The Economist is a great source for clear statements of what the wealthy and powerful mean by globalization and free trade (and similar neoliberal economic policies). Granted, they’re often statements made in defense of the neoliberal order, but they leave very clear explanations behind.
In a piece telling the residents of Wallonia in Belgium, who voted against an EU free trade deal with Canada, that they’re wrong, the magazine says,
Wallonia, once Belgium’s steel-and-coal heartland, is the sort of place where a bleak view of globalisation flourishes. Industrial plants are shutting down. Unemployment is high. In such poverty traps it is easy to misconstrue free-trade deals as giving supranational capital the right to trample over local legal systems, as well as environmental and labour standards. Yet political leaders, instead of facing up to this plight and presenting free trade as a way out of a dying past, make a case for it that is ever more convoluted. At best, they focus on technical fixes to finagle agreements such as CETA through. At worst they pander to rising protectionism with xenophobic rhetoric.
The part I bolded is the important part. That is exactly what free trade and globalization means to the wealthy and powerful. They don’t care if people can cross borders easily, as long as their money and goods can. For you and me, it means lower prices and fewer manufacturing and other low-skill jobs (they were all shipped to Mexico and China and elsewhere, remember?). For the wealthy, it means more money and, thus, more power.
In fact, The Economist‘s argument that politicians aren’t telling us that such policies are a way out of poverty is ironic given the same policies led to our current economic meltdown. If we dig all the way through Earth, we will — at some point — be working our way up, I suppose.
Sort of like Steve Case on taxes, The Economist argues we should do more of the same to make things “great again.”