Barack Obama’s Stance on Globalization

Undergraduate Studies Essay for POL 460: Politics of Globalization (11/6/2008)

ObamaHave you ever wondered what the world will be like 5 years from now? 50 years from now? 100 years from now? While many things are impossible to anticipate, many experts predict that our civilization will continue to globalize, which will have a significant impact on the politics, economy, and society of mankind as a whole.  Some people embrace globalization with open arms, while others are very resistant. Few people have more influence on the civilization of the world, and its degree of globalization, than the president of the United States of America. Recently elected President Barack Obama does have his concerns about globalization, but for the most part is a strong supporter of it.

In order to understand whether Barack Obama does or doesn’t support globalization, one must understand what globalization means. Dictionary.com offers a very simple definition of globalization, stating it is simply “Growth to a global or worldwide scale (Globalize, 1).”  Others feel that globalization is much more complex. Wise Geek online claims that “Globalization refers to the trend toward countries joining together economically, through education, society and politics, and viewing themselves not only through their national identity but also as part of the world as a whole (What is Globalization, 1).” Author of the book Global Business Today, Charles Hill, feels that globalization is more strictly related to the world of business. He defines it as “The shift toward a more integrated and interdependent world economy (Hill, 7).” He also states that “Globalization has several facets, including the globalization of markets and globalization of production (Hill, 7).” The Levin Institute agrees, claiming that globalization is “a process driven by international trade and investment (Globalization, 1).” They also go on to say that globalization “Has effects on the environment, on culture, on political systems, on economic development and prosperity, and on human physical well-being in societies around the world (Globalization, 1).” While globalization is obviously quite comprehensive, it is evident that most of its effects come from the integration of national economies into a more global economy. This shift has brought about many positive benefits to the world. For example, supporters credit globalization with reducing poverty worldwide, allowing access to technology in developing countries, promoting world peace, benefiting women and children’s rights, and raising life expectancy (What is Globalization, 1). Those resistant to globalization claim that it has had many negative impacts, such as the outsourcing of jobs to poorer nations, the exploitation of cheap labor, and the imposing of cultures onto other cultures (Globalization, 1). Others, like U.S. Foreign Policy expert Keith Porter, recognize that there are both pros and cons of globalization, and feel that globalization needs to be regulated in order to avoid the negative impacts. He states “Anti-trust laws, the Securities and Exchange Commission, labor unions, charities, the Federal Trade Commission, and countless other agencies and organizations keep American capitalism in check. Similar transparent mechanisms are needed to make sure globalization is a positive force in the world (Porter, 1).”

So where exactly does Barack Obama stand when it comes globalization? In order to make this determination, many sources were utilized, almost all were found online. Established search engines like Yahoo and Google were excellent tools to uncover various political websites that examined the views and opinions of Obama. For example, Votegopher.com and Ontheissues.org each provided a plethora of quotes from Obama that were relevant to this subject. Also, Obama’s official website was an excellent source that provided Obama’s stance on a variety of topics, including those related to globalization. Various news websites, such as the Wall Street Journal online, CBS News online, and Vindy.com were also credible sources that provided opinions on Obama’s stance toward globalization.

After thorough investigation, it became clear that Obama supports globalization and feels that we must embrace it as a society; however, he also feels that there must be certain policies in place in order minimize its drawbacks on the American economy. Obama proclaims, “There are some who believe that we must try to turn back the clock on this new world; that the only chance to maintain our living standards is to build a fortress around America; to stop trading with other countries, shut down immigration, and rely on old industries. I disagree. Not only is it impossible to turn back the tide of globalization, but efforts to do so can make us worse off. Rather than fear the future, we must embrace it. I have no doubt that America can compete–and succeed–in the 21st century (Barack Obama on Free Trade, 1).” VoteGopher.com states that “Obama believes that we ‘should welcome’ free trade and globalization because they open foreign markets to American goods and boost our economy (Barack Obama on Foreign Policy, 1).” Obama denounces the notion that globalization will negatively impact America’s standard of living, but instead allow America’s economy to continue to thrive as it has in the past. While Obama is hopeful, he isn’t unaware of the challenges globalization brings. In an interview with Bob Davis and Amy Chozick, Obama stated, “We’re going through a big shift from a national economy that was also dominant across the globe to a truly global economy in which we’re seeing competition from every corner. We’ve seen an additional three billion people added to capitalism (Davis, 1).”  Obama fears that without appropriate measures, businesses will move to countries with abusive labor practices and artificially lower costs, depriving Americans of well-paying jobs (Barack Obama on Foreign Policy, 1). Obama feels that many of these problems are related to the existing trade agreements like NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), that he claims “Put special interests over workers’ interests (Montopoli, 1).” Elaborating further on these trade agreements, he claims that not every free trade deal is a good one. He said he opposes the Colombian deal because of human rights concerns over killings of union leaders in that country, and that he opposed NAFTA because he objected to its lack of proper labor and environmental clauses (Obama is playing with fire on trade, 1). To combat these issues, Obama plans to take several courses of action as the president of the United States. On his website, he claims he will fight for fair trade, amend NAFTA, improve transition assistance, end tax breaks for companies that send jobs overseas, and reward companies that support American workers (Economy, 1). When it comes to fighting for fair trade, Obama says that he “will fight for a trade policy that opens up foreign markets to support good American jobs,” while using “Trade agreements to spread good labor and environmental standards around the world,” as well as “Enforce trade agreements and stop countries from continuing unfair government subsidies to foreign exporters and non-tariff barriers on U.S. exports (Economy, 1). To support the American worker, not only will Obama end tax breaks for companies that send jobs overseas, but he also has introduced the Patriot Employer Act of 2007. Obama states that this act will support American working class because it will “reward companies that create good jobs with good benefits for American workers. The legislation would provide a tax credit to companies that maintain or increase the number of full-time workers in America relative to those outside the US, maintain their corporate headquarters in America if it has ever been in America, pay decent wages, prepare workers for retirement, provide health insurance, and support employees who serve in the military (Economy, 1).”

Barack Obama clearly feels that globalization is something that is virtually impossible to reverse, and something that the United States of America must embrace. He also clearly understands the positive and negative impacts that globalization can have on the United States and on the world. Because globalization is something that cannot be stopped and does bring about many positive benefits, Obama has strongly supported it. However, because Obama’s main interest is the American citizens, he has taken a strong stance on resisting the aspects of globalization that hurt the American workers. This is the right position to take, because being the President of the United States, it is Obama’s duty to protect and aid the citizens that he leads. Will this approach to globalization be a successful one for the United States? For the world? With Obama’s recent election, we have the next 4 years to wait and see.

 

Works Cited

“Barack Obama on Free Trade.” On The Issues. 1 Nov. 2008 <http://www.ontheissues.org/2008/barack_obama_free_trade.htm&gt;.

“Barack Obama on Trade & Globalization.” VoteGopher.com. 1 Oct. 2008 <http://www.votegopher.com/issue.php?issue=15&can=1&pid=2&gt;.

Davis, Bob, and Amy Chozick. “Barack Obama on Economics: ‘We’re Going Through a Big Shift'” The Wall Street Journal. 17 June 2008. 3 Nov. 2008 <http://online.wsj.com/article/sb121365641014879041.html?mod=googlenews_wsj&gt;.

“Economy.” Obama Biden. 25 Oct. 2008 <http://www.barackobama.com/issues/economy/&gt;.

“Globalization.” Globalization 101. The Levin Institute. 25 Oct. 2008 <http://www.globalization101.org/what_is_globalization.html&gt;.

“Globalize.” Dictionary.com. 25 Oct. 2008 <http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/globalization&gt;.

Hill, Charles W. Global Business Today. Grand Rapids: Irwin Professional, 2007.

Montopoli, Brian. “Obama’s Balancing Act On Free Trade.” CBS News. 20 June 2008. 25 Oct. 2008 <http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/06/20/politics/main4198107.shtml&gt;.

“Obama is playing with fire on trade.” Vindy.com. 28 Oct. 2008. 1 Nov. 2008 <http://www.vindy.com/news/2008/oct/28/obama-is-playing-with-fire-on-trade/&gt;.

Porter, Keith. “Globalization – good or bad?” Global Envision. 10 October 2003. 3 Nov. 2008. < http://www.globalenvision.org/library/8/545/&gt;

“What Is Globalization?” Wise Geek. 25 Oct. 2008 <http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-globalization.htm&gt;.

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