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October 30, 2006

Ranting and Raving: Campaigning for a debate topic

Hello everyone. I hope that you like the new look. (I was getting sick of Kubric's face staring down at me everytime I logged on). I also thought that a new look would work well to usher in our attempt at engaging with the blog in a "new" way. So, here goes...

Below are the seven issues you all came up with in class. I've changed the wordings a bit to keep them nuetral and present them in a yes or no format, which will focus the argument and make it easier to vote on them later. For example, in the issue related to Iraq and US, I changed "cut and run" to "involved" in order to invite both sides to the debate. After reviewing the debate questions, chose one to campaign for as a fruitfull debate topic for the upcoming cyber-debates. Remember that three topics will be selected by vote this Friday in class.

Debate topics:
1. Should the US be involved in Iraq?
2. Should the US be involved in North Korea?
3. Should Tim Pawlenty's free MN tuition program be implimented?
4. Should the UofMN have foreign TAs and Professors?
5. Target vs Walmart: Which is more evil?
6. Should drinking age be changed to 18?
7. Should Corporate Power be limited? (eg. Should Walmart be allowed to build a Canal in Guatamala?)

Debate questions are listed below as entries (nevermind the mixed up order of numbers). Submit comments to the corresponding question of your choice.

5. Should the U of M have foreign professors and teacher's assistants (TA)?

Post a comment on whether or not you feel this is a good debate topic.

1. Should the drinking age be changed to 18?

Post a comment on whether or not you feel this is a good debate topic.

2. Should corporate power be limited?

Post a comment on whether or not you feel this will be a good debate topic.

3. Should Tim Pawlenty's free tuition plan be implimented?

Post a comment on whether or not you feel this will be a good debate topic.

4. Target vs. Walmart: Which is more evil?

Post a comment on whether or not you feel this will be a good debate topic.

6. Should the US be involved in North Korea?

Post comments on whether or not you feel that this would be a good debate topic.

7. Should the US be involved in IRAQ?

Post comments on whether or not you feel that this would be a good debate topic.

October 27, 2006

Genetically Engineered Foods

Alright, so since we had to do this research paper, I decided to research Genetically Engineered Foods. There are so many different viewpoints of how Genetically Engineered Foods affect the world it's hard to condense them all into one paper. A basic summary of the clashing oppinions of Genetically Engineered Foods revolves around four main ideas. Their is potential for many benefits, including enhanced taste of food, larger yields of crop and enhanced nutrient supply. Their is potential for many risks, including fatal allergens and toxicants through genetic engineering. Some skeptics feel the reason for the foods are to generate more profit to big crop organizations, thus causing the poor to stay the same and increasing revenue for the major businesses. And finally, the FDA and EPA released the foods way to early before thoroughly reviewing them. They just granted them a GRAS (Generally Reecognized as Safe) and slapped certain labels on them. So now that you know a little bit more about Genetically Engineered Foods, what are your views.

Do you feel that these foods should be on the market yet?
Do you feel that they should never even be released into the market?
Or, are there any mixed feelings?

Feel free to comment however you want.

October 26, 2006

What does everyone think about Iraq?

I have recently been noticing lots and lots of news outlets talking about the current situation in Iraq and should America step out of that nation. I know that my stance would be to not step out without knowing that the entire nation is under control because I feel that if we left earlier than that, the whole situation would be ten times worse than before. There is a mounting support for America to just cut its losses and leave. Can we as a nation really do this? We went in and ousted a terrible dictator, great, the world is a safer place because of it, but how can we leave before the job is done? Understandibly mistakes have been made by the Bush administration and the Democrats and Republicans fight over what to do constantly, but what do you guys and girls all think about the whole issue?

October 24, 2006

Globalization is Bad.

For my research paper I found this essay for the Ecologist that I thought gave an excellent example of specifically why Globalization is a bad thing and what it does to foreign cultures by exploring the effects it's had on a small region in the Kashmir known as Ladakh. The article also connects globalization explicitly to fundamentalism, terrorism, and violence, just as the "Clash of Civilizations" and "Jihad vs McWorld" articles did. "Experts" can tell you about how many oppurtunities it gives people, with the internet, connection, new potential for wealth, travel, but tell that to a person who has become poor now that they've been swallowed up by the world economy.

The article also addresses an extremely-overlooked and not-emphasised-enough point on Western advertising and how it produces shame for one's culture in these foreign cultures and oneself. I could go on and on about how completely negative a thing advertising is and how it effects people on such a subconcious level, but that might make people uncomfortable because they'd have to change the shirt they're wearing with the big "American Eagle" logo across their chest.

Ze article:
http://content.epnet.com/ContentServer.asp?T=P& P=AN& K=6421880& EbscoContent=dGJyMNHX8kSeqK84zdnyOLCmrk6ep7dSsa64TbGWxWXS& ContentCustomer=dGJyMPGrsEyuqbRJuePfgeyx%2BEu3q64A& D=aph

and a few little bits i thought were applicable and important:

"Development in Ladakh, as elsewhere in the world, meant that external investments were used to build up an energy and transport infrastructure that shifted economic and political life from a multitude of villages into one urban center. Suddenly, villages that had previously provided food, energy, medicine and skills born of generations of local knowledge were threatened with extinction. They were no longer able to compete with the city, where subsidised imported food, petroleum, pharmaceuticals and designer clothes were available for the lucky few. The destruction of the local economy and culture by the global economy also created what can best be described as a cultural inferiority complex. "

"In one of my first years in Ladakh, I was shown around a remote village by a young Ladakhi named Tsewang. Since all the houses I saw seemed especially large and beautiful, I asked Tsewang to show me the houses where the poor lived. He looked perplexed for a moment, then replied: 'We don't have any poor people here.' "

"Within a few years Ladakhis were exposed to television, western movies, advertising and a seasonal flood of foreign tourists. "

"Ladakh's local economy was being swallowed up by the global economy, and its traditional culture displaced by the consumer monoculture.
A new form of competition began to separate the Ladakhis from one another. As the 'cheap' subsidised goods from outside destroyed the local economy, Ladakhis were forced to fight for the scarce jobs of the new money economy. "


"Now Ladakhis were absorbed into a national economy of 800 million, and a global economy of six billion. Their influence and power were reduced almost to zero. The little political power that remained was funnelled through highly centralised institutions and bureaucracies, dominated by the Muslims in Kashmir. "

"The result was artificial scarcity: people who had managed well for centuries on local materials were now, in effect, in fierce competition with everyone else on the planet. "

"In Ladakh and elsewhere in the South, these economic pressures are reinforced by the media and advertising, whose images consistently portray the rich and the beautiful living an exciting and glamorous version of the American Dream. ...Young people in particular are made to feel ashamed of their own culture. The pyschological impact on Ladakh was sudden and stark: eight years after telling me his village had no poor people, I overheard Tsewang saying to some tourists: 'If you could only help us Ladakhis, we're so poor.' This undermining of self-esteem is actually a stated goal of advertisers, who promote their own brands by imparting a sense of shame about local products. A US advertising executive in Beijing admitted that the message being drummed into Third World populations today is: 'Imported equals good, local equals crap.' "

"In Ladakh and around the world, the one-dimensional media stereotypes are invariably based on an urban, Western consumer model: blonde, blue-eyed and clean. If you are a farmer or are dark-skinned, you are made to feel primitive, backward, inferior. Thus, advertisements in Thailand and South America urge people to 'correct' their dark eye color with blue contact lenses: 'Have the color of eyes you wish you were born with!' For the same reason, women in the South use dangerous chemicals to lighten their skin and hair, and some Asian women even have operations to make their eyes look 'Western'. These are profound statements of self-rejection -- of shame at being who you are. "
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Thank you, Globalization, for giving the poor, backwards people of this world so many oppurtunities!

October 19, 2006

Trade with the "Axis of Evil"?



Many scholars in Foreign Affairs/Political Science have suggested that economic interdependence among nation-states reduces the possibility of militarized conflict. Research has been conducted that claims that countries with significant trade are more likely to cooperate and fight less. So, I propose that the United States create a strong economic tie with North Korea as a way to deter N.K. from causing international conflicts and to cooperate in the international system. It seems to be working with China. I think both the USA and China would be less incline to fight each other as both countries would hinder their economic relations, thus hurting their country's economic health. Should the US trade with North Korea?

October 17, 2006

Food Exports, always a good thing?

This is really an extension on Zack's blog about the daily show. The part about how America exports its excess beef and vegtable is actually causing a problem to people in foreign nations. When bigger countries like the US export all this food to countries the native farmers of the country experience extreme difficulties in turning a profit. Their food becomes unncessary or too pricy because bigger countries usually distrupt thier excess food for pennies. This is turn leaves these farmers with no customers and further moves the farming industry down the ladder. Is really such a good idea for countries to heavily rely on other nations beef and produce?

October 13, 2006

Stewart/Colbert '08

As an avid fan of both "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report" I am lucky enough to see many interesting interviews with some of D.C.'s most powerful people and pundits. On a recent show Stewart was discussing the outsourcing of jobs and asked the question "How can we avoid globalization? Would it be better if we drew a big circle around America and didn't allow anything in or out?" The question, and its answer have been festering in my brain for the past few days and obviously I'm still unsure. The answer was that we need to be able to export just as many goods and materials as we import. One of the statistics quoted in the interview was that we rely on imports for 97 percent of our merchandise. That's HUGE!!! About the only thing we get that's made in America is our food at this point. And about the only thing we export is our excess corn and beef, most of which is taken by the government and given to poverty-stricken nations as part of the farm subsidies that are government funded. Anyways, I'd like to pose this question to the blog: When will the rest of the world really benefit from the U.S. being part of the globalization machine? Will they ever look at American products and ideas as a good thing and not a scourge?

Mcdonalds and the world

I think that is rather unfortunate that McDonalds seems to be acting a representative for United States culture and interest all over the world. While this is a free market and they are a successful business, it is a shame that they are able to thrive in seeminlgy inappropriate conditions. In my opinion there are certainly areas on the globe where the local people do not need a McDonalds and therefore, should not have to deal with the construction of one. For me, it seems rather ridiculous for others to view the United States based on the practices of McDonalds but then I realized that I think in a similar way about tother cultures. I associated the middle east with oil and find it hard to find information on the feelings and culture of the people who live there. I associate Japan with technical innovation even though there my be cultural and more humaniost aspects of the nation that I am missing. Perhaps people cant draw a line between and nation and its exports.

October 12, 2006

Export Processing Zones

For our next paper, I will be focusing on the lifestyle of women in Export Processing Zones (EPZ, or also referred to as Free Trade Zones). Since EPZ are used by countries to promote globalization, I thought it would be nice to bring it to our blog to discuss.

Wikipedia.org defines Export Processing Zones:

"An Export processing zone or EPZ eases tax and labor restrictions and their primary purpose is to generate export revenues in poor developing countries. Export processing zones can be defined as labour intensive manufacturing centres that involve the import of raw materials or components and the export of factory products. In 2002 there were 43 million people working in about 3000 EPZs spanning 116 countries producing clothes, shoes, sneakers, electronics, and toys. The basic objectives of EPZs are to enhance foreign exchange earnings, develop export-oriented industries and to generate employment opportunities."

I just found out about the existence of EPZ earlier this week and I am surprised that I had not known of them earlier. I found it very interesting that there are actual regions in countries that are committed to promoting globalization through cheap and mass production of exports. For my paper, I decided to focus on the lives of women in EPZ becuase they make up approximately 80% of the workforce in the zones. While some claims state that the zones are good because they bring jobs to developing countries and build export-oriented companies they also have negative aspects for the workers, such as diseases, and for women, sexual harrassment. Has anyone else heard interesting facts about EPZ around the world?

October 11, 2006

Balance?

The last two paragraphs before the conclusion in Henderson talk a lot about balance. First, he says that corporations have moral and legal obligations and that they are pressured to justify what they do and retain a good reputation. Corporations must treat people right and make sure that they aren't causing any negative effects. However, in the next paragraph, he states corporations shouldn't endorse "sustainable development and the triple bottom line." In other words, they shouldn't assume anything about society's expectations. Corporations shouldn't try to change these expectations either, instead accept and recognize these accordingly. So, it seems a little confusing. Corporations are supposed to support legal and moral issues, but at the same time, not get into what society is going to expect. At times it seems almost impossible for corporations to do the right thing. First, Is it right for corporations to have that kind of attention?? Do corporations have too much responsibility, or not enough?? Also, what are today's corporations like??

October 10, 2006

CRS- yet another great thought that isn't very feasible

I just got done reading the two articles about Corporate respnsibility, and I definetly agree more with the second article. The first article offers a fairy-tale like idea of all these corporations coming together to be "Responsible" and to respect the environment as well as worker rights. This is a fabulous idea, but i do not think that it will ever be economically feasible. The second article made much more sense to me, the author claimed that all of this policy stuff that anti-business advocates are calling for would do the opposite of what businesses do. Businesses main perogative is to reduce their costs to make more money. Adding all of these policies would do the exact opposite of that. In closing, I do feel it is a corporations responsibilty to a certain extent to be responsible, but not to the extreme of the first article. If all American business were held to that doctrine in the first article, our economy would be destroyed from huge costs and slashed profits.

October 3, 2006

Can we put a face on Westernazation

When people talk about becoming westernized what are they really saying. The west almost is completley referring to the US. The US is a collection of all different types of cultures. So wouldn't we say that the westernazation is really just the combining of all the worlds cultures and traits into one single way of life. Is that a bad thing? Is that a good thing?