Thursday, December 28, 2006
Another harm of globalization
The real beneficiaries of globalization — that group of mostly men whose wealth was supposed to trickle down on you but instead trickled all over China and Southeast Asia — make the argument that they are benefitting the consumer1 by providing a greater variety of products at a cheaper price. Well, one of the reasons the products are cheaper, aside from working conditions for the producers even worse than those in a Purdue chicken-processing plant, is that there are no liability costs either in the form of insurance payments or in the form of damage awards to injured consumers.
Reporting a case where an injured consumer actually won a judgment against a foreign firm, Rebecca Reddick offers some interesting background—
Typically, it is difficult or impossible for U.S. plaintiffs to recover damages from foreign companies, according to Pedro Martinez-Fraga, chair of Greenberg Traurig's Miami international litigation and arbitration department....
The United States does not have reciprocal treaties to force other countries to recognize judgments in U.S. courts. As products are increasingly being imported, particularly from China, U.S. consumers have less protection from defective goods. Being able to prove that a U.S. company was responsible for the defect is one of the few ways a plaintiff can recover.
"The U.S. to date does not have a single treaty for the recognition and enforcement of judgments," Martinez-Fraga said.
Can this be the same country that has forced country after country to sign treaties giving U.S. soldiers the right to rape and pillage with impunity under the consenting country's laws? Yet the United States can't demand treaties that would give Americans a right to restitution and damages in exchange for access to the U.S. market?
In a saner world I'd say we needed a government that better represents the interests of its citizens—a democratic government maybe. Meanwhile buy local every chance you get.