America, Land of Paradox: The Country That Launched Corporate Globalization Should Be First to End It

The country that started the corporate globalization experiment needs to end it.

To truly appreciate America, you have to understand its paradoxes. They are great. The first modern republic birthed in the original sin of slavery. A nation of immigrants that destroyed the native population, and time after time worries about the next wave of immigrants. The history of immigrant bashing is old as the republic, always coinciding with economic downturns. The Know-Nothings of the 1850s worried about the first great mass of German and Irish immigration, and of course the protestant nation worrying about papism. There were the Japanese interments of WWII. More recently, in order to get reelected governor of California in 1994, Pete Wilson embraced the anti-immigrant, anti-Mexican Prop 187. He won, but destroyed the Republican party in California. And of course we have the most recent idiocy in Arizona. A nation of immigrants, which every once in awhile tries to close the door, that's paradox.

If you understand this trait in the American psyche, while it doesn't make it anymore palatable to watch the latest manifestation, it does give you some helpful context. Especially if you keep in mind that over time, America has been as successful, more so than most, using the principles and practices of this republic's founding, to mix the nationalities of Europe and more fitfully other peoples from across the planet into a relatively healthy concoction. After two-hundred years, there is little discrimination based on European nationality. The great black underclass, many still struggling for economic and cultural equality, fifty years ago stood up and claimed their full rights as citizens, a revolution that shook the entire society atop it, even if they have a long way to go. Even Native Americans have finally gained a little retribution with the casino industry. So, today as we struggle to incorporate new immigrants, some from Mexico, an old and continuing struggle, many more recently from Southwest Asia and the Middle East, we can draw some understanding, though not acceptance, from America's great paradoxical history.

However, the recent anti-immigrant wave is developing in a new economic environment, one that is very different from much of the past. The United States from its beginning enjoyed a massive cornucopia of land and natural resources. It developed into the world's foremost industrial power, and after WWII was far and away the planet's strongest economy. But in the last several decades, there has been a great change. The financial system with the assistance of much of the American political class, began dismantling the American industrial sector and shipping it over seas. Now, the relationship of the financial sector to the rest of the America has always had some problems, but over the last three decades, their interests have diverged to the point of outright hostility. It was Wall Street after all who profited on both sides, financing the dismantling of American industry and rebuilding it across the planet. It was also Wall Street who profited most by the resulting stagnation in American wages, replacing good paying jobs with debt.

It's time to end much of the corporate globalization experiment. There's many reasons for this, and I'll throw out that energy and environmental reasons are among the largest. We need to reform our economy from the ground up, and that importantly means reincorporating into the economy the advantages of locality. We need to start raising tariffs. We should start with imported oil, that would be a good signal to rest of the world of the seriousness of our intentions for reforming the American economy. Of course, no attempt at reforming the American economy can be started without first reforming American politics. Finance owns our political class. They have aided and abetted the dismantling of the economy. Remember in 1992 when Ross Perot talked (I can't more highly recommend watching Ross here) about that giant sucking sound from south of the border, he was right in hearing, though wrong in direction. That sucking sound was coming out of DC. If you hear a DC elected official advocate "free trade", immediately vote them out.

Give us your tired, your poor, and your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, but keep your cheap goods. The country that started the corporate globalization experiment needs to end it -- another paradox.

Read more of Joe Costello's work at Archein. He's been involved in communications, energy and political economy for three decades. He was communications director for Jerry Brown's innovative 1992 presidential campaign and was a senior adviser for Howard Dean's effort in 2004. He has written extensively on politics, finance and energy.
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