from the "THE LEXUS AND THE OLIVE TREE" by Thomas L. Friedmanís

                        "I believe in the five gas stations theory of the world.

                         That's right: I believe you can reduce the world's economies today
                         to basically five different gas stations.

                         First there is the Japanese gas station.
                         Gas is $5 a gallon. Four men in uniforms and white
                         gloves, with lifetime employment contracts, wait on you. They pump
                         your gas. They change your oil. They wash your windows, and they
                         wave at you with a friendly smile as you drive away in
                         peace.

                         Second is the American gas station.
                         Gas costs only $1 a gallon, but you pump it yourself. You wash your
                         own windows. You fill your own tires. And when you drive around
                         the corner four homeless people try to steal your hubcaps.

                         Third is the Western European gas station.
                         Gas there also costs $5 a gallon.
                         There is only one man on duty. He grudgingly pumps your
                         gas and unsmilingly changes your oil, reminding you all the time
                         that his union contract says he only has to pump gas and change
                         oil. He doesn't do windows. He Works only thirty-five hours a week,
                         with ninety minutes off each day for lunch, during which time the
                         gas station is closed. He also has six weeks' vacation every
                         summer in the south of France. Across the street, his two brothers
                         and uncle, who have not worked in ten years because their state
                         unemployment insurance pays more than their last job, are playing
                         boccie ball.

                         Fourth is the developing-country gas station.
                         Fifteen people work there and they are all cousins. When you drive
                         in, no one pays any attention to you because they are all too busy
                         talking to each other. Gas is only 35 cents a gallon because it is
                         subsidized by the government, but only one of the six gas pumps
                         actually works. The others are broken and they are waiting for the
                         replacement parts to be flown in from Europe. The gas station is
                         rather run-down because the absentee owner lives in Zurich and
                         takes all the profits out of the country. The owner doesn't know that
                         half his employees actually sleep in the repair shop at night and
                         use the car wash equipment to shower.
                         Most of the customers at the developing-country gas station either
                         drive the latest-model Mercedes or a motor scooter nothing in
                         between. This place is alway busy, though because so many
                         people stop in to use the air pump to fill their bicycle tires.

                         Lastly there is the communist gas station.
                         Gas there is only 50 cents a gallon
                         -but there is none, because the four guys working there have
                         sold it all on the black market for $5 a gallon. Just one of the four
                         guys who is employed at the communist gas station is actually
                         there. The other three are working at second jobs in the
                         underground economy and come once a week to collect their
                         paychecks.

                         What is going on in the world today, in the very broadest sense, is
                         that through the process of glo-balization everyone is being forced
                         toward America's gas station. If you are not an American and don't
                         know how to pump your own gas, I suggest you learn. With the end
                         of the Cold War, globalization is globalizing Anglo-American-style
                         capitalism and the Golden Strait-jacket. It is globalizing American
                         culture and cultural icons.

                         It is globalizing the best of America and the worst of America. It is
                         globalizing the American Revolution and the American gas
                         station-But not everyone likes the American gas station and what it
                         stands for, and you can understand why. Embedded in the
                         Japanese, Western European and communist gas stations are
                         social contracts different from the American one, as wellas very
                         different attitudes about how markets should operate and be
                         controlled. The Europeans and the Japanese believe in the state
                         exercising power over the people and over markets, while
                         Americans tend to believe more in empowering the people and
                         letting markets be as free as possible to sort out who wins and
                         who loses.

                         Because the Japanese, Western Europeans and communists are
                         uncomfortable with totally unfettered markets and the unequal
                         benefits and punishments they distribute, their gas stations are
                         designed to cushion such inequalities and to equalize rewards.
                         Their gas stations also pay more attention to the distinctive
                         traditions and value preferences of their communities. The
                         Western Europeans do this by employing fewer People, but paying
                         them higher wages and collecting higher taxes to generously
                         support the unemployed and to underwrite a goody bag of other
                         welfare-state handouts.

                         The Japanese do it by paying people a little less but guaranteeing
                         them lifetime employment, and then protecting those lifetime jobs
                         and benefits by restricting foreign competitors from entering the
                         Japanese market.

                         The American gas station, by contrast, is a much more efficient
                         place to drive through:the customer is king; the gas station has no
                         social function; its only purpose is to provide the most gas at the
                         cheapest price. If that can be done with no employees at all-well, all
                         the better. A flexible labor market will find them work somewhere
                         else. Too cruel, you say? Maybe so. But, ready or not, this is the
                         model that the rest of the world is increasingly being pressured to
                         emulate.

                         America is blamed for this because, in so many ways, globaliza-tion is
                         us-or is at least perceived that way by a lot of the world. The three
                         democratizations were mostly nurtured in America. The Golden
                         Straitjacket was made in America and Great Britain.

                         The Electronic Herd is led by American Wall Street bulls. The most
                         powerful agent pressuring other countries to open their markets for free
                         trade and free investment is Uncle Sam, and America's global armed
                         forces keep these markets and sea lanes open for this era of
                         globalization, Just as the British navy did for the era of globalization in the
                         nineteenth century.

                         Joseph Nye, Jr., dean of the Harvard University Kennedy School,
                         summarized this reality well when he noted: "In its recent incarnation,
                         globalization can be traced in part back to American strategy after World
                         War II and the desire to create an open international economy to forestall
                         another depression and to balance Soviet power and contain
                         communism.

                         The institutional framework and political pressures for opening markets
                         were a product of American power and policy. But they were reinforced by
                         developments in the technology of transportation and communications
                         which made it increasingly costly for states to turn away from global market
                         forces." In other words, even within the Cold War system America was
                         hard at work building out a global economy for its own economic and
                         strategic reasons.

                         As a result, when the information revolution, and the three
                         democratizations, came together at the end of the 1980s, there was a
                         power structure already in place that was very receptive to these trends
                         and technologies and greatly enhanced their spread around the world. As
                         noted earlier, it was this combination of American power and strategic
                         interests, combined with the made-in-America information revolution, that
                         really made this second era of globalization possible, and gave it its
                         distinctly American face.

                         Today, globalization often wears Mickey Mouse ears, eats Big Macs,
                         drinks Coke or Pepsi and does its computing on an IBM PC, using
                         Windows 98, with an Intel Pentium II processor and a network link from
                         Cisco Systems. Therefore, while the distinction between what is
                         globalization and what is Americanization may be clear to most
                         Americans, it is not-unfortunately-to many others around the world. In most
                         societies people cannot distinguish anymore among American power,
                         American exports, American cultural assaults, American cultural exports
                         and plain vanilla globalization. They are now all wrapped into one.

                          I am not advocating that globalization should be Americanization-but
                         pointing out that that is how it is perceived in many quarters. No wonder
                         the Japanese newspaper Nihon Keizai Shim-bun carried a headline on
                         June 4, 1999, about a conference in Tokyo on globalization that referred to
                         the phenomenon as "The American-Instigated Globalization." When many
                         people in the developing world look out into this globalization system what
                         they see first is a recruiting poster that reads: UNCLE SAM WANTS YOU
                         (for the Electronic Herd).

                         Martin Indyk, the former U.S. ambassador to Israel, told me a story that
                         illustrates this point perfectly. As ambassador, he was called upon to open
                         the first McDonald's in Jerusalem. I asked him what he said on the
                         occasion of McDonald's opening in that holy city, and he said, "Fast food
                         for a fast nation." But the best part, he told me later, was that McDonald's
                         gave him a colorful baseball hat with the McDonald's logo on it to wear as
                         he was invited to eat the first ceremonial Big Mac in Jerusalem's first
                         McDonald's-with Israeli television filming every bite for the evening news.

                         The restaurant was packed with young Israelis eager to be on hand for this
                         historic event. Wliile Ambassador Indyk was preparing to eat Jerusalem's
                         first official Big Mac, a young Israeli teenager worked his way through the
                         crowd and walked up to him. The teenager was carrying his own
                         McDonald's hat and he handed it to Ambassador Indyk with a pen and
                         asked. "'Are you the ambassador? Can I have your autograph?"

                         Somewhat sheepishly, Ambassador Indyk replied. "Sure. I've never been
                         asked for my autograph before."As Ambassador Indyk took the hat and
                         prepared to sign his name on the bill, the teenager said to him, "Wow,
                         what's it like to be the ambassador from McDonald's, going around the
                         world opening McDonald's restaurants everywhere?"

                         Stunned, Ambassador Indyk looked at the Israeli youth and said. "No, no.
                         I'm the American ambassador-not the ambassador from McDonald's!"

                         The Israeli youth looked totally crestfallen. Ambassador Indyk described
                         what happened next: "I said to him, 'Does this mean you don't want my
                         autograph?' And the kid said, no, I don't want your autograph, and he took
                         his hat back and walked away."

                         No wonder that the love-hate relationship that has long existed between
                         America and the rest of the world seems to be taking on an even sharper
                         edge these days. For some people Americanization-globalization feels
                         more than ever like a highly attractive, empowering, incredibly tempting
                         pathway to rising living standards.

                         For many others, though, this Americanization-globalization can breed a
                         deep sense of envy and resentment toward the United States-envy
                         because America seems so much better at riding this tiger and
                         resentment because Americanization-globalization so often feels like the
                         United States whipping everyone else to speed up, Web up, downsize,
                         standardize and march to America's cultural tunes into the Fast World.

                         While I am sure there are still more lovers of America than haters out there,
                         this chapter is about the haters. It is about the other backlash against
                         globalization-the rising resentment of the United States that has been
                         triggered as we move into a globalization system that is so heavily
                         influenced today by American icons, markets and military night.

                         As the historian Ronald Steel once pointed out: "It was never the Soviet
                         Union but the United States itself that is the true revolutionary power. We
                         believe that our institutions must confine all others to the ash heap of
                         history. We lead an economic system that has effectively buried every
                         other form of production and distribution-leaving great wealth and
                         sometimes great ruin in its wake.

                         The cultural messages we transmit through Hollywood and McDonald's go
                         out across the world to capture and also undermine other societies. Unlike
                         more traditional conquerors, we are not content merely to subdue others:

                         We insist that they be like us. And of course for their own good. We are the
                         world's most relentless proselytizers. The world must be democratic. It
                         must be capitalistic. It must be tied into the subversive messages of the
                         World Wide Web. No wonder many feel threatened by what we represent."

                         The classic American self-portrait is Grant Wood's American Gothic, the
                         straitlaced couple, pitchfork in hand, expressions controlled, stoically
                         standing watch outside the barn. But to the rest of the world, American
                         Gothic is actually two twenty-something American software engineers who
                         come into your country wearing long hair, beads and sandals, with rings in
                         their noses and paint on their toes. They kick down your front door,
                         overturn everything in the house, stick a Big Mac in your mouth, fill your
                         kids' heads with ideas you've never had or can't understand, slam a cable
                         box onto your television, lock the channel to MTV, plug an Internet
                         connection into your computer and tell you :

                         "Download or die."

                         That's us. We Americans are the apostles of the Fast World, the enemies
                         of tradition, the prophets of the free market and the high priests of high
                         tech. We want "enlargement" of both our values and our Pizza Huts.

                         We want the world to follow our lead and become democratic, capitalistic,
                         with a Web site in every pot, a Pepsi on every lip, Microsoft Windows in
                         every computer and most of all-most of all-with everyone, everywhere,
                         pumping their owngas."

Source: http://aandm.com/Archives/January2/Betweenthe%20covers1.htm