Seemingly everywhere you turn these days, someone is expressing doubts about “globalization” and lamenting its impact on American workers. This obviously has been a theme of the Trump administration and its America First approach to U.S. trade and immigration policy, but you may be surprised to learn that a lot of Biden folks have been saying similar stuff in recent years (see, e.g., this recent Wall Street Journal piece). And, unsurprisingly, the media—always on the lookout for a sympathetic victim of capitalist greed—has been similarly focused on globalization’s alleged harms.
Indeed, when articles like the WSJ piece above are written or political speeches are made, the sources usually couch any benefits of globalization—assuming they speak of them at all—in terms of consumers (the proverbial “cheap T-shirt” made abroad) or corporations and their shareholders (insert evils of capitalism here). Few stop to consider the broader benefits that the relatively free movement of goods, services, labor, capital, and ideas across national borders confers upon each of us and the nation or world more broadly.
So that’s what we’ll do today, looking at perhaps the best recent example of such globalization benefits: the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines that we’ll hopefully soon have injected in our arms. As you’ll see, every part of the vaccines—from corporate leadership to investment to research and development to production and distribution—depends on “globalization” and would suffer from government attempts to block it.