As 5,000 world trade hawks prepare to meet in Singapore this week, a new book marshals arguments against globalization by people who like local eggs, corner stores and neighborhood workmen.
In “The Case Against the Global Economy - And for a Turn to the Local,” the Sierra Club collects 43 essays appealing for a simplified world economy. Some authors argue that the world’s goods already do too much traveling, or they invoke the dangers of split-second global money trades, or they expound the advantages of local trading and financial systems.
“The most urgent issue today isn’t whether people have oranges in cold climates but whether their wheat, eggs or milk should travel thousands of miles when they could all be produced within a 50-mile radius,” wrote Helena Norbert-Hodge, who was among the successful campaigners who kept Norway out of the European Union.
“In Kenya, butter from Holland is half the price of local butter,” she wrote. “In England, butter from New Zealand costs less than the local butter.”
The book finds critics among many mainstream economists - including most of the cabinet ministers from more than 125 countries in Singapore for Monday’s opening of the first top-level meeting of the World Trade Organization.
“Studies of trade have shown that increased exports have generated higher-wage jobs and greater productivity, and that benefits U.S. workers,” said Jeff Schott, a senior fellow at the Institute for International Economics.
In an interview, Schott attributed some of the book’s statements to a “visceral hatred” of corporations.
On the other side, consumer advocate Ralph Nader wrote in the book that globalization is inhumane.
“The new (WTO) system is not designed to promote the health and well-being of human beings, but to enhance the power of the world’s largest corporations and financial institutions,” Nader said, writing with Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen, a global trade watchdog group.