Is globalization benefiting or hurting the poor?

The really big advances in agriculture in developing countries happened a couple of decades earlier; in the 60’s and 70’s with the green revolution. Despite that growth rates were often poor during that period. However in China and India especially, growth rates increased fairly dramatically after they opened up their economies and freed up the private sector.

And before that the same story had unfolded in East Asian tigers and before that in Japan. And the underlying logic is fairly clear cut.Poor countries have a vast pool of cheap labor with very low productivity in the agricultural sector. Globalization allows these workers to be transferred to labor-intensive export industries like shoes, toys, textiles etc. Higher demand for labor gradually leads to higher wages. The profits from exports are reinvested leading to capital accumulation and growth. If the government wishes, some of these profits can be taxed to provide better infrastructure and services. Over a period of 40-50 years the entire country can be lifted out of poverty. Even if the country falls in the “middle income trap” it’s still vastly better off than before.

In the last 200 years, probably more than a billion people all over the world have moved from farming to the cities . Very few have moved in the other direction. I am guessing most of these people knew what they were doing. It’s not just about a higher wage though that is obviously important. Even the urban poor have better access to health and education services compared to their rural counterparts. They have a greater choice of jobs. They are often escaping a brutal rural order where they are virtually slaves of the landed elite. Urbanization is arguably the single greatest force for material advancement in history and globalization is closely connected to it.

No, what I’d posit is that businesses would pay higher wages for the sort of jobs immigrants do, if they did not have a huge influx of immigrants willing to work at any price. Supply and demand, y’know?

Not yet the middle class isn’t the poor, but the effect of wage flattening, increased productivity and thus a tighter job market has meant that the middle class is being pushed downward by the economy, toward the poor. We’re on our way to a two-tier society, with the oligarchs at one end and the middle class/poor lumped together at the other end. A middle class family living paycheck to paycheck, as is increasingly the case, is always one paycheck away from being a poor family.

Yes, CD players and TV sets are pretty cheap. Homes, cars and college educations, not so much. Increasingly, these hallmarks of middle class life are not available any more. Some people already thing student loans will be the next bubble in the US.

Not buying it. The effect of increased productivity means that companies have fewer people to insure, right? So the pain of the cost of increased health benefits are greatly mitigated by having fewer employees to insure. Meanwhile, corporations are awash in cash, so much so that they are parking it overseas, and CEO pay goes through the roof.

How about this as an alternate explanation for corporations absorbing health insurance costs … even the dumbasses that work in the lower levels of corporations would figure out something was Not Right if they saw their salaries decrease by 18 percent while shareholder revenues grew and the top management got huge bonuses.

All I see is corporations screwing their employees, per the usual.

There’s a little more to it than that.

Techology improvements and agrarian reform threw many skilled and unskilled laborers and artisans out of work. A population boom also caused massive unemployment, while poor harvests and import restrictions caused food shortages. Wages collapsed for agricultural and local industry workers. The Enclosure Acts literally forced many families off of land they’d farmed for generations.

People were forced into the cities, where entire families worked in factories in order to be able to afford to live in slums. If they couldn’t manage that, there were the workhouses where they were often starved and worked to death for no wages, or, if children, sold into “apprenticeships” which amounted to slavery.

Yes, industrialization did eventually lead to improved standards of living across the board - but don’t pretend that people were happily flocking to the cities of their own free will.

And many of the problems we face today can be traced pretty directly to the massive social reconstruction (which first required destruction of the old ways) brought on by these changes.

Yes, farming is hard, dirty, dangerous work, even today. But so was living and working in the cities at that time. Dickens didn’t just make all that shit up from thin air, y’know.

I want to know where you’re working that your insurance premiums haven’t increased?!?

Because everyone I know has seen their rates (and copays and deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses) skyrocket. True, employers have absorbed some of these costs - but nowhere near all of them.

Corporations slash employees whenever they have an excuse such as ‘bad economy’ - but they no longer re-hire when things improve. Corps in this country are sitting on stacks of cash but unemployment hasn’t improved that much because they’ve figured out they can over-work current employees for less than it costs to increase hires.

We’re getting away from the OP.
Venezuela is, as I said, selloing grandma’s jewellery. This works very, very well (Peru did it in 1985-1986 and it was heaven) for a short time. If you’re willing to not rebuild infrastructure, reinvest in anything, confiscate private property, and give massive handouts while losing money you can temporarily lift people out of poverty.
They even have a toilet paper crisis there.
There is so much money in oil that even if you steal quiete a bit, there’s a lot more. No LatinAmerican dictator of the last 50 years at least has made a real dent on his country’s economy by stealing stuff, none. They usually get lots of kickbacks, but actually taking 1 ton of gold out of the country, no. Carlos Andrés Pérez was accused of getting 700 million buck out of his country.
Venezuela is an economic one-trick pony and even that, with shale/fracking/tar sands, may be getting long in the tooth.

Which would push up the cost for those products, which would then be passed onto consumers in the form of more expensive produce. In the mean time, you’d be cutting off opportunity for immigrants who want those jobs and who are willing to work for those wages.

Now, if you mean illegal immigrants, that’s a different matter, though it still boils down to the same thing…attempts to limit opportunity for those who are looking for it and who are willing to take less in wages to get that chance. I know that’s not what you mean or how you look at it, but from a practical perspective that’s what will happen…and, basically, everyone would lose out except liberals who would be able to feel good about it. Not a slam, just stating how I see it. YMMV obviously.

I’ve been hearing this gloom and doom for decades and I’m not seeing it, to be honest. How do you see this problem as part of globalization though? Do you subscribe to the belief that the flattening of wages is a result of outsourcing and offshoring over all?

Yet you were speaking about the poor, who have access to cheaper goods and services. Homes and cars and college have little to do with globalization either pro or con, so not sure how this is part of the discussion. Will just say, again, that I disagree with your conclusion.

Well, if you aren’t buying it do you have a cite to support your belief that health care costs are dropping due to less employees? I can tell you specifically that you are wrong at least wrt my own situation. I’ve seen the figures and our health care and retirement benefits have increased over 18% in the last 4 years. This is fact, whether you buy it or not. And the GOVERNMENT agency I work for has indeed absorbed those costs, which impact all our budgets…and they have done so specifically so that the employees wouldn’t have to absorb those costs themselves. Not that many employees appreciate it, since to them the bottom line is that they have gotten no raise in their take home pay, and that’s something they can see and feel, while the increased costs in benefits aren’t, by and large.

I’d need to see some sort of cite demonstrating that corporations were in fact paying less for benefits these days, and that the additional costs were being absorbed due to increased CEO pay and benefits. From what I’ve seen before in these discussions the CEOs and management make a negligible percentage of the overall corporate profits, while it’s pretty well established that benefits have become increasingly expensive in the last few decades.

Sure, but then you have obvious biases, right? So do I. What I see is increasing costs and a series of recessions causing much of the flattening of wages from a take home perspective, while you see corporations out to screw the little man and an eventual two class system of the poor and the rich. And I see globalization as an overall benefit to everyone, while you again seem to see it as a way for the rich to screw the poor.

And yet, most countries (even those without the Inclosure Acts) followed much the same trajectory. We in the US, for example, did…we moved from a mainly agrarian society to an industrial one, and with much the same pattern…the folks living on the farm eventually moved to the cities because there was more opportunity there for them than back on the farm. There was an ADVANTAGE to moving off the farm and into the cities and taking those industrial jobs.

No, Dickens didn’t make that shit up, but the other side of the coin was that while working in the big cities and smokey wastelands of industrial UK, Europe, US or whatever was pretty grim, living back on the farm was actually worse in most cases, with less opportunity and possibility of advancement or improvement of life. People have this rose colored view of the past (or even of today and the relative differences between working on a dirt farm in China and moving to the big city and working for ‘slave’ wages in some industrial hell hole), and I was just pointing out that no one had to crack the whip to get folks to move off the farm and into the cities. It was a conscious decision by millions to do so because there were and still are advantages to doing so, much as it’s hard for most middle class Europeans or Americans to see that from their lofty perspective at the top of the worlds financial food chain.

So, your position is that the tens of millions of Chinese who choose to be factory workers or peasants are too stupid to realize what’s best for them?

If that’s not the gist of what you’re saying please explain.

Also, perhaps you can tell us your real life experiences to help us understand why you’re better informed to make such a decision.

What do you do?

Have you worked on a farm or in a factory?

Well, most countries followed a similar trajectory, albeit often with major differences; I’m not the one that picked 19th century England as the example.

Most of those countries also follow similar trajectories in the lead-up - technology improvements and agrarian reform leading to massive unemployment in the rural areas leading to massive immigration into cities leading to slum environments and workplace hellholes.

Yes, a few of those people do great and think that industrialization is the best thing since sliced bread.

Many others just barely get by (or don’t get by at all) in the city and would have rather stayed on the farm. They did not have that choice (well, other than the choice between starving to death quickly or slowly).

The ADVANTAGE in moving to the cities is being able to work at all, once industrialization destroys all the rural area economies and jobs. You don’t have to “crack the whip” when you can just starve them out.

I’ve got no pink lenses about farming - I live in farm country and come from a farming family. One side of my family farmed through the depression, the other Okied out to California and back. No one in the current generation is a farmer - office and professional work are hella easier and more remunerative.

But you seem to have romanticized the whole industrialization thing just a bit.

As I said - it leads to improvements for all economic classes…in the long run. But that’s after the lower classes go though some pretty fucking miserable hardcore shit in the short. And ofttimes those lower classes weren’t nearly as low in the old life as in the new.

The best I’d give you is that it’s a toss-up either way. Both situations are dangerous, hazardous to life and health, and incredibly hard.

But fact remains, people didn’t (and don’t) all joyously leap to factory jobs and slums. Often they’re forced out of agriculture by technological and economic changes.

Oh, that’s just horseshit. I haven’t romanticized a gods damned thing, just pointed out that the rose colored view of most about agriculture in the past is just that…a colored and inaccurate view of reality. The keen eyed reader will note such romanticized language I used about the early industrialized world such as ‘smokey wastelands’ and ‘industrial hell hole’. :stuck_out_tongue:

The point, that thing whizzing over your head, was that while the early industrial world WAS a hell hole, certainly by today’s standards in the Western World™, it was actually a better option for most people than staying down on the farm.

Bullshit. Cite? Let’s see a cite that anyone had to starve them out to get them to move to the cities. For the most part, and leaving aside the dubious assertion that the Brits INTENTIONALLY starved out the Irish (instead of simply incompetently mismanaged things and perhaps helped along a natural occurrence) I can’t think of a single instance where anyone intentionally starved out the rural populace to get them to move to the cities to work in the factories and such.

That’s all true, but misses the point…which is that bad as that situation was for some (hell, many) it was preferable than staying down on the farm. Which was why so many rural folks slogged through it. It’s a pattern that happened in various ways throughout the western world and has continued today into places like China and India for exactly the same reasons…though you might be working in some sweat shop hell hole it’s freaking better than living on a rural farm in a country that has substance farming and an agrarian manpower intensive orientation.

And I bet your family farmed with such things as ‘tractors’ and other automated machines, right? Or did they do everything by back breaking hand? I’m guessing the former.

And the reason why most left the farm was because there was more opportunity abroad AND because you weren’t using manpower intensive and backbreaking labor, but instead using farming automation that allowed you to run that farm with a tithe of the workers you’d need in pre-industrial Europe, US or in some of the more rural parts of China and India today. Which, you know, was why it was an advantage for folks to move off the farm and into the cities and factories…as bad as it was working in a factory it was much, MUCH worse living on a pre-industrial farm and breaking your back…and possibly starving if the crops failed. No mustachioed evil capitalists needed.

In Peru people left the countryside because being a poor farmer sucks and a bad job in the city is usually better than a poor farmer in shitty land with 1 acre to plant in neverending backbreaking job with no benefits.

Cheesy rice, dude, you seem to have some serious issues that you’re projecting all over me. You’re the one insisting that the factories and slums were some wonder world that farmers went gleefully rushing to fill due to the glorious opportunities available.

I’ve said not one word about evil (much less mustachioed) capitalists, nor about anyone intentionally starving anyone (and I never even considered the Irish thing - there was a whole lotta stuff going on there).

I am simply pointing out that there are economic forces at work that push people, often against their preferences, into the bad situations that are endemic to early industrialization.

Many folks in industrializing cultures only “fled the countryside and went to work in the factories” because they were forced into that change by the economic changes surrounding industrialization.

If nothing else, you’re completely ignoring human nature. The vast majority of people prefer the devil they know.

Or are you also going to claim that the top-flight buggy-whip craftsmen were thrilled and overjoyed by the prospect of working in an auto factory? And I’m sure that blacksmiths, highly respected members of rural communities, were excited and ecstatic to lose their social and economic positions in return for the wondrous advantages of urban slums.

In England, there was an entire class of skilled craftsmen and artisans who were forced into the factories due to the economic changes brought about by automation and immigration into the cities. Or did you think that Luddite was just a funny phrase?

Farm work today is one of the most dangerous occupations in the country. Unbelievably long hours, incredibly hard work, low pay, no insurance, no retirement - and yet people fight tooth and nail to hang on to their small family farms because they prefer that life to a “regular” job in the city.

Although many people left farms post-WWII because they could get comparatively cushy office and factory jobs, there are also many who did not want to leave and only gave up farming because they can not compete economically with modern large-scale agricultural corporations.

I never said that pre-industrial farming is a great life. I have only said that there is more to the situation than people deciding to move to the city because they can.

You do realize that people can just, you know, scroll up and actually see what I said…right? :stuck_out_tongue: I can’t help it that you don’t seem to be able to do the same thing.

Sure you did. Here, let me help you out there:

See the part that says ‘well, other than the choice between starving to death quickly or slowly’? That’s you saying exactly what I said you did. See how that works? You could do the same with my own quotes, except I never said anything about ‘factories and slums were some wonder world that farmers went gleefully rushing to fill due to the glorious opportunities available’, sadly. Again, people can just scroll up to see what I actually said on the subject, which is vastly different than your interpretation of what I said, which actually bears no resemblance to what I actually wrote.

And many left their rural communities and farms because there was no opportunity where they were, while there was opportunity in the cities and factories. Yes, I know this.

And yet, many millions fled what they know and ventured into the big cities to find jobs in factories and such…and still do to this day. I’m not ignoring human nature at all. You are shifting the goal posts in a futile effort to hide the fact that your position here is pretty silly, while attempting to modify what I said through fast hand-wavage. It’s not working out very well, unfortunately.

Straw must be on sale. No, I’m fairly certain that the buggy whip guys weren’t too happy when their jobs because irrelevant, though what this has to do with the subject we were actually discussing is beyond me.

I think that you are both building strawmen AND shifting the goal posts. :stuck_out_tongue:

Sure they do…but the US went from over 90% of the population being in rural agricultural jobs at the turn of the last century to less than 3% today. That’s a vast shift, and it’s ludicrous for you to attempt to say this was due to ‘well, other than the choice between starving to death quickly or slowly’.

Well, no…this is what you said:

This ignores the fact that people WEREN’T in fact ‘forced into the cities’, but went there by and large of their own free will because the slums and shitty factory jobs were preferable to most people than the hard scrabble life of a dirt farmer…and that hasn’t changed between then and now. Even in the US, where it’s NOT as hard scrabble of a life on a farm today as in the past it’s difficult to keep em down on the farm, because there is simply more opportunity in the cities. No one needed to force anyone to leave the farm and venture into the cities…ironically, it’s you who is ignoring human nature on this, both historically and even today.

At any rate, I think I’m done with you, unless you have something interesting to say that doesn’t involve attempts to distort my own views and position and hand wave away your own by attempting to shift the goal posts of the discussion. It’s a hijack of the thread in any case, since it doesn’t really pertain to globalization.

To this point, farm work today is pretty darn lucrative. Here is a USDA study on farm household income. Check out the spreadsheet that compares median farm household income to median all-household income. Farm income draws even with non-farm income in the 1960s, and has consistently surpassed it since the 1970s, including every single year from 1996 to 2011, the most recent year studied.

This isn’t hard to explain: the farms that continue to operate are the most productive ones. The marginal producers gave up and went to the city, or generally pursued other opportunities. The same phenomenon that has repeated itself throughout history.

I think it does help the poor. But it also accentuates a growing trend in urbanization. More people are flocking to cities from the rural areas in order to pursue these opportunities, but the cities can’t accomodate them. That’s why you see cities like Mumbai and Sao Paulo in developing countries surrounded by massive slums.

You also have to consider the cultural costs of globalization (out with thousands of years of tradition, in with Bhutan’s Got Talent and Sri Lankan Bieber Fever) and even more importantly the huge ecological consequence of the entire globe entering the rat race aspiring, usually unsuccessfully for the American Dream.

Not only that but keep in mind that the poor state of farmers in the Third World has much to do with the ravages of colonialism. They might have been materially poorer before the West brought them TV and Coca Cola but who are we to say their lives were less happy? I think hunter gatherers do have it way better than farmers though, the few that still exist.

Well the freeze on wages for the past 30 years has probably helped, since farming is not a wage-earning profession.