Thursday, September 25, 2014

Globalization: The Good, The Bad, The Guilty

First of all, don't forget that my classes have a quiz tomorrow.  You may want to study.

Globalization: The Good

Countries (and individual people) produce what they have access to, and what they are good at producing.  We went to Banananovia - and this was great, because we couldn't grow bananas in northern Indiana.  (Or Northern Industralia - thanks to the anonymous person who left the comment).  We wouldn't be good at it.  Globalization allows us to get the things we want and need - as well as make money selling what we are good at producing.

Not only that, but it's cheap labor that is driving globalization.  Cheap labor means we make things for less - and that is good for us as consumers.  Consider this chart we looked at today:

The production cost is often reflected in the price - though not always.  ...I know I'm happy when I save money.

Globalization:  The Bad

As we saw from Banananovia, global culture is replacing local cultures.  The Banananovian culture has essentially died out - and if not died out, it has irrevocably been changed.  ...Changed and supplanted with our own culture.

Furthermore, globalization has allowed for the exploitation of workers in developing nations - formerly called third-world countries.  It allows companies to take advantage of places that don't (or won't) honor the rights of workers.  It allows them to move their base where the standard-operating-procedures wouldn't be deemed illegal - even if we all agree this is unethical.

Today we watched a Simpsons clip where Mr. Burns outsourced his nuclear power plant to India in order to exploit the workers.  You'll have to ask my students what they thought about the clip.

Globalization: The Guilty

We watched another short clip today as well.  Maybe you recall the 2013 Savar building collapse?  It was the factory in Bangladesh that collapsed - there weren't enough fingers to point out the blame.  Here's what we watched:

There is a reason we have safety regulations in these United States.  The question I posited to my students is, should we share in the guilt of these deaths?  This is not a mere rhetorical question.  I only wish we had more time to discuss it in class.

Some (hopefully) unbiased thoughts:  

  • Most of our clothes (98%) come from overseas; selection... what choice do we have?
  • Should we adapt to a smaller selection?
  • Some businesses treat their employees well - both at home and abroad.
  • Some factories exploit their workers.
  • Is it our place to fight for the rights of workers overseas?
  • Should we leave that up to their country?
  • Is it my responsibility to find out the working conditions of the people who made my clothes?
  • How is this similar from the north buying goods from the south during US slavery?
  • How is this different?
  • Should we share in the guilt?
You can see that tons and tons of tough questions can come up when we discuss globalization - or really, any aspect of social studies.  There is never enough time in the class day.  The biggest question is, "what is my role in all of this?"  And that one may be the most difficult to answer.

To get the extra credit for reading and discussing the blog today, you have to read and discuss it with an adult.  I would suggest focusing on some of the questions/thoughts mentioned in the bullet points.  Respond to a couple of those on a piece of scrap paper.  Have the adult you read and discussed with sign the paper.  (Make sure your name is on it as well.)  Turn it in tomorrow.

PS: Some classes also discussed this cartoon, which I originally saw in Jr. Scholastic:

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