The Race to the Top

4 Jun ’05

Tom Friedman writes again on the Flat World (see other posts on this topic here) – this time, on the occasion of French and Dutch rejection of the EU constitution, he looks at the trouble ahead for European economies, grown fat and lazy on 35 hour work weeks and 6 week vacations, trying to cope with the growth of globalization. Quote:

The fact that a top German politician has resorted to attacking capitalism to win votes tells you just how explosive the next decade in Western Europe could be, as some of these aging, inflexible economies – which have grown used to six-week vacations and unemployment insurance that is almost as good as having a job – become more intimately integrated with Eastern Europe, India and China in a flattening world.

To appreciate just how explosive, come to Bangalore, India, the outsourcing capital of the world. The dirty little secret is that India is taking work from Europe or America not simply because of low wages. It is also because Indians are ready to work harder and can do anything from answering your phone to designing your next airplane or car. They are not racing us to the bottom. They are racing us to the top.

Indeed, there is a huge famine breaking out all over India today, an incredible hunger. But it is not for food. It is a hunger for opportunity that has been pent up like volcanic lava under four decades of socialism, and it’s now just bursting out with India’s young generation.

Previous post:

Next post: