Letters to the Editor

Backstrom wrong about globalization

Walter Backstrom's Oct. 17 column ("Press 1 for English, 2 for ?") demonstrated a very poor understanding of globalization. As a student of international studies and economics at the UW, I am fearful to imagine that such a misguided piece might actually shape local public opinion regarding international economic integration.

Backstrom identified both the origins and the causes of globalization incorrectly. Globalization is, as the name implies, a worldwide economic, political and social phenomenon that has been developing in fits and starts for the last several hundred years. Columbus's voyage across the Atlantic was part of globalization. Globalization is not, as Backstrom says, a policy "started under Bill Clinton." Nor is it true that "only in America" can one purchase a watch that is assembled in China and imported from Mexico.

Furthermore, the cause Backstrom assigned to globalization – "America's mediocre education system" – is wrong and conveniently simplistic. Large companies don't send call centers overseas because American workers are incapable of operating them; they are sent overseas because of cheaper labor and lower operating costs.

At the end of his column Backstrom confused immigration with globalization, as if the two are interchangeable. They are two very different things. The fact that a call center for Mr. Backstrom's watch is located in Pakistan has little to do with U.S. immigration policy.

It is my hope that the Reporter would publish informed, well-researched columns. We already have enough misinformation in our society.

Alex Jeffers, Bellevue

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