Society the national average. (Adebi, M. 2017)
Society has a sickness.
It works quietly and it is extremely deceitful. The disease has gone unnoticed for the past century in the eyes of the average citizen. The developed world has fallen victim to its ploys, while the developing world suffers from its symptoms. This sickness is globalization; the development of globally-integrated systems. The global economy is its most powerful weapon. Through the ever-increasing gap between the socioeconomic classes, the rise of fast fashion and the ever-increasing legal power wielded by corporations; globalization is the biggest mistake humans have ever made.
Nearly two decades ago globalization was seen as a strategy to raise the rich and poor in all countries onto a more even playing field. In reality, globalization has only increased the socioeconomic divide between the rich and poor classes. From 1990-2010 income inequality increased 11% on average in developing countries. (Report on the World Social Situation, 2005) Income was more equal for 75% of citizens in developed countries in 1990 then it is now. Globalization isn’t helping the economy, its helping line the pockets of a few people, and emptying them from everyone else. Just 50 companies have over 1.6 trillion stashed away in low-tax countries around the world to evade taxes – from Starbucks and Amazon to Apple.
(Oxfam, 2017) Moreover, in Canada, economic inequality is greatest in the biggest cities, from Toronto to Vancouver and is the most equal in smaller cities and rural areas. Vancouver’s inequality is two and a half times higher than the national average, with Toronto three times higher and Calgary the highest at four times the national average. (Adebi, M.
2017) Regardless of income, studies have shown that societies that have more unequal incomes suffer higher rates of violence, poor physical and mental health. Moreover, a study done by the UN reported that the richest 20% of countries consume 86% of the world’s total resources, whereas the remaining 80% consume just 14% of the world’s resources. (World Centric, 2003) In addition, companies in developed countries are in better positions to take advantage of the wider market and opportunities, at the expense of people in developing countries. If globalization is spurred on further by large corporations, more countries will end up with highly concentrated incomes like Brazil, whose top 1% of citizens hold over 27% of the country’s total income (The Brazilian Report, 2017).The citizens living in developed countries are victims of consumer culture. Each year, Canadians produce 1,679 pounds of trash per person on average.
Adding insult to injury; Canadians also throw away an average of 200 t-shirts or 70 pounds of clothing each year. (Confino, J. 2016) Moreover the average Canadian adds an average of 64 clothing items to their closets each year. 85% of these clothes end up in landfills (Frazee, G. 2016) within 6 months and seeing as over 60% of these clothes are made of polyester, they won’t degrade in landfills for at least half a century. (Borneman, J. 2015) With over 1 billion people in the world starving, without proper clothing or clean water; how is this not a federal crime? The developed world’s desire for cheap commodities is robbing other human beings of the basic necessities like food, and clothes. If that wasn’t bad enough Canada also exports over 39,000 tons of waste per year to developing countries so people living in developed countries don’t see the impact of their spending and wasteful habits.
Of course, it is not the consumers’ fault, the blame also falls on the marketing companies. The average person sees over 5,000 advertisements day, designed to tell them they are too fat, too old or too ugly. These corporations also use a variety of gimmicks to make people buy more stuff. Tactics such as planned obsolescence, which is designing something to break down fast so that another one will be bought, and perceived obsolescence which is making the consumer believe something is non-functional or fashionable anymore, like the latest iPhone or thin vs. thick heels. (Story of Stuff, 2009) Everything is carefully crafted to make the consumer spend more money. Society today has become a cult of shopping zombies, mindlessly buying unnecessary products because big corporations make them think they need it.
51 of the 100 largest economies in the world are corporations, the rest are various countries. (Corporate Power Facts and Stats, 2011) How is it that corporations have gained more economic power than entire countries? The devil is in the details. Globalization has given companies more economic power and influence around the world and this, in turn, gives them more political power. (Saw, W.
(n.d.)) As a result, it is perfectly legal to completely falsify or distort what is told on mass media in the United States of America. This right is protected by the first amendment, specifically, the freedom of expression which is given to corporations but not countries. Two reporters learned this the hard way in 1996, three years after the commercial release of rBGH for dairy farmers. The potential for human health effects and the lack of studies done on the hormone were noticed by two Fox News reporters, Jane Akre and Steve Wilson and they were instructed to write a four-part series on their findings.
What they found was verifiable, consistent data illustrating the many negative effects of rBST (rBGH as it was known then) on human health, including studies linking rBGH/rBST to cancer. The initial study run by the drug’s own manufacturer, Monsanto, was performed for only 90 days on just 30 rats (Medicine, C. F. (n.d.)).
No long-term studies were done to determine the toxicology of rBGH consumption in humans. The FDA approved the drug regardless. Jane Akre and Steve Wilson were going to use this information in their series. Long story short, once Monsanto caught a whiff of the investigation they were able to force Fox News into censoring the show’s coverage and were told to put Monsanto and rBGH in a positive light. Subsequently, Jane and Steve were fired for not wanting to falsify the story.
Jane Akre and Steve Wilson were powerless and after several court battles, the court ruled they did not have whistleblower rights for being fired nor was it illegal to for Fox and Monsanto to falsify news. The American Cancer Society states that it “has no formal opinion on rBST” and states that findings either for or against the hormone are unclear. If even the American Cancer Society cannot determine whether or not this product can in any way harm human health, why is it allowed unlabeled and unnoticed in milk products for human consumption? Often companies know their products may be harmful, or that they actually are harmful, and withhold this information from the public – or downplay it significantly.
This is the same approach taken by the Tobacco Industry back in 1612, and even in the 1920s when reports came out linking tobacco to cancer, new outlets would not publish the information as they were funded by major tobacco companies. It wasn’t until the 1950s that the public really heard about the harmful effects of smoking tobacco products.(Cancer Council, 2013) The tobacco companies themselves also fought packaging laws that mandated they contain the common warnings now seen today that link their product to cancer and other serious health effects.
The root cause of this issue is that Corporations were and still are considered “persons” under the law and such, have rights under the Constitution, such as the freedom of expression. This allows corporations to twist many laws and rules in their favour. For example, corporations also have the freedom of religion. This freedom allows corporations to avoid certain employee insurance benefits like contraceptives being covered for women, as this can be seen as a “burden” and the corporations can claim that the contraceptives are impeding on the corporation’s religious rights.(Supreme Court of The United States, 2014) In summary, globalization has only increased the influence & size of many corporations, thus increasing their overall power over others. To this point, corporations frequently use their affluence and size to their advantage, not only by bribing and threatening major news outlets to tell a story a certain way, but through utilizing their own human rights to get want they want.
Globalization has increased economic inequality around the world, it has lead the exploitation of workers through the advent of fast fashion and has enabled corporations to grow ever more powerful, at the expense of everyone else. Globalization in its current form is not what society needs, it is a sickness the world must cure itself of.