Hanson states that ICTs have both a direct and indirect effect on the distributional effects of globalization. Indirectly, the infrastructure of ICTs facilitate the economic changes associated with globalization. Access to ICTs directly affects "the interaction capacity, employment, and income of states and individuals" (Hanson 159). These effects define the debate as to whether advancements in ICTs have expanded economic opportunity or increased inequality and marginalization.
At the national, supranational and sub-national levels, one can see the disparity in access and use of modern ICTs. Many of the places that lack access to ICTs also lack more basic needs, such as clean water, shelter and food. It is clear that a distinction between winners and losers results from the liberalization of economic policies. Led by the US and other Western countries, this process of liberalization took place globally throughout the 80s and 90s.
When discussing the losers of economic liberalization, most focus on developing countries, but the US has also not wholly come out a winner from this process. I find it ironic that the US push for global economic liberalization, as well as US and Western advancements in ICTs have resulted in the loss of thousands of jobs due to offshore outsourcing. Like the old adage, "You've made your bed, and now you have to lay in it," Americans are now faced with large unemployment problems, exacerbated by the current financial crisis.
The issue of outsourcing was a very hot topic in the early 2000s, and throughout this debate, I continually thought to myself, "the US is a country based on innovation and entrepreneurs and always being on the cutting edge. If we are losing our competitive advantage in one area of business, we need to come up with some other industry or industries in which we can be competitive." Of course I know that the process of coming up with a new industry is much more complicated than just saying to do so. However, I find it very frustrating to see the US advocate some policy that it sees as a benefit for (most importantly) itself but also the majority of other nation-states and then when there are negative consequences, the political tide turns and the government and people try to reverse their earlier support or at least make some sort of exception, so that the US can opt out. Instead of appearing hypocritical, perhaps Americans should put more effort into being on the cutting edge of whatever field piques their interest.
In an international system based on capitalist, free market ideals, there are always going to be winners and losers. Within this world system, the difficulty arises in trying to decrease the number of losers and in trying to mitigate the negative consequences for those who do not benefit.