Thursday, June 14, 2012

Immigration and the Global Economy -- part 2

As I see it, the USA's immigration "problem," as described in the previous post, is only one relatively small part of a worldwide socio-economic revolution, with ramifications in all possible directions. I'm not referring only to the immigration "problem" in Europe, which is of course a part of the same trend, but something far more widespread and comprehensive. What is happening is that a huge segment of the world population until recently more or less safely ignored (or else patronized) is rapidly becoming integrated into a radically new type of global workforce.

This isn't an entirely new development. Low wage workers from the third world have been exploited for decades by first world industries and the societies they service. But this time, thanks to the universal spread of "free market capitalism," the rapid development of countries like India and China, increasing instability in Africa and the Middle East, and the embrace on all fronts of so-called "liberal reforms" that encourage the most ruthless forms of cut-throat competition, a huge hoard of starving, desperate, workers is overwhelming the hitherto impregnable borders of the first world economic fortress. And, as in the US of A, these people are "taking jobs" away from the natives, in a development that could almost be described as a form of colonialism in reverse.

As with the US "illegal immigration" issue, the situation can be described from different viewpoints. It can be seen as a good thing, since, for the first time, there seems some hope of lifting a large portion of the third world out of its desperate poverty, while making all sorts of goods, including all kinds of nifty electronic gizmos, widely affordable (for the American middle class, that is). On the other hand, it can be seen as yet another means of "taking jobs" away from good, hard working citizens, via outsourcing and "unfair" competition.

Finally, there is yet another aspect which is too often downplayed. As with illegal immigration in the US, we have, to quote my previous post, "a system that provides all sorts of businesses, both small and large, with peons willing to do backbreaking, debilitating and often humiliating work for less than minimum wage." As far as the global economy is concerned, that could be amended to "boring, dehumanizing and sometimes dangerous" work. And, as far as "minimum wages" are concerned, forget it. There would seem to be no minimum to the amount for which someone with starving children or parents to feed would be willing to work.

So, what are the consequences of the above to the world economy generally, and the current "crisis" in particular?

There has, of course, been much hand wringing of late over the failing economy of the "Euro zone," explained as the consequence of overspending by all those welfare states, with their spoiled workers and their outsized budgets, paid for by irresponsible over the top borrowing by both banks and government officials. Also blamed is the so-called "real estate bubble" that formed when greedy wheeler dealers convinced the gullible that prices could only go up up up. Finally, many economists are blaming the Euro itself for creating a climate in which individual nations can no longer print money to cover out of control borrowing costs.

The question that is never asked, however, is why? Why was it necessary for the prosperous, technologically advanced nations of Europe to borrow so much simply in order to provide their citizens with certain basic necessities and decent working conditions? Why was it necessary for individual families to borrow so much to purchase homes, or even to buy homes in the first place? Was there a housing shortage that necessitated such actions, and if so, what was its cause? And if it hadn't been necessary for these countries and their banks to borrow so much, then there would have been no need to print money and the Euro would not have been a problem.

(to be continued . . . )

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