An Immodest Proposal: How to Fix the World
A satirical piece proposing a definitive solution to American imperialism, the flawed global economy, and the general ignorance of US citizens towards the rest of the world.
Eighty years ago, the stock market crash led the United States economy to the largest depression the country had ever experienced. In turn, the downturn in the economy of the United States plunged the economies of all the other industrialized nations with it, creating the Great Depression. During these past few years, history has been repeating – a similar depression in the United States is developing , which threatens to spread all over the world. Globalization has enabled American corporations to move to countries where there is little government regulation of work conditions and payment to employees, stripping American citizens of decent-paying jobs and giving them to exploited foreign workers. This has created a hugely unequal distribution of wealth between corporations and workers; between the United States and undeveloped or developing countries.
Additionally, the awesome military strength of the United States and the political influence it has obtained through its hogging of wealth has allowed it to become a sort of global authority and model. The United States governs the rest of the world indirectly and whichever trends are seen in the United States will spread or affect the rest of the world. American citizens are given the right to elect their government because it ultimately will affect them – that is the concept of democracy. However, the rest of the world is also affected by American policies and no nation is truly sovereign anymore, but the rest of the world cannot elect the government of the global authority whose policies will affect them in so many ways. Therefore, for the sake of democracy and for the sake of a better world, every person in the world should have the right to elect the government of the United States, including the President.
The events that led to the worldwide Great Depression are remarkably similar to the events that caused the current financial crisis that, like the Great Depression, is likely to spread elsewhere. In both cases, free market trade, speculation, the unequal distribution of wealth, bad practices by financial institutions, and the lack of government oversight created the problem in the United States. In the 1930’s it was a disparity in wealth distribution that resulted in the larger, poorer portion of the population of the United States to be unable to afford food and items, though these were abundant. This in turn caused an oversupply of goods – the supply was not equal to the demand. Whenever there is a disparity in supply and demand, the economy becomes unstable.
Market speculation and a severe drought in the Midwest compounded the already existing problem, and caused it to go out of control. Now, one would think that only a country responsible for such an error would suffer its consequences and learn from them. However, due to a globalization wave (the First Era of Globalization) that the British Empire had established in the 19th century and the dependence of industrialized countries on the United States economy, the Great Depression spread worldwide, affecting these nations. In the case of the 2008 financial crisis, bad lending practices by financial institutions and the housing bubble caused the subprime mortgage crisis. This in turn compounded to high oil prices and the resultant high food prices meant that the supply-and-demand balance was off. The lack of government oversight that gave markets their freedom also caused a widening gap between the rich and the poor, destabilizing the economy before the mortgage crisis. Banks began to fail and speculation rose, causing stock markets around the world to crash. Again, like in the 1930’s, due to globalization and the dependence of most countries on the American economy, the financial crisis is very likely to spread elsewhere and affect other countries to a greater or lesser extent.
How did the Great Depression end in the United States and the rest of the world? War: the Nazis managed to rise to power because they promised economic stability in Germany, and the war benefited the United States by restarting the economy. Fascism appeared in countries like Italy and those in South America. If the people of the world are able to elect the government that could potentially cause a financial disaster resulting in totalitarianism, the poorer nations could have an opportunity to prevent the disparity in wealth that would cause the financial storm in the first place. There would also be more government oversight of financial institutions and their practices.
One of the main reasons the unequal distribution of wealth arises, both between corporations and workers, and between the United States and undeveloped/developing countries is globalization. Globalization erases the economic restrictions of different countries to allow for more freedom in trade and exchange. As a side effect of this partial elimination of borders, jobs are frequently outsourced from more developed countries (usually the United States) to undeveloped or developing ones (”third world countries”). The reason for this, to put it nicely, is to save money. Outsourcing allows corporations to reduce the costs of production, saving money.
Therefore the corporations can lower the prices of items, resulting in a more competitive corporation. However, there are flaws: in the case of the United States, jobs are outsourced to countries that have less or no restrictions on the working conditions and minimum wages. Frequently, these countries have corrupt or nonexistent unions, so workers cannot defend themselves against corporate greed. Often, the results are that Americans lose otherwise decent-paying jobs to sweatshop workers who are overexploited for a fraction of what the payment would be in the United States. Therefore, Americans become poorer and poorer within their own country and foreign workers stay poor, while American corporations become increasingly wealthy. This is the wealth inequality that sets up the United States and the rest of the world for a future Great Depression. If the people from the undeveloped/developing countries were given the opportunity to elect the American government, they could encourage the government to be aware of their needs and put restrictions on outsourcing to corporations.
They could also encourage the government to tax corporations more heavily instead of giving them tax cuts. Even better, they could encourage the government to put restrictions on the practice of exploiting people for a very low wage. This would not only benefit the poor, but it would prevent the wealth disparity from taking place. Consequently, this would create more jobs for both the foreign workers and Americans.
The American notion of manifest destiny (think of the popular phrase in American politics “God Bless America”) and the military strength acquired by the United States has resulted in the arrogant belief amongst many Americans that they have the God-given right to invade other countries and intervene in conflicts (usually when it is convenient for them). The United States has set itself up as a global authority and a model for first world countries to follow. As a consequence, Americans are shielded from the rest of the world and few care about the horrors of extreme poverty and religious fanaticism as long as it does not affect them.
An obvious symptom of this thinking is the inability of the average American to identify even the countries that make up North America (Canada, the United States, AND Mexico, for those who think North America ends at the southern border of the US). Another symptom is the warlike attitude of attacking countries with different ideologies or countries that do not provide aid in times of war; on a more individual level, this attitude presents itself as violence towards people of different ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexuality, culture, etcetera. As a result, the only people who would be able to speak for the disadvantaged nations of the world, simply do not, because they do not care.
Americans lack the empathy and tolerance to sympathize and accept people who are different from them. Allowing people from all over the world to have a hand in electing the American government would give people from different nationalities, ethnicities and religions a voice, and provide American citizens with new perspectives and ideas. This would not only reduce the incidence of war between the United States and other countries which could potentially escalate to an international conflinct, but it would also work in a more individual level, allowing Americans to become more tolerant and understanding of different people.
A win-win situation for both the United States and the rest of the world, allowing people from other countries to have a voice in what gets done in the United States government is a single solution to more than one problem. The American economy and consequently the world economy would benefit from this solution. So would the problem of poverty and starvation in undeveloped/developing countries disappear. Most importantly, the attitude of the United States would change, making the world a much safer place than it currently is. These are but a few of the beneficial results of this proposal and it is yet to be determined if there are more.