Posts Tagged ‘Free Trade’

Global Trade Outlaws Rule

March 9, 2016

FREE TRADE IS NEITHER FREE, NOR A TRADE

Sanders’ surprise victory in Michigan, a big industrial state, is attributed to his attacks against so-called “free” trade (Clinton has never seen a “free” trade treaty she did not love). Ditto for Donald Trump’s victory in the same state (Trump has proposed a 45% tax on Chinese imports). Polls show angry white males and the young (for Sanders) are voting against the system which brought to them the globalization of pauperization. Rightly so.

Let me provide more needed theory:

As it is, globalization means plutocratization.

First, globalization without redistribution implies plutocratization. (As Paul Krugman asserts.)

Second, globalization of trade without globalization of law amounts to trade without law. Thus, organizations, corporations and plutocrats presently engaged in global trade are, technically, out-laws.

Third the immense fortunes gathered by the trade outlaws have enabled them, in turn to pay well their servants in politics and national administration to further the very out-lawfulness which has made them prospered.

Fourth, under the Clintons in the 1990s, the Banking Act of 1933 was replaced by financial deregulation, which spread worldwide, making financiers masters of world trade.

Real Family Income Is Going Down. Real = Including CPI. If One Included Real Costs Beyond The CPI, The Real Income Would Collapse Even More. If I had Put On This Graph GDP or Trade, Both Of These Curves Would Be Shooting Up

Real Family Income Is Going Down. Real = Including CPI. If One Included Real Costs Beyond The CPI, The Real Income Would Collapse Even More. If I had Put On This Graph GDP or Trade, Both Of These Curves Would Be Shooting Up

One of my commenters and friends told me that it is president Carter, a democrat, who had started the degeneracy we presently enjoy. I was surprised, and initially denied. However, I looked and various graphs, and, to my dismay, he turned out to be right. As I learn more about what happened, I will integrate it in my discourse (Carter, of course, attacked, secretly, Afghanistan on July 3, 1979, so he was not highly considered here; but now he is heading evwen lower!)

In other words, we are engaged in a nonlinear process: the global trade outlaws are getting ever more powerful, and, the more powerful they get, the more they advance their plots and breathing together (con-spirare, conspiracies),

Meanwhile, We The People, are getting ever more destitute (the CPI, the Consumer Price Index, does not include LIFE ESSENTIALS such as education, health care, retirement).

Let me give you an example of the degeneracy of US society: I had an insurance agent for two decades, who worked at one of the most prestigious insurance companies in the USA. Last Spring he got sick. Although a well paid professional, he did not get health care in a timely manner. So he died of pneumonia. He was in his forties (basically the age when one gets sick the less). I know dozens of similar stories. Meanwhile, US healthcare is 50% more expensive, per head, than health care in the most performing healthcare systems in the world.

What does that have to do with the globalization of trade? Massive globalization led to massive plutocratization, and that, in turn, led to US politicians and civil servants doing exactly what plutocrats and their corporations wanted them to do (so that politicians and civil servant would make their future income up, as the good agents of plutocracy whom they are).

 Then the one who led us for 40 years, the one who makes more than 200,000 dollars in an hour, giving secret talks to financiers, claims to represent We The People. We The People are earning 10,000 times less (2,000 x 4.5) than she does, per hour. How can she represent, or even understand, us? Is that realistic? No wonder some of us want to protect themselves.

Paul Krugman, the architect, under president Ronald Reagan of “free” trade, presents as self obvious that Sanders’ program is “unrealistic”. Says Krugman: “The Sanders win defied all the polls, and nobody really knows why. But a widespread guess is that his attacks on trade agreements resonated with a broader audience than his attacks on Wall Street; and this message was especially powerful in Michigan, the former auto superpower. And while I hate attempts to claim symmetry between the parties — Trump is trying to become America’s Mussolini, Sanders at worst America’s Michael Foot — Trump has been tilling some of the same ground. So here’s the question: is the backlash against globalization finally getting real political traction?”

Well, I tell you why, Paul: We The People are getting tired of ‘the conscience of a liberal” who got to work engineering Ronald Reagan’s sinister plot to claim that giving to the rich was the best way to give to the poor. Krugie boy is on his best defending his position at the altar of “power”:

Paul Krugman: “The truth is that if Sanders were to make it to the White House, he would find it very hard to do anything much about globalization — not because it’s technically or economically impossible, but because the moment he looked into actually tearing up existing trade agreements the diplomatic, foreign-policy costs would be overwhelmingly obvious. In this, as in many other things, Sanders currently benefits from the luxury of irresponsibility: he’s never been anywhere close to the levers of power, so he could take principled-sounding but arguably feckless stances in a way that Clinton couldn’t and can’t.” 

That’s obviously a ridiculous thing to say: the USA has basically to get accord from just one power, the French Republic, which is all for putting the brakes on soul-less globalization (always has been, for about a century, whether governments are from the so-called right, or left). Then, automatically Germany, Italy and Spain (with, or without a government), will follow. Tax cheats such as Great Britain, Belgium and the Netherlands are going to increasingly feel the whip, and better shut up. (A few days ago, France told Britain that she would open the refugee gates, if Britain left the EU. So Britain is going to have to face unexpected costs, in all ways.)

The World  Trade Organization, prodded by France, already announced that a carbon tax, imposed worldwide, was NOT in violation of WTO rules. So one can start with that, on day one. See what it does for the price of Chinese steel and Chinese solar panels.

In all justice to Krugman, he finishes this way: …”the elite case for ever-freer trade is largely a scam, which voters probably sense even if they don’t know exactly what form it’s taking.

Ripping up the trade agreements we already have would, again, be a mess, and I would say that Sanders is engaged in a bit of a scam himself in even hinting that he could do such a thing. Trump might actually do it, but only as part of a reign of destruction on many fronts.

But it is fair to say that the case for more trade agreements — including TPP, which hasn’t happened yet — is very, very weak. And if a progressive makes it to the White House, she should devote no political capital whatsoever to such things.”

It is a huge “if”. I would be astounded if Clinton made it to the presidency.

After decades of increasingly corrupt, venal, lying politicians whose idea of policy is to do what the world’s richest corporations and their plutocrats want them to do, what could be worse?

Having someone reigning again who got paid a fortune repeatedly for plotting in secret talks with financiers what would be the next move to enrich that elite? Under Bill Clinton, the Banking Act of 1933 was destroyed, bringing the reign of unrestrained finance. Moreover global trade treaties got signed, which allow corporations and their corporations to escape taxation and legislation. How electing Trump or Sanders could make it worse?

When Clinton was asked why she accepted so much money from Goldman Sachs, for so little “work”she replied: “I guess that’s their rate!” She refused to release any transcript to the flood of talks she gave to financial conspirators and outlaws. And you know what? Thanks to the stubborn work of individuals such as yours truly, this sort of rotten mentality is now exposed, and nobody wants to be led by it anymore. Not even the people supporting Ted Cruz.

Paul Krugman’s dream of another cabinet job, 35 years after the one he enjoyed with his boss, Reagan, is fading away…

Patrice Ayme’

FREE TRADE FALLACY

March 7, 2016

We have just one civilization today: everybody, among common folks know what everybody else thinks. Yet, as resources previously used, such as fossil fuels, falter, civilization and the understanding of the universe which makes it possible in its present state, have to progress (not enough scientific and technological progress as needed, was the proximal cause of Rome’s failure). So it is crucial that really new, and correct, ideas be introduced (and not just in science).

If Those Are Best Friends Who, What Is The Enemy? Cockroaches? Those Among We The People Who Are Viewed As Cockroaches?

If Those Are Best Friends Who, What Is The Enemy? Cockroaches? Those Among We The People Who Are Viewed As Cockroaches?

Yes even countries such as Saudi Arabia are part of this global civilization. And Saudi Arabia is fully part of the debate of what civilization means, and what it will have to consist of, looking forward. Watch France give the Legion d’Honneur to the heir of Saudi Arabia, and its Interior Minister, arguably the principal ideologue of the hardening of the Saudi line, inside out. So, in other words, while France fights the Islamist State (“Daesh”), France gives the nod to the hardening of the Wahhabist doctrine of Saudi Arabia (which, historically, was very minor in Islam), the ideology of ISIL. The results are increasingly strange: Salafist/Wahhabist terrorists attacked police and soldiers in Tunisia today. The security forces fought back. The coordinated assaults were shown, live, on the Internet. One could see young passersbys applauding the security forces in full combat (at least 28 terrorists got killed, plus seventeen fighting police and civilians who applauded the police).

Such contradictions are rife, all over the world. Look at “free trade”.

Globalization Of Trade Without Globalization Of Law Results In Plutocratization. This Is Exactly What Happened To The Roman Republic, & Why It Faltered

Globalization Of Trade Without Globalization Of Law Results In Plutocratization. This Is Exactly What Happened To The Roman Republic, & Why It Faltered

Free trade, well done, is indeed excellent. However, the West has been exporting science, technology and know-how, while not investing in a way commensurate to making this sort of export sustainable.

In other words, here is civilization’s problem: the learning, teaching, and research functions have been starved, relative to what the (critical) situation requires.

The result has been a collapse of manufacturing and related high worth employment in the countries who recently led progress in science and understanding (with the result that, like Republican Rome, the knowledge and wisdom of the most advanced countries is increasing faltering relatively to the flow of new ideas which civilization need to survive).

To make matters worse, said “free trade” has happened in the shadows. So-called high-tech companies have made fortunes, while paying no taxes: France just hit Google with a 1.6 billion Euro tax bill. Such companies and their principal owners had found ways to escape most taxes, thus starving the governments, hence the fundamental research their trade rests on.

So free trade can work, but only if it’s fair. As it is, most money flows are hidden (in so-called “Dark Money” and “Dark Pools”), and the owners are also hidden (thus escaping taxation and corruption charges, not just against them, but also against the politicians they influence).

Last week European Commissioners were caught promising ExxonMobil that the Transatlantic Trade Pact under negotiation with Obama would allow companies such as ExxonMobil to escape local legislation, including labor, taxation and pollution laws.

So the Republicans may be lunatics. But, in a world already ruled by lunatics, they are no doubt welcome.

Fair, just, and profitable  international trade requires a registry of all ownership and detailed trading activity, worldwide. Otherwise the sort of Republic we enjoy worldwide (as institutionalized by the United Nations) will know the same fate as the Roman Republic: an increasing sinking in the turbid waters of mindless will to power and tyranny.

Patrice Ayme’

[P/S: A shorter, trade only version of the preceding essay was selected as a New York Times’ “Pick”. Since I have complained stridently about NYT’s censorship, I have to be fair and to recognize appreciation too!]

Cultural Exception Cultivates Civilization, Economy

June 14, 2013

The French Republic threatens to veto the free trade negotiations between the European Union and the United States of America, if culture is not excluded from the negotiations (as the Cultural Exception in the rest of world trade!). France is right, this essay will show why.

Ultimately, culture is about the greatest wealth. And the greatest wars. Ultimately culture is what makes us what we are, the honor of the human spirit, and the love that endows the mind. It should not be about fighting for bones.

Big Master Is Ordering You

Big Master Is Ordering You

The EU-USA free trade accord is a good idea. Exchanges between USA and EU are already 40% global exchanges, yet, their total GDP is 55% of the world total. That means they could help each other by trading more. (And what about that silly visa thing?)

Custom duties are already low. So the accord is mostly about new, common norms, and the removal of non customs barriers to trade (such as the American regulation that real French cheese is poisonous, verboten).

The rest of Europe is all for free trade with the USA, because a law of 1933 forces the government of the USA to contract with companies of the USA, exclusively (except when there is no choice, and that’s why the US Army ordered 345 combat helicopters built-in Marseilles’ Eurocopter recently, following the US Coast Guard; the USA did not produce a new helicopter type in 20 years, whereas Eurocopter churn them out, so this is a case of no choice!).

But France looks at the millennia, and the mind breathing through them. France does not want to see vacuous, mono-cultural minds. History shows that vacuous, mono-cultural minds have always translated into civilization-destroying horrors. Thus France decided to cultivate cultures, by introducing in GATT (General Agreeement on Tarifs and Trade) the Cultural Exception. Bush’s America never liked that.

Let’s not forget that, in 1938, and 1939, or even 1940, American culture did not overwhelmingly see something ultimately objectionable in Nazism. Literally. So there was no ultimatum of the USA to Hitler (whereas France and Britain gave one). The father and grandfather of two American presidents, Prescott Bush, was Hitler’s most precious collaborator. All the way to August… 1942. August 1942, that’s three full years after the Franco-British declaration of war to the Nazis.

The mind France wants is much grander than that of Big, Uncle Sam Watching All, As Ordered by Greedy Wall Street. In 1948, the perfidious USA proposed France to forget all the French debt owed to her self-interested liberator of sorts during World War Two, as long as France would allow free reign of American movies over France. France, wisely, declined.

This, by the way shows that, from the American point of view, cultural supremacy is more important than money. Even from the American point of view, culture is priceless. Thus why should not others brandish the same principle? As I am going to show, culture ought to become more important than ever. And, if the Americans were smart, instead of having a dog fight with the French, they should learn even about, and from, the importance of culture.

Let’s call Princeton to the rescue.

Excellent editorial of Paul Krugman in Sympathy for the Luddites, about the drawback of technological progress:

“In 1786, the cloth workers of Leeds, a wool-industry center in northern England, issued a protest against the growing use of “scribbling” machines, which were taking over a task formerly performed by skilled labor. “How are those men, thus thrown out of employ to provide for their families?” asked the petitioners. “And what are they to put their children apprentice to?”

Those weren’t foolish questions. Mechanization eventually — that is, after a couple of generations — led to a broad rise in British living standards. But it’s far from clear whether typical workers reaped any benefits during the early stages of the Industrial Revolution; many workers were clearly hurt. And often the workers hurt most were those who had, with effort, acquired valuable skills — only to find those skills suddenly devalued.

So are we living in another such era? And, if we are, what are we going to do about it?

Until recently, the conventional wisdom about the effects of technology on workers was, in a way, comforting. Clearly, many workers weren’t sharing fully — or, in many cases, at all — in the benefits of rising productivity; instead, the bulk of the gains were going to a minority of the work force. But this, the story went, was because modern technology was raising the demand for highly educated workers while reducing the demand for less educated workers. And the solution was more education. “

So far, so good. However Paul, although he means well, then gets confused by the evil spirits, and unwillingly deviates to the Dark Side, at least, the way he concludes:

“… there may have been something to this story [more education, less equality] a decade ago.

Today, however, a much darker picture of the effects of technology on labor is emerging. In this picture, highly educated workers are as likely as less educated workers to find themselves displaced and devalued, and pushing for more education may create as many problems as it solves.”

… Education, then, is no longer the answer to rising inequality, if it ever was (which I doubt).

So what is the answer? If the picture I’ve drawn is at all right, the only way we could have anything resembling a middle-class society — a society in which ordinary citizens have a reasonable assurance of maintaining a decent life as long as they work hard and play by the rules — would be by having a strong social safety net, one that guarantees not just health care but a minimum income, too. And with an ever-rising share of income going to capital rather than labor, that safety net would have to be paid for to an important extent via taxes on profits and/or investment income. I can already hear conservatives shouting about the evils of “redistribution.” But what, exactly, would they propose instead?”

Well conservatives want to conserve things the way they used to be before the awful revolutions in England, America, and France: bring back feudalism. In the ancient order, the Nobles paid no taxes, just as plutocrats nowadays increasingly do not.

And, of course, it was silly to want to use education to fight rising inequality: inequality and education live in different dimensions. One dimension cannot subtract from another, that’s basic math.

Ultimately, in all and any society, the ruling class decides how much it will earn. In a democracy, the People (Demos) Rules (Kratos), and so it earns well. In a plutocracy, the People is nothing, and gets nothing, beyond what is needed for serving the Devils (Plutos) who Rule (Kratos).

There is only one way to prevent democracy to turn into plutocracy: the application of severe and efficient methods to prevent the exponentiation of wealth. Either one can put an absolute limit on the wealth any family can control (that was the method used by the Roman republic for five centuries). Or one can apply heavy, exponentiating taxes (as most societies have done, sometimes with the help of human sacrifices).

Yet, as machines are going to take over most work, what are we The People going to do? A related question is that studies have shown We The People to be very sensitive to propaganda. It has long been known that People, like animals, can be imprinted: the first knowledge they get exposed to, because the only knowledge they own.

An experiment on 6,000 students, using 48 songs, showed that People pretty much love and appreciate what they have been told the tribe love and appreciate. What the better songs are, has more to do with what People are told they are, rather than any other criterion.

This, of course, threatens the very existence of democracy. As people believes what they are told to believe, how can one have democracy? This stage has been reached in the USA, one may fear.

For most People to be happy one needs two things, once decent living conditions are taken for granted: employment and happy, that means, correct, beliefs. Hence the importance of culture. Variegated culture presents minds with choices, and choices means imprinting does not have it easy. (So cultural diversification also fights the rabid oversimplifications leading to war.)

Indeed, there is one way out, and only one of the quandary posed by exponentiating technology: make culture more of an industry. Yes, because there is not just plutocracy that is exponentiating. Besides the government surveillance programs, technology itself is approaching a singularity.

The first Luddites were not English. They were the Roman emperors themselves. Later, after the French refugee + built the second steam boat, and went down a river one hundred kilometers, enraged conservatives destroyed the ship. That set back steam power by nearly a century (well the Roman emperors had set it back by 16 centuries, prior!)

Machines can do farming, and all sort of other tasks, including, increasingly, knowledge service. There is no doubt that robot doctors will do better than doctors in the future. For example, as far as automated gross diagnostics, they already do better. A robot brain surgeon can go where no human hand can, and no human can be so precise.

So machines can do more and more of everything. And that, even before Quantum Computers are massively for sale.

But machines cannot do culture. Yet, everybody can potentially become a culture worker. People can sing, paint, experience the world and tell about it, educate, relate and narrate (“blog”), etc.

It can be ascertained that culture is the growth industry with the greatest potential. In all and any industry, one should outlaw cartels. A fortiori, if culture is to become a growth industry, one ought to refute cultural hegemony, in other words, cultural cartels, cultural monopoly. Hence culture ought to be a “protected industry”, an industry where the grossest, simplest minded free trade rules do not apply.

The corporate culture of the USA’s cultural industry has certainly behaved as a cartel: it’s very difficult for small movies from a small author of a small studio to make it big in the USA. Whereas it can, and does happen all the time in France. “The Artist”, for example, which got the top Oscar, even in Hollywood, started as one such French state subsidized small movie.  

As the cartel aspect already shows, the very size of the cultural market of the USA makes asymmetric any “liberalization”. It’s as if one claimed that it is “liberal” and a “free exchange” of blows, between two fighters, one a gorilla, the other a human child.

Cultural diversity is a very old debate: the Celts had it with the Romans, 25 centuries ago. The Gauls, Romans and Franks spent the next 13 centuries conquering each other, until Europe became another name for cultural diversity.

Conclusion: in trade talks between the USA and the EU, culture ought to be off the table. Culture ought to be traded, but trade is not culture. That’s what the French republic is trying to say.

***

Patrice Ayme

***

Note: Decent, clever, civilized Americans of course agree with the preceding: In a press conference headed up by French culture minister Aurélie  Filippetti (Google’s enemy), Harvey Weinstein threw his support behind the cultural exception. “The cultural exception encourages filmmakers to make films about their own culture. We need that more than ever,” he said. He cited some countries moribund film industries and the morbid propensity to simply copy the American model to the detriment of indigenous creativity. “The most important thing is to preserve the environment of cultural films, because it’s good for business too.”

As we have seen, it’s a question of the global economy and global democracy too, especially looking into the only decent future we can have.

Cannes Festival Jury President Steven Spielberg called the cultural exception “the best way to support diversity in filmmaking” during his closing ceremony remarks. As Spielberg came to Cannes with his 80 meter yacht, and spent two million there for his creature comforst, one cannot suspect him to be scrapping the bottom of the barrel.