Chapter 4: The 21st Century Issues – Globalization, Terrorism, Outsourcing/Immigration, and the Quality of Life
By Alan F. Kay, PhD
© 2004, (fair use with attribution and copy to author)
June 30, 2004
Little attention was paid to the centuries-long process that in the early 1990’s was finally labeled “globalization.” Observers are realizing that resolving issues raised by globalization will be a dominant feature of world affairs – and, more than that, a titanic struggle – for the rest of the 21st century. The broad range of expert opinions implies that no outcome – for better or worse – can be ruled out.
This chapter will present survey research findings starting from the early part of the 1990s showing that people, collectively, have been ahead of leaders in understanding the many aspects of globalization, when presented to them in a fair, balanced and accurate manner. People are ready to deal with the issues raised by globalization positively and realistically. They consistently choose a direction different from what leaders have chosen, while leaders refuse to seriously address the people’s preferences.
Dealing with Globalization
Beginning more than 12 years ago, ATI started asking questions about globalization. In 1991, one set of questions dealt with the many different aspects of the subject:
|#1. Designing, manufacturing, and marketing a global product in many countries;|
#2. Instant 24-hour trading of stocks, bonds, and currencies around the world;
#3. Multinationals manufacturing in countries with cheap labor and weak environmental laws;
#4. Workers all over the world going to other countries to work;
#5. Pollution crossing international borders;
#6. Global arms sales and arming of third world countries;
#7. Global news, advertising, entertainment and information programs and software.
People were asked whether (a) the United States should seek international agreements for regulating these activities as opposed to (b) not seeking such agreements or the United States regulating them. The findings (ATI-17, Q17-23) were in rank order:
|#5. pollution||90%||#1. global products||64%|
|#6. arms sales||85%||#4. workers far from home||62%|
|#3. manufacturing globally||73%||#7. information circulating globally||34%|
|#2. securities trading||66%|
Percent of Public Support for
Note that pollution, the only activity among all aspects of globalization that no country by itself can stop from entering its borders, receives the most support for regulation. An overwhelming majority of 90% supports regulating pollution. The only regulation that can stop pollution from entering any country that wants to stop it is international regulation. Multinational corporations, heavily advertising in the mainstream media, have worked relentlessly in the last 10 years in the opposite direction, trying, in the name of the “free market”, to deregulate globalization. Attention to pollution works against the corporations’ free market mantra, so they avoid mentioning global pollution.
In more recent years, the mainstream news media began speaking of globalization as if the word meant only economic globalization – international free markets. So coming into awareness of the situation years after the “average, ordinary” person was able to readily consider how to deal with globalization, the mainstream media “misunderstood” the totality of aspects of globalization and, together with politicians and corporations, added to the confusion. The “ordinary” person was, and still is, ahead of its leaders in business, the media, and government.
Notice that #7 is the only aspect of globalization that a majority does not favor regulating. This is not surprising because of American’s strong support for free speech and “information wants to be free.” In the seven aspects of globalization, the DKs ranged from 4% to 11%, none large enough to affect any of these conclusions.
The polls showed that the well-educated were more favorable and familiar with these aspects of globalization and more aware of their opportunities. Data below illustrates how the less-well-educated knew back then that they would be more vulnerable. They were proved right by many studies in the following years. These have shown the uneven impacts of globalization on the poor, the uneducated, or those in regions bypassed by global financial and electronic networks.
Since then, U.S. opinion favoring regulation of globalization has been forced into mass movements, such as the many thousands whose leaders attended the Porto Alegre, Brasil, World Social Forums in 2001 and 2002.
Our leaders still do not have a clue as to how to handle economic globalization in a satisfactory way. In contrast, when presented with adequate choices, the “ordinary” people pick the one that could make economic globalization work by understanding and caring for the needs of real people living in the real world, pollution and all.
Early Trend in Non-Support Continues into the 21st Century
Questions on support for globalization asked in November 1991 and March 1993 were based on this definition of globalization:
Many business transactions and other activities, which used to take place between people and groups within a country, are NOW taking place more frequently, and on a GLOBAL scale, between people and groups across many different countries. This change has been called ‘globalization.’
Do you think this is a generally POSITIVE development in the world, a NEGATIVE development, or are you NOT FAMILIAR with this idea of ‘globalization?’” (PROBE: “Would that be VERY or SOMEWHAT?”)
Here we use the convention that instructions to interviewers are given in caps and interviewers must make sure that words in caps are heard by the respondent, R
Notice how many accept the “Not familiar” choice. Including the small “Don’t Knows,” almost half of the people, and the same percentage, 45%, both in 1991 and in 1993 are quite willing to opt out of making a substantive choice in this question. Those who do make a substantive choice shifted significantly to being negative about globalization even in these early months of globalization, long before any political leader had ever mentioned globalization. The people were beginning to see where our leaders were trying to take us. There was a strong educational dependence on welcoming globalization even in 1991. Of those with post-graduate degrees, 82% were familiar with globalization, 77% believed it a positive development and 74% believed the world was moving in the right direction. In contrast, for those with high-school or less, the figures were respectively, 42%, 38% and 32%.
People’s Preferred Approach to Resolving Globalization Issues
Long before the street theater demonstrations started at World Trade Organization (WTO) meetings in Seattle and Prague in 2000, and long before the demonstrations protesting government leaders meeting in Quebec in 2001 to expand the trade and tariff provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to include Central and South America, ATI asked a number of related questions in a 1993 survey.
After a warm-up question on a regional trade agreement, NAFTA, linking Canada and Mexico with the United States, and a global free trade agreement, the General Agreement on Trade Tariffs (predecessor of the WTO), ATI asked two questions, Q6, Q6a, about support for a solution to the problem of globalization, with this preamble:
“Whether we go for global or regional trade agreements, these agreements are crafted by economists who focus on economic aspects. The economists get VERY LITTLE input from other scientific advisors, like anthropologists, social scientists, and ecologists who often do see ways to protect a country’s social institutions, culture, economy, and environment.”
Q6. Do you think that experts in other social and physical sciences should be involved in the development of trade agreements, or should the agreements be designed by economists alone, and not be complicated by competing viewpoints?
|Other experts should be involved||71%||Neither (volunteered)*||1%|
|Economists should design agreements alone||23%||DK(volunteered)*||5%|
* significance of “volunteered” responses in next chapter
Q6a. Let’s go into that a little bit more. There are two points of view on this issue: (ROTATE)
Here is the first one: some people say that a combination of economists and experts from social and physical sciences would produce trade agreements more acceptable to everyone. The amount of time spent as these professionals learn to work together would be wisely invested, as they are sure to be more successful than the current system of economists working alone. Reaching agreements using only the limited ideas of economists will mean continuing delays in treaty approval, as well as harmful social and environmental impacts.
Here’s the second one: Other people say introducing non-economic considerations will make these already complicated negotiations hopelessly more complicated, so that no agreements will be reached for an even longer time than it would take for the economists to put together satisfactory agreements. With every year that it takes to reach satisfactory agreements, each country’s economy will suffer from the lost opportunities for expanded trade, jobs, and a better material standard of living.
Neither…2% In between…1% Both…1% (volunteered) DK…6%.
It is worth noting that Hazel Henderson, the noted futurist and author of many books on economics and international issues, developed the first point of view in 6a and Fred Steeper, pollster for the successful campaigns for Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, developed the second point of view. Both were approved by the ATI design teams of polling and issue experts as fair, balanced, accurate and strong presentations of the principal contrasting viewpoints.
The persistence of support for multiple experts, when the issue is taken up again in Q6a with much more detail than when first raised in Q6, confirms that the public’s opinion holds up well when challenged on this question. Over three-to-one favor multiple experts in Q6 and it is still five-to-two in Q6a. That is impressive internal consistency. Further evidence comes from considering the substantial number of difficult questions that the public has handled in all ATI surveys and how, by every measure, findings are internally consistent. The validity of responses was further confirmed by interview monitoring and by interviewer reports that respondents’ attitudes were typically thoughtful and measured, as well as by later events, such as the 1997 defeat in Congress of “fast track” trade agreements, which ignore broader issues.
In fields where the establishment – the universities, foundations, government, media, and industry – engages or uses large numbers of diverse experts, most experts never address questions like Q6 and Q6a. The framing of such questions challenges their own assumptions about how experts should be used in the political process. Experts stay away from challenging the expertise of highly credentialed experts in any field, not just their own field. You might call this practice “professional courtesy.” Other experts are reluctant to challenge economists on their own turf, trade issues, even by arguing that experts from other social sciences should be heard. Experts find it hard to answer questions like Q6 and Q6a.
People in general do not find it hard. People are less impressed by expertise. They have noticed that, in the case at hand, economists seem to have no better record than random walkers throwing darts at a dart board in prescribing for economies, fixing them, or predicting future economic performance. By 1996, elite opinion had moved closer to the public view, with such expert agencies as the World Bank conceding that economists needed inputs from social and environmental scientists in devising their development and trade policies.
But the struggles between elites and the people on all issues that will likely dominate the 21st century, globalization, terrorism, immigration/outsourcing, and quality-of-life, are in 2004 still at an early stage. After a brief discussion of a very valuable technique in good polling, the battery, illustrated in the first set of questions in this chapter (ATI#17, Q17-23) we will return to quality-of-life-indicators, one of the major issues, beyond globalization, likely to dominate the world in the 21st Century. Two fascinating questions on terrorism appeared in Chapter 3 as “an example” and “another PIPA example“. A full range of immigration and outsourcing issues, barely touched here under globalization, will emerge in the years ahead.
The Battery — Multiple Choices in the Same Frame – a Boon for Good Polling
The first set of questions in this chapter asked about regulating seven items, the various aspects of globalization. The frame or preamble that introduces the seven items contains all aspects that the items have in common. If there are only two items, it’s a binary question. With more than two it’s a battery. The persistence of the public’s response choices over time is amazingly stable, changing not at all or slowly over the years unless a major event occurs that is relevant to the question and then if there is a significant change, it is usually in the expected direction and in the same direction for all major demographic sectors of the public.
The rank order of the battery items also is very persistent, in the sense that if the question is repeated in later surveys with new items added to the battery or old deleted, then those items that are the same in both the earlier and later survey generally rank in the same order, or close thereto.
A single battery is the only fair way to compare like things. Voting in a democratic election is a form of polling. For each office to be filled, the public is asked to make its choice, from among all candidates on the ballot. The most votes elects. As in polling, all the candidates must be offered in a single battery, to accurately reflect the preferences of the voters. The 2003 California recall election, with a ballot in two parts, elected Arnold Schwarzenegger governor by the rules established by the California courts for that election, which prohibited recounts. However, the outcome did not reflect the public’s preference, which is the democratic standard in U.S. elections, even during recounts in the flawed 2000 Florida national election. (Chapter 13 includes a comparison of validity of vote-counting in the 2003 California election and in the 2000 Florida election.)
The Debate Format
When we have already determined the public’s support for a policy, if we then present the public with pro and con arguments for and against the policy, after the arguments are completed we re-ask the original question to determine how well the original support held up. When the question asked of each argument is, “How convincing is” or “Were you aware of” this argument?, with a three point non-numerical scale, such as: (1) very, (2) somewhat, or (3) not at all, convincing or aware gives the data needed. The sequential set of questions includes: (a) policy, first asking (b) pro and con arguments, (c) policy, second asking. This question-set constitutes a debate format.
ATI#24 was largely devoted to using this extremely valuable technique to test public opinion on support for four specific proposals for improving Congress: term limits, campaign funding to limit contributions from outside a member’s district, a Congressional Office of Public Opinion Research and Assessment (COPORA), and the establishment of Quality-of-Life (QOL) Indicators.
ATI has tested many variations of the debate format, both using different samples and within the same samples. Variations of debate-format question-sets have been used to study:
- The effect of omitting the first asking, [(a) above],
- The relationships between the changing of support for the proposals and the relative strength of pro and con arguments in being convincing or aware, both “strongly” and “somewhat”,
- The effects of wording changes on findings (e.g. in the arguments using “convincing” or “aware”),
- The effect of asking only pro arguments, or only con arguments, to determine how much the public’s position can be moved by one-sided arguments,
- The effect of different scales (Scale effects examined in the opening paragraphs of Chapter 8) and others.
Findings have shown internal consistency and reasonableness. An example of a debate format question-set is given in One-Sided Arguments at the end of this chapter. The public digs in its heels largely resisting being pushed in one direction.
A most unexpected finding from debate formats used both in ATI#24 and in other surveys, was that the changes in support from before to after the “debate” showed little net variations. There was indeed typically a much larger fraction of respondents who, based on hearing the arguments, switched both to and from supporting the proposal, but in such a way that largely cancelled each other out, leaving a much smaller net change. This led to a new theory of how the public changes its mind, called the dynamic equilibrium of public opinion. (See Locating Consensus for Democracy, p. 308)
Quality-of-Life (QOL) Indicators – Illustrating the Debate Format
Hazel Henderson pioneered critiques of the Gross National Product (GNP) as the overall scorecard of progress. She contended that per capita GNP growth conceals other concerns such as whether the poverty gap is widening or to what extent economic growth causes hidden environmental and social costs, while ignoring “subsidies” of unpaid housework, parenting, and volunteering. (See Paradigms in Progress (1991); Beyond Globalization (1999) and Henderson’s other books at www.hazelhenderson.com) Henderson created with the Calvert group of socially responsible mutual funds the Calvert-Henderson Quality of Life Indicators (updated regularly at www.Calvert-Henderson.com).
The proposal for quality-of-life indicators has become increasingly more widely known around the world, but still obscure in the United States. Globally accepted indicators of QOL will become a contentious issue for the 21st Century. QOL is part of the slow-motion good news that the mainstream news media do not cover well. Organizations for environmental and consumer protection, corporate and government accountability, and human rights took up the demand for better indicators of real wealth and progress.
The ATI team, including Henderson, formulated the QOL proposal initially for ATI#22, where it was found to be in great favor with the public. It was time that it, too, be subjected to the debate format. It was retested in ATI#24 in part, as an experiment to pro-actively test public opinion on a reform which cuts across all issues – since neither political party nor pundits had suggested broadening GNP or including additional scorecards in other major areas of concern to voters.
In its first asking (See Table 6) this QOL proposal became the top scoring, (81%) among all 50 proposals for government reform tested in ATI#22 and #24. In its second asking, support dropped slightly. Any proposal that scores at 81% favorable in its first asking is so high to begin with that to stay that high after the arguments were heard, the pro arguments would have to have been almost five times more likely to move a neutral or opposed respondent up to favoring it than to move a respondent favoring it down to neutral or opposed. Dropping to 76% meant that it was only four times as likely. For this proposal, only two pro and two con arguments were thought necessary. The pro arguments were considered very convincing by almost twice as many respondents as the con arguments. Since the nature of the con arguments was that they addressed the pro arguments (and vice versa), rather than the proposal, instead of keeping pro and con separate and rotating them as groups, in this case ATI alternated them.
|Table 6. Quality of Life Indicators|
|Do you favor this proposal:|
|1.||In the same way we’ve developed and use the Gross National Product to measure the growth of the economy, this proposal would develop and use a scorecard of new indicators for holding politicians responsible for progress toward OTHER national goals, like improving education, extending health care, preserving the environment, and making the military meet today’s needs.|
|Tell me if you think these arguments for and against this proposal are VERY, MODERATELY, A LITTLE, OR NOT AT ALL convincing.|
|2.||President Clinton has ordered the revision of the economic indicator, the Gross National Product, or GNP, so that it will conform to international standards. However, full scorecards of indicators of progress are now being developed in many nations. Supporters say we must expand our scorecards to cover quality-of-life indicators in all areas so we can hold our politicians accountable for their campaign promises as well as to compare our performance with that of other nations.||43%|
|3.||Opponents say that eventually economists will be able to calculate a single indicator of progress, a kind of enlarged GNP, that bundles into this money-based statistic our progress in all major areas including the economy, health, education, the environment, and so forth. This single number would be easier for everyone to use to rank ourselves against other nations and to judge the performance of our political leaders.||22%|
|5.||Opponents say the main indicator of progress for a long time has been the GNP which gives the economic progress of the whole country. The most objective way we have to track the progress of the country is in money terms. Other social and environmental statistics won’t be as objective and will just be used by various groups like the environmentalists and the education lobby, to push their pet causes.||22%|
|6.||Now that you have considered all these arguments, rate the original proposal again.||79%|
|7.||Do you favor or oppose this proposal?||76%|
The structure of the debate format in ATI #2, Q51 through Q56 was somewhat different from the standard question-set sequence. Its sequence was: policy, policy variation, two con arguments, policy. It shows that the public’s position differs completely from what is supported by the leaders and the major news media and is not much moved by the opposing arguments:
|ATI #2, Dec. ’87, Q51. As a general goal, which of these two do you think is more desirable:|
|The elimination of all nuclear arms in the world.|
|For a few major countries including the United States to have enough nuclear arms so no country would dare attack them.|
|Q52. If “elimination of all nuclear arms in the world,” ask: What is the lowest reduction in nuclear arms in the world over the next few years that you would consider satisfactory – reduced by 20%, 50%, 90%, or eliminated completely:|
|Reduced by 20%||11%|
|Reduced by 50%||27%|
|Reduced by 90%||10%|
|Q53/54. Some people say that nuclear weapons actually have helped prevent war and the world would be more dangerous without them. Have you heard this opinion before?|
Yes…71% No…28% DK…4%