The Marvels of Globalization

Globalization is something. The laptop where I am typing this is Chinese (Lenovo), and the antivirus software I use to protect it is Russian (Kaspersky). The world wide web I am using was invented by a Briton (Tim Berners-Lee) and first tested in Swiss-based lab operated by a consortium of 22 mostly-European countries (CERN). My browser of choice, Chrome, was developed by a firm co-founded by a Russian Jew (Google). The messaging system I use most was invented by Swedes, Danes, and Estonians (Skype). The gas station I use most is a British-Dutch conglomerate (Royal Dutch Shell).

The legal database I rely on most, Westlaw, is from a Canadian company (Thomson Reuters); likewise, the Metromover I take to work was built by Bombardier, based in Montreal. My smartphone, though developed by an American company (Apple), was manufactured in China, most likely by a Taiwanese company (Foxconn). Apple was founded by a half-Syrian convert to Japanese Zen Buddhism, which is said to have influenced his design and business philosophy (Steve Jobs). My car is Japanese (Toyota) but was most likely partly manufactured in the U.S. and/or Mexico. The plane in which I flew to Colombia for my wedding was produced by a French-based company with operations in Germany, Spain, and Italy (Airbus) and operated by a Colombian airline that is the oldest in the world (Avianca).

(For its part, Boeing, though an American company, owes many parts of its flagship Dreamliner to contractors and suppliers all over the world, including France, India, South Korea, and Sweden.)

I cannot even begin to trace the origin of most of my food, which is grown and refined across the world, nor my clothes, which are made in a multitude of places, including Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam. Two of my favorite grocers – ALDI and Trader Joe’s – are German-owned (the latter by the former).

It is virtually impossible for anyone in a modern economy to be unconnected from another society – for better or worse. This might seem like a trite point, but that goes to show how much we take for granted: for the vast majority of human history, we had to make do with only what was immediately available in our limited geographic range.

Now we have an entire world of innovation, labor, and creativity at our disposal, exchanging and melding ideas to create new and better things that would not otherwise existence without a broader poor of talent.

None of this is to ignore the costs of globalization, such as mass exploitation, environmental degradation, and vast inequality, but hopefully we can curtail these needless costs so that more people can reap dividends from the totality of human ingenuity.

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