It is very, very difficult. If you think of my last book as arguing mostly through the functional problems of our present democracy in a national sense, then I'm raising the bar. Unfortunately, you just can't think in those terms anymore. You now have to think about not just what your social standards are in the United States, but what are your social standards for the world? And there is an economic interest in doing that. I mean a really practical self-interest in doing it. But it is also very hard for people to do. If you listen to the noise around our society, there are an awful lot of people who are turning the opposite way. They want to pull up the bridges and seal off the world. And even if that were possible, which of course it is not, that is a very reactionary response to history.

GT: So what you are saying is that multinational corporations are thinking globally. They move their chess pieces around the world, so to speak, to maximize profits. And naturally so, given the current technological realities. But part of the social balance required is that governments, even government at the state and local level, and really even citizens as individuals, also have to start thinking globally in much the same way.

Greider: Let me state the very optimistic core of that. This again will sound corny to many people, but having traveled enough around the world and gone to remote places where people are manufacturing advanced goods, and then having spent a lot of time with American managers and engineers and so forth, I came back with this Boolean feeling about the capacities of human beings. You just cannot help but be stunned by so much of what is happening. If people can design and build these things with just a little bit of help, and begin making stuff in Indonesia or China or wherever, then it is not beyond human capacities to assert strong, really globalized principles of how societies can function and ought to function. Now maybe that's my own wishful thinking, but I would say, if you look back at human history over lots of centuries, that is the process that took people to a higher plateau of organization. I don't think human nature changes over a few centuries, but I think we have the capacity to invent new arrangements and tools that make life more fulfilling, and that, in the final analysis, help people realize their own individual capacities.

Let me just add one other thing. If I were sitting in local government right now, doling out these bribes or blackmail to corporations to either bring their jobs to my jurisdiction or to not take them away -- and this is scandalous all over the country and it is also scandalous all over the world -- one of the big questions I would ask myself is how can we stop this? And I think you rather quickly would conclude that I can't stop it in Akron, Ohio, or Birmingham, Ala. This takes national action. And probably it takes international actions. Not right way. And it is a tough, tough legal problem.

I know various groups are studying it and proposing various rules of behavior and so on. I think it might require a constitutional amendment and I can't write you that amendment, but I have a sense that it has got to be about public expenditure for private use. And that gets to be a very, very tricky question, given the pluralistic nature of our governments. But if I were in local government, worried about work and wages, I would start talking to other governments in a pretty serious way about how we could stop this or at least moderate it, at least put some controls in. Because it really is a win-lose game here and the win-lose is not just within the United States but throughout the world.


[January Table of Contents]

Blake Harris  |  Editor