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Professor Goldman and the World Bank's role on globalization.

I actually took a class by Prof. Goldman called Race, Class, and the Politics of Nature, and it was by far the most enjoyable, thought provoking class I've ever taken in my life. The themes of the course were in most part related to human's views of nature and how we use it and portray it in different ways for our own benefit, but also how we do such for political purposes. The course also discussed how globalizations role has affected nature, and how the World Bank and IMF have created impossible debt for country's whose nature gets exploited, and the people in turn become marginalized.

My project for the course was on water privatization, which I learned even more about in today's class (Tues. 10-10) that had occured primarily because countries had such a debt to pay off, they needed to sell assets. Another reason for privatization of public industries in these countries, is their inability to collect payments from impoverished people and provide adequate supply to all of its citizens...many of whom were at one point wealthy businessmen in foreign markets and the richest people of their own country. One point I think that would be important for the class to keep in mind is that the occurrence of World Bank loans to developing countries in South America, happened in nearly every country, leaving the entire continent and its people in a lifetime of debt to U.S. and Particularly western European corporations who were actually the ones who bought the assets of the government and began operating their ex-public utilities. What happened after this occurred was even worse. When the government had runned the water supply, everyone got water. The infrastructure was inefficient and poorly funded due the national debts, but they were making it. When foreign corporations bought them, they were expecting to turn some form of profit because they are a business which sounds more than fair, but the debt of the wealthier businessmen and foreign investors, who were the rich of the country, along with the lower classes who had no money to begin with, there was an impossible situation for the European corporations to collect payments. In turn, they had shut off the water and/or, in many cases, gave them disease ridden and dirty water, causing an even worse situation that the country was previously in. The countries leaders could not complain about the poor job these companies were doing because their end of the bargain, paying off debt, was not fulfilled, and the companies could say that they shouldn't have to operate when they aren't recieving any payment.

To end this blog, I want to say that it is important to think about how often times these situations, particularly with globalization, there is no one specific to blame, and it is important to also pay attention to how poorer nations are often marginalized, as first world countries view them as "irresponsible, incapable of being at the same level as first world countries, and even to blame for their own misfortunes." This is not always, or usually, the case...but to the contrary, it is also not fair to claim that first world countries are evil capitalists exploiting poor in a new age form of global slavery, because attempts have been made to bring about a fair global economy. Anyways, that is a lot of what I got from Professor Goldman's exilirating speeches. The one thing I forgot to add and am doing so now, which I didn't feel related as much to this course, was that privatizing water is something controversial because it is an essential natural resource to all people and it comes from the sky and lakes/rivers, underground, etc. Is it fair to take it from people, bottle it, and turn it into a profit by claiming legal ownership over something like that? Or should it remain a public entity for the people by the people?

Comments

Wow - less than two hours and someone took me up on the offer! I'm jealous - I would've liked to have taken that class.

The only thing I'd add is about the last point you make:

The one thing I forgot to add and am doing so now, which I didn't feel related as much to this course, was that privatizing water is something controversial because it is an essential natural resource to all people and it comes from the sky and lakes/rivers, underground, etc. Is it fair to take it from people, bottle it, and turn it into a profit by claiming legal ownership over something like that? Or should it remain a public entity for the people by the people?

That's completely related to this course! The popular, simple definition of politics is "Who gets what, where, when and how." Questions about how our most basic natural resources get controlled and distributed are some of the core problems in politics. Should they be owned in common? Then how should we manage then? Or should they be entrusted to private corporations? Then how do we ensure they benefit all of us?

Great post, Nich.