The Lexus and the Olive Tree
By: Thomas L. Friedman
This book is an extraordinary in depth look at globalization. The core idea of the book revolves around two ideologies, represented by the Lexus and the olive tree. The Lexus represents hard charging globalization, technology, and innovation, and capitalism. A Lexus is made with highly advanced robots, with materials gathered from a global supply chain. The olive tree represents community, culture, and localism. When you picture the olive tree, picture olive orchards in the Mediterranean. Culture in the local community thrives on olive orchards, it’s a part of their identity.
Global capitalism is an extremely powerful force, something that shows no signs of stopping. For the most part I think this is a good thing. It provides jobs in poor countries where they are desperately needed. Places like China, India, and Thailand have seen enormous prosperity as manufacturers flock to their countries because of low wages. These savings are then passed onto the consumers who consistently prefer cheap goods.
However, there is a darker side of globalism as well. Global capitalism is moving at an extremely fast pace. This means workers can find themselves displaced very quickly. The future is not going to be kind to low-skilled workers. It can also wipe out cultures as countries become “westernized” by business. This inevitably leads to to backlash. Generally in the form of protectionist political policies, but also in much evil forms, such as terrorism.
I recommend this book to anybody interested in international trade and foreign affairs. We need to accept globalization. Protectionist measures whether it be in the from the left (in the form of the welfare state) or from the right (in the form of trade barriers and actual walls) will only do more harm than good in the long run. But we also can’t lose our sense of community. That means getting involved in your local church, PTA, Crossfit Gym, and patronizing your local farmer. Any type of community involvement is a good thing. I’ve only provided a few examples.
Favorite Quote: Free markets and free trade produce far greater incomes for a society as a whole. That is a fact. But that income is highly unequally distributed and the whole let-her-rip capitalism that comes with it is enormously socially disruptive.