The world is getting smaller. We need to embrace it, but the question is, do we need to protect ourselves from it too?
Globalisation, helped along by the internet, is challenging many of our conventional ways of working. That’s particularly true in Australia where our geographical isolation means we might have been protected from some of the vagaries of international trade, but all that is changing.
Our mineral boom is also muddying the water. Steve Keen spoke on BTalk last month about how we were suffering from Dutch Disease, where the high dollar devastates manufacturing. When the boom is over, we could have no industries of any significance.
He advocates some form of protectionism for these other industries. That’s at odds with most economists and politicians who are advocates of free trade.
Indeed, we are busy negotiating an agreement with India right now. Is this the right path to follow?
And can protectionism really work in the new economy? Already many of us are buying goods from overseas without paying the duties that importers and retailers are subject to. The Australian National retailers Association wants all these duties removed, but what will that mean for the local producers they were intended to protect?
Another fact of life these days is the widening rich poor gap. Richard Wilkinson came on BTalk to talk about how income inequality in rich nations was detrimental to everyone, even the rich. The bigger the divide, it seems, the worse off we all are in terms of quality of life.
Australia also needs to consider its migration policies. Whether we encourage multiculturism or not, Morris Miselowski says we will need to get used to working with a variety of cultures as we increasingly join project teams working online with members from all over the world.