The Next Globalization is Local:

19 Dec

Like any good Economics student, I start this article with a quote by Thomas Friedman in his definition in awkward-titled essay on “Glocalization”: “To absorb influences that naturally fit into and can enrich a culture: to resist those things that are truly alien and to compartmentalize those things that, while different, can be enjoyed and celebrated as different.” I now proceed to show the Economic justification for a more stable next generation of destructive free trade policies… [yes, it’s more than just a trend.]

It’s a small world/
But it’s turning so fast.
-Phish, “Twenty Years Later”

In a world dominated by “distant, centralized corporate and government power,” (Frances Moore Lappe, Liberation Ecology) we may acknowledge the urge to retreat into our liberal news circles, shop at whole foods on the weekend, and focus on our own family’s consumption this holiday. That’s the consumer’s role in an Economy, and it’s what got us into this financial mess. As long as we’re working, it’s justified that we be able to spend money however we choose. But shopping cheaply in global supply chains doesn’t actually add value to anything! The resources are exploited, the worker is paid minimum wage, the truck drivers are “just” doing their job. In an age where our machinery is collapsing, it is going to take more than that. From businesses, but people especially.

It’s enhanced mindfulness, with a bias towards the local that will cause us to be resilient in the face of recession.

Justification:
It’s much less oil-intensive. If any CEO plans to be dependent on intensive global supply chains, he or she will find a sharp spike in marginal costs, which means price is less competitive. Most of the effects of oil (insurance claims from sea-side houses, agricultural losses, flooding in other areas of the world) are externalized anyway.
Living local is more practical. Simply put, it’s easier to stay in your city if you don’t have to drive out to the nearest supermarket or mall. It’s more pleasant, too: get to know your neighbors.
Technology changes let local businesses represent just as well and even more competitively with issues that people care about. New media is more responsive, more targeted, and more like a “conversation” than just seeing billion-dollar billboard New York Times McDonalds ads.
There’s a demand for it. The popular sentiment of altruism is largely an unknown in the economy. Humans are not altruistic, they are selfish. And they only shop for the lowest price. But wouldn’t you rather pay $8.50 for the locally grown salad mix? The outcome still remains to be seen what kind of effect people being willing to pay more for items that are sustainable or local is going to have on the economy.

In the less-developed free trade world, holding too much faith in the free market caused problems. Rather than the US, who buy indiscriminately to create a negative trade balance, Latin American countries struggle to keep up a positive export flowing of material goods to satisfy banks and consumers. For the majority of Latin American countries they only developed growing one or two main crops such as sugar, and it [collapsed the economy.] Often, Costa Ricans can’t afford to buy Costa-Rican made, that’s destined for export. Although it’s a farm work culture, they will eat imported food and take the second-rate export crop. We are still in a period of neoliberalism; urban office or factory work what the experts [IMF] are recommending right now for growth. But isn’t it healthier to keep a community model??

Economic globalization isn’t working for us. It’s making more Americans overweight by eating too many calories, overproduction of goods that harm the environment, and for climate change “the U.S. is borrowing money from China, to pay for oil, which goes to the Middle East.” We’re using oil at an unprecedented rate. And it’s mostly America that’s doing it. Isn’t that unfair? But.. the systems level doesn’t hold up in the face of what you can do now, in the space around you to improve. (Have you weatherized your window yet?) Start from a perspective of community, and our work (or economic activity..) is much more constructive. What do you want to do your part?

Farmers market.
Eat well- reducing the use of Meat in your diet and replacing it with beans and soy and greens is lower on the food chain, and healthier.
Transition town- Transition towns is an effort to reduce oil consumption and carbon emissions by coordinating locally (http://www.transitiontowns.org/).
Reduce waste- Recycle and maintain a compost bin by your sink. (It goes in the woods)
Ride a bike- 10 Reasons Any Driver Can Understand- Why Bike? [Former post] Or a motorcycle?

A revolutionary new economic model (not like communism’s “overthrow,” but in values maybe..) better serves the interest of people, and people-owned business in the US and abroad. Rather than rely on Economic privilege to save us in global sustainability chains, let’s look at the pure advantages of buying domestic.

  • It’s more self-sufficient, which is an economic value as much as an environmental one, because it keeps big international debt flows under control.
  • Keep money local: has the advantage that the town or city multiplies its own income. Shopowners (owners of capital) are not elite, and will spend back in the market.
  • “Social Value”. What this means is that it’s more than just picking and receiving the product that matters to you. If I go to Wal-Mart, it has nominally lower costs but almost no social value because that product works on extracting every bit of value along the way. Workers, resources, distribution people, sales. Are all taxed with no reward. I go to Dave’s Army Navy in Oberlin when I want to talk to someone.
  • It’s growing. Sales at UK farmers’ markets jumped 18 percent last year.

I hope you will all consider this, and at least look out for a new cool trend in ag!

-Eddie

My other sections have somewhat to say on this, https://eddiemill.wordpress.com/

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4 Responses to “The Next Globalization is Local:”

  1. eddiemill December 19, 2009 at 12:37 am #

    Also note: there is no such thing as local versus organic. Via @Treehugger: http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/06/there-is-no-such-thing-as-local-vs-organic-food.php

  2. eddiemill December 19, 2009 at 3:29 pm #

    Update: when Copenhagen fails, when the Economy fails, look local for what you’ve been missing.

    Twitter:
    http://twitter.com/hyperlocavore
    http://www.smallfarm.org/

    2: There is no such thing as local versus organic:
    http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/06/there-is-no-such-thing-as-local-vs-organic-food.php
    or in a (great) book: Just Food: where locavores get it wrong and how to eat truly sustainably.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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