Globalization is supposed to be all around us and one, if not THE, driving force of things today. It appears the "world is flat" crowd has come to dominate much of business, educational, and popular thought.
Borders are being shredded and a new world is at hand. Or is it?
Are things really that global? Or maybe, at most, might they be merely semi-global?
It seems semi-global may be the right answer.
For example, the airline industry, one of the world's biggest economic sectors is more reflective of the semi-global nature of things. The airline industry, like so much of the rest of humanity, is predominantly local.
In 2010 in the U.S. which has the largest single air transport network in the world, there were 629 million domestic passenger trips versus 88 million international departures and arrivals. In other words, about 12% of all flights on U.S. carriers were "global" ones.
This jives with numbers on other seemingly "highly globalized" activities. In his new book "World 3.0", Pankaj Ghemawat details some other impressive statistics:
Only 20 percent of all the stocks in the world are owned by foreign investors
Less than 18 percent of all Internet traffic today is routed across national borders
Less than 2 percent of all telephone calls are to or from people outside our own country
About 90 percent of all of the world's people alive today will never venture outside the country in which they were born. 30% of Americans possess a valid passport. In China and India it is less than 5%.
What about all the new technology of today, including Skype, Facebook, Twitter? Aren't they making globalization even more pervasive?
Maybe we should look back to George Orwell, who, in 1944 as the telephone, computer, and transatlantic flights had taken hold, wrote about technology shrinking the world: "Reading recently a batch of rather shallowly optimistic progressive' books, I was struck by the automatic way people go on repeating certain phrases which were fashionable before 1914. Two great favourites are the abolition of distance' and the disappearance of frontiers.'"
Possibly he was on to something...