- Politics and Social Issues
The Dark Side of Globalisation
Globalization has been made possible by better communication technology, faster transport networks and global banking and trading systems. Although this global connectivity has allowed for easier and freer world trade, shared media, internal agreements and organisation, global initiatives and other benefits it has also facilitated the movement of people, drugs and money that has allowed global crime to thrive. Similarly globalization has, but not directly, helped health and economic development inequality increase. As we watch the emptying of time and space these negative global trends come into view (Giddens, 1991). These affects are the dark side to globalization.
One of the considerable negative influences globalization is having is upon economic distribution. Globalization has allowed international free trade and competition between states. Protesters and governments alike have outlined and discredited the basic assumptions of free trade meaning wealth for all (Cohen & Kennedy, Global Sociology, 2000). It is indicated that for every $1 generated through export activity, $0.75 goes to the world's richest countries. Low-income countries receive around $0.03 (Watkins, 2002). Research by the United Nations suggests the world’s poorest countries’ share of world trade between 1980 and 1998 declined by more than 40 percent, to a mere 0.4 per cent(UNCTD, 1999). This has led to a situation where the poorest 49 countries, making up 10% of the world’s population, accounts for only 0.4% of world trade (UNCTD, 2001). Compare this with research indicating the top 500 multinational corporations account for nearly 70 percent of worldwide trade and this leading to a situation where 51 of the 100 largest economies in the world are corporations, the claim of prosperity for all can be easily discredited (Anderson & Cavanagh, December, 2000).
Nations in poor economic condition rely now, because of globalization, on international organizations such as the Internal Monetary Fund(IMF) for finical aid and support. Yet according to Stiglitz, the IMF require developing nations to take risky economic steps before being allowed the loan (Stiglitz, 2003). The mandatory privatization of the state industry leads to loss of faith from markets, infrastructure problems when considering power or water and often does not work to make companies profitable, particularly in developing nations where infrastructure is poor. Another is ‘capital market liberalization which is basically allow money to flow in and out freely, but money more often flows out rapidly after this has happened. Next is to ensure market based pricing, which means putting up the prices of the things people have to buy, i.e. food, water and fuel. Often leading to political and social unrest and affecting the economy and people negatively. Fourthly, they are required to drop any trade measures that could be considered protectionism. Leaving goods produced in developing nations to compete with prices of far more developed nations who could offer it cheaper and in most cases ruin competitive ability or leads to wage cuts and worse condition for workers in said industry, not at all helping the economy over all. These measures more often than not hinder developing nations and support those already developed.
The message of the globalized world, through media, international organizations etc., is that because of the inter connectivity anyone can share in the wealth and growth of nations. But the nature of the global economic growth, as outlined above, has led to a situation where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Leading to marginalization, unrest and often violence (Dunning, 2004).
There is obviously something wrong with the claim of economic growth for all. The massive global economic inequalities is often ignored when looking at the economic effects of globalization. The focus is on development of trade and increased average living standards overall rather than individual countries or groups. But there definitely is an unfair and exploitative nature, a dark side, to economic globalization. Evidence suggests it is the more dominate side. These giant inequalities should not be seen as just numbers, they are people. Income differences affect the living conditions and health of people.
Globalization has created massive parallels in the quality of health between nations. The poorest nations suffer from diseases and face malnutrition or even starvation, while the developed world cured those diseases in the previous century and faces an obesity health crisis.
According to the UN diverse and sustainable food production is being destroyed in the name of increasing agricultural profit per acre. Leading to the cash value per acre increasing while nutrition value per acre decreases. This means that the availability of locally sourced foods is decreasing rapidly. High yields of single cash crops do not mean better nutrition; the majority of the time the opposite tends to be true (UNCTD, 1999). Because of the tradeoff of nutrition for value global food shortages affect the poorer producer nations worst. Thanks to globalization creating the move away from locally sourced crops it has destroyed the security those crops provided. This contributes to the death of 10.9 million children under five in developing countries each year (UNICEF, 2007). Yet in contrast 35.7% of U.S. adults are obese (Ogden, Carrol, Kit, & Flegal, 2012). Globalization of food markets has allowed demands from international corporations and rich nations, rather than the practical needs of people, to dictate what is produced where. The nations and corporations with the money are the only ones who have benefitted from the globalization of the food market. While they profit the health of the developing world deteriorates. There are over 2 billion people lacking access to basic sanitation, almost 1 million lacking access to clean water and some 2 million children still die each year from diarrhea (Watkins, 2008).
These statistics and examples clearly show globalization has done little to benefit the health of all. Although some good, such as the he Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has come out of globalization in terms of health, overall it has helped very little to benefit the health of those in less developed nations. Profit has become more important than human life, a definite dark and ugly side to globalization. This financial exploitation of a variety health problems also undermines the benefits of economic globalization for many countries meaning they can never be in a position to solve their crises but are reliant on outside help. Which in turn leads to an endless cycle of exploitation. Nowhere is this better illustrated than with the AIDs crisis.
The global health crisis of HIV/AIDs has affected Africa the worst, some 34 million people have HIV/AIDs and 68% of them live in Africa (World Wide HIV & AIDs statistics, 2011). This pandemicdestroys lives, hinders economic growth and international progress. It costs around US$10,000-15,000 per person per year for the drugs to treat HIV/AIDs which is too expensive for the majority of people infected in resource poor countries (WHO, 2002). At a similar time global pharmaceutical companies met with representatives from African nations and the United States to try to negotiate prices for the drugs. The meeting ended with little promised and the USA promising to enforce international patent laws for the drugs. In the this global economy profit has come before genuine humanity.
Globalization has not only created opportunities for business across countries but also crime. Interconnectivity through transport links, communication technology has allowed criminals to created global networks for the trafficking of people and drugs. Both global human and drug trafficking are run in much the same way as multinational corporations. They require resources and personnel across the whole system to be in different places, able to move quickly and to be in constant contact. It is suggested that International crime has become so prevalent that it bring in profits of around US$500 billion a year, making it the largest sector of the global economy (Cohen & Kennedy, 2007).
Drug trafficking is the use of a global trading network to transport illegal drugs. It’s an organized business; they have staff, capital and facilities across the globe, much like multinational corporations. It’s so organized drug production and supply is estimated to feed the use by 172-250 million people daily (Democratic Leadership Council, 2010). It makes an estimated US$400 billion a year globally (United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization, 1999). Although the legalization debate still rages the effects that drug money has is most definitely a dark side. Drug money props up dictators, such as General Noriega (Kempe, 1990). It has led to a situation where the murder capitals of the world are mainly located on the drug routes in the south and central Americas (The murder capital of the world, 2011). These effects can definitely be seen as a dark side to globalization.
It is estimated 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year ( Trafficking in Persons Report, 2007). Total yearly profits generated by the human trafficking industry is estimated around 32 billion (International Labor Organization, 2005). The UN identified 161 Countries being affected by human trafficking 127 countries of origin, 98 transit countries and 137 destination countries (Trafficking in Persons: Global Patterns, April 2006). Such a huge problem, existing in so many nations across the world, could not exist without the connections established because of globalization. Trafficking and globalization exist and grow in parallel with one another.
Both drug and human trafficking are able to continue because of the interconnectivity that allows globalization to happen. Creating a dark side to that continues to grow, destroying individual’s lives in every corner of the globe.
Globalization has allowed the sex industry to be supplied with trafficked people. Globalization has had a big effect on this market allowing it to increase in size and allow illegal activities such as paedophilia. According to Hughes due to the globalization process women and children have become nothing more than goods for trade on the market. Traded by and for organized crime, tourists and militaries. This trade is facilitated through the financial and technological infrastructure of globalization (Hughes, 2000). In Thailand, Cambodia, India, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico child sex industry is prevalent (Godoy, 2007). It is estimated that around 40% of Thailand’s sex industry workers are children (Burke & Ducci, 2005). As well as the child sex industry the child pornography industry has grown with globalization. The Wonderland Club was one of the world’s biggest paedophile rings and would not have been possible without globalization. It had members in several countries and had stored over 750,000 images of child pornography (BBC, 2001). Groups such as The Wonderland Club could not have existed, and have grown, without the connectivity globalization created. Although the sex industry can be seen as a problem for each state to solve, in regards to its counter measures and laws when people are trade like goods between countries it is impossible to claim it is not a global issue. Without the economic deprivation in one country and the prosperity of another international sex trading would not be so lucrative. Globalisation did not start sex industry based crime but it has made it more possible, profitable and unpoliceable.
Although there are many positive sides to globalization there is most definitely a dark side. Globalization seems to only benefit nations who were already in a strong and influential position. Although powers such as India, China, Brazil and Venezuela have grown in recent years it still remains that the majority of nations are exploited by the select few other nations and corporations with power. Poverty and health issues kill thousands daily, yet little outrage occurs in the developed world. The global economy hasn’t solved the problems of capitalism, but moved them out of sight, out of mind. All the negative aspects of globalization support one another; any attempt to deal with health issues and poverty are hindered by poor economic development due to the competitive nature of the free market. This increases social deprivation, increasing vulnerability to sex and drug industries as well as encouraging extremism. A complicated web of issues, but if a few were to be dealt with a domino effect could take place. there is definitely a good side to globalization, but a lot more potential for good that has currently taken place. the dark side of globalization is no doubt the dominate side.
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