08/29/2010 Leave a comment
(Originally Posted Just 3, 2010 on the Creative Energy Blog)
In any discussion of international business, global marketing or outsourcing, inevitably the book, The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman, comes into the conversation. This is not necessarily a bad thing.
The first three quarters of this book are brilliant in many ways. They present an insightful portrait of the global economy, domestic needs for an improved federally based educational system and a major technological improvement to our technological infrastructure.
The book isolates game changing events in economics, technology and politics and makes the point that the fall of the Berlin Wall did more than free Eastern Europe. The fall proved to the third world once and for all a socialist, centrally planned economy cannot work.
Mr. Friedman does an excellent job of presenting that there is much more than cheap labor at play with the loss of domestic jobs to outsourcing. In fact, he effectively proves that protectionism is a costly and misguided program that’s more likely to handicap a nation’s quality of life than help it.
When facing overseas competition, protectionism is not and never has been the answer… education is. The more students we excite about math, science and engineering, the more innovations we can expect and the brighter our future.
Likewise, Friedman discusses how individuals can and have adapted to the global economy. These are people who have made deliberate choices pertaining to their careers and have come out on top as a direct result.
The only shortcoming is the last quarter of the book. Here the author’s forays off the reservation to make attacks on the Bush administration that are not supported by the facts… including the facts he presented. For example, no administration has done more to reduce protectionist policies and open trade, a fact Mr. Friedman deliberately fails to praise, or even mention, even though much of his book advocates this very policy.
In short, the first three quarters of this book are fantastic sources of information for both individuals and companies as they try to understand and find their places in the rapidly evolving global economy. As for the last quarter… unless you like reading politically motivated diatribes, you might want to check out what’s on TV instead.