the world is not flat

From the Center for Global Development:

In the 2005 WIDER Annual Lecture, “The World is not Flat: Inequality and Injustice in our Global Economy” (PDF), CGD President Nancy Birdsall addresses the challenge that global inequality poses for managing globalization so that it works for the developing world. She first argues that inequality matters to people. Moreover, in developing countries, where markets and politics are far-from-perfect, inequality can be destructive, reducing prospects for growth, poverty reduction, and good government. She then turns to a fundamental problem of globalization--that it is asymmetric, i.e. that it benefits the rich more than the poor, both within and across countries. Birdsall argues that the world is not flat as argued by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. Rather, what appears to be a level playing field to people on the surface is actually a field full of craters in which poor people and poor countries are stuck. Birdsall discusses the implications of these craters for shared prosperity, global security, and global social justice. She concludes by suggesting steps for addressing the core problem: We have a global economy but no effective global polity.

In the accompanying article Rising Inequality in the New Global Economy (PDF) Nancy Birdsall argues that globalization is disequalizing, rewarding the already rich while leaving the poor behind, and that we need a global polity to address the asymmetric impacts of globalization.

Download slides from the lecture "Why Inequality Matters in a Globalizing World" (PDF, 580KB) delivered October 26, 2005 at the World Institute for Development Economic Research (WIDER) in Helsinki, Finland.
And if you want physical proof of that inequality - look at our squatter colonies cheek by jowl against our exclusive gated communities.

The upside? It's a global problem that will precipitate a global search for solutions. That means there are lessons we can learn from all over the planet. We may even find some of our own.

(This post, prompted in part by this post from manila rat.)


Anonymous said...

my sentiments exactly.

the issue confronting people on globalization is about the damaging effect it would have on the economy as a whole. i believe in the symbiotic relationships of nations. but like the galleon trade five centuries back, this idea may lead to exploitation.

a good thing about reading history is we could learn from it.

i second the emotion.

koikaze said...

A very large part of our world has studied the ideas of the great thinkers, and yet, we ravage our environment, war on others, and, here in America, live in a great nation crushed by corruption and cynicism. I read ... but I also think. I look around and see how well Will Durant described our progress when he wrote:

"Slowly the increasing complexity of tools and trades subjected the unskilled or weak to the skilled or strong; every invention was a new weapon in the hands of the strong, and further strengthened them in their mastery and use of the weak."

followed by

"So in our time that Mississippi of inventions which we call the Industrial Revolution has enormously intensified the natural inequality of men."

I wish I had the wit to suggest a better way to conduct ourselves ... but I don't.


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