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Our government co-operates to further the corporate desire for the cheapest labour

Building up resilience: economic, social and environmental 

In March BBC News reported that Sir John Holmes, former emergency relief co-ordinator at the UN, welcomed Lord Ashdown’s Humanitarian Emergency Response Review commissioned by DFID – particularly the point about “building up resilience of countries before disasters happen – that’s absolutely crucial and we don’t do enough of that”.

 Both ‘rich’ and ‘poor’ countries are vulnerable. 

The current globalised system has created vulnerability, not resilience; a large set of countries, both rich and poor, are dependent on others for their food and energy. They are ‘import-dependent’ – a term usually applied only to the developing ‘two-thirds world’. 

The Global Risks Report 2011 from the World Economic Forum outlines the risks and Chris Arkenberg’s review of its message comments starkly: 

Elites consolidate more money & power, further driving disparity and eroding governance. What results is an interstitial vacuum where corporate intervention fails to see any profit motive and where state intervention lacks the funds or will to govern effectively. 

In effect, the combination of super-empowered non-state actors, failures of state governance, and widespread economic disparity undermines the Rule of Law by releasing elites from accountability . . .

Is vulnerability an economic opportunity? 

Whether this has been a deliberate strategy to ensure profits for the few or due simply to short-sighted greed – it should be changed. 

The damaging corporate desire for the cheapest labour 

Another damaging feature of globalisation is the mass movement – legal or illegal – of the poorest peoples, to serve the corporate desire for the cheapest labour, as the economically weakest, largely unemployed 10% of the host nation, fumes. 

The only prescription seen by the writer which addresses this uneasy dependent fragility appears in a book by the convenor of the Green New Deal Group, Colin Hines: LOCALIZATION: A GLOBAL MANIFESTO, Earthscan:

The basic steps to be introduced, over a suitable transition period, are: 

  • Reintroduction of protective safeguards for domestic economies (tariffs, quotas etc);  
  • a site-here-to-sell-here policy for manufacturing and services domestically or regionally; 
  • localising money so that the majority stays within its place of origin; 
  • enforcing a local competition policy to eliminate monopolies from the more protected economies; 
  • introduction of resource taxes to increase environmental improve­ments and help fund the transition to Protect the Local, Globally;
  • increased democratic involvement both politically and economi­cally to ensure the effectiveness and equity of the movement to more diverse local economies; 
  • reorientation of the end goals of aid and trade rules so that they contribute to the rebuilding of local economies and local control, particularly through the global transfer of relevant information and technology.

Hines explains:  

“A Protect the Local, Globally policy is neither anti-trade nor totally self-sufficient). Its goal is maximum local trade, within diver­sified sustainable local economies, and minimum long-distance trade. Local is used here to mean a part of a country, and a `regional’  geographic grouping of countries. 

“Such a dramatic turnaround in the direction of the international economy could not just occur in one country. To take on the powerful international forces of international capital and TNCs would require these policies to be introduced, for example, EU-wide or in the whole of North America. 

“Even the debate about considering such an approach would reverberate internationally at this time of global economic insecurity. 

“Once introduced even just in Europe or North America, it would set an example and would almost certainly engender similar approaches in other regions of the world.”