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28. April 2008, 6:43 Uhr, Geschrieben von Miriam Meckel

Hitting the road of globalization (1)


Quality for less

I have travelled throughout parts of the USA these weeks. I have travelled along the formation of a leading country in our world. And I have hit the road of globalization with all its disparities.

This is exactly the accurate metaphor because roads are so important in the U.S. Originating from a European country I have always focused on the places people live in which are conjunct by roads and freeways. In the U.S. it seems to be the other way round. Life is where the freeway is. And the places to go are intersections of the much more important ties between them.

I have travelled a lot of spots in Southern and Western U.S. where life is nowhere but alongside the intestate. That is presumably due to the distances people have to overcome in this country. And it might also result from a concept of life that is based on cars. That’s why – as to the wealthier people – Americans prefer to adopt a Highway rather than anything else. On the other hand the amount of people living in mobile homes or trailers makes me assume that the car might even be more valuable than a home and that mobility is a concept of staying in transit and not to arrive at a certain place. And finally this might also be due to the fact that a lot of people can’t allow themselves one important part of the triple bottom line of the American dream: a house, a car, a family (I’m not quite sure about the order of priorities).

So it was just the right decision to travel by car and to hit the road of globalization. What this process means to a whole country and the parts of it can be observed quite impressively travelling through the Southwest of the USA, a different country in many ways. One day I stopped at a billboard saying: „Quality for less.“ This roadside billboard must have been out there for quite a while. But it still could be the claim representing globalization nowadays. Everybody can have access to everything at a much lower price compared to former times – that is one of the crucial promises of globalization. Everybody? Everything?

There are preconditions for an individual to be able to participate in the process of globalization and to enjoy its benefits: education, wealth – a membership card for the white middle class or an exceeding club is very helpful. Without it one has to struggle, often lifelong. There is better quality for a limited group of people. And this quality costs less for them. But for quite a big number of citizens – even in developed countries like the U.S. – the less educated, the non-whites, the non-Christians, often happen to pay the price of globalization. You can read that in a bunch of books on globalization. It’s different to recognize the people between the pages of these books.

47 Reaktionen

  1. 28. April 2008, 7:04 Uhr, von Kirsten

    „There is better quality for a limited group of people. And this quality costs less for them.“

    Sad but true…

  2. 28. April 2008, 7:55 Uhr, von Angela

    Rock the vote – you still have plenty of time to do it.

  3. 28. April 2008, 8:54 Uhr, von Annika

    Interesting post. I am not so sure about that triple bottom line of the American Dream though.

    The American Dream to me seems more closely associated with the ideology of opportunity and upward social mobility — the inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness. In that sense the car can become an allegory for the American Dream to some extent as a readiness to move and to cover enormous distances.

    But in terms of attachment to cars, it always seemed that in Germany a car had greater significance as a status symbol than in the US. In the US it seems more an intergenerational status symbol, so if one’s kids can afford a bigger car, a house in a nicer part of town…

    The people living in trailers and cars, I’d assume, do so mostly more out of necessity rather than a lifestyle choice. If that appears as a gain in mobility and if they experience it as such, then it seems that the ideology of globalization and constant movement hath done its masterpiece.

    Family might indeed be part of realizing the American Dream insofar as one gives one’s children the opportunity to achieve more than one could oneself. House, hm, I think it’s more the financial ability to be a home owner. But it doesn’t seem so much about any particular house that one owns once and then will be passed on for generations. Attachments seem less telluric here. If attachments are rooted in a particular area then through a figuration of a kind of lifestyle that characterizes a particular „we“ that is geographically circumscribed, such as hunting, riding, and herding in Montana.

    I think the vastness of the US and how thinly populated it is in some of those states in the middle is hard to grasp until one moves one’s body physically through the space. It’s as if time expands infinitely and space vanishes as one drives hours and hours, especially on highways, off away from the interstates, and there is nothing, no settlement in sight. For someone growing up „out West“ it must be hard to comprehend what it means that one drives probably six hours at the most and is in a different country altogether. (Even if the difference between the countryside in Wyoming and San Francisco surely feel like not only two different countries, but two completely different worlds.) After all people drive an hour or two just to get to the next town with a supermarket…

  4. 28. April 2008, 9:19 Uhr, von Susanne

    Very good posting!

    I am not sure if all of that what you describe is a result of globalization. We have a world market for many hundreds of years by now. Otherwise we Europeans would still chew on cooked meat that hasn’t seen anything like pepper or other spices… and btw: What does globalization mean? the international divsion of labour? Cheap production? The free flow of financial capital around the world? And what of all these things are bad and for whom are they bad?

    In my opinion it’s a new era of the state: maybe national states are less powerful then they have been even some decades ago. And there is a economical philosophy combined with the so called globalization that makes it a hell for an (once) relatively equal society. The set of life chances is limited to a smaller group – the one who already is in advantage. I think it is very interesting that even in germany – a country that has been very proud of it’s high degree of social equality – there is nowadays a tendency to divide society in those who are something better and should therefore enjoy even more exclusiveness and the rest of society who is – in the best case – something that has to be taught how to behave properly and to endure there ill fate…

    Btw: I really like your T-shirt :-)

  5. 28. April 2008, 9:21 Uhr, von Susanne


    THEIR ill fate.

  6. 28. April 2008, 12:30 Uhr, von anni

    I haven’t had time to read the posting yet but I like the T-shirt. I knew „rock the vote“ before but as far as I could check out during the last two minutes there is no online-shop which offers it… hmpf…

    sorry – in my next posting I’ll give some input to the discussion again. :-)

  7. 28. April 2008, 12:36 Uhr, von Dowanda

    Cool girdle!

  8. 28. April 2008, 13:52 Uhr, von Susanne Gefällt einem Leser

    Cool finde ich auch, dass sie – nur um sich mitsamt Auto, t-shirt, belt buckle und doppeldeutigem Hinweisschild in Szene zu setzten – mitten in der größten Pfütze parkt. Well done! :-D

    Dieser „rote“ touch den Frau Professor in letzter Zeit an den Tag legt macht mich allerdings irgendwie misstrauisch. Ich werde wohl langsam zum Fabian.

    Im übrigen möchte ich mich an dieser Stelle für die vielen Schreibfehler in meinem Beitrag entschuldigen – ich hatte noch keinen Kaffee!

  9. 28. April 2008, 13:52 Uhr, von Tanja

    Good posting and a very nice Shirt ;-)

  10. 28. April 2008, 13:55 Uhr, von Angela

    Solange Frau Professor nicht zum Hippie mutiert… (@Susanne)

  11. 28. April 2008, 14:10 Uhr, von Susanne

    Na, warten wir mal die nächste Polizeikontrolle ab, was sie dann alles bei ihr im Auto finden und in welch relaxten Zustand sie sich dann befindet :-D

  12. 28. April 2008, 14:15 Uhr, von Angela

    (Das dachte ich auch, wirklich!)

  13. 28. April 2008, 14:30 Uhr, von Angela

    (Warten wir Teil 2 des Postings ab. Ich bin sehr gespannt…)

  14. 28. April 2008, 14:48 Uhr, von Fabian

    Der rote touch???

    Ich finde zur Komplettierung der politisch korrekten Kleidung („Rock the vote“) fehlt jetzt nur noch das rote Aids-Schleifchen, das weiße oder gelbe Anti-Krebs-Gummiarmband und die rosa Brustkrebssolidaritätsschleife, noch was vergessen?

    Ich gebe zu, ich habe es nicht so mit politisch korrekter Kleidung…

  15. 28. April 2008, 14:50 Uhr, von Fabian

    Wobei die Kombination aus:

    Rock the Vote – Quality for less

    – hat was :-D

  16. 28. April 2008, 14:56 Uhr, von Fabian

    Sorry nochmal ich, aber allein die Vorstellung, dass Frau Professor Meckel dem Fed-Ex-Fahrer irgendwo im nirgendwo im „Rock the Vote“ T-Shirt gegenüber steht, finde ich wirklich zum Schießen komisch :-)

  17. 28. April 2008, 14:56 Uhr, von Brigitte

    There is no way to send another one. Mysteriously! Who is auditing my computer? Give me a shout! I´m not amused.

  18. 28. April 2008, 15:00 Uhr, von Cate

    You got a „Rock the Vote“ shirt?? That’s kind of fun… The one guy spending some time here in Berlin with us works for the „new“ campaign „Chose or lose“… He is providing online reports for from California. Well, usually he is, now he is here, travelling Europe. Seems like the world sometimes is a mirror… ;o)

  19. 28. April 2008, 15:04 Uhr, von Cate

    Sorry, „choOse or lose“….

  20. 28. April 2008, 15:12 Uhr, von Dowanda Gefällt einem Leser

    Stimmt, die Pfütze schaut nach Fango-Packung aus.
    Aber wie heisst das immer so schön?
    „Eitelkeit, Dein Name ist Weib.“
    Für eine gute Inszenierung tut frau viel *g*

  21. 28. April 2008, 15:44 Uhr, von Susanne

    @ Fabian

    Oh, es gibt rosa Anti-Bruskrebs-Schleifchen? Bisher kannte ich nur den „Race for the cure“.

    @ Dowanda

    La Meckel eitel? Näääh – die doch nicht :-) Aber das geht schon in Ordnung. Es gibt jedenfalls einen Haufen häßlicher Männer die wesentlich eitler sind. Und – Hand aufs Herz: Wir hams doch gern, wenn se sich in Pose schmeißt :-)

  22. 28. April 2008, 16:05 Uhr, von Julia

    I was very inspired by the book „No Logo“ (Naomi Klein) and it is still a good book on how globalization works. (Looking back on it now its very late 90ties;-) but I even wrote my diploma about ethics in modern marketing and economy – if there are any? I’m still convinced that the only way that more people in the world participate in wealth is that we really try and buy things like “transfair coffee�. These products might be a little more expensive but the farmer in Panama receives a certain amount that is fixed in advance. This way he is not so depended on the global market. Unfortunately there are still not enough companies supporting this idea. The whole following topic about the “good corporate citizen� is to me still very academic and daily life for millions of workers hasn’t really changed also I’m optimistic that it is a start. The only frightening thing is that poverty is not a problem in countries far away – but wasn’t that yesterdays discussion?

    When I saw the FedEx truck it reminded me of an image by Doug Aitken and as I’m interested in art and think that is a clever comment on globalization –here it is:

  23. 28. April 2008, 16:56 Uhr, von clara

    Immer wenn ich FedEx sehe muss ich an Tom Hanks in „Cast away – Verschollen“ denken…

  24. 28. April 2008, 18:07 Uhr, von joy08

    Nettes Posting, bin mal auf Teil 2 gespannt!

    Also parken hätt se ja schon noch anständig können, denn das Schild wäre ihr bestimmt nicht entkommen! ;-)

    Frau Professor sieht inzwischen aber echt mager aus – na ja bei Obst, Salat,…… – wen wundert’s. :-D

  25. 28. April 2008, 18:39 Uhr, von Brigitte

    OK, piece by piece: What a lot of postings in the last few weeks. I´m stunned. It´s impossible to react on all impressions among other things I have to work each day – almost each day. Yestrday was my weekend off (wonderfull time!!!) and I´d a little time to delve into Miriam Meckels blog.

  26. 28. April 2008, 18:40 Uhr, von Brigitte

    Reading the travel reports I remember my own trip 1972 when I was a teenager. It seems there is not a great difference between 1972 and 2008, isn´t it? USA, what´s happened?

  27. 28. April 2008, 18:41 Uhr, von Brigitte

    OK, campaining or rather to run an election campaings is an important matter, climbing through the Rocky Mountains and burial rituals too – you can form a view on social traditions – but that´s it. I can´t believe it.
    Where are the people? I´d be interested in knowing what´s going on in the heads of average population.

  28. 28. April 2008, 18:41 Uhr, von Brigitte

    What do poeple in Marfa, Shafter, Clinton,Truth or Co… think? Are they thinking about cognate themes like people in Europe? It shouldn´t be a silly or simple question. Sorry but I´m really serious about this.

  29. 28. April 2008, 19:59 Uhr, von Gabi Gefällt einem Leser

    …. joah… schönes Foto…

    Aber das nächste mal bitte an den Kofferraum anlehen.

    Mich interessiert die Automarke und das Nummernschild. Für den Fall, dass MM irgendwo in der „Wildnis“ verloren geht, dann können wir wenigstens sachdienliche Hinweise geben ; )

  30. 28. April 2008, 20:13 Uhr, von Tanja

    „Quality for less“ – ja aber nur dann wenn man begingt „Auflagen“ erfüllt. Zum Beispiel „Weiß“ zu sein.

  31. 28. April 2008, 20:18 Uhr, von Tanja

    Soll natürlich“ bedingte Auflagen“ bedeuten

  32. 28. April 2008, 20:19 Uhr, von Angela

    Zum Kern des Postings. Also, den Text habe ich mir durchgelesen. Wirklich gut, keine Frage. Ja, auch aktuell und sozialkritisch. Aber sorry, ich bleibe irgendwie immer beim T-Shirt hängen. Ich weiß nicht, aber das kommt mir auch ein wenig so vor: „Hallo, ich hab´ mir ein neues T-Shirt gekauft. Wie gefällt Euch das?“ Schon eine gute Idee, einer Internetcommunity die neusten Errungenschaften vorzustellen…

  33. 28. April 2008, 20:53 Uhr, von Mesm

    “Globalisation� – the term did not exist when I was a child, and what went on in other countries was a mystery that you had to travel and be very courageous to experience. You could also read books or watch films about it, but it wasn’t for everybody.
    Nowadays everyone travels, of course it’s easier if you have the right origin, the right passport and enough money to do so, but some travel anyway. By little boats from Africa to southern Europe or they sneak over the Mexican border into the USA, there are many possibilities.
    The rest of us just get on at plane, a boat or some other means of transport and go wherever we want to. Everyone’s looking for something, excitement, self-fulfilment or just money and a better life.

    I don’t really know when this globalisation process started; maybe it was already at the time of Columbus, but what I think made a special impact was the “invention� of the internet and digital technology which changed the way and the speed in which information travels. Of course neighbouring countries could, even before, watch each other TV-Channels, (and once there was also letters, telegrams or even radio :-), but it’s not like today where you, in theory, can watch or get access to anything anywhere.

    It has an impact on ordinary people’s lives – if somebody on a Wednesday makes a “statementâ€? in my hometown, (Copenhagen) fx. by producing a cartoon picturing an old man with a rocket in his hat – (:-) – they will instantly burn red and white flags in Karachi on Thursday and on Friday the staff at my workplace will have to handle themselves and the customers differently because somebody, who do not agree with this “statementâ€?, is demonstration right outside.

    I agree that in theory globalisation means that everybody can have access to everything and in an ideal world maybe they would. But in reality globalisation, in my opinion, some times appear as an oppressing force. People are not free to travel, and there is not necessarily “a good life� waiting for everybody. It has also changed the way governments and private corporations interact with each other. Because globalisation has changed the balance and splitting of power between state and private initiative and if these two factors are not in balance, one can destruct the other and make life very difficult for “The people�. (For a person who have spend her life in the entertainment industry I am out on deep water here :-)))

    I think the world community has a gigantic task and en immense obligation to try and make the best of this process, but to be honest I don’t see it happening. To me it looks like the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer and to move from one section to the other is getting more and more difficult, even in USA, “The land of opportunity�.

    In Europe things has changed too, to se a beggar on the street of Copenhagen in my childhood or youth was a sensation, the newspapers would write about it and there would be a collection of money for this poor man or woman – today? People just look, shake their heads and walk by – it’s the same in all other major cities like London, Paris or Berlin.

    In a way globalisation has made us num to other peoples suffering, we find it to much if we have to understand and take in everything. We just can’t, so to survive we isolate ourselves and shut of. That way globalisation has turned into a form of isolation and it doesn’t matter if there is a highway right outside…….

    Ps. I think it’s a cool T-shirt too :-))

  34. 28. April 2008, 21:38 Uhr, von clara

    … und das Shirt wär mir jetzt so gar nicht aufgefallen, wenn ich nicht ständig drüber lesen würde hier… dann noch eher die Park-Pfütze *g*

  35. 28. April 2008, 21:46 Uhr, von Jette Gefällt einem Leser

    > Mich interessiert die Automarke und das Nummernschild.

    nach dem goldenen logo zu urteilen, könnte das ein chevrolet sein, aber welcher typ…? ich habe schon den lumina und den impala ausgeliehen, der impala sah so ähnlich aus…

    und beim nummernschild muss ich passen. ;-)

  36. 28. April 2008, 21:52 Uhr, von Walter

    The first photograph (auto-? who did it?) is rather self ironic- mm-car-quality for less. Provocative and self confident.
    The provocation of inequality and inequity in the USA and moreover in the whole world divides us in winners and losers of globalization. The deep feeling of self reproach goes along with us apparently favored members of the white middle class.
    But the warning signs become more and bigger. And the alleged losers call in a louder way now. They have to lose little more.
    It‘ s a decision to take part for the so called winners and play their game, or the so called losers and to suffer with them. Or as the third possibility to step out of the treadmill and to ask the right questions.
    Perhaps that’s the real challenge for Eisenhower fellows, as candidates on leadership: to learn from Your observations, to be changed and to change for Your part.
    It’s also because of these thoughts and doubts that I like this blog.

    PS: It is not a question of t-shirts, but ‚Rock the Vote‘ sounds more like Obama, I guess.

  37. 28. April 2008, 22:04 Uhr, von Antje Gefällt einem Leser

    Rock the Vote works to engages youth in the political process by incorporating the entertainment community and youth culture into its activities. Founded in 1990.

  38. 28. April 2008, 22:23 Uhr, von Walter

    The question may be allowed

  39. 28. April 2008, 22:28 Uhr, von Walter

    Rock the Vote blog.

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    @ Antje, ich weiß, aber gerade deshalb mein Kommentar … mit 14 okay, aber mit 40???

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