“Now,” Alan Greenspan told The Wall Street Journal the other day, “it turns out politics is less important, domestically, than it was, because globalization is taking over an ever increasing part of the decision making process with the exception of national security.”
This is a fancy-dancy way of saying, “You foolish little persons can get as worked up as you wish about your candidates and their promises, but the power, the decisive power, no longer adheres to the now puny offices they are breaking their butts trying to get elected to.”
What he says, many feel. People are seized by a sense that everything is out of control and nobody can do anything about runaway lives in a runaway society. Some of the anger and the angst about the millions of illegal immigrants must stem from its seeming to be an outrageously obvious case of nothing being done about a hurtful and humiliating indifference to the law. The law is broken a thousand times a day in a thousand ways and the response to those who get mad about it is “get used to it.”
One of the unspoken premises in the debate about illegal immigration is that the phenomenon is too big to be controlled or regulated or suppressed. The globalists have a similar metaphysical premise for their reiterated assertions that there is nothing you can do about economic conditions but suffer them and swim with them if you are able to keep your head above the competitive tides.
The globalists are like the old-time Communists who preached that they would triumph because the laws of history had decreed the victory of the proletariat. Likewise, globalism is given to us as the ineluctable working out of the laws of nature, as though there is anything natural about a complex economic system erected by human beings, not according to the laws of anything but according to their will, their pleasure, their confusions and their lusts.
The automobile workers must be feeling the impotence of having to accept an unwanted change in their lives. When the details of the new UAW-General Motors contract are worked out, many of them will be living on a third to perhaps a half of what they have been paid. It must be all the more galling to know that these pay cuts have nothing to do with how hard or how well they have worked.
Mr. Greenspan did not have American auto workers in mind when he said what he did. They are small potatoes for such as he. He was talking about the big stuff, about banks in Germany holding American mortgages, about the reach and effect of hedge funds, about decisions made halfway around the globe forcing us one way or another.
A few days ago it was announced that the Mubadala Development Company was going to buy a billion-dollar-plus chunk of the Carlyle Group, the private equity outfit that owns large and small pieces of everything, including a building supply house, tuxedo rentals, a truck transmission manufacturer and nursing homes. The California public pension system has a large piece of Carlyle, but Mubadala is more interesting because it is owned by the government of Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. Should Aunt Clara in one of Carlyle’s nursing homes develop bed sores from neglect, it may not be so easy to rectify the situation with shareholders half a world away.
Mubadala is classified as a sovereign wealth fund—that is, a fund owned by a government investing in every kind of security you can think of. It is estimated that sovereign wealth funds may have already invested $2.5 trillion around the world. The Chinese version of such a fund has bought itself a piece of the Blackstone Group, another huge private equity fund, and has also invested in Barclays.