, the goal was to remove all obstacles to corporate free trade. The treaties negotiated for that purpose by compliant business-friendly governments had the effect of removing all impediments to private enterprise, while imposing new and severe limits on the freedom of governments to protect national jobs, resources, cultures, traditions and national sovereignty. Corporate globalization was promoted as something that would (eventually) benefit all the people of the world. It would help reduce poverty, create more jobs, and even benefit the environment. "A rising economic tide will lift all boats," we were assured.

The reality has been shockingly different. Many more jobs have been destroyed than created. The combined sales of the top 200 corporations have reached close to 30 per cent of world GDP, yet these firms employ only three-quarters of one percent of the global workforce. As they continue to grow larger and more globalized, they keep replacing workers with machines or buying up competitors and eliminating duplicate jobs. Workers in both the North and South have suffered losses in real income as jobs by the millions are moved to the lowest-wage countries, while bankers, big investors, and business executives have been rewarded with massive increases in profits, dividends and salaries.

Far from lifting all boats, economic globalization has lifted only the yachts. And this obscene inequity has become transparently obvious to people all over the world. They now see the devastating effects of neoliberalism on their livelihood, their social programs, their culture, their environment and their sovereignty. And they are giving voice and expression to their opposition. Movements against corporate globalization and its ugliest aspects have sprung up on every continent and in almost every country. Farmers, peasants, industrial workers, environmentalists, academics, unionists, writers--these and many others have come together in a common cause: to resist and reverse the tide of globalization and to replace it with a system built on cooperation, self-reliance, social justice and political democracy.

These seekers of a better world are challenging the most powerful business, political and military force ever mobilized to establish corporate world domination. But it is not an irresistible force. Stripped of its spurious beneficence and exposed as the manifestation of greed on a global scale that it really is, economic globalization is vulnerable to attack on many fronts. Already it has suffered setbacks. Many developing countries are refusing to sign on to further trade deals that offer them no advantage. Democracy has staged a comeback in some areas, such as South America, where neoliberalism is being strongly rebuffed. Many communities around the world have set up local economies based on "fair trade" and self-sufficiency. Strong movements have emerged against sweatshops, genetically modified foods, privatization, and other key elements of the corporate agenda.

Most significantly, the opponents of corporate rule are motivated by a growing awareness that their struggle is for nothing less than the preservation of life itself. They know that the irresponsible economic hyper growth and environmental depredation that is fuelling globalization is also destroying the planet's ecosystem. They know that, if their efforts fail, the whole of human existence could be ended. And there's no greater motivation than that.

Ed Finn is the editor of The CCPA Monitor, the monthly journal of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

“Nations whose NATIONALISM is destroyed are subject to ruin.” - Colonel Muhammar Qaddafi, 1942-, Libyan Political and Military Leader

"We shall be better and braver and less helpless if we think that we ought to enquire, than we should have been if we indulged in the idle fancy that there was no knowing and no use in seeking to know what we do not know..." - SOCRATES

"Upang maitindig natin ang bantayog ng ating lipunan, kailangang radikal nating baguhin hindi lamang ang ating mga institusyon kundi maging ang ating pag-iisip at pamumuhay. Kailangan ang rebolusyon, hindi lamang sa panlabas, kundi lalo na sa panloob!" --Apolinario Mabini La Revolucion Filipina (1898)

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