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“In fact, I'm looking for a partner with whom to go 'around the world.'”
Globalization is when things go from a country in which they belong, around the globe and into countries in which they do not belong. When you, dear reader, take a cruise and wind up in Barbados, that is all right because everyone expects you to return where you belong real soon, and take those earrings, imitation prehistoric artefacts, and genital viruses back with you. When jobs, culture, oil, Nike sneakers, and nuclear weapons cross national borders, that is, how-you-say, less good.
The first example of globalization in the modern era was Star Trek. Episodes began to appear outside the United States, including in countries in Africa and Latin America in which viewers got the unfortunate impression that the program was not fiction but rather newsreel. This explains the large number of anti-matter repulsors hurriedly constructed in the Andes in Peru.
The initial state of globalization may have seemed benign in the United States, but it was not long before the key job of starship commander was given to a Brit, and on the trivial basis of ability to act. When the job of Security Chief went to a Klingon, the U.S. Congress finally began to grasp the significance of globalization on the jobs market and passed appropriate legislation.
How it works
A modern American business desiring to, say, assemble one million iPhones files the necessary paperwork. They must prove to the government that they will cover late-term abortions and mental-health counseling, and probably obtain a Certificate of Need.
At about that time, a small army of Vietnamese peasants leaves the rice paddies and whorehouses that used to employ them, and begins commuting to work in large warehouses built by Chinese businessmen. They get five times their former pay and the employer often provides magnifying eyeglasses so they can solder the tiny wires. Before long, telephones are piling up at the loading dock. Best of all, the Chinese owners always use the blueprints only to assemble the product, and never to help them miniaturize space weapons.
Before long, American protests form. Demonstrators carry signs that note that the workers are receiving neither four weeks' paid vacations nor free soda in the canteen, and would have been much better off back where they came from. Happily, the demonstrators coordinate rides to the protests using their brand-new iPhones.
Other forms of globalization
Globalization affects not only gadgets and widgets. We see it in other forms as well:
- By international treaty, rock musicians must sing their songs with an American accent, as though they were young, anemic versions of Chuck Norris with bad teeth. And country music singers must pronounce their words as the Good Ol' Boys do down on the kudzu farms and in the restaurants where they eat their corn pones.
Barriers to globalization
Nations are erecting huge barriers to prevent the spread of globalization, such as the high-tech border between the U.S. and Mexico. Although this vast stretch of desert is unmanned, it is an impenetrable border. The border ensures that American cities such as El Paso remain culturally distinct from cities on the other side such as Ciudad Juarez.
The biggest barrier to globalization is that kitchen appliances won't plug into the wall if you take them out of the country. Also DVDs won't play if you take them on a foreign trip. Americans who travel to France are forced to settle for art-house movies with subtle messages. (They must also smoke gitanes, and it is hard to get a Big Mac.) Pornography is an exception to this. Although everyone enjoys watching orgies involving barn animals, American public opinion began to turn against this genre when the industry began flouting region codes, largely to spite former Attorney General Edwin Meese, even though he never acted in a single porno.
Customs officials in every country scrutinize travelers to ensure that they are not bringing in laptop computers, video cameras, or other productivity tools that might threaten the local culture. American customs officials mostly stand guard to catch "tourists" walking a desk or a filing cabinet onto a departing jet-liner, a sure sign that another job is being "offshored."
But Customs cannot control things like on-line encyclopedias, on which myopic Americans type away at keyboards under the supervision of administrators in the United Kingdom. The fact that all the work is done for no pay is small comfort indeed.