Ozarque is having a conversation about globalization over at her place. She is defining globalization as “the set of mechanisms available to humankind for the purpose of ensuring an equal opportunity for every human being on the planet.” The first commenter on that definition defines it as “the set of mechanisms available to the wealthy for the purpose of exploiting the people and resources of the planet in order to produce yet more wealth which is increasingly concentrated among those who already have wealth.”

This, it seems to me, is emblematic of the problem I have with globalization. If this subject is of interest to you, then I hope you will go over to Ozarque’s place and chat about it. My perfect ideal of globalization would be a situation in which people produce the bulk of what they consume very near to the point of use, thus limiting the environmental toll, increasing the variety of goods, and maximizing social support networks; and in which people then import and export the cool stuff that is not already available elsewhere. This is what I try to do myself. So I eat the produce of my own garden and the local farmers as much as possible, a plan which gives me the best possible quality of produce, supports my community, and reduces the use of fossil fuels (and, for my own family and the segment of farm workers for which I am paying, reduces exposure to pesticides, since organic farming is easy on a small local scale and impossible at a factory level). I also get tea, TV, and the occasional packet of needles from England, because they do that stuff better there. I get fabric from Tanzania, from the One Book Foundation; and sticky rice from Thailand, from Thai companies; and so forth — because those things are special and different, and I know that the money I spend for them supports the people who produce them. I do not like the system in which essentially American goods are made overseas wherever people will work for the lowest wage and under the worst conditions, while American job choices dwindle, but I probably am not able to avoid supporting that. By making a point of shopping with — and that means financially supporting — companies which make a priority of social and environmental responsibility, I can feel reasonably confident that I am contributing to the exploitation of the poor as little as possible.

This is what I do for my own family, but I do not think that I have much control over the larger issue. There are a lot of people who do what I do, but probably not enough to counteract the negatives of globalization. And I don’t suppose that my approach does much to encourage the positivies of globalization.

However, it is New Year’s Eve tonight, and you may not be in the mood for serious subjects. Here is Johnny Mathis singing “What Are You Doing New Year’s?” You might prefer Ella Fitzgerald or Lou Rawls, but this is really a sweet and clever song, and you might like to sing it to someone. Play your saxophone or trumpet, too.

I am toying with the idea of going to the parade tonight, but I have to admit that I toy every year with the idea of going down to the big community celebration, and mostly only go there if I am performing at it myself. Three years out of five, I stay home with my family, after a brief attempt to rally interest in going downtown all together. This year, my daughters are elsewhere and my older boy has plans of his own, so it will be a small family group. We used to make cakes with clocks on them and have ginger ale and stuff, but now we turn the TV on at about five minutes till eleven to see the New Yorkers countdown the New Year, and then go to bed and miss the entrance of the new year into our time zone entirely.

I wish you exactly the level of festivity and/or quiet you prefer for New Year’s Eve.