What if the world were poor
When Corona broke out a year ago, some people quickly knew exactly: Globalization is to blame! They concluded from fear that there would be a lack of protective material and that the German economy would have to be completely turned inside out. And it would be best to produce everything yourself instead of importing and exporting. A year later it turns out: Without exports, the Federal Republic would be so deep in the corona hole that jobs would disappear en masse. What is needed is a differentiated view of globalization.
Yes, a pandemic makes people realize that some goods are more important than others. There is good reason to believe that the state should keep an eye on vital medicines and protective devices. In an emergency, deliveries from your own country or friendly countries should be secured. To depend on an aggressive world power like China, which decides on supplies based on political calculations, is not a good idea.
Produce everything yourself? That would be the end of the German export championship
But it would be wrong to extend this self-sufficiency to economic activity as a whole. What happens if the Federal Republic of Germany manufactures all goods for its own needs and blocks foreign products at the border? On the one hand, the consumer pays more for everything that is more expensive to manufacture in Germany. The middle class and the poor would have to forego some of what they can afford today. Second, other states will respond to the import blockade in the same way. That would be the end of the German export championship.
In such a world, in which most of the daily needs are produced regionally, people have lived for millennia. It was millennia of poverty. The West only became prosperous through industrialization and trade. That only happened in the past 150 years, a short period in history. The Germans should not sacrifice this progress for a romantic glorification of national economies.
Renationalization would require special sacrifices from the Germans. Almost half of our economic output consists of exports. In the pandemic, German citizens experience how central these exports are. Just because industry exports does the economy grow again. Most of the jobs will be kept. It's the world economy that gets these jobs.
This is a valuable finding for a country where export criticism is widespread. Trade agreements like Mercosur with South America or TTIP with the USA are condemned without differentiation. In doing so, the critics endanger the basis of our prosperity. Former US President Bill Clinton illustrated the importance of the economy with the dictum: It's the economy, stupid. In relation to Germany, the sentence should be: It's the world economy, stupid. Without the global economy, Germany would be a poor country.
Germans can pay Asian t-shirt workers more
That does not mean that unlimited globalization is the right thing to do. German factories are currently having problems because Europe has largely given up on the production of chips and now deliveries from further afield are stagnating. It is therefore right, for example, to revitalize Europe's chip industry with state money. Such an industrial policy not only ensures the supply of indispensable parts, it also creates well-paid jobs.
In addition, the Germans should consider whether they might not buy some goods from abroad to get cheap because others pay the price. It would have to be a bigger topic, what is produced with child labor or what is very harmful to the climate. Wealthy Germans can also afford to pay Asian T-shirt workers and African coffee planters more for their toil. Good globalization is also responsible.
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