Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Protectionism Or No Protectionism?

That is today's agonizing question. And its corollary, nationalism. Is the current financial and economic crisis sending us cuckoo, like it did in the 1930s, leading to a social and political crisis, and ultimately to a devastating world war?

The sirens of protectionism and nationalization are certainly seducing worldwide leaders. Will they be able to resist? Will the insight of history, and the world's unparalleled globalization -- with its positive and adverse effects -- inform them to make the right choices?

As with everything in this crisis, nobody knows. Yet, nefarious signs of a world gone wrong keep creeping up, like this former floating prison turned guestworkers' ghetto in Britain, reported by Boing Boing:

"As unemployment in Britain spikes, anti-foreign labor sentiment is running high, and multinationals stand accused of violating their labor agreements by shipping in cheap workers from abroad. One employer is housing its guest workers on a former prison ship that serves as both cheap housing and protection from angry mobs [...]"

Nothing good can come out of this. It never did.

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