Obama Echo’s ‘Keeping it Real’ Asessment of Globalization

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.”

Bravo!  Exactly!

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!

Harv Oberfeld

Next: The REAL story regarding Justin Trudeau’s visit to the General Assembly!


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12 Responses to Obama Echo’s ‘Keeping it Real’ Asessment of Globalization

  1. 13 says:

    Obama is indeed a great speaker.
    Globalization isnt going away . The problem with globalization is the loss of jobs in the developed world to third world economies is irreversible.
    (I reserve the right to change my position when Trump wins the election.) So we have handed the tools and the keys to the factories to big business
    Obama can make all of the eloquent speeches he likes all we have accomplished is destroying the standard of living in the developed world while marginally raising the standards in the third world.The trade off hasnt worked.

  2. Lew says:

    This video exchange perfectly illustrates the mentality involved in creating and maintaining the gap between the top 1% and working stiffs. No doubt about whose side Ms. Warren is on.


  3. OldIslander says:

    I traveled extensively in the US before retiring, halfway through Obama’s first term, visiting numerous clients – becoming friends with many. My wife and I have been on 6 or 7 cruises over the past eight years, and met hundreds of Americans – most of them intelligent, ‘salt of the earth’ people. But it was nearly impossible to find anyone with a good word to say about President Obama.
    I often told my American friends and clients, the story of CBC’s ‘Greatest Canadian’ series back in ‘04. The winner was eventually an obscure prairie politician – Tommy Douglas. Why? He was the father of our national medical plan. If Obamacare survives, he’ll likely ‘eventually’ be held in the same reverence as is Douglas.
    If Trump wins, after a few years of his bluster and ignorance and inability to do anything he said he would — and possibly being the worst and most destructive president in the history of the US, Obama’s distractors may well long for the days of his intelligent, articulate, well reasoned thoughts and actions.
    Like Joni sang, ‘Sometimes you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone…’!

    (Response: Cruisers are like huge social clubs…depends on which ones you go on, the crowd will be different. I have found lots of Obama/Democrat type supporters on Carnival and Norwegian … where crowds are younger to mid age, less affluent, more party types; but in recent years, have been favouring Holland America and Celebrity … which are a bit higher priced, a little quieter, fancier … and have found LOTS of old, angry, white, Americans who hate Obama/Democrats/Muslims. Doesn’t take long in chatting over dinner etcd to discover who’s who! I try to avoid them … preferring European travellers or open-minded Americans …and, yes, there are even some Republicans in that category too. h.o.)

  4. Mark says:

    Globalization is really ‘share the wealth’ socialism by essentially watering down wealth so that poor countries get a little richer in some areas and ‘rich’ countries get poorer and lower their standards of living (with unskilled folks suffering immediately).

    How about getting the poor countries to work on getting more prosperous rather than lowering the living standards of rich countries towards the developing countries (euphemism for 3rd world).

    Truth of the matter is that people will eventually revolt as they have with Brexit and the popularity of folks not amused by globalist types like Obama. At the end of the day most Canadians want the border with the US respected, want to protect their culture (especially PQ) and respect that there are two official languages that run the country. Any globalist attempt to change this will wake up Canadians as well.

    (Response; As I wrote in my original piece, I don’t mind some globalization ..IF the wealth gets shared around with poor countries AND their workers …without badly hurting our own economy. However, the way globalization tuned out, the entrepreneurs in those “third world” countries got VERY RICH producing goods for us..but did not share much of their newfound bounty with their workers ….in terms of good pay or even enhanced working conditions. And companies here took advantage too …to just ship jobs overseas …without expanding their domestic operations or product lines to accommodate workers here. They system MUST change … as Obama reiterated (Shameful THAT part of his speech got no traction in the MSM ..corporate…media) or the movement to bring pack isolationism and high tariffs will succeed … to the detriment of all. h.o.)

  5. Gary T says:

    And this from a president who has made the H1B work visa a serious concern in the states. A lot of their smartest people have lost their good jobs to this farce. The people losing their jobs to this have also been forced to train their foreign counterparts also. He talks a good game, but falls short in doing anything about it.

  6. e.a.f. says:

    Obama’s speech was definitely a good one as is his message. Unfortunately those who ought to have been paying attention, weren’t. We have to look no further than our own province and country.

    I have little hope that things will improve. The 1%ers will not change nor share. What will happen in 50 years remains to be seen, but if the 1%ers don’t give it up and share, we can look forward to a constant series of wars. Canada is a bit more like European countries, may survive but even for more social countries, things are not going well. hello England and parts of Germany. there is little hope for others. The 1%ers don’t understand, you can only push people so far. We have seen that in Syria. We may yet see it in China, if their Army ever decides it isn’t going to support the government. (it has the largest standing army in the world and with good reason).

    As some African countries are becoming increasingly violent, there will be more refugees. What do developed nations do? sit by and watch. Globalization hasn’t worked there. The 1%ers take the money. the average citizens lives in poverty and the militaries get bigger. That works in globalization, because arms manufacturers make money and that is their first order of business, making money, not refusing to sell to countries which ought not to be buying.

    On one level I’d love to live long enough to see how it plays out. On another, not so much. As an aging baby boomer I have see the best standard of living for the average “working person” start to deteriorate. Where that ends, no one knows yet. Did we help it along? Most likely. In the end we will have only ourselves to blame if our kids don’t get to live as well as we or their grandparents did. It ought to have been bringing others up to our standard of living, not forcing everyone’s standard of living down.

    Until voters force corporations to put the interests of their countries first, things will not go well. Being able to hide taxable income is not going to end well for anyone.

  7. Gene The Bean says:

    The TPP would be another disaster for Canada. More job losses. More exports of raw materials with just a few extraction and transportation jobs, no growth except for the multi-national corporations bank accounts.

    More for the 1%, less for the 99%.

    I would love to see our PM be first out of the gate and just say no. Others would follow and then we could, maybe, get a deal that is favourable to Canadians as opposed to corporations and sweatshop owners in Asia.

    The most telling part of why the TPP is a total sham is that each signatory country must agree that no legal actions can be taken against other countries or corporations. Essentially they want us to pass a law that says the corporations can do whatever in the hell they want, without repercussions. No thanks.

    Trade can happen naturally like it always has. All these official “deals” are just corporations manipulating the 99% through government intervention.

    I am sick and tired of us losing $30 an hour jobs for $12 an hour jobs. The nonsense must stop. We have everything that everyone else wants – time to use that advantage.

    You have spoken in favour of the TPP Harvey but you are misinformed of the benefits. If I take your words above at face value, you cannot still be in favour of it.

    The TPP is just another bad trade “deal” for Canada.

  8. e.a.f. says:

    Was just reading the CBC news and globalization is working nicely for some, including Canadians. Headline:

    “Canadian ties exposed in leaked Bahama tax haven data”, the current version of the Panama Papers.

    The article refers to Stats Canada data, “nearly $33 BILLION in declared Canadian funds were parked in the Bahamas as of the end of last year.”

    The TPP will only protect corporations and enable corporations to hide more money from the countries of origin and thus pay no taxes.

    Canada hasn’t done much to deal with tax havens especially with the Bahamas were there are “deals” to move money from around.

    Globalization will not work if corporations and individuals can avoid paying taxes in their own countries. Corporations will strip Canada bare of its resources and walk away with the profits and pay little in the way of taxes, so the rest of the country can benefit.

    Time for Trudeau to fix the tax haven problem and say Canada is out of the TPP.

    Corporations being able to avoid law suits will be nice. I’d like that deal to. Countries, corporations, individuals need to keep the right to sue foreign corporations as well as their own. Can you imagine a corporations creating a huge mess and being able to walk away from it, with no repercussions. Nice try for the corporations.

  9. Ron says:

    Re: Gene The Bean // Sep 21, 2016 at 12:39 pm
    “You have spoken in favour of the TPP Harvey but you are misinformed of the benefits. If I take your words above at face value, you cannot still be in favour of it.

    The TPP is just another bad trade “deal” for Canada.”

    I cannot believe that you stated you are in favour of TPP (I missed that column). Your non-reply to Gene The Bean speaks volumes!!
    Please convince us what is good about that abomination of an agreement and just don’t say that it will open trade to all of Asia (Trudeau showed his true colours lately opening the floodgates for Chinese visas (saying it will stifle the sellout of Canada) and this repatriation agreement with a killer regime-another 1%’er stooge).
    I hope it was just a slip in judgment. Your reply will determine my respect for you and further reading this blog. With respect-DEFEND yourself.
    You have great responsibility with this blog. If you haven’t already, you should read The Road Less Traveled by Scott Peck and act accordingly.

    (Response: We must not be totally selfish if we truly believe in not just charity/foreign aid, but truly alleviating massive third-world poverty and under-development. So I do support global trade expansion as a way to lifting up some of the poorer massively-populated countries in the world … but ONLY if the benefits/results ARE well-shared with the workers there AND if it also opens up much larger foreign markets for our products and there are still enough jobs for our own workers in alternative or higher productivity jobs (resources, hi-tech, research, finance,scientific development etc.). IF the TPP accomplishes that, I’d accept it …BUT from what I’ve seen so far, it does not meet either my goals in this regard AND could place many of our own industries, even laws, in jeopardy so I would not go for it as currently proposed. h.o)

  10. Diverdarren says:

    Harvey, I’m not seeing exactly what the call for change is that is being asking for?

    Your comment to Obama’s quote sums it up nicely.

    “Instead, we must work together… 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.”

    Bravo! Exactly!

    You respond to Obama’s comment ending with “broad stroke” with “Bravo! Exactly!”

    more appropriately would be… Bravo! VAGUELY!

    Where is any exact language about addressing these perceived problems from Obama? and yourself for that matter.

    The economy has two ends to the spectrum. on one side, free market capitalism/ globalism, on the other is central directed economy/ protectionism.

    When you have an economy that meets in the middle, like we have now, the results you complain about are the the results you get with am economy that blends globalization and protectionism.

    On one hand Harvey, you are saying “I don’t mind some globalization” it’s some of the results you don’t like, such as unfair wealth distribution back to workers. On the other hand, you agree with Obama that “the movement to bring pack isolationism and high tariffs will succeed … to the detriment of all. ”

    When you (and Obama) call for some globalization and also are against protectionism you’re calling for the status quo. An economy centred between the two extremes. But you’re also calling for vague changes. Wanting status quo and change at the same time seems

    Your (and Obama’s) call for action to rein in greed at the top means a swing to centralized planned economy, and that includes a move towards isolationism, tariffs and nationalism.

    Something has to give. You can’t have low priced products (the part of globalism we all like) and have protectionism for our economy and workers.

    (Response: It’s quite a stretch to suggest a ” call for action to rein in greed at the top means a swing to centralized planned economy”. It can be done totally without government intervention/controls … IF foreign BUSINESSES and INDUSTRIES and domestic RETAILERS that are profiting so well from globalization realized THEY are killing the golden goose by their own greed and failing to fairly share profits with their workers: that will inevitably lead to backlash, protectionism and killing their goose. h.o)

  11. e.a.f. says:

    many are “killing the golden goose”, etc. but they don’t think beyond the last quarter of profits, bonuses, and dividend shares. Unfortunately many do not think long term.

    for pure unadulterated greed have a look at the American congressional hearings into the epi pen thing. the CEO has an a $10M increase in salary while she increased the cost of an epi pen from approx. $150 to $600.

    One method of “forcing” long term thinking is for governments to close all of the tax loop holes which enable corporations/individuals to avoid taxes in their own or other countries. i.e. IKEA, Australia via some neat tax tricks was able to avoid paying taxes on a billion dollars. I do believe the forwarded some to a small European country, etc…. If governments were able to collect the taxes and not use it for their personal use, as is done in some countries, we might have a fairly decent world. If some of the tax havens were to refuse to accept monies from politicians who “stole” money from their countries, etc. but that isn’t going to happen any time soon. there will always be some one greedy who thinks they can get away with it.

    I agree with Harvey in that protectionism won’t work in the long run any more than total globalization will, especially the way things are currently headed. there has to be some middle ground and that middle ground has to include paying decent wages to workers in 2 and 3rd world countries. Ford is moving all small car production to Mexico. that means a loss of jobs in Canada and the U.S.A. Now that may be something we can live with, if the Mexican workers see improvement in their working conditions and wages. $4 an hr. doesn’t cut it.

    If Ford ensures a certain number of vehicles are still built in Canada and the U.S.A. we can all move forward. of course Ford would have to pay its fair share of taxes also. When corporations/individuals pay their fair share of taxes governments can weather the storms of globilization and provide education and social programs to get through it all. But if that Mexican worker is still having to work in lousy conditions for $4 an hr. I am not in favour of globilization.

  12. Confucious says:

    The 2 term limit for Presidents was put in place in the US Constitution to help avoid tyranny. Looking at the sad state of democracy in the US where the 2 party system leaves voters with a choice between Hillary Clinton (bad) and Donald Trump (worst of all time) one can’t help but think how much better that countries outlook would be if Barack could run for one more term.

    On the other hand, governments in the West are going to have to come to grips with the fact that candidates like Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corybyn are not flashes in the pan, but rather they represent the harbingers of social change by the disadvantaged masses.
    Millennials in particular, but also many poor and working class whose standard of living has been eroding precipitously for the last decade or so will gradually come together and make their voices heard (to the peril of those that continue to ignore them). Hopefully the boomers who control most of the levers of power can finally start to realize the plight of the under 40s in stark comparison to how fortunate the boomers were to be the last generation to do a lot better than their parents.

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