Third Party & Independents Archives

Free Trade Doesn't Work, #3

More from Ian Fletcher’s book, “Free Trade Doesn’t Work”. He gives a number of reasons why free trade doesn’t work of which some were debated in a previous thread.

Ian relates that America is manufacturing their decline. A couple of years back it was suggested that the US television industry would be revived with the advent of HDTV but Japan still dominates that industry today.

Boeing aircraft has continued to hollow out their manufacturing ability through the implementation of a ‘Lego’ approach to systems integration. For example, the composite wing is the high tech component of aircraft design as the wing determines the weight the plane can carry. The wing for the Boeing 787 is built in Japan, while the European Airbus ‘manages’ competition by holding outsourcing to no more than 35% of its work. More than a billion cellphones were sold worldwide in 2008 but none were mfctrd in the US.

The US retains an industrial advantage, measured by net export in products, only in aircraft, aircraft parts, weapons and specialized machine tools. All of our net mfctring exports are a legacy effect of 60 years of Pentagon industrial policy. As of 2007 we became a net importer of spacecraft.

He relates that Japan and Germany have booming mfctring exports with strong employment and high wage workers. Fundamental to their success are Japan’s and the EU’s non-tariff trade barriers. Many barriers are not actual laws and are thus less scrutinized by trade authorities. William Greider of ‘The Nation’ magazine has noted that the EU has more than seven hundred national restrictions on import quantities, many of which were converted to so-called voluntary restraints. The UK’s Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders maintained a long-standing ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ with the Japanese Automobile Manufacturers Assoc that effectively limited Japanese cars to 11 percent of the British market. France and Italy had tougher restrictions. During the recessionary conditions in late 1993, Japanese auto imports to Europe were arbitrarily reduced by 18 percent.

We are all aware that China has been accused of pegging their yuan to the dollar taking away any advantage the US would gain from currency revaluation. Ian writes that currency revaluation will not benefit us and that the dollar decline will lower the value of wealth Americans have worked for decades to accumulate. While it will make US export goods more attractive it will also make foreign purchases of US assets more attractive, if not balanced with good export policy decisions. Many nations trade policies are rigged to reject our exprts regardless of their price in foreign currency and Japan is one of the more sophisticated players.

Ian notes that the killer argument against balancing our trade by letting the dollar fall is the cost of oil. If the dollar had to fall by half to balance trade then the price of oil would double and the US is too dependent on oil.

He writes that while there is no free market in currencies, the advantage to manipulating a nation’s currency is too large a temptation. He notes that Japan’s currency manipulation gives its exporters a per-car $4,000 advantage, up to $10,000 on high-end vehicles.

China, the most notorious offender in currency manipulation, prevents its exporters from using the dollars they ear as they might like. Instead, they must swap those dollars for domestic currency at a central bank which spends them on purchasing US Treasury securities and other high yielding investments rather than US goods. China’s dollar de-nominated holdings, in 2008, amounted to $1.7 trillion dollars. It is estimated that the yuan is undervalued by 40%.

But Ian suggests that this is not China’s problem to fix, it is ours. He says the US can either bar China’s purchases or tax them into submission. But, the US fears that China may cease buying US Treasury bonds, thereby, driving up interest rates. Thus, it is our own inability to raise interest rates, not what China should or should not do.

He asks why we should treat floating exchange rates as ideal to begin with. In reality, our choice isn’t fixed vs floating rates, its fixed vs manipulated. Fixed rates are precisely the outcome when everybody manipulates their exchange rate, reaches a stand-off, and codifies the result.

China could revalue its currency and us non-tariff barriers to achieve about the same imbalance in trade as it now enjoys. Protectionism can include tariffs and quotas and also, local content laws, import licensing requirements, and subtler measures. And, can include outright skullduggery such as deliberate port delays, inflated customs valuations, selective enforcement of safety standards, and bribes. China has honored the letter of WTO agreements while evading their spirit. One Congressional Research Service identified 751 different types of barriers to US exports worldwide.

It’s clear, from Ian’s viewpoint, and many others, that free trade doesn’t work. He states that only 15% of trade qualifies as ‘free trade’ anyway and the rest is what you can get away with. What we’ve experienced is an effort at globalization moreso than any ‘free trade’ policy. Free Trade gets done much as it has in the past, using protectionism and hundreds of other blatant or subtle techniques designed toward achieving some economic advantage. Note that the corporate world is monopolizing and conglomerating while the US middle class has taken the hit. To resist globalization, illegal immigration, loss of sovereignty and the like gets you labeled as a ‘fundamentalist’, a non-visionary, someone wanting to cling to their religion, their guns and their Constitution. We must give way to a world where all people are as one, working to get the hell off this planet and find another one to trash before it’s too late. Well, I don’t want to be left behind when the spacelift starts but I would like to be able to have a job to save up some money for a ticket. We need some sensibility entwined with our fantasies, IMO. And, until you are ready to light the fuse on the spacecraft don’t be messin with my ConstitutioN!!!! Also, demand to know what is in my food and where it came from.

Reader, I hope you will consider voting from office all incumbents come November as those folks have failed this nation bigtime in every sector, including security, IMO. Like, we need our drugs so bad we can just ignore 28,000 people killed on border. Why, on this side of the border are those people so valued as the ‘seed’ for Silicon Valley and the ‘lifeblood’ of New York City yet on the other side of the border they are just fodder for the cannon?

Otherwise, we have the Corpocracy we deserve.

Posted by Roy Ellis at October 3, 2010 8:53 PM
Comment #309670

Roy, of course, the opposite of so called “free trade”, is trade wars, which cause imbalances and shortages of supply of necessary items for the maintenance of quality of life for 100’s of millions of consumers. This is what occurred with the Japanese in the late 1930’s, when the U.S. cut Japan off from oil supplies, prompting the attacks on Pearl Harbor and the Japanese installations in the Aleutian Islands in Alaska. Absent the concept of free trade, what you get is international behavioral modification and exploitation on steroids, leading to real war and devastating economic and life and death costs.

Where there is trade, there must be regulation and contractual enforcement. It has always been so. I think of ‘free trade’ in the same way I do health. Perpetual good health is the goal of the practice of medicine, but, the reality is, everyone will die of ill health, eventually. The fact does not negate the goal.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 4, 2010 12:31 PM
Comment #309678

David’s implication being, the Japanese attacked us because we placed an oil embargo on them.

The Japanese had invaded both China and Korea before the embargo and they were determined to drive foreign nations out of the areas they considered their sphere of influence. The oil embargo forced the Japanese to take the oil necessary for waging war against the U.S. That is how the Dutch and the British got the oil, they took it.

The problem arises when moneyed influence can usurp the control of government by the people, breaking down the peoples ability to regulate and influence the economy. This allows our corporations to become Benedict Arnold companies who’s share holders are far more interested in their profit margins that the common good and thus become part of the enabling mechanism.

For as long as the people neglect their responsibility in a democratic society, the corporate lobbyists will have access to and be making their back room deals at the expense of the people.

Greed, ignorance and apathy, the DNA of exploitation.

Posted by: jlw at October 4, 2010 4:21 PM
Comment #309697

jlw, we are watching your words play out as we type, under the umbrella of the FEC vs. Citizen’s United Supreme Ct. ruling, as 40 million dollars of political contributions are spent anonymously airing ads against Democrats and moderate Republicans across the nation, wealthy special and corporate interest stakeholders. The conservative supreme court handed the keys to the kingdom to the corporate wealthy special interests who absolutely believe excess wealth has but one purpose, the exercise of power. The history of France and Mussolini’s end contain a bitter lesson for such wealthy special interests taking control.

If wealthy special interests destroy our nation’s efficacy and economy, do they really believe they can move to another country and live out their days in ease and comfort on their ill-gotten and unshared gains? If our nation goes, the world’s economy will also go. Unless they want to seek safe harbor in China’s politburo, they will not be safe anywhere. How can such people with such enormous wealth and power end up so fricking ignorant and stupid as to suffer the fates of Hitler, Mussolini, and King Louis XVI ? The answer is simple. They truly believe their wealth and power will protect them. Its an easy misjudgment to be lulled into. The consequent question follows, how can the non-wealthy ever be lulled into believing these wealthy special interests will protect their interests? Again, the answer is simple. The wealthy tell them that it is so, and the non-wealthy are lulled into believing it by their state of relative and perceived powerlessness over the wealthy.

It’s all their, in the history books. But, we are raising generations of Americans whose fondness for history upon which our nation’s founders thrived, is equal to their fondness for social diseases. The greatest threat, in reality, to wealthy special interests, is history and education in it. It is no accident that Americans know less about history than almost any other modern western type democracy. The Texas School Board controlling the content of textbooks for a third or more of the nation is an example of the mechanics at work.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 4, 2010 9:37 PM
Comment #309702

David, your response shows no concern of import that our trade policies/agreements are destroying the country. At some point we must admit to failed policies and make some changes based on smarter decisions.

Right you are jlw, in that the decisions that were made putting us in this untenable position were Corpocracy driven. And, we should not expect anything better to come from the Corpocracy relative to trade and trade legislation. Corporations have managed to put all the risk on the taxpayer while they are enjoying a win-win trade environment.

Where we may differ is on how to bring about correction or trade reform. The Progressives are taking the approach of redistribution of wealth driven by active unions and large federal government. This puts the corpocracy and progressivism in head to head battle for years to come, with the ‘in party’ repealing laws put in place by the now ‘out party’. IMO, reform should come about through a new 3rd party with a different political attitude with the main mission of repealing corporate personhood law.

Corporations should have never been given rights equating to that of the individual or person. And, to follow that with ‘money is free speech’ law really compounds the problem of the ‘money influence’. Today’s Washington Post relates that outside election spending is up fivefold from the 2006 midterms. In 2006 more than 90% of the money was disclosed as to the donor. This year that figure has fallen to less than half, thanks largely to the latest series of Supreme Court rulings afforded to ‘human corporations’. Let’s stop the endless tug of war between the two major parties, both of which are bought and paid for by the Corpocracy. A 3rd party with a different political attitude provides the only real solution, IMO.

Otherwise, we have the Corpocracy we deserve.

Posted by: Roy Ellis at October 4, 2010 10:22 PM
Comment #309717

Roy, I am very concerned and have written about the serious trade deficits here on many occasions. But, I know enough to know that I don’t have a solution. The trade deficit is what it is. We made it this way, knowingly and consciously with our eyes wide open, as a nation. As far as I can see, there are no readily available solutions.

If you have some, I haven’t heard before and dismissed as unrealistic or fraught with graver consequences, I would be happy to listen and ponder them.

Roy, you said: “The Progressives are taking the approach of redistribution of wealth driven by active unions and large federal government.”

That sounds like IGNORANT GLENN BECK speaking. Fact: unions have been on the decline since the 1970’s and early 1980’s, and large federal government has NOTHING to do with American consumer demand for foreign imports or corporate decisions to go international where labor markets are cost savers. Our government, large or small, is incapable of changing the world’s move toward a global economy with all of the intrinsic trade imbalances that this evolution entails. The U.S. gave the world free enterprise and free trade ideology, and now the U.S. is reaping both the rewards and consequences of it. Consumer prices and inflation are held in check by lower production costs of overseas production. It is why there is a Wal-Mart in every town and city in the U.S. by popular demand for their lower import and distribution pricing. Yes, it costs American jobs and has a horrible effect on our future as dollars keep racing away from our own economy and borders. But, this is the star America hitched its future too. Too late to change stars now, without destroying what economic future we have left.

The answer is not the impossible task of rolling back globalization of markets and free trade ideology. The answer has to be found in becoming more self-reliant in more cost effective ways for producing our own needs here in the U.S. Obama has called forth just such a plan, or, the beginning stages of one. Republicans have rejected it out of hand on political grounds.

So, before we can have a solution to our trade deficits, we must have a solution for our political system and appropriate reforms that force our political parties and politicians to agree upon solutions and their implementation. Putting the cart before the horse may work in dreams, but, gets you not where you want to go in the real world.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 5, 2010 8:26 AM
Comment #309722

David, other than the Perot-Gore debate I recall no debate/dialog with the people over globalization. The Corpocracy charted this course for the nation and the sheeple did just what they’ve been doing for a hundred years, re-electing incumbents 90-95% of the time. Sure, some believed and some drank the koolaid. But, with the aftermath of NAFTA, corporations heading for China, and the attempt at NAU most were off the band wagon at that point.
And, considering the long range goal of creating a world government and how that would not work so well with our Constitution, then what is the point in proceeding further with this failed gov’t/corpocracy. Why should one think a world gov’t would act any differently than the UN, putting Sudan in charge of human rights and there is the Burundi/Congo genocide thing. How much of your sovereignty would you be willing to give up for such an organization?

I’m sure you were aware of the rally on the mall this past weekend. Every left wing group from the communist party to moderate democrats were there, no doubt, as ‘guest’ of the union largesse. Their effort is toward redistribution of wealth driven by big gov’t policies. IMO, that approach is just as wrong as the Repub’s worshipping the corporatae. Just means we will be subjected to a continuing dog fight between the left and right, which the majority rejects.
Yes, a Wall-Mart on every block, and if a town resist the WTO and Wall-Mart will meet you at the court house and you will lose because the WTO rules say - - - You say gov’t is incapable of changing what they have put in place. Just not so. Other than some of genetically modified plants and animals turned lose in the world, amazingly with no regulation, the gov’t can be reformed to bring a different approach to foreign trade. You say consumer prices are held in check by cheap foreign production. But, how is that being achieved? Consumer prices have been checked by the plummeting US dollar and the fact that China pegs their currency to that dollar, thereby, keeping the price of their products cheap. That can’t continue and the longer it does the more dangerous it becomes when China has to take the big plunge and revalue by 50-60%. Prices held in check by not free trade, but currency manipulation, David.

You wrote: “The answer is not the impossible task of rolling back globalization of markets and free trade ideology. The answer has to be found in becoming more self-reliant in more cost effective ways for producing our own needs here in the U.S. Obama has called forth just such a plan, or, the beginning stages of one. Republicans have rejected it out of hand on political grounds.
So, before we can have a solution to our trade deficits, we must have a solution for our political system and appropriate reforms that force our political parties and politicians to agree upon solutions and their implementation.”

Becoming more self-reliant in producing for our own needs is a positive factor. But, how does play into that fact that the US is no longer the high-tech innovation center of the world, millions of unemployed illegals and millions more living off the ‘land’, an over-abundance of cheap labor driving middle class wages down, a ‘jobless recovery’ and millions more homes destined for foreclosure? When something fails so spectacularly, David, those accountable need to go and reform must be carried out.

So, what we have is about 10=15% free trade with the remainder being trade as it has always been, corruption, deceit, buying gov’t legislation, etc. Meanwhile, the corporations are monopolizing and conglomerating while the US has witnessed the largest xfer of wealth in the history of mankind. Who would want to continue with this mess?
We need reform, driven from the center through a new 3rd party with a mission to lower the expectations of corporations, remove the money influence from politics and work for fair trade vs free trade, IMO. Something similar to the Republican Sentry Party would work just fine. Recall that our trade agreements are not treaties, but authorized by Executive Order which can be abolished at the stroke of a pen. Not too difficult, David.

Otherwise, we have the Corpocracy we deserve.

Posted by: Roy Ellis at October 5, 2010 10:38 AM
Comment #309744

Roy wrote: “David, other than the Perot-Gore debate I recall no debate/dialog with the people over globalization.”

Then you are forgetting the combined doctrines of manifest destiny, the Monroe doctrine based on the fear that Spain would try to take over its former colonies in South America, which had declared their independence, and the Truman Doctrine for Post WWII reconstruction which gave rise to globalization of markets, NATO, the U.N., the WTO, all initiatives of American political figures after debate, and legislation in the creation of those world global military and market oversight organizations.

Those we went to war with, we made trading partners of. Those we didn’t go to war with, figured it was more cost effective to skip the War part, and just become a trading partner of the U.S. This combination of military foreign policy and economic expansion through international trade were not an accident, and legislation and debate were required for every major step toward globalized trade, regulation, and oversight. Glenn Beck hasn’t a clue about this history, nor how devastating to humanity it would be to attempt to reverse globalization of so-called, ‘free trade’ at this point.

C’mon Roy, when our banks were facing mortgage based collapse, Lehman Bros. and forced ‘fire sale’, Bear Stearns and Merrill Lynch, it sent shock waves through banks all across the globe, forcing them to scramble and assess what their balance of payments owed, and debt and investments in these failing American banks were, in order to determine how badly their own balance sheets would be impacted by our American banks failures. Global and interdependent international banking have been with us for many decades now.

Even though the Chinese were very well insulated from the global banking mortgage backed banking crisis, due to their policy of 20% down payment on first home purchasing (higher for investment properties) instead of our 2% or no equity down-payment policies of the Clinton-Bush ‘ownership society’ doctrine, their GDP was brought down many points in the aftermath by the Great Recession that ensued in the U.S. and European nations.

Our international financial and economic dependence is a house of cards in which no card in the stack can be allowed to fail or the whole stack will collapse. That is the current state. The only way for the U.S. to proceed is to gradually become more independent economically and financially over the next several decades (that is not a choice, it will take that long in any event), so that when and if the stack collapses, our losses will be minimized and not nearly so crippling, just as China’s losses from 2008 to the present were minimized and not crippling at all, due to the independent solvency of their banks, mortgage, and real estate industries established by sound financial construction and policy regarding lending and risk management. Far sounder than in the West then, and even today, with all our reforms. China is not immune to global economic collapse, but, they were relatively immune to the Western banking and mortgage backed recession that arose from the Bush years and in the wake of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of the last years of the Clinton Administration with no compensatory or corrective action by the Bush administration and Congress’.

China is the model of the position which the U.S. must move toward over the next several decades. But, without voter initiated political reform, that path is closed to America. VOID, or, Vote Out Incumbents Day is only 29 days away. Get as many of your friends and acquaintances to participate, as possible. That is the first and most important step to a better American future.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 5, 2010 4:29 PM
Comment #309752

Roy, before I forget, Ian Fletcher’s entire title and argument is fallacious on its face. Free trade worked for decades for Americans as we created ever larger export markets from which to profit. The fact that America is no longer profiting from the very same markets today, does not mean free trade isn’t now working for the Chinese, India, Brazil, Russia. Free trade does work to produce profitability. Just not for all the trading parties at the same time or in the same measure. There is an ebb and flow to commerce and trade is not excepted from it, anymore than bubbles and busts are excepted from domestic trade activities.

Fletcher’s argument appears, and his title implies, that because free trade is not working to produce net profitability for the U.S. at this time, the entire concept of free trade does not work. That is false. It is working still, just nor for the U.S. anymore, but for the BRIC countries instead due to changing economic and resource conditions. The Ancient Greek city-states wrestled with this phenomenon more than 2000 years ago, from whence the concept of insurance for shipping and shippers was a partial answer to deal with trade imbalances caused by cargo ships being lost to the unpredictable and sudden storms of the Aegean Sea, their only route for free trade between the city-states and beyond.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 5, 2010 5:03 PM
Comment #309813

David, Ian’s book clearly and factually defines why so-called free trade isn’t working. Japan, some Asian rim and Germany is doing well. Otherwise, 16 out of 22 countries with a developing middle class have done less well over the last decade.

There are many taxpayers/voters who would opt for fair trade as opposed to free trade and few who believe that reform, other than fringe change, can be had so long as we are ruled by Corpocracy. A few reforms that would restore the solvency of the nation and more closely balance our trade deficit:

Abolish Corporate Personhood – The Supreme Court created this severe imbalance of power between the gov’t, corporations and the people. Thus, Supreme Court action will be required to right the wrong.

Implement campaign finance reform – Removing the money influence from politics will allow the voters to solve any political problem, which was the intent of the Founder’s and the Constitution. Let all donors contribute to one election kitty. Then let politicians take to the stage and may the best person be elected by popular vote.

Implement the VAT for foreign trade – As have 153 other nations to keep the playing field level. A VAT would, by itself, bring the US trade deficit to balance or near balance.

Implement a flat income tax – The current income tax policy serves as a political tool for politicians to make winners and losers of people and corporations. Better said, it is a way for the Federal gov’t to micro-manage control of people and commerce. Businesses and residential taxpayers will spend some 7.5 billion hours on reconciling their tax records in 2010. For individuals, their time and cost involved in tax preparation will be $103 billion.

Improve education – Abolish tenure, keep teachers who excel and remove those who don’t. Adopt a college preparatory level of curricula for high schools. Bring retired professionals, volunteer or part-time, into the science and math classes for some number of hours weekly. Establish a dialog between college and high schools officials as to ‘how are we doing’. Establish a dialog between high schools and parents as to ‘how are we doing’. At the college level, abolish tenure, hold foreign student participation at 10%, foreign graduate students returning to teach must demonstrate fluency in written and spoken English. Build the infrastructure to host Internet classes using full duplex audio/visual technology.

Enforce immigration law – There is something like 10% of the Mexican population living off the land in the U.S. while some 25% of U.S. workers are unemployed or under-employed. Some 28k Mexican citizens and others have been killed in drug violence over the past few years. Taking control of the Southern border would squelch drug and human trafficking.

Now, find one suggestion that the Corpocracy would implement. That’s why REAL reform can only come about through a 3rd party such as the Republic Sentry Party.

Otherwise, we have the Corpocracy we deserve.

Posted by: Roy Ellis at October 6, 2010 12:46 PM
Comment #309856

Roy, Fair trade is in the eye of the beholder. Free trade was fair trade when the benefits accrued to the U.S., according to American opinion of it during those times.

Like you said, there are many countries who view current free trade as fair trade, because they are benefiting from it. Others no longer view it as fair, because they are not benefiting from as they would like.

But, think about this for a second. Free trade is nothing but contractual agreements consented to by the partners in the trade agreement. If Free trade is not fair, why on Earth would trading partners sign such contractual agreements?

What you are really objecting to is the binding nature of contracts in free trade agreements. Or, in other words, you are objecting to the inability of folks like yourself to violate the contractual agreements made, when it suits you. Which is a line of reasoning that is entirely UNREASONABLE, if one invests anything of value in rule of law. The first rule of law of any civilization or society is that contracts shall be honored and enforced. Without that, anarchy and dissolution are given reign.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 6, 2010 9:04 PM
Comment #309871

I posted that 16 out of 22 developing nations have done worse under globalization. I was wrong, its 20 out of 22. Ian recalls that Clinton posed NAFTA as a jobs creation agreement, settling on 200,000 jobs. Instead, we lost jobs, 525,000 from 1994 to 2002. NAFTA was to reduce our trade balance. Instead, our trade deficit increased, with Canada and Mexico. Same for Mexico. In the first decade the income gap between the US and Mexico grew by over 10%. A maquiladora worker can be hired for less than the taxes on an American worker, averaging a wage of $1.82/hr. NAFTA turned Mexico from a food exporter to a food importer overnight. Over a million farm jobs were wiped out by cheap American food exports, massively subsidized (against WTO regs) by our various farm programs. Eleven trade agreements have been signed since 2000. Every agreement but one has coincided with greater US deficits. Twelve more are in the hopper.

A bridge way, way to far, David. You are clearly saying that no matter what rules/laws the Corpocracy signed us up for we gotta grin and bare it???

NAFTA, and all the AFTA’s are not treaties. They are agreements on authority of Executive Order which can be line itemed out by any Pres.

Eleven countries are weighing in on Arizona’s immigration enforcement bill citing that it is illegal under US trade agreements. Have we really signed away control of our borders? If so, I object.

There is nothing cast in cement relative to our trade policies. The WTO allows for tariffs when a country feels its economic security is threatened.

We are enduring trade policies that were created as a tool for foreign policy. That needs to change. The people were flat out lied to by politicians who are still around. That needs to change too. A good reason for voting out all incumbents this election and in 2012. The first seeds of reform, IMO.

Why none of the suggested reforms will take place? The Corpocracy is on a roll, a win-win for the corporations and they don’t intend to give it up anytime soon.

Otherwise, we have the Corpocracy we deserve.

Posted by: Roy Ellis at October 6, 2010 10:36 PM
Comment #309888

Roy, from 1994 to 2000 we had a growing economy and the tech bubble. There was a recession underway as a result of the bursting of the tech bubble. How many jobs during that period were lost and created as a result of NAFTA?

Answer: You don’t know. Don’t you think it would be a good idea to find out, before making judgments you can’t defend? Economics is a very complex affair with hosts of contributing variables. Trying to compare jobs lost or gained as a result of just one variable takes work and effort, which many ideologues will take advantage of to lie with statistics in favor of their ideology.

When you have some hard valid data on the topic, get back to me. All I see so far, is a jumble of crap which is meaningless, because it fails to accurately measure in real numbers cause and effect. I have no doubt that some of our free trade agreements have caused manufacturing jobs to go overseas, but, trend has been underway for more than 30 years as our entire economy shifted from manufacturing to service sector and technological innovation, in a big way.

I also have no doubt that corporate America has been in control of our nation’s trade agreements favoring their short term profitability first and foremost. But, when in our entire nation’s history has it ever been otherwise?

Trade agreements have served a host of different purposes through the centuries, and job creation was almost NEVER one of the primary objectives. Are you really suggesting that our government should NOW be making trade agreements ONLY based on their job creation capacity for Americans? Isn’t that asking our government to 1) ignore all other considerations like strategic security issues, balance of power issues, and myriad other economic considerations important for our economy?

It boggles my mind that so many conservatives find it so easy to be hypocrites at the same time asking for smaller government while also demanding more from government, like trade agreements which create jobs. I have to simply ignore such small minds incapable of grasping the complexity of variables involved in running an economy and nation the size of ours.

The people are this nation’s hope for the future. But, if the people cannot avoid the simplest of duplicities and hypocrisies in what they want, then truly, our future has little hope. My daughter is prepared to remain in America as a nurse if it her country can provide a decent opportunity for a nurse to live here and work here. She is also prepared to be a nurse in a Spanish or Japanese speaking country, if her own country denies her that opportunity. Some would call her a unpatriotic. I call her wise beyond her years. This is a democratic elected nation, and there is only so much one person can do to shape that nation’s future. Being consistent and acknowledging what one does not know, and speaking up about what one does know with certainty, combined with preparing options for one’s future, is the most I think one can ask of a single citizen in a democratic nation.

It is up to the people to get educated and informed as best they can, and exercise their vote consistently in support of their future. Failing that, the power brokers will have free rein to make the future serve their own selfish and narrow purposes to the detriment of all others.

Republicans and conservatives however are wholesale contradictions at this time - taking election contributions with both fists from corporate lobbyists and donors and siding with corporate, and the wealthiest donor’s special interests on the one hand, while denouncing TARP, Stimulus spending which saved 1.3 to 3 million jobs (CBO), Auto manufacturing bailouts, and corporate determined free trade agreements on the other hand. Conservatives and Republicans support the very interests they oppose. They demand government do better in creating jobs, while out of the same mouth, saying the private sector, not government, is the job creation engine. That’s nuts. That is hypocrisy. That is truly uneducated. And they want to govern. That is outright scary.

What the American people are going to get is a government grid locked against itself, and its ability to act in any direction to salvage our nation’s future. In other words, a government that reflects the hypocrisy, lack of education, and two faced, mutually opposing and contradictory views of the people themselves. It is a democratically elected government, and democracy reflects the mind set of the people.

In 2008 we were losing a net 750,000 jobs per month when Democrats became the majority. Today we are losing on net, ZERO jobs, just 20 months later. That, by any objective measure, is success and progress. But, the American people are too damned gullible to the political rhetoric of the minority party seeking to become the majority to recognize and acknowledge the OBVIOUS, that on the jobs front, we are moving in the right direction. Polls show the majority of the people don’t believe we are moving in the right direction on jobs, which is precisely what the GOP wants them to think. All objectivity is lost on the majority of voters.

Obama and Democrats have stalled a host of free trade agreements since coming to the majority. If one is concerned about free trade agreements, why are they not supporting Democrat’s foot dragging on implementing them?
CAFTA has been held up ever since Dem’s came into majority. People are not objective about politics. But, no where, except in medicine and space missions, is objectivity more sorely needed. I am not saying people should support Democrats based on this one issue. But, they have got to commit to objectivity if they are to have a positive influence upon their government and their future in this country.

Objectivity does not come effortlessly. But, the price of decisions made without objectivity far exceeds the cost of effort to achieve objectivity. This Great Recession is tantamount evidence of that.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 7, 2010 5:23 AM
Comment #310014

Roy, short of some great catastrophe, natural or otherwise, that isolates the human race into little pocket of existence, forcing us to start over, globalization of the economy is a done deal.

The potential benefits from globalization are enormous.

The real questions are:

1) Who will have the power to regulate the world economy?

2) Who will determine the path to the future? Shall we continue to be led, by our nose rings, down the corporate path of mass consumption without regards to the finite resources or shall we strive to create a sustainable economy?

3) Who will determine how the wealth is distributed.

IMO, the only way to prevent the corporations from hopping from one low wage, low regulation country to another is to standardize world wages, benefits and regulations. That will stop the corporations and their worker/investors from cutthroating other workers.

Despite globalization, the people of this country and this world should do everything in their power to decentralize food, water and energy. People are foolish to allow corporations to control these things, it provides the corporations to much power and influence over the people and their government.

Democracy is the instrument whereby the common people can influence power. The common people have been and continue to be reluctant to take on that responsibility. I am the odd one among my friends because they aren’t interested in any of this. They just want to live their lives. They feel they have no power to influence and quite frankly, they don’t want the power if it requires some kind of commitment to what bores them. The powerful know this and take full advantage of.

Common sense and logic vs. profitability.

Posted by: jlw at October 8, 2010 1:31 PM
Comment #310018

You are spot on, jlw. People seem to be not interested in trying to help themselves or the situation. Few are interested in pursuing solutions, willing to let the corpocracy sort it out for them.

I’m not suggesting anything like starting over. Globalization is a term referring to international trade which is nothing new. So-called ‘free trade’ is a political eupherism, a good sound bite as opposed to trade regulation or some such. Free trade equates to something like 10-15% of world trade. The remainder being ‘what you can get away with’.

Abolishing corporate personhood law doesn’t equate to starting over. Only thing that abolishing the law would change is that corporations can no longer be treated as having certain human or individual rights. They could still lobby gov’t but not contribute to candidates politicl war chest or be involve financially in politics. Doesn’t hurt their bottom line at all. I advocate that corporations pay no taxes as that serves little purpose other than allowing the gov’t to make winners and losers thru the tax code. Doesn’t do anything less in honoring debt or protecting business interests.

I would prefer to move from free trade to fair trade, which entails a myriad of issues. I would like a gov’t that regulates commerce to PROTECT US interests and provide economical security. This could be done by implementing some of the suggestions I’ve been blogging about lately.

Reform, thru a centrist/populist movement to remove the influence of money from politics and gov’t. Once done, the world is our cherry. IMO.

For the interim, I agree decentralization would serve to weaken the corpocracy somewhat and help the US to sustain the population as the realignment of wages takes place over the next 20 years or so.

Realignment of wages is well underway and will take some time. No way I can see where we just proclaim wages equal around the world. Total destablization, IMO. Germany pays a higher mfctring wage than does the US. A mine worker in Australia makes on average $105k a year. I would prefer a fair trade policy where we bring workers of the world to our wage level rather than trying to meet in the middle.

Posted by: Roy Ellis at October 8, 2010 3:04 PM
Comment #310063

jlw, the answer to a world government regulating commerce, whether that government is formalized through constitutional charter, or informal, through back room oligopoly deals between international cartels, is, as you point out, decentralization, but, with the objective of as much local self-sufficiency as is possible.

Let me offer one small example. Transportation. We are huge geographic nation with long distances between states and people. However, our jobs, play areas, and living areas could, and SHOULD be local, minimizing travel distance, and providing for, as far as is possible, pedestrian and bicycle commutes. This simple single planning objective would improve American health, lower the cost of young people moving out of their parent’s homes, reduce our dependence upon foreign oil imports, and most important as established by studies on this topic, create far greater opportunities for neighbor interaction and familiarity creating that sense of community and belonging that allows people more harmoniously and productively engage each other and solve local problems.

China has been developing this kind of local organization and in many of its communities and some are now pushing for decentralizing urban work centers back out into the rural areas moving enterprises and communities into smaller living / work centered communities with more local control. In addition to the benefits outlined above, for China, this can mean dramatic reductions in their pollution, which is now a grave and growing threat.

But, America lacks the political and leadership system to even begin to teach the benefits of such a better future for Americans, let alone foster its development. THat is why political reform must come before any other major challenges can be addressed in America. The greatest ideas and plans are worthless if reversed every 4 to 12 years by switching parties in the majority.

One city in the N. West implemented such an urban community planning scenario back in the 1980’s and it was enormously successful in rescuing their inner city from blight and flight, and creating mixed income planned neighborhoods where the wealthy, middle class, and poorer residents all resided in the same housing community and worked together and socialized together in managing local community objectives. Crime dropped precipitously, cost of living dropped, and quality of life increased for all. Peer pressure and emulation caused poorer families to maintain their homes to much higher standards than typically found in other cities, raising and maintaining property values for all.

And employment resource management issues improved dramatically, where the business owners and temporarily unemployed often belonged to the same neighborhood and had face recognition to facilitate hiring from the local area of the business. It was a win-win for all, and local revenues increased, development sprawl ended, revenues stopped exiting local government and costs to maintain the city dropped.

But, political and educational reforms must precede America moving in that direction as a society. And our current two party system is moving in the exact opposite direction heightening divisiveness and economic polarity and preventing any kind of long term planning and implementation from taking place and being followed through on. It’s bad. And it’s getting worse.

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 9, 2010 7:59 AM
Comment #310075

To globalize us its necessary for the corpocracy to erase, rewrite our history, castigate the Constitution, bust up the ‘local’ community, break up the family unit that tries to cling to their guns and religion, get them to take jobs in China or elsewhere, (mine workers in Australia make on average $104k/yr - blue collar w/lotsa beer), etc. They need to drive down wages and do so by running hoards of immigrants in on us and moving as many jobs as possible overseas. Claiming our colleges don’t have any room, while 50% of grad classes are foreign studetns, they will import nurses, doctors and the like from overseas using some 26 temporary work visa programs. Colleges will hire cheap foreign professors that can’t speak enough english to teach a class, etc.

Same ole BS that’s been going on for 30 years and the taxpayer/voter seems to luv it, 95% reelection rate for those that gave us the greatest xfer of wealth in history and the world’s greatest debtor.

Reason: it ain’t kool to be a centrist or a populist or be assoc. with a 3rd party, IMO.

Posted by: Roy Ellis at October 9, 2010 11:30 AM
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