Boinkie's Blog

Universalis

Monday, March 26, 2007

Globalization

Is globalization the takeover of happy communities by big evil businesses (for those on the left) or by big evil New World Order (by those on the Right) or is it the way of salvation to stop poverty and hunger?

Well, economics is not my expertise, so I'll try it this way.

Do missionaries, by decreasing traditional beliefs, destroy simple societies? Are boarding schools that require language immersion and teaching the western ways of life (and thereby destroying family and tribal traditions) good or evil?
This year the answer is evil, but before you answer that, let me remind you that the idea that we should not change the lifestyle of simpler indigenous peoples was the idea behind apartheid.

A subtle subtheme in Lord of the Rings is the "sin" of the elves. Yes, elves are the "perfect men" but they have a sin: the wish to preserve their way of life. And to do this, they made the original rings, which led to Sauron learning to make the great ring of power.

You see, there is no such thing as a perfect world. Things change, and one cannot keep out the changes, no matter how hard you try. All you can do is try to limit the evil of your own back yard: whether that is the traditional societies with their poverty and ignorance, or the fully globalized yuppies with their materialism.

So I have three articles in which to show the complexities of globalization:

One: PBS article with a college professor who fights globalization and thinks having poor farmers live organically is the answer. LINK

I say yes to her fighting the degradation of the environment and exploitation of workers by middle men.

I also say yes to saving traditional seeds, and using organic ways to grow crops. It's healthier for both the farmer and those who eat the food. But the dirty little secret is that organic methods are harder, have a smaller yield, and if this was the only option, the increased price would lead to hunger in the urban poor.(note: our family sells organic brown rice. but our yield is not as high as using chemicals, and so we sell it at twice as much as ordinary rice, so we sell it to the health conscious in Manila, not locally).

And in the middle of the interview, she paints a romantic picture of the good old days and says the farmers want things to stay the same. Ah yes, but is she the one bending over 12 hours a day to plant and harvest rice? No, I don't think so.

One of the dangers of making this type of anti globalization thinking is that they don't see how life was lived in the good old days, nor that with population increases, living an old fashioned organic life would lead to mass famine. Nor do they ask if farmers, whose religion stresses obedience to fate, might not start asking: why am I so poor?

In other words, unless you live in a hermit kingdom like North Korea, people will find out that there are alternatives, and might want change.

Which brings us to the second globalization story: Riots in China.

They don't get much publicity but there have been quite a few, and the few reports suggest the cause is frustration with globalization: i.e. that the cities get all the benefits and the country folk don't.
The riot in the link is about a riot over increasing bus fares two years after the buses were privatized.
Now, in the West, privatization means better service, but often in Asia it means corruption: You have a monopoly, so you bribe officials to make the largest profit, and raise fares as high as you can. Hence the riot.
In other words, it is not a riot against globalization per se (you don't see farmers destroying buses because they want to walk or use oxcarts like their ancestors) but about corruption and lack of opportunity for becoming wealthy in rural areas.

Here in the Philippines, we have the same split: Lots of rich people, a small but growing middle class that is largely funded by overseas jobs, and lots of poor people left on the farms.

But unlike China, there are no laws preventing migration to cities for jobs, and indeed the government encourages workers to take overseas jobs.

But when young people work overseas, it is not good for families. Many young children are raised by extended families while mom works as a nurse in Chicago or as a maid in Saudi.

The hope is that these skilled workers will come back and start businesses. But to start a business, the problem is cheap imports (mainly from China) that make it impossible to manufacture items or grow things that will be cheaper than the imports.

Yet in places like the Philippines, things are optimistic, if for no other reason than we can talk about such things, and have decided to embrace the future.

So what is the answer? Ah, that's my point. There is no one answer. Things change, and although you can try to stop the bad side effects of change, to say you don't want globalization, with it's benefits of knowledge, wealth making, and freedom, is absurd.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

God at work

Is God a concept for you, or a living reality?”

Not long ago, I heard this question posed by Dr. Tim Keller, during a sermon at the Redeemer Presbyterian Church, here in New York City. Now, that probing question is present whenever I cover religion stories.

Dr. Keller’s point is if God is a concept for you, then he’s more like a self-help book or a friend you ask to listen to your wonders and woes. But if God is a living reality, then that transforms you. It changes you and colors every aspect of your life.

Hence, my inspiration for this week’s blog — God At Work....(go to link for the rest)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

What is prayer

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Blogstorm please

MielloMillo asks everyone to pressure zimbabwe

If you don't know what's going on there, check my blog MugabeMakaipa Blog
I will ask all friends of southern Africa to send this bulletin to Zimbabwe embassy in Stockholm by e-mail: mbuya@stockholm.mail.telia.com



To Her Excellency Ms Mary Sibusisiwe MUBI
Ambassador Extra-ordinary and Plenipotentiary,

I am deeply concerned about the latest news from Zimbabwe about the mistreatment of opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and other activists. Other leaders, including Tendai Biti, the Secretary General of the Tsvangirai-led MDC; Grace Kwinje, the Party's Deputy Secretary for International Relations; and Nelson Chamisa, spokesperson for the MDC, have according to reports also sustained severe injuries while in police custody.

I call for all detainees who engaged in non-violent protest to be released immediately. I also call for an investigation into the killing of Gift Tandare.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Secret...

The big thing this Lent on Oprah and other shows is a DVD and book called the Secret.

Here is the link at a tech webpage: LINK

It claims that it is the secret in the "judeochristian" tradition, that few have ever known, but if you buy their book you too can learn it.

They even quote the Bible: Ask and you shall receive...

What's wrong with this picture?

Well, let's start with the initial premise:

The principle explains that we create our own circumstances by the choices we make in life. And the choices we make are fueled by our thoughts—which means our thoughts are the most powerful things we have here on earth.

Well, there are many things that we can control. Indeed, one thing that modern western philosophy and religion has that is different than Eastern religions is the idea that we have some control in our lives; in the past, this was called "Free will".

So unlike, say, an African who passively submits to drought, sickness and tyranny, a Westerner will rebel, or (like many of our ancestors) migrate to America, where we have freedom to live freely and create our own destiny.

So isn't "free will" good? Isn't the idea that we should live a comfortable life a good thing? Isn't having a positive attitude a good idea?

Indeed, there is not much in "the secret" that isn't idential to what psycologist William James calls the "healthy minded religion" or the name popular a hundred years ago, the "mind cure".LINK

This is good, but the problem is it is not The Good. And even William James points out it is merely one of many "Varieties of Religious experience".

There is a subtle twist between a healthy minded religion that cures the sick, strengthens the weak will, and helps a person to forgive himself and others and live a cheerful optimistic life. Indeed, if you read those helped on the Oprah website, you will find most of them are hurt children who learned to take responsibility for their self destructive ideas, and this is good.

But the danger is the twist can be found in those pushing the Secret, the idea that "the universe" will line up behind your positive thoughts and you will get what you want.

This is magical thinking, which in science is nonsense, in psychology is childish and immature, and in religion it is saying "Non servum", the idea that you want your will, not God's will for your life.

Ah, but which of us can really control our own lives? When the towers were destroyed on 9-11, many people were shaken to the core with the possibility that they might not be in control. Indeed, one wonders how much of the "Bush Derangement syndrome" is projection of fear rather than a rational dislike of conservative politics.

Yet some continue to think if they do this or that they will be in control, they will live forever. So many hope modern man will conquer not only sickness, but old age and death, using our technological skills.LINK

Sunday, March 04, 2007

whoops wrong box

It wasn't a bone box...it was a beer cooler....

The Stations of the cross MP3 link

I should be writing more, but right now I'm busy hiding from the Lord

Friday, March 02, 2007

Nostalgia tune of the day


headsup from Nostagia Manila...

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The destruction of the sexual revolution

Three psychiatrists discuss the absurdity of Hollywood, the sexualization of young girls, and....abortion.