OPINION: The problem with Globalisation - Daisy Snow

Today is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and the theme this year is climate change, check out www.

Today is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day and the theme this year is climate change, check out www.earthday.org to get involved Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

I am yet to talk much about localisation, it’s a big topic to try and squeeze into 650 words so I think this could run across a few columns over the next few weeks. 

Firstly, to understand what I deem as the solution, we must first talk about the current situation – globalisation.  

In March 2020, India went into a sudden lock down, half a million migrant workers fled home to the safety and security of their villages. They had been working hundreds of kilometres away from their homes, away from their children and families, in awful conditions with high costs, to earn a wage. When the work suddenly stopped, they were left in an extremely vulnerable and weak position, likely to starve to death unless they quickly travelled home. 

I started speaking with a factory owner friend from India about the issue and he mentioned how he used to work predominantly on a cottage industry basis (people working in their home villages more casually whilst bringing up kids etc) but had to move away from it to fulfil the requirements and compliances of major brands here in the UK and the US. 

They wanted cheap prices, prices that could not be achieved by doing work purely by hand, prices that required big machines, big factories and for many workers to work, like machines. Many industries have been required to change their practises to fulfil the requirements of these huge brands, to churn out goods on the scale which they require. 

This was the sudden event that made me realise that everything that is wrong in this world can be linked and blamed on globalisation. 

Globalisation is something that has been happening for at least the past 500 years, it can appear to be a positive thing, marketed as the idea of a borderless world with the free flow of ideas and trade but essentially it is the deregulation of trade and investment between countries. 

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For many years, governments have wanted big corporate companies to be in their countries, big companies mean jobs and money – things that are very appealing to pretty much all governments. So much so that they’ll compete with other countries by offering very appealing deals such as tax breaks, cheap labour, lax regulations and fossil fuel subsidies, the corporation then chooses the place that is going to be most profitable for them to run in. These deals have got so lucrative that it is now somehow possible to offer NZ lamb for a cheaper price than UK lamb, in the UK. It’s become viable to ship the SAME amount of the SAME product, to and from the SAME country year on year, proving that fossil fuels are deemed a dispensable resource that can be wasted. 

Local dress makers, shoe makers, factories, craftsmen are pretty much a thing of the past now in much of the Western world - thanks to globalisation, all of these things could be made cheaper by people in different countries so the work was sent elsewhere, and now imported here instead.  

Things made here are no longer relative to our countries wage rates and costs, so essentially for each country that is manufacturing and exporting, it’s a race to bottom. Cheap products so we can afford to buy more, lower quality so we have to buy more. Good for business. 

Sweat shops, child labour, chemicals leaking into water ways and the air, rubbish being dumped in the sea.. this is all allowed to happen by many governments as a bid to increase the GDP and wealth of a country, but of course, not everyone in the country benefits, the people at the top do, and the people at the bottom, well they work under awful conditions, live in polluted areas and are poisoned daily. 

Of course, this kind of practise doesn’t go on in the UK, it’s just sponsored by us, and many other Western countries. We like to think as a nation that the time of colonisation and slavery is over, but perhaps really, it’s just been re-branded?

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