Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

The Globalization of Christine

Apparently I alone was disappointed in the Guv's trade missions this fall and winter. She liked it when she flew into China on a Boeing jet. She was impressed when she was driven past an office tower with Microsoft on the side. Then there was a Starbucks across the street from her hotel. Very cool. But best was when nobody in China had a problem distinguishing our state from the nation's capitol. In their eyes Washington is "like a small nation to itself," she said.

At some point in her travels she sat down with Flatworld Friedman and was wowed by the tremendous changes astir in the world, revolutionary changes. The bottom line is education, infrastructure, keeping us competitive in the global marketplace, keeping our citizens. Just wait till his next book.

Washington is a player. Christine is a player. The global industrial giants and brave new industries are players.

We do not want to be a player. Being a player means there are people in the stands. Those among us who are not endowed with the intellect, resources, or interest in the latest technological movement are just left to watch, sad victims of our own inadequacy. This includes continents full of people. It includes teachers and nurses and bus drivers, who are just quasi-players, assistant players, would-be players.

Friedman's Flat World is sandwiched between grotesque mass poverty below and a collapsing environment above. (You'll remember Friedman. He is the NYT columnist who was a major intellectual apologist for the Iraq invasion. He's given up on trying to explain how that misbegotten adventure might have turned out okay, if only.... Now he's gone back to his stock and trade in globalism. Friedman is not an economist. He took one class in college, and I'm not sure he passed it. He is a journalist).

No doubt this high-tech Flat World is going to be very profitable for some, but it is not going to be satisfied with Washington (state) unless we keep upping the ante. Outsourcing and developing new crops and revolutionary drugs and information architecture are in their most essential essentialness portable. Investment will turn a profit, and that profit will go wherever it's given the best deal. Citizens there can man the drive-up windows or trim the hedges or whatever.

Gregoire should remember her fight with the tobacco companies. Corporations have no loyalty except to themselves. A basic amorality is built in. Look at Boeing. Headquarters in Chicago. Look at North Carolina. Gutted its own business taxes and in so doing gutted them for every state. Phooey.

China is the big deal now, but where are they going? They make stuff for us, and we want to make stuff for them. They add the equivalent of two New Englands to their power grid every year. They pump untold tons of pollutants into their environment every day. Their rivers are sewers. Their aquifers are dropping like the drain plug has been pulled. They make everything cheaper because they're discounting the future as much as we are and they're paying their people less.

The technology we need is for clean water, clean air, rail and schools and roads for those who have none, for a transportation scheme that does not suck the life out of the planet, and for an energy technology not based on poisonous gases. Not just in Redmond, in Africa. Let's leave nobody in the stands.

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