The Race to the Bottom: Why a Worldwide Worker Surplus and Uncontrolled Free Trade Are Sinking American Living Standards

The Race to the Bottom: Why a Worldwide Worker Surplus and Uncontrolled Free Trade Are Sinking American Living Standards

The Race to the Bottom: Why a Worldwide Worker Surplus and Uncontrolled Free Trade Are Sinking American Living Standards

The Race to the Bottom: Why a Worldwide Worker Surplus and Uncontrolled Free Trade Are Sinking American Living Standards

Synopsis

European and US multinationals are transferring factories to poorer countries, where slave-wage workers undermine the bargaining power of labour in the industrialised world.

Excerpt

Way back in the mid-1990s, no two cities symbolized the new global economy and its promises of progress and prosperity like Seattle, Washington, and Bangkok, Thailand.

Hugging the picturesque Puget Sound and looking out at the teeming air and sea routes of the Pacific, Seattle seemed practically cast by Hollywood to provide both the software that runs most of the world's computers and the jetliners that help link its peoples and markets. Better yet, the broad appeal of the city's coffee bars, music, and affluently bohemian ethos, combining lattetinged self-absorption with a social conscience, suggested that globalization could not only be wildly lucrative but hip and even progressive.

Bangkok, for its part, typified the most spectacular and encouraging success story of the burgeoning economic and information flows comprising globalization--the booming third world metropolis. Barely twenty years ago, Bangkok was best known to Americans as the capital of Anna's tradition-bound King of Siam--or possibly as the home of an almost unimaginably lurid sex industry. By the 1980s, Bangkok was the center of an archetypical "tiger" economy, whose mushrooming automotive and computer parts factories produced so much growth and so much wealth so rapidly that the citys' streets became choked with legendary traffic jams.

Today, both cities still symbolize the new global economy, but in very different ways. Now they represent the shortcomings and dangers of this economy.

Just after Thanksgiving 1999, trade ministers from some 130 countries gathered in Seattle to try to break the logjams blocking the launch of a new set of negotiations to free up global trade even . . .

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