Fitting on Labour Day

I am going to range a little out of my traditional comfort zone on this one. I don’t claim to have any experience or expertise relating to third world economic development. However, I have read Naomi Klein, Noam Chomsky and other anti-globalization folks and have some knowledge of their position.

I read over the weekend another story about a transnational/multinational corporation supposedly bent on wrecking the world by exploiting third world labour, corrupt politicians and lax environmental standards.

Then I went into Starbucks for a Caramel Macchiato Espresso on Sunday and was bombarded by posters of how Starbucks is making a positive difference in the developing world by paying ‘fair wages’, enforcing strict environmental regulations with their suppliers and even setting up funds to send poor farmers’ kids to university.

Now I know there are folks who absolutely hate Starbucks (www.ihatestarbucks.com, for example) but the point I am trying to make is that the spread of global capitalism and the movement of these large corporations into formerly isolated economies should support international goals such as good paying jobs, global environmental standards, and the reduction in government corruption.

It’s not that corporations are by nature altruistic. It’s just that their shareholder and customers in the West should ‘reward’ companies that do the right things in the third world.

And, in my opinion, that should be the role of Klein and hordes of others that are bashing and hammering but leaving an ideological vacuum in their wake as they propose no real solutions. These environmentalists/antiglobalists should roam the world looking for examples of transnational firms that are doing good things (maybe Starbucks?) and celebrate them. And they should find out the companies that are exploiting communities and people and report these transgressions. They should support more ‘ethical’ mutual funds and international standards development.

Stop the vitriolic and predictable complaining about large companies per se. This belies a latent early 20th century distrust of the ‘private sector’ and private wealth accumulation.

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