Independence is just another word for poverty. We are rich because each of us does something different and we trade with each other. We are very rich when we do it all over the world, even if it has to be paid for. However, they have not gone beyond the obvious result. War changes the situation.
The most visible sign of a shift to self-sufficiency was India’s ban on wheat exports in mid-May. That may change eventually, and may have less of an impact than it seems, but it’s something no one in this millennium expects. But it’s not just India. Much closer to us is a Hungarian gas station, which sells no limited-priced fuel to anyone other than the locals. So far our people on the Internet have offered to rent a car with a Hungarian license plate.
And also in our country self-sufficiently waving in public spaces and at home in living rooms more and more often. Why don’t we take advantage of our self-sufficiency in power generation? Shouldn’t we be self-sufficient in food when it’s very expensive? And not only at the EU level, but especially in member states, although in some cases there is also talk of self-sufficiency in Prague, or even individuals. In times of uncertainty, this is a fun question, and the contagious disease of independence is spreading from person to person like a virus. Shouldn’t we rethink free global trade and consider self-sufficiency?
They didn’t, because it only made the situation worse. It makes what is already difficult to access more expensive and inaccessible. It is no coincidence that North Korea has built its official state ideology as perfectly as possible. But we don’t have to go to such extremes. Remember how we suffered under the previous regime, despite most of the world’s trade, which sought to make the Eastern bloc self-sufficient.
This is bad news for everyone. Consumers will pay higher prices and reduce their welfare. Costs will go up for the company and investment will go down with declining profits. Tax revenues will fall to the states and pressure will emerge on populist solutions to the problems we first created populists.
But someone saw a light at the end of the tunnel. The World Economic Forum was recently held in Davos, and one of its main theses was the end of globalization. Several people commented on the topic and agreed that globalization, as we know it, has ended and a period of fragmentation has begun. But optimism was brought in by Thomas Friedman, an American journalist and three-time Pulitzer Prize winner. Globalization is not over, he said. Countries may close, companies may cease to operate overseas, but our modern technology enables the globalization of individuals. Each of us has the opportunity to reach the whole world out of our pocket. And we see it in war. Millions of people around the world can send billions to help Ukraine in an instant, while states and companies, Friedman says, “polish their shoes.”
We’re not going to be independent everywhere, it’s not working, and technology will definitely help us, that’s good news. But we will be much better off if we work like before. Technological optimism is right, but most of us can afford it, precisely because we have lost self-sufficiency. Can we continue to enjoy the achievements of modern technology as food and energy multiply?
The author is the chief economist of the Roger Payments Institute
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