Third Party & Independents Archives

China Uses Economic Blackmail

Massive amounts of Chinese imports are threatening public health and safety. Many food and consumer products pose risks. Lead in toys and jewelry. Toxins in foods for pets and humans, and in toothpaste. Unsafe automobile tires. Many prescription drugs made with few safeguards. The list is endless. The federal government is not safeguarding American citizens through thorough testing of imports. Why?

Simple: The Chinese have us by our budget-deficit balls. Our government depends on China for loaning us money and for not dumping the vast hoard of over one trillion dollars it has accumulated by financing our huge deficits and selling us virtually everything. Dumping dollars is called the Chinese economic nuclear option. They can wreck the American economy any time they want. America is being held hostage because of our government’s disastrous fiscal and trade policies. And, yes, all this middle-class-killing free trade globalization favors corporate interests.

It is hard to keep track of all the ways the American public is being sold out by the federal government as our Constitution and rule of law are shredded. Our jobs are sent overseas and shifted to lower paid illegal and special-visa-legal immigrants. There is no economic security. Banks and credit card companies rape us financially through criminal interest rates and fees. Mortgage companies took advantage of millions of home buyers that now face foreclosure and financial ruin. We pay outrageous amounts for gasoline and, in many parts of the country, for electricity and natural gas. And still 15 percent of the population lacks health insurance, and those with insurance face rising costs. And millions of Americans face hunger and homelessness. And by the way our education system sucks.

Yet the vast majority of Americans that are not in the Upper Class and living lavishly are not fuming, screaming and ready to revolt. They may feel cheated and screwed, but they have not yet concluded that they are politically oppressed – that their government is criminally selling them out, with no end in sight – that their democracy is delusional.

The following facts are typical of so many that should help Americans wake up and prepare for the Second American Revolution:

The top 300,000 income earners in America make more than the bottom 150 million combined.

Ninety percent of the Fortune 1,000 companies have set up deferred pay plans that let their top executives set aside, tax-free, retirement income far above 401(k) limits, and 69 percent have set up “supplemental executive retirement plans” that shield execs from company-wide pension cutbacks. That’s how these fat cats obtain tens or hundreds of millions of dollars. All this continues even though an amazing 77 percent of Americans say corporate executives “earn too much” and 61 percent believe wealthy Americans “should be taxed more.” according to a new Harris Poll.

Billionaire Warren Buffet paid just 17.7 percent of his $46 million in income last year, without trying to avoid taxes, compared to his secretary who paid 30 percent of her $60,000 salary.

The top two execs at America’s largest private equity partnership took home over $600 million last year — and paid taxes on that windfall at the capital gains bargain rate of just 15 percent. And Congress shows no desire to close that tax loophole.

Millions of non-wealthy Americans face home foreclosure and bankruptcy, but right now there are five residential properties in the United States listed at $100 million or more

Like some science fiction fantasy, millions of hard-working Americans are popping anti-depressants with abandon to dull the pain of obscene political and economic realities. American puppets, slaves, and victims obediently obey laws, pay taxes, borrow and consume, and endure stress, fatigue and sleeplessness. Meanwhile, the mainstream media feed them propaganda and entertainment. Worst of all, far too many believe they can elect Democratic or Republican politicians that will make things better. Though millions are suffering, bitching and moaning, they remain stuck in a political stupor. They are unready to rebel politically and take back their country from corrupt politicians and the moneyed interests that control them. They have not become political dissidents – the kind that throughout human history rise up and overturn dreadful ruling classes and governments.

Rather than contagious political activism we have compulsive consumerism. Americans keep borrowing and spending, providing about 75 percent of the economy that mostly benefits the Upper Class. That spending is their potential political power. Yet they do not understand that only by using their spending (and debt) as a political force will they get the government to serve and protect them. That means reducing spending to obtain specific political actions, like cutting spending by 10 percent until President Bush ends the Iraq War.

Cheap Chinese products help keep consumers pacified and distracted, even as Americans lose jobs as industry after industry collapses because of floods of Chinese imports. Our delusional democracy produces delusional prosperity. How much worse must life for ordinary Americans become before the masses rise up in rebellion? Apparently, a lot worse.

By then, communist China will probably become the world’s only superpower, built with the wealth extracted from the USA. The lesson of history is the rise and fall of great (arrogant, self-indulgent) nations. The USA is in free-fall. Soaring economic inequality is just one symptom.

Cheap Chinese products are a powerful and insidious destructive force. Free trade globalism more than violent terrorism or military attack is bringing America to its knees. But no presidential candidate is making this their main campaign theme. Shame on them. And shame on anyone voting for them. Perhaps if voter turnout dropped to, say, 20 percent, then we might stop playing our bipartisan delusional democracy game and take our country back.

Posted by Joel S. Hirschhorn at August 11, 2007 12:16 PM
Comment #229038

The Libertarian and Republican argument is that it is OK for China to make products for export ANY DAMN way they please, consumers don’t have to buy them: caveat emptor?

Those on the right want their cake and eat it too, however, they want to rest comfortable in consuming lower cost Chinese imports, while borrowing a trillion dollars from the Chinese to finance our federal national debt, yet turn right around as Duncan Hunter did today and promise to threaten China for its exports if he is President. But, when American companies make products which are inferior and are created by the rule of planned obsolescence, conservatives whip out caveat emptor and you don’t have to buy it if you don’t like it.

The hypocrisy screams a lack of integrity of thought and reason.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 11, 2007 7:25 PM
Comment #229052

One reason for the New World Order (Globalization) was cheap labor. Now the other reason is stating us in the face, regulation.

Posted by: jlw at August 11, 2007 10:21 PM
Comment #229064

David and Joel, since the Chinese are making these threats precisely because of the restrictions on imports that they’ve been experiencing lately, it’s plainly false to say that the “federal government is not safeguarding American citizens through testing of imports” or that the Republicans say that China can “export any damn way they please.”

The very reason that this is an issue being debated at all is that the Chinese don’t like the barriers the federal government is setting up for their imports. It’s incredible that you’re missing this very obvious point.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at August 12, 2007 1:14 AM
Comment #229083

LO: How many dead pets did it take before the government reacted? For years, Chinese products have come into this country unabated and virtually unchecked. Many tainted or shoddy products make it to our shelves before a problem is discovered. Finally, finally, the government is starting to do its job.

Posted by: jlw at August 12, 2007 10:27 AM
Comment #229098

LO, your right wing hypocrisy shines through yet again. You support our government regulating the products from China for quality and oppose that same government from regulating the quality of products made here in the U.S. (CAFE standards for example).

Thank you for proving my argument about conservative hypocrisy which says America should not be held to the same standard America holds other nations to. And this is evident in so many conservative policies. It is OK for America to invade other nations preemptively but, not OK if Russia does, as in its bombing of a Georgian village this week, which conservatives are railing against.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 12, 2007 2:00 PM
Comment #229107

David, resorting to such inane comparisons only calls attention to the weakness of your argument.

For one thing, I have never said that that America should not be held to the same standards for consumer safety and product testing that others are held to. But in order to allege “hypocrisy,” you just made that up. Hope you enjoy beating up on those straw men.

I might as well call you a hypocrite for opposing the war in Iraq while calling for the US to bomb Mecca. The fact that you’ve never called for the bombing of Mecca is irrelevant—that is, if I choose to debate on the same level you choose to.

Also, to point out the obvious, CAFE standards (something else I’ve never opined about one way or another) are a completely different issue than product safety. It’s comparing apples and oranges. For examples of true hypocrisy, you might look instead at those who complain about things like wiretapping of terror suspects and the Patriot Act but also think that the government should regulate and censor political speech and campaigning.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at August 12, 2007 3:33 PM
Comment #229111

LO, CAFE standards are exactly the same thing, improved product which minimizes operational costs, preserves environmental integrity, and reduces dependence upon foreign oil. But, of course, you would view that as apples and oranges as most conservatives customarily deny reality in order to keep their view’s appearance intact.

Do you believe our government should regulate quality control of private industry in America? YES or NO? Answering that question you didn’t in your reply above, and it is obvious why.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 12, 2007 4:27 PM
Comment #229114

David, the answer is yes. And nobody has ever said otherwise. You’re debating against points that nobody but yourself has made. Where are these mythological Republicans who say that the government should never regulate the safety and quality of any products?

The topic of this thread was Chinese goods, which ARE being restricted by a—gasp—Republican administration. Hence China’s threats. Your accusation that this is “hypocritical” would only have merit if Republicans in particualr wanted to impose restrictions on China they don’t also impose on Americans. But you can point to no such thing—hence you change the subject in order to create (for yourself at least) the impression of being “right” when you are plainly wrong.

Let me put it this way then:

Whether the source of the oil is foreign or domestic, it should be held to exactly the same standards. Those standards can be debated, but they should be uniform.

By extension, American food—whether for pets or humans—should not be poisonous. Exactly the same as it shouldn’t if it comes from China.

There’s no “hypocrisy” there at all. As usual when you’re wrong about something, you’re just trying to change the subject and shift the focus onto straw men of your own making. It’s quite predictable, and I really don’t know who you think you’re fooling with these cheap debating tactics.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at August 12, 2007 5:09 PM
Comment #229122

LO, a read of the Red Column’s archives is full of such references by Republican supporters. Don’t ask me to do your legwork. You know very well Republicans have argued against regulations for decades, and this administration has deregulated more industries than the general public is even remotely aware of. Your question is disingenuous to the extreme.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 12, 2007 7:29 PM
Comment #229123

LO, thank you for pointing out the Republican hypocrisy. EVERY Republican candidate NOW running for president is promising FREE TRADE, as in unregulated trade. Thank you for proving they are to a man, liars in the extreme, and actually for Regulated Trade, if what you say is correct.

This is why Republicans have lost favor with the public, they say one thing, and do another, CONSTANTLY. They say they are for peace, and make unnecessary war. They say they are for smaller government while creating the greatest government payroll in history. They say they are against government handouts but created the greatest government hand out programs since FDR with the Medicare Rx Drug plan, subsidies to corporations experiencing record profits. They say they are for fiscal responsibility while creating the largest total deficit additions in 6 years to the national debt of any party ever - 3.15 Trillion Dollars.

Please, say it isn’t so !!!! LOL!!!

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 12, 2007 7:33 PM
Comment #229145

I don’t actually disagree with you about recent Republican hypocrisy (if that’s the word you want to use) when it comes to excessive government spending. I complain about the same thing myself.

Being against regulation is a matter of degree, however, and it’s absurd to say that wanting less regulation is the same thing as wanting no regulation at all. And “free trade” is not, as you simplistically claim, the same thing as unregulated trade.

If you really believe in such simplistic formulas, then I assume you must also believe that those who are in favor of government regulations want to regulate absolutely everything in a state-controlled socialist totalitarian state.

I don’t believe that’s what Democrats and liberals want at all. I simply think they want more regulation than I do.

But then I’m comfortable enough with my beliefs that I can defend them without creating cartoonish caricatures of everybody who disagrees with me. I don’t feel the need to avoid having to deal with their actual positions instead of straw men of my own creation. In this way I leave open the possibility of recognizing the potential merit in the views of others instead of taking the easy route of demonizing them while closing my mind.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at August 12, 2007 10:21 PM
Comment #229157

Conservatives promote the idea that business and industry should be self-regulated with very little government oversite. The claim is that business has a vested interest in self-regulation and can do the job more effeciently without government rules.

This philosophy is practiced readily by the Bush Administration as evidenced by their practice of placing political appointees as heads of the various regulatory agencies to hinder or halt the ability of those agencies to provide adequate regulatory oversight.

Posted by: jlw at August 12, 2007 11:37 PM
Comment #229159

When considering Chinese exports, we should remember that many of these products are produced by American companies (Colgate toothpaste) that have relocated facilities to China or who are affilitated with Chinese companies. Therefor, one would assume that the Bush Administration’s reluctance to regulate or inspect would apply to many of the products of the companies above.

Posted by: jlw at August 12, 2007 11:47 PM
Comment #229220

Joel, excellent post. As long as our political leaders are lead by corporate money we will continue to think quarter to quarter for solutions. The Chinese think long term. We are unarmed in our battle of wits with the Chinese, partially because they have a standing Army and wont be bullied by our neo con diplomacy. So for now we can accept cheap poisioned products and like it or stop the nonsense and quit purchasing the crap. My guess is as long as it is cheaper we will continue on the same path as we are now. With the South Americanization of our Country well under way it seems we have little choice despite having many choices.

Posted by: j2t2 at August 13, 2007 12:59 PM
Comment #229383

Problems with Chinese imports are not as wide spread as are being reported. This is simply patanoia about a power that through its sheer propulation will grow to become one of the worlds most important nations.

Free trade is the why to engage with China. To put up barriers will simply reaffirm the paranoid belief in Beijing that the US wants to prevent China’s rise.

Remember the US owes alot to Chinese cheap lending ability. Don’t shoot your selves in the foot.

Posted by: Andrew Smith at August 14, 2007 2:55 PM
Comment #229384

If someone thinks tainted Chinese products are no big deal, Matel has a lot of real cheap toys for your holiday shopping.

Posted by: jlw at August 14, 2007 3:18 PM
Comment #229429

I have, for about the last 10 years, made a conscious effort to select products made anywhere but China. I bought a beautiful hammer made in Brazil. The problem I see is that the alternatives are disappearing.

Posted by: JayTea at August 14, 2007 10:20 PM
Comment #229482

Loyal Opp said: “And ‘free trade’ is not, as you simplistically claim, the same thing as unregulated trade.”

Yeah, it IS! That’s like arguing the sun is not bright in order to make some point about night being day. Redefining accepted terminology is the lowest form of argument rendering one’s argument entirely illogical. Orwell was so prophetic in his elucidation on Newspeak and DoubleSpeak, where words have no meaning save for what expedience dictates.

Free trade is trade without regulation. Regulated trade includes tariffs, and barriers and incentives to alter trade direction and volume from what it would be if it were Free Trade. Your assertion lacks any merit of anykind save to prove George Orwell right about the lengths authoritarians (those who author their own rules of conduct) will go to preserve their self-esteem and ambitions.

Posted by: David R. Remer at August 15, 2007 10:16 AM
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