I don't think there is any question that globalization is of great benefit not only for Canada, but also for the entire world.
The process of globalization creates an enviable playing field for economic growth by limiting the amount of trade barriers and opening up the free market. It allows for greater foreign investment, creates more choice for consumers, and increases the stature of capitalism in society.
Of course, not everyone agrees. In Canada, protectionists like Maude Barlow and Buzz Hargrove fear the possibility of the loss of both Canadian industry and thousands of jobs. In the United States, an unusual merger between right-wing columnist Pat Buchanan and Democratic Representative Richard Gephardt has been initiated due to NAFTA and the Mexican economy woes. Even popular U.S. conservative author William Bennett has warned about the problems of laissez-faire capitalism.
Many have written negative articles and books about globalization. Barlow and Tony Clarke recently came out with a book attacking the Multilateral Agreement on Investment. Business magnate George Soros has written twice in the Atlantic Monthly about his fears. William Greider of Rolling Stone threw everything and the kitchen sink against globalization.
The primarily left-wing rants of these protectionists have done little to stir my interests. As a self-described libertarian conservative, I can think of no better option to follow other than globalization for three reasons.
First, globalization will provide an equal opportunity, on a level playing field, for potential success. As the eminent economist Milton Friedman once said, society has tried to create a "free private enterprise exchange economy," or competitive capitalism. Competition breeds a drive for people to succeed within the confines of the free market. There is always a risk factor involved, but the risk reward is a strong motivator for most.
Second, globalization will open up the lines of international trade. No longer will a government be a babysitter to a weak business industry. If a product in Canada is inferior to a product from Korea, the smart consumer will buy the latter. Only the strong will survive, and only the inventive will live to fight another day.
Third, globalization will enhance the technological market. Global products like the Internet and E-mail have opened up the lines of communication in a quick, efficient manner. Information has become readily available at the push of a button. While not perfect, the technological boom has enhanced the future prospects of globalization.
A typical attack on globalization by the left is that it looks out for the individual rather than the interests of the community. Ergo, the free market will not be able to benefit everyone, and can be seen as unsympathetic to the needs of others.
Keep in mind that nobody ever said life was fair, and that also goes for the free market. Globalization produces winners and losers, not a socialist communal fantasy of free money and protecting a country's economy. Individuals will succeed in the global economy on the basis of merit, hard work and creativity. There won't be generous handouts in the new world markets for economic and political failures.
Yet, one could argue that Canadians are actually compassionate capitalists. You will find few voices on the left or the right opposed to basic social services, the implementation of basic health care, or even basic human rights. Getting from A to B might be different, but the general feeling of compassion exists.
Globalization opens up a whole new range of trading possibilities and free market activity. The world is becoming smaller, but the availability of monetary gain and new industry possibilities are staggering. To be honest, I wouldn't have it any other way.
* Michael Taube is the publisher/editor of From The Right, a nationally distributed conservative commentary newspaper.
[Note: for those who are curious, the NO side was taken up by Howard Pawley, former NDP Premier of Manitoba who presently teaches political science at the University of Windsor.]
The Toronto Star
February 2, 1998