The Channel City Club of Santa Barbara on Friday marked 65 years of bringing distinguished political and economic speakers to the local community with a celebration at Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort.
Members and special guests included UCSB Chancellor Henry Yang and his wife, Dilling. Dr. Benjamin Cohen, the Louis G. Lancaster Professor of International Political Economy at UCSB, gave a keynote speech titled, “The World Economy Today: Would Louis Lancaster be Surprised?”
Judith Hill, chief executive officer of the Channel City Club, said Cohen’s knowledge of international economic affairs and his interest in Lancaster, who founded the Channel City Club in 1946, made him the perfect speaker for the event.
“We’re very, very pleased,” Hill said. “We’re excited to celebrate our 65th anniversary. We’re fortunate to have so many wonderful people here today and to be able to hear a magnificent presentation from the professor who now sits in the chair of the founder of the Channel City Club. So, that’s pretty remarkable.”
Cohen’s presentation highlighted the similarities and differences between the political economic climates of today and of 65 years ago, attributing the main difference to globalization.
“The most important change, and the one that I want to stress, is globalization,” he said. “We cannot underestimate the importance of this development in the world economy.”
According to Cohen, globalization marks a huge change since 1947. While globalization has advantages such as efficiency, growth and the reduction of poverty, he said it also has major disadvantages.
“There are, as you would expect, disadvantages, due to the fact that globalization — by definition, interdependence — makes us more dependent on others, more sensitive of what happens elsewhere, and more vulnerable to the power of others,” Cohen said. “The consequence is — and this would be the biggest change that Louis Lancaster would perceive — is that the United States is no longer in total control of its own destiny.”
The hour-long presentation was packed with historical and economic facts, and Cohen tied together Santa Barbara’s Channel City Club history and world issues. In his conclusion, he said we may never know if a world without globalization would be beneficial or even possible, but he did leave the audience with some advice.
“What we do need to know is that we are vulnerable, we have a series of vulnerabilities, and public policy would be wise to be thinking about those vulnerabilities and trying to do things to reduce them through things like strategic oil reserves and the like,” Cohen said.
While the presentation left some nervous, others, such as Christopher Morales, a trust associate at Montecito Bank & Trust, said they were grateful for the information.
“I thought Dr. Cohen did a magnificent job of taking complex issues and presenting them in a clear manner,” Morales said. “It’s not exactly good news, but it’s important knowledge everyone should have. Put it this way: We can’t afford not to have it in this day and age.”
The Channel City Club hosts 20 to 25 luncheons and lectures every year. As a nonprofit, it relies on the donations of community members and monthly dues to continue serving as “Santa Barbara’s Window on the World.”
Click here for more information about the Channel City Club of Santa Barbara, or call 805.884.6636.