It was as if Barack Obama … or at least his speech writers … had read this blog!
In his wide-ranging 45-minute speech to the UN General Assembly Tuesday, the US President touched on several world issues … and the media dutifully concentrated on the pre-programmed issue of the UN agenda: Syria/refugees … with, of course, absolutely nothing new resulting from ANY of it .
But I found Obama was at his intellectual best in recognizing and dissecting a bigger world-wide problem … the growing dissatisfaction by workers in MANY developed nations with globalization of trade … and the growing gap between the rich and the rest of us.
The US President in fact raised the same issue discussed on this blog just weeks ago … that TOO MANY of the benefits of globalization are being concentrated in the hands …and bank accounts … of those at the top : http://harveyoberfeld.ca/blog/a-world-wide-revolt-is-on-against-globalizations-greed-at-the-top/.
” We do have to acknowledge that the existing path to global integration requires a course correction,” Obama told the world’s leaders.
“Instead, we must work together to make sure the benefits of such integration are broadly shared, and that the disruptions — economic, political, and cultural — that are caused by integration are squarely addressed. This is not the place for a detailed policy blueprint, but let me offer in broad strokes those areas where I believe we must do better together.”
And there was more:
“It starts with making the global economy work better for all people and not just for those at the top. While open markets, capitalism have raised standards of living around the globe, globalization combined with rapid progress and technology has also weakened the position of workers and their ability to secure a decent wage. In advanced economies like my own, unions have been undermined, and many manufacturing jobs have disappeared. Often, those who benefit most from globalization have used their political power to further undermine the position of workers.
“In developing countries, labor organizations have often been suppressed, and the growth of the middle class has been held back by corruption and underinvestment. Mercantilist policies pursued by governments with export-driven models threaten to undermine the consensus that underpins global trade. And meanwhile, global capital is too often unaccountable — nearly $8 trillion stashed away in tax havens, a shadow banking system that grows beyond the reach of effective oversight.
“A world in which one percent of humanity controls as much wealth as the other 99 percent will never be stable. I understand that the gaps between rich and poor are not new, but just as the child in a slum today can see the skyscraper nearby, technology now allows any person with a smartphone to see how the most privileged among us live and the contrast between their own lives and others. Expectations rise, then, faster than governments can deliver, and a pervasive sense of injustice undermine people’s faith in the system.
“So how do we fix this imbalance? We cannot unwind integration any more than we can stuff technology back into a box. Nor can we look to failed models of the past. If we start resorting to trade wars, market distorting subsidies, beggar thy neighbor policies, an overreliance on natural resources instead of innovation — these approaches will make us poorer, collectively, and they are more like to lead to conflict. And the stark contrast between, say, the success of the Republic of Korea and the wasteland of North Korea shows that central, planned control of the economy is a dead end.
“But I do believe there’s another path — one that fuels growth and innovation, and offers the clearest route to individual opportunity and national success. It does not require succumbing to a soulless capitalism that benefits only the few, but rather recognizes that economies are more successful when we close the gap between rich and poor, and growth is broadly based.
“And that means respecting the rights of workers so they can organize into independent unions and earn a living wage. It means investing in our people — their skills, their education, their capacity to take an idea and turn it into a business. It means strengthening the safety net that protects our people from hardship and allows them to take more risks — to look for a new job, or start a new venture.”
Glad to see such a clear recognition of both the benefits, the potentials … and the faults … of the economic globalization that has expanded so much in recent decades.
And I believe these problems and the great disparity, built on greed at the top, MUST be addressed before Canada signs on to the Trans Pacific Partnership!
Next: The REAL story regarding Justin Trudeau’s visit to the General Assembly!