Brace yourself: the most disruptive phase of globalization is just beginning

Robot bartender serves customers in GermanyAn article in Quartz via Ritholtz’s Reads (I am meta-curating): Brace yourself: the most disruptive phase of globalization is just beginning.  I don’t especially agree with much of this, but it is a good read.  One thing it gets right is that part of the equation for a ‘Free Market’ is free movement of labor.  This is what Globalization (and treaties such as NAFTA) miss.  Capital, jobs and even entire factories can move, but the labor can’t.  The thoughts on telepresence are interesting and bold and something I have never heard even from people who work in telepresence companies.

One thought on “Brace yourself: the most disruptive phase of globalization is just beginning

  1. Let me poke at this a bit.

    Firstly, he does not discuss the demographics .. let’s do that.

    Here is a representative example, I just spoke with a woman from the Netherlands, she was explaining to me about open borders with Indonesia, a former colony. She was happy to be progressive. Perhaps a jibe at me for living in a country experiencing an anti immigration trend that we intellectuals are surely embarrassed over. The Dutch are indeed proud of being open.

    Lets work out the numbers. There are 260 million people in Indonesia, and the standard of living is not so good. There are 14 million people in the Netherlands, where the standard of living is fantastic. If there were open borders, then between 50 and 100 million Indonesians would move in a flash. I know this, as I have lived among them. It would take them about a millisecond to make up their minds. ‘Native Dutch’ would become 1 in 5, to 1 in 10 overnight. The social system would be abandoned for practical reasons. Political decisions would be dominated by the newcomers.

    When I pointed this out, my Dutch conversation partner became very quiet. I had called her bluff. She did not disagree. As we both knew, there are in fact strong anti-immigration barriers in the Netherlands that are preventing this. Today these barriers have to do with language, education, and income levels. As globalization erases those differences, and should the Netherlands not erect legal barriers, then the current people of the Netherlands will “feel” the pains of globalization independent of any issues of automation or telepresence, which well may magnify the effect.

    In general today rich nations don’t have many people. Poor nations have lots of them. If the social economic situation of the impoverished is the only barrier to the flow of people, and that is taken away, then people will flow. They will do so as long as living elsewhere is advantageous. Locals will feel the pain of transition towards the cultures and life styles of the newcomers, and the newcomers will benefit from new opportunities, particularly if immigration filters for only the most qualified.

    Note, I am not making any value judgment here. I’m just pointing out the demographic situation. Perhaps this is the way it should be, perhaps not. It certainly isn’t unprecedented. It may even be moot to discuss it, but the article left this aspect out, so I add it in here.

    There are other options. For example individual nations could develop and become richer within their current borders while maintaining their own national identity, so as not to up turn the lives of those in nations who took the responsible decision to have fewer children. This could occur in an environment of healthy engagement between nations. Or chances are, within a hybrid system that slowly releases the strains.


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