Localization: An Antidote to a Global Crisis

The recently evolving Coronavirus pandemic exposed one core vulnerability: There are no real contingency plans in place by national governments to address an unexpected emergency or catastrophe.

Profit Over People

The global pandemic continues to expose the flaws and vulnerabilities of humanity’s unsustainable systems.

The American government took quick action in an attempt to first save the multinational banks and corporations through quantitative easing with unlimited liquidity (cash printing into infinity). The Federal Reserve was granted permission to print cash endlessly in an attempt to prop up a dying economy. These actions are completely unsustainable and can potentially lead to hyperinflation of the dollar.

The American government responded to the crisis with a business as usual approach by taking action toward economic growth before taking into consideration the people that are truly suffering through these times. These actions confirm the already blatant notion that America is run by corporations for corporations. The global economy is at a stand still, yet multinational corporations continue to benefit as the endlessly growing inequality is exacerbated.

The current economic system is unethical, unsustainable, and only benefits the 1 percent. The fundamental structure of the global economic system is immensely detrimental to the developing and underdeveloped countries contributing to the global trade.

Developing and Underdeveloped Countries

The developing and underdeveloped countries throughout the world are drastically suffering, reeling from the impact of this relatively new, unknown, and dreadful new health concern plus the negative effects of the WTO (World Trade Organization). These poor countries’ annual national budgets throughout the decades can’t by themselves cope with alleviating the standards of living of their citizens.

The said national budgets for the year 2020 had already been allocated for essential services. A large chunk of that, maybe running in the hundreds of millions of US dollars (converted into their respective state currencies) have to be realigned to service the health catastrophe that the coronavirus pandemic has brought upon national economies. At the same time, these malnourished states have to withstand the paralyzing blows of the WTO to their respective economies.

The World Trade Organization was originally supposed to disperse the benefits to all countries contributing to global trade and monoculture but the inverse happened: increased poverty in developing and underdeveloped countries, and increased wealth to multinational corporations.

The GATT’s (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) supposed purpose was to make fair trade among developed and developing nations for products, services, and intellectual property rights. It achieved success for product trade but with a big percentage of leanings towards corporations of industrialized countries for their benefit.

The WTO had hoped to achieve targets of fair trade for all three: products, services, and intellectual property rights, but it was all propaganda and the added wealth was funneled into multinational corporations. Even the supposed “Trickle down effect” on the middle and lower class in the developing countries was never felt. Wage increase was minimal but the cost of essential goods and services multiplied, no thanks to GATT and WTO.

Why We Need A New Economic System

  • 71% of the world’s emissions come from a mere 100 companies primarily based in industrialized countries as a result of global trade. 
  • Only 1% of the world’s population benefit from the current economic system. 
  • 75% of the world’s capacity to produce multitudes of crops simultaneously (permaculture) has been significantly hindered in the last 10 years.

Globalization vs Localization

The progressing development of globalization has drastically threatened biodiversity as monoculture continually expands throughout the world. The quota imposed by the mentioned trade bodies for specific crops has discouraged developing countries to diversify their agricultural produce. 

Take this example of Negros Occidental, a province in the central Philippines, which since the late 19th century has sugarcane as its main crop. Since then, this province has been attempting to diversify its crop selection into other varieties, but because of the quota in sugar production that GATT and WTO have imposed on the Philippines, this province has been forced to abandon its agriculture and aquaculture diversification efforts to focus on sugarcane production which still accounts for 90 percent of the province’s economy today. But depressed sugar prices at present have hindered the pursuit of agricultural diversity in Negros Occidental.

We as individuals can only do so much. We need involvement with well-intentioned policymakers, innovative economists, and idealistic business leaders to evolve an economics system that will promote Localization.

Local Futures is a nonprofit organization dedicated to emboldening local economies to prioritize the welfare of people and the earth first. For more than 40 years, Local Futures has been creating awareness about the catastrophe wrought by the effects of globalization and encourages the promotion of localization as a general solution.

Localization: The Economics of Happiness

Localization is increasing the accessibility and efficiency between producers and consumers by cutting the distance between them. It means to localize or simply make the local community produce as much of the commodities they need within the area. 

Localization encourages small businesses to adapt the supply to the demand of the local community in a way that is reciprocal for the small businesses, the consumers, and the environment.

Self-sustainability, the primary objective of localization, reduces the reliance on imports to supply a local community’s needs, and in turn, mitigates unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions. 

An extreme example of self-sustainability was Japan from the 17th to the 19th centuries. Japan had a policy of isolation called Sakoku. No citizen could depart the country. When they attempt outside travel, they were punished with death. 

The Japanese went on a diet of fish, vegetables, and rice because these were the only foods available. But Japan came out of this isolation a strong country with a proud sense of self-sufficiency.

Going local means repairing our disheveled world – the ecosystem, our societies, and us, the individuals. The pandemic happening today has even reinforced that mentality. 

Have you noticed that the global lockdown has lessened the effect of more than a century of climate change? 

You hear more birds chirping, the sea is turning bluer, the nearby mountains can be seen more clearly, and the air seems a bit fresher.

What can we do as citizens to insist on localization?

  • We can sign petitions or join activist movements to tell governments to stop giving tax breaks to big banks and corporations, and instead install programs and realign the state funds to promote localization and self-sufficiency.
  • We can build and link communities together and educate people about the benefits and self-sustaining nature of permaculture. 
  • We can take the action into our own hands by joining and creating groups to build sustainable environmental and economic systems from the ground up.

Have you seen The Economics of Happiness film?

It is an award-winning documentary produced by Local Futures that delves into the social, ecological, and spiritual sacrifices and compromises that is the result of the present day’s globalization thrust. The film then suggests the best practice benefits of state policy towards localization. It gives examples of individuals and communities taking the first steps into the economics of happiness. Thinkers and activists like Helena Norberg-Hodge, Vandana Shiva, Bill McKibben, Samdhong Rinpoche, and David Korten are interviewed in this documentary.

This film has been translated into nearly 30 languages.

Watch it at no cost at filmsforaction.org.

Every human being, regardless of borders and class, deserves the experience of The Economics of Happiness. Go local and experience peaceful contentment in self-sustainability with your loved ones.

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