Archive for June, 2008

The World is indeed Flat

It has been ages since I’ve taken the time to write. Classes are over, I’m working full time (saving up for Europe!), I’m still trying to befriend the gym, and I’m already feeling nostalgic about high school. Work has been fairly boring to say the least – the majority of my shifts are from 3-10:30, and Grouse Mountain has been dead quiet over the past weeks. I’ve been trying to make use of the time by reading The World is Flat, by Thomas Friedman.

Friedman raises some key points as to the current state of the world, including outsourcing to India, off-shoring to China, and the immense role that developing countries are beginning to play in global society. What Friedman means by “the world is flat,” is that the global competitive playing field is being flattened. Aspiring youth in countries such as India, China, and Russia no longer face the same barriers to the global economy that their parents faced. I am sitting in the ticket center at Grouse right now and on my Starbucks coffee cup is a quote,

“My cousin in Tibet is an illiterate subsistence farmer. By accident of bith, I was raised in the West and have a Ph.D. The task of our generation is to cut through the illusion that we inhabit separate worlds. Only then will we find the heart to rise to the daunting but urgent challenges of global disparity.” (The Way I See It #288)

The author of this quote attacks an important issue, but fails to grasp the topic in its entirety. Yes, global disparity is shrinking, but it is not due to the altruism of the West or the West’s completion of some “task”. It is because of a basic economic principle – cost minimization. If it costs Nike three times the resources to produce a pair of shoes in America than it does in China, Nike will naturally offshore to China to remain a competitive firm. As more and more companies realize this, the demand for labour in China increases, and eventually, so too will the cost of labour. As companies strive to cut costs they will naturally move on to other cheaper locations such as Tibet, where the cycle repeats. It is clear that we, the citizens of developed nations need not “cut through the illusion that we inhabit separate worlds,” we must simply relax and let the invisible hand unite the world. The signficance in society of profit seeking, cost minimizing companies must never be underestimated