TCS Daily


Trading Up...or Down

By Jens F. Laurson & George A. Pieler - March 11, 2010 12:00 AM

The U.S. and Brazil are battling over cotton: Brazil counters U.S. subsidies for its production with tariffs on a variety of imports from the States. Brazil has the sanction of the WTO, but that doesn't make the tariffs any better an idea when the global economy remains in fragile-recovery mode. The freest possible flow of goods and services is critical to that recovery.

The intellectual case for free trade was nailed down long ago. But free trade remains a fragile state because the political case for trade is always on shaky ground. Those engaged in trade itself or working for multinationals with worldwide supply lines and production facilities know the score: more trade always means the greater good for the greater number. Workers in declining or newly-competitive (globally, that is) industries, like autos, electronics manufacturing, and textiles, don't see it that way. Foreign competition is the enemy, and government the theoretical savior.

Given the Obama administration's rhetorical emphasis on job creation, it was surprising that the President remained silent on the trade issue for a full year. But in his state of the union address Barack Obama pushed not just for a new effort to "double our [U.S.] exports over the next five years", but promised that "we will continue to shape a Doha trade agreement that opens global markets, and ...we will strengthen our trade relations in Asia and with key partners like South Korea, Panama, and Colombia." That was a not-so-oblique reference to trade-opening deals negotiated by the Bush administration, but which a Democratic Congress declined to ratify.

Will that change now? Hopefully, but far from certain. The rhetoric sounds good, but President Obama and his trade czar Ron Kirk speak of moving these agreements only with substantial modifications aimed at protecting trade union interests and couple agreements with tougher environmental rules on the parties to the deals. One can argue the merits of those ancillary objectives but they have nothing to do with expanding economic opportunity and creating jobs with more open markets. They are regulatory baggage that threatens to weigh down the trade agenda and may impede real progress.

Indeed, the Obama era's only new ideas on the trade front are the 'Buy American' provisions of his 2009 stimulus plan and his focus on giving the U.S. a greater presence on the green jobs/clean energy front. 'Buy America' has not done more than irritate trading partners like Canada , and no one has proved that green jobs are any different (or any better) than more jobs, which is the only way a nation can generate the wealth it helps to afford a pleasant level of green-ness.

The pull of domestic politics on trade policy may explain why Obama is not more aggressive in opening markets. Perhaps we should be grateful his administration is not more protectionist as it is, given 10% unemployment in the States. The greatest boost to free trade in the past year was probably the collapse of the Copenhagen climate talks, which left global taxes-and-tariffs (in the righteous 'carbon' guise) at bay. Sometimes not doing the bad things, is more important than marginal expansion of free trade under the familiar regulatory regime.

That's good to keep in mind, because we are not yet out of the woods on the do-no-harm front. Green protectionist shoots keep popping up, from the UK's new distance-based tariffs on air travel (pay even more extra if you have to travel far) to a new plan by Chuck Schumer and Sherrod Brown to toughen 'Buy America' requirements on clean-energy purchases under Obama's stimulus plan. Turns out stimulus money has been used to buy clean-energy goods and services from foreign sources. Of course, if you're going to waste taxpayer dollars (sorry: make that 'future taxpayer debt') buying non-proven technologies that can't survive without taxpayer subsidies, of course you should waste your money domestically. (We are being facetious. Wasteful free trade is still better than wasteful protectionism.)

In short, we can only rely so much on inertia and the strength of global commerce to head of protectionism. In the U.S. particularly, the case for free trade has always depended on strong presidential leadership: From Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and Bush again. If that leadership is missing from the Obama agenda we should get nervous. Let's hope he follows up on his state of the union rhetoric with action.


George A. Pieler is an attorney and former economic advisor to Sen. Bob Dole. Jens F. Laurson is Editor-in-Chief of the International Affairs Forum.

114 Comments

Protectionism is about creating Union jobs even if societies cannot afford to carry their weight
Unions need protectionist trade laws, tariffs, and artificial wage rates to gain what they call, 'the American dream'. Its a nightmare for the economy as a whole.. meaning not just the US but the whole world. They are among the most backward progressive forces one can imagine. Perhaps that is an exaggeration.
Other progressives can be much more backward thinking.
Reminds me of the Edward Bellamy sci-fi classic "Looking Backward", a very scarey playing out of the progressive vision.. Industrial armies with people acting and treated like worker bees, drones. One wonders what Industrial armies do with what the left calls seems to think are surplus people. GB Shaw wanted them eliminated.. to put it more delicately than he did.
The "right to work" is of course central to that vision as it is with unions. One wonders if there is also a "right to rest" or a "right not to work".. once they get their hands around our necks.

Looking backward
You seem to be very good at that. You see society today as being just like a book that takes place in 1887! For you, we're still there today.

http://xroads.virginia.edu/~hyper/bellamy/toc.html

We haven't seen any of your industrial armies with worker bees acting like automatons since the 1920s. That was the future way back then. And who was it who stuck that nightmare image in our minds? Why, it was well known Communist Charlie Chaplin, in his 1936 classic Modern Times.

In contrast, the whole thrust of this article is that we all wish we still DID have some factories open-- so our forced out of work worker bees didn't have to try crazy stuff once their unemployment benefits were exhausted. Like brew up some meth in the kitchen to sell. Or slip and fall in a supermarket. But the plain fact is, we don't have anything anybody wants to buy. In the global society we're no longer competitive. So the factory doors are not about to reopen.

Another area in which you're quaintly dated is your idea that powerful unions control our lives. In fact the unions were broken, definitively, back in 1981. You didn't know that?

Nor will you find any contemporary body of opinion that what America really needs is "protectionist trade laws, tariffs, and artificial wage rates". The first two were among the prime causes of our Great Depression, in the 1930s. And the third (wage and price controls) was last tried, failing utterly, by that ultraliberal Richard Nixon when he was in charge of us. No one's forgotten that lesson.

Please try to get with the flow. Buy a TV set and tune into some news. Find out what's happening out in the world. We're not in those olden days any more.

Unionism stripped of all the BS can be broken down to ...
...just another form of "socialize the costs, privatize the profits" Cronyism 101.

And the only 'right' those groups seek is the Right to Parasitize the rest of us.

And that was true in Bellamy's day is it is in ours.

Note: These are different folks than the elites who just want to manipulate the rest of us into giving them power for power's sake. Those are the Politicians of the Parasite Class.

Prefer Robber Baron rule and a race to the bottom?
80% of Americans lived in poverty until the major industries became unionized. In the 30 years after WW2 the working class got 80% of the net from increased productivity. After the working class decided they were middle class and didn't need unions our owners decided that they could keep the 80%.

The first corporate move was from what is now the rust belt to the scab south. The next move will be to China and India. Raise the wage in those countries ten dollars an hour and drop ours another 10 dollars and there will be world wide parity in blue/white collar jobs sending jobs offshore will stop.

The 'scab' south is producing cars people want to buy.
Now unions are creating poverty, socialism and stupid students.

prefer robber barons
Here's why that's a pretty stupid comment. It's not the matter on being unionized that brings people out of poverty. Union is just a name, or type of organization that can vary greatly. We have even seen that communist countries had unions, but it didn't bring them out poverty, but rather enslaved them more.

In the US, let's say there were some unions in maybe; 1825, or 1895 in any particular industry or sector, it does not follow that simply being in a union would 'bring them out of poverty' on it's own.

What brought about prosperity was continual working and saving and accumulating wealth and development. This happens whether you have unions or not. More evidence of tha is the fact that we have seen that traditionally non-unionized sectors also got out of poverty.

Mostly what unions do in places like the US is to make use of government force to extract more than the market clearing rate for labor; thus distorting the economy.

There have been many instances where owners had to pay extra for labor because of unionization, thus they alter business decisions like not expanding, thus actually preventing more people from getting work at the market rate. But unionized employees don't really care if other people have work or not, as long as they benefit themselves.

Even the term 'Robber Baron' is a stupid mythical innacurate terms. There have been many stories lately about that too.

Rust belts, government budgets and union's (industrial army philsophy's) corrosive influence
That unions fixed anything is laughable. Poverty in the US has steadily declined, with a few pauses, since our founding. Unions are just a parasitic growth on that steady growth of wealth creation. Unions destroy every industry they take over. Government is the latest victim of this force, which we are now going to confront.
I do blame the auto industry's management for their decline.. due to their policy of giving in to union demands. They should have got rid of unions and maintained their competitive lead. Perhaps Ford has learned their lesson and will show how unions influence can be minimized and their corrosive influence marginalized.
Obama's industrial army push will fall of its own bloated corrupt weight.

Rober Barons and the anti-capitalist mentality
There is a great book titled "The Robber Barons" which describes and ddivides the true villians of that era as the 'political entrepeneurs" ..who farmed the taxpayers, and the real innovators who invented and produced their riches and industry's with their own and investor's monies.
Robber barons are the equivelant of the green jobs sectors and subsidy seeking mentalities that oppose smaller government and demand taxes be increased and they be given the dough.
Of course once the government sector so much as touches an industry with their invasive hand they can and do claim credit for any positive benefits that industry creates... and blame the evil capitalist sector for any failings..thus setting up the myth that that they are the real reason for jobs and 'progress'. A dangerous and false illusion.

Rust belts..
That's right, poverty was steadily DEcreasing, and the govenrment noticed that and had to try to figure out ways to countermand that. So they brought in all those stupid NEW Deal programs, to get them more dependant.

If too many people are prosperous and free, they see they don't really have any need for big-brother nanny states. So since the governments main goal is power and perks for themselves, rather than the welfare of the people, they take measures to ensure the keep and gain more themselves.

Most politicos are basically like the disgraced John Edwards, and C. rangel, who got kicked off the ethics committe because he didn't have any ethics. Or the drug addict Marion Barry of DC. or all the others. It's just that most have NOT be caught so far.

right about robber barons
Exactly, but guys like billwald and Roy portray successful business people as the real crooks rather than the ones who manipulate government force to take advantage.
I've even heard that many leftiest think those gazilionaire guys at Google are like robber barons, that somehow they simply MUST have cheated people to get so rich, and since pathetic losers can't figure out any way for themselves to make any money they express their enby by condeming the winners.

Let's hope unions destroy the industry of government, too.
That would be sweet.

Unions
"It's not the matter on being unionized that brings people out of poverty."

Colonel--

You really should read your history. Union activity is what got us our forty hour work week, minimum wage laws, proscriptions against child labor and workplace safety rules. Are you really against all those? Would we have been better off without them?

It was that kind of union effort that improved all our lives. And in fact improved America. However you are also right to say this:

"Union is just a name, or type of organization that can vary greatly. We have even seen that communist countries had unions, but it didn't bring them out poverty, but rather enslaved them more."

Unions are like governments, and even like industries. Once they get organized they are susceptible to being taken over.

Industries can get taken over by cartels. Governments by special interests. The so-called unions the CP instituted in the communist countries were run by the government itself. And in this country, the unions were ground zero in a very poorly lit struggle between the socialists and the mafia.

They got started as a matter of solidarity. Workers had no way of exerting influence on the boses individually, so they had to band together and act collectively. The old unions, like the IWW, were effective, were socialistic, and were so roundly hated by the bosses they often saw their leaders murdered by the police. As is still happening in Colombia today.

But they were slowly able to bring change-- and change for the better. They were the reason your own grandparents didn't die young from black lung, poverty and winters when you couldn't afford coal to put in the stove.

Then came the mobsters. This is the history my father lived through, when the mobs took over unions and used them to make millions for themselves. They worked hand in hand with the bosses to force contracts on the membership, and money changed hands freely under the table. In those years membership was a burden-- one that was enforced because without membership you couldn't work.

In a subsequent generation, unions succeeded too much. And members won such handsome wages that they depressed money's buying power-- in the inflation of the 1970s. This is the thing that gets so many of you all bent out of shape over.

In all this there's one very obvious fact. We need unions, as a counterbalance to the excesses that occur when ownership gets out of hand. But when they get too strong they become a problem in their own right. So what we really need is a kind of balance, where the interests of all get satisfied by common negotiation.

That's why I like the approach of employee ownership. They have a simpler problem in that the owners and the workers are the same. All they need to do is hire good management, and they can always be trusted to vote the best way they can.

But I'm sorry to say this, we just cannot delude ourselves that we'll be living in the best of all possible worlds when the owners enjoy all the power and the workers have none. It results in a society that in the end will not even serve the needs of those rich and important people who feel entitled to more rule of law than anyone else has.

As for the "market clearing rate for labor", it's a useful concept to introduce. It's the reason China has a current manpower shortage, with rising wages, and we still have a negative trade imbalance. When in fact the unions have been powerless for the last 29 years now. And we still have a situation where labor costs US factories twenty times the clearing rate for China and Vietnam. Crushing the unions even more than they're already crushed will not affect that fact of life in the slightest.

Things won't be improving for the average American if the minimum wage laws are abolished, market forces rule untrammeled and wages drop down to three bucks an hour, no benefits. We'd all have to work 700 hour weeks just to afford our mortgages and health insurance.

So where did you hear that strong unions were currently crushing the life out of American industry? I'd be interested in reading about that.

Southern Nissan and VW plants
I suppose you're aware that those nonunion auto jobs in the New South are offering very nearly the same, in wages and benefits, as is being offered up north in the old union shops?

Today union membership is increasingly irrelevant. Shops that want to keep intelligent, skilled personnel working for them in a long term relationship have to pay competitively.

Now here's a question: how exactly do the unions create poverty?

The owners of Google
"I've even heard that many leftiest think those gazilionaire guys at Google are like robber barons, that somehow they simply MUST have cheated people to get so rich, and since pathetic losers can't figure out any way for themselves to make any money they express their enby by condeming the winners."

No, I don't think you've heard anything like that. Google's been a model of business development admired by everyone. That is, until they started cooperating with the Chinese government in developing censorship software. Up til that point they were a business model the left admired.

"Exactly, but guys like billwald and Roy portray successful business people as the real crooks rather than the ones who manipulate government force to take advantage."

It must have been a good dozen times now that I've had to remind you that I'm a successful business person myself. It's not that hard to be successful without being a crook. The ones I rightfully scorn are the ones that get greedy and take too much from the revenue pot they're sharing with their workforce.

BTW, unlike most of the most profitable large businesses in America, I've never had a government contract or been the recipient of corporate largesse. Please, in the name of honesty, acknowledge that more government subsidies, including gigantic tax breaks, go to large corporations, financiers and landholders than go to the poor in this country.

We seem to be following a pattern, you and I. You make some outrageously false claim about me, I refute it and a day later you're right back at it again. Your charges against me are lies. Lies I fully expect to hear again from you next week.

Bad stuff all right
Joanie-- You've provided a fair definition of what it is. But in the US has anyone been in favor of protectionism since, say, the early 1930s? Since then I'm thinking it's been universally disparaged by economists and policy makers of every political stripe.

The only time in recent years anyone has tried it was when George Bush, back in his first term, erected a tariff wall against foreign steel. And that one backfired, just as the economists feared it might. It turned out that American machine shops, the kind that made their living making gizmos for the auto and airplane industries, were relying on cheap foreign steel to keep their parts prices competitive. When they lost access to that steel, they lost their contracts to parts suppliers in Europe and Japan. And America lost skilled jobs.

So (a) it's bad trade policy and (b) I can't think of anyone who's now recommending it. Can you?

BTW here's a good article I found on the subject:

http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/Protectionism.html

The sneaky way around free trade rules
There's a trade war going on now, actually for many years. That's the one between the US and the EU, to capture the global market in ag goods by granting fat subsidies to producers of grains, soy and cotton. They allow those producers to sell below cost, wrecking the farming activities of nations to poor to compete with matching subsidies.

That's how they've taken over the trade in rice, corn, cotton and chickens in Mexico-- and is the reason we saw so many newly impoverished Mexican farmers coming to this country for work back in the late 1990s. NAFTA made it all legal, as Mexico was not allowed under the rules to counter these lower prices with higher tariffs.

Now Brazil's trying the same thing with cotton? Wouldn't it be better just to ban all subsidies on this side of the border than to retain them and badmouth the Brazilians for trying to respond in the only way open to them?

Just a thought. This is one where you fellows should be agreeing with me.

Trouble on the net
James Bovard's one of my favorite writers. You should see if your library has "Terrorism and Tyranny".

I will maintain, though, that protectionism is very out of fashion right now, unpopular with both parties. So if pressure groups force them to indulge in that practise, they try to do it on the QT.

"My ISP tells me that there's nothing wrong on their end.."

Your ISP is lying to you. What's happening is they're reluctant to add capacity, because it costs money. So after work, when everyone goes on line, the connection is super slow. Then after everyone's in bed you have the line to yourself.

"..did you feel the effects of this weekend's storm?"

It's springtime down here. The daffies and forsythia are out and the trees are budding. I hope the floods up your way didn't carry anything important away.

'how exactly do the unions create poverty" Look at Detroit.
Or CA.

"Today union membership is increasingly irrelevant. Shops that want to keep intelligent, skilled personnel working for them in a long term relationship have to pay competitively."

This is how free markets work, and you continue to oppose such markets.

owners....
How could you presume to know what I have heard? Here's some proof that I've heard more about some things that you.
In a different posing you showed that you didn't understand my 'feathers in the trees' reference, re the eco-fascists. In that instance, there was about to be some logging in a certain area, somewehre in the NW I guess, but the ecofasscists wanted to stop it. They couldn't figure out any other way so they planted some feathers or fluff or whatever from some endangered species, of bird, or cat.

When you say I'm lying about you often portraying big business as crooks, I must have been mistaking you for someone else, right? So from now on whenever you bash any big business form something that is not correct, I will point this out to you.

When you mention that I should acknowledge that many big business get subsidies, etc. you might check out the 5698 messages I sent where I deplore those subsidies, to them, or you, or anybody.

But not the 'giant tax breaks' because I think not only business, but everybody should get such giant tax breaks, including you. Tax is just a euphemism for theft, just like when the mafia calls it 'protection money'. And it's done by force too, contrary to your ridiculuous statement that 'nobody is forced to do anything', that you posted recently; which I also successfully rebutted.

strong unions crushing the life
Some examples would be all those really really strong unions that have managed to take over all the various levels of government service.

Then there's the teamsters, and all the others, depending on government force to gain advatage over others by styming competition, etc.

If we can find even one instance of any sector, or business where the standard of living has gone up without being unionized it would belie your contention.

In fact we have tests of that all the time. There are already private non-union places, but none of them even try to impose 80 hour work weeks and all those nitemare scare story scenarios you statists try to scare people with.

Unions are like the old medival closed shop trade guilds, or like modern mafias.

let's hope
I hope so too. But mostly the abusive unions have so much govenrment force behind them that it's pretty much impossible to countermand. Sometimes we see that there abuses get really too much to bear, and are totally out of wack, but still it's so established that it can't be changed.

I've recently heard that almost anybody involved with any sort of level in CA is exempt from traffic tickets. It was originally meant for a restricted part of the elites, but got extended even to dog catchers and everyone else.
Zyn, you are in Ca, can you confirm about that abuse?

roy, I know somebody
You say you don't know of anyone who advocates for mercantilist protectionism since Bush.
What about the example of Obama and the car tires ruling?

And what about all the other stupid tarifs etc. that he has not dismantled like the huge tarif on brazilian ethanol?

Most government are hypocritical when they proclaim free trade, and all the studies show it's better, and the countries that are the freest in trade show they do well. It's a political move, not an economic one. It could not happen if government didn't have power to regulate trade; there should be separtaion of trade and state.
The US should declare unilateral free trade with every country in the world.

So what?
Robin Hood economics are only justified to the Hoods, period.

And 'poverty' is a relative term. We have people here 'in poverty' who live like kings compared to those in the Third World. Cry me a river.

No, but I can tell you that it sucks to be a public employee who doesn't want to join
I was forced to pay an 'agency fee' because I didn't belong to the union when I worked as a part-time library page for the City of San Jose.

See, even thought I never asked them to negotiate for me, I didn't see any benefit to it, I was forced to either join or pay legalized extortion racket money because CA is an 'agency shop' state.

It's straight out of the Medieval Era, where the Guilds controlled who could work, how they worked, etc., in any given profession.

That poisoned my view of unions, big time. It was a core reason why I became a conservative.

I am against the subsidies but can't agree they break the trade rules
Since the trade rules only forbid market entry exclusion. And agriculture is a real touchy subject that isn't like negotiating car parts (or entire cars).

For example, did you know that every agricultural exporting nation has export LIMITS that can be imposed if there is a shortage/price rise of the commodity in question? This happened with rice and corn a few years ago. Caused the 'Tortilla Riots' in Mexico.

Yet, those are exempted under the negotiated trade rules despite being very harmful trade barriers.

Surprisingly I agree with you
Thanks for the examples. I didn't know about the ethanol barrier or the one on tires.

I also like trade that's free of tariff walls, or subsidies that encourage dumping. But you simplify excessively when you say that the countries that are freest in trade do well. The fact is, tariffs are effective in crushing competition. And pressure groups obviously do very well indeed if they manage to gain such favors.

One prime reason so few poor countries have healthy agricultural sectors is that we undercut them, due to our generous farm subsidies. So it is we who prosper, while they, the pure ones, suffer.

So let's redefine who wins and who loses. If one country employs such market distortions and its competitor doesn't, it's the bad guy who wins. But if everyone builds tariff walls, everyone loses.

In other words there's no clear answer.

Your logic circuits are damaged
"When you say I'm lying about you often portraying big business as crooks, I must have been mistaking you for someone else, right? So from now on whenever you bash any big business form something that is not correct, I will point this out to you."

It would be incorrect to say that ALL business people are crooks. And I have never made such a statement.

It would also be incorrect to say that NO business people are crooks.

These are simple logical errors that most of us outgrow by the time we're eight or nine. Most of us understand that the world we live in is complicated. And that there are few universals.

I will continue citing cases where someone has done something wrong. And when I do, I don't imply that everyone does it. Nor will you be giving an effective response if you just yell no one does it.

Please grow up. This is infantile.

Also, taxes are what's required to run the government's operation. To say we are better off having a government is beyond questioning. No nation would be able to stay free from exploitation if they didn't have a government. You take it as given that everything would be just fine if we let all our infrastructure, our common property, just decay. But any sane person would understand how necessary our grid is. So someone has to pay the cost of its upkeep.

If the cost wasn't apportioned through taxes we'd have to fund the operations of government the old way, through tariffs and duties. Would that be preferable to you?

How do you stay free of government exploitation?
"stay free from exploitation "

As a useful idiot of the state, you can't admit that consumers are in the best position to avoid exploitation.
Every example you ever give of 'free' market exploitation occurs when the government is behind the exploiters.

Unions have some use: separate conservatives from socialists.

Exploitation
"Every example you ever give of 'free' market exploitation occurs when the government is behind the exploiters."

It shouldn't come as any surprise to you that industry has captured our government. They were supposed to be guarding the hen house, but now they work for the foxes.

Without them, won't we still have to deal with the foxes?

It's like the Soviets used to say about their own system: "Under capitalism, man exploits his fellow man. But under communism it's the other way around."

Life without the unions
As a matter of fact, seventy hour work weeks were the norm before the workers banded together to form unions. And in fact there was no such thing as weekends. Work in most places was a seven day affair.

And there was no such thing as retirement. If you wanted your family to eat, you worked until you dropped in your tracks.

Now we've gotten used to the gains the unions have gotten us. So even though they're only a shadow of their former selves were used to living in the world they brought about. No shop owner ever improved workplace conditions just to be a nice guy.

As the occasion requires, if jobs ever return to America-- and if the forces of concentrated money ever become crushing to its workers again-- there'll be new unions. But right now, with our jobs all hemorrhaging overseas, there's no traction in this country. So we're very very far from being a union shop. So you can relax, there's nothing to worry about.

Placing the bottom line
You are pretending an indifference to what it is that tariffs and barriers actually do. Except for a few classes of goods, like heroin and cocaine, they don't bar foreign competition, they only change its price.

Cotton is no different than carburetors. If quality is the same, they buy them at the lower price. So you can take your choice: slap a ten percent surcharge on foreign cotton or a ten percent subsidy on home-grown. The result is the same: you've given local growers the price advantage.

Besides, I didn't argue that subsidies have broken any trade rules. They're used by the very nations that write the tradxe rules: the US and the EU. They're there to crush competition from third world countries that have their arms twisted into signing on to such a tilted playing field.

It's funny that you champion free trade, when we don't have it. The world is run on unfair trade rules, and I don't think I've ever heard you complain of that fact.

logic curcuits
No it wouldn't be preferable to me. But I reject your notion that we need exploitation from one group to avoid expoltation from another group; talk about bad logic.

You also mention 'common property', and I also reject this collectivist notion.

I just don't believe that without a kleptocratic government there would be no more cell phone towers or services. I also think that there would be anything else I was willing to pay for like electricity, gas, ipods, food, HC, beer, water, Irish Spring, etc. Indeed, we have seen instances where all things have been provided by people other than governments.

You're using an 'argument from fear' when you try t tell us those things wouldn't be possible, and that's also false logic.

But I wouldn't be opposed to you paying some group voluntarily calling itself your government, and then just wathcing them waste your own money. But please don't suggest they should take my money by force to subsidise you, or I'll call you an authoritarian for that stance.

Not captured. Partners.
The government HAS the power to 'escape' if it so chooses.
Trouble is, people like you WANT the government to get into everyone's business to save us from those evil businessmen like yourself.
Capitalism exploits no one who is free to choose. Capitalists must meet the needs and wants of customers or fail. That is called service.

exploitation
You claim that you don't like one sort of foxes that have captured the henhouse, but you do seem to heartily favor another sort that usually does. So to have cayotes rather than foxes is not much better.

But your henhouse methaphor isn't really accurate anyway, since hen's are not in a position to grant such favors and monopolies and subsidizes as are predatory governments.

Let's say there was a government but they did not have the power to say, restrict the importation of tires from China, or ethanol from Brazil, or dole out pork. Why would any 'fox' even want to capture such a henhouse?

Would they be bribing politicians and burocrats as they do now if the government couldn't use the power of the state to say, force insurers to ensure things they otherwise wouldn't? I don't think so.

Or, we don't see the Coca-Cola company trying to bribe the government to halt all imports of Perrier, or Evian water, or foreign beers and wines and all sorts of other alternate drinks to coke. But somehow you think it's a really good idea that the govenment does have that power in other sectors.

life without...wrong too
The norms in all sectors years ago in all coutries with or without unions was to work longer hours.
Even during the medeiaval guild times, when they had all the power to regulate everything in their sector; they still worked much longer hours and under much worse conditions.

We benefit from having become richer in general, rather than by unions.

Even now in places that are not unionized we see that proprietors that otherwise could, do not impose say 80 work weeks, etc.

It's possible that YOU would do that, thus you feel everyone would, but most people treat underlings kinder than they did in former times.

If Brazilian ethanol made by child labor cutting cane in the fields....
you would support that?

The power of money
"The government HAS the power to 'escape' if it so chooses."

No, the government has actually been captured-- by the way we've come to permit our elections to be financed. Any candidate or member of Congress can 'escape' by deciding to lose the next election.

"Capitalism exploits no one who is free to choose."

You can choose to lose, by taking the high road. Or, you can choose to win, by making deals to obtain funding for your reelection campaign.

"Capitalists must meet the needs and wants of customers or fail. That is called service."

We can see by their voting records that those candidates who end up in Congress consider the people who fund them their true customers. We voters, being so easily swayed by empty rhetoric, come in a distant second.

Of course there are still a lot of us who actually study the issues and hold independent opinions. They get around THOSE people's votes by redistricting. They all end up confined to a single tiddlywink district, while the three or four adjoining districts all have the desired majority.

Why do you say that's what I want?
"You claim that you don't like one sort of foxes that have captured the henhouse, but you do seem to heartily favor another sort that usually does. So to have cayotes rather than foxes is not much better."

That's your instinct, to think that's so. But I would challenge you to find anything in the current administration's agenda I admire.

To you, I consistently champion big government. But I want government to be true to its mission, which is the case under neither political party. They've both been co-opted by rich contributors, so the interests of the less than rich can be ignored.

Health care? It's been compromised out of existence. Even if the Ds save face by passing some sort of a bill it'll be a toothless one. I recall in 2008, before the election, when the voters overwhelmingly told Washington they wanted Single Payer. That was off the table as soon as Obama came to office. And the Public Option soon followed.

Since then, millions of dollars have gone into campaigns to blur the issues and make cheaper, more inclusive health plans sound like a bad thing. And a lot of voters, docile sheep who are easily led, have begun to believe it. That's what the future looks like.

So we won't be getting what most people need this year. Or next. Or any of the years after.

"Let's say there was a government but they did not have the power to say, restrict the importation of tires from China, or ethanol from Brazil, or dole out pork. Why would any 'fox' even want to capture such a henhouse?"

What makes you think the people who buy politicians would tell them to pass a bill outlawing trade barriers? Really.

"But somehow you think it's a really good idea that the govenment does have that power in other sectors."

You keep banging on this theme. Why? I think the government should regain the power to rein in big business, on the time-honored principle that checks and balances are necessary to curb abuses of power from ANY quarter.

If we were truly in a period where it was the controlling government that was big, and commerce and industry that were being hard pressed, I'd certainly be in favor of reducing government power. But that's just not the case now. Its regulatory powers were destroyed back in Reagan's day.

Serious misconceptions- 1
"I reject your notion that we need exploitation from one group to avoid expoltation from another group; talk about bad logic."

No, it's excellent logic. If you are being oppressed by powerful entities acting in tandem, you need to create an entity equal in power-- one you can control. That is, the public has to create a responsive government that can take on corruption and greed in both the public and private sectors. There's really no other way.

Or do you think all our problems will go away just by snapping our fingers. Because the powers currently in control will certainly never relinquish the governmental sector-- it's one of the legs holding their whole operation up.

What they'll do is blanket the airwaves with messages that they oppose big government-- and people like you will swallow those messages hook line and sinker.

Look how you felt about George Bush. He was one who promised to eradicate big government, just to get guys like you on board. Then when he was in power he gutted the parts his backers didn't like (that is, what was left of the regulatory mechanism) and amplified the rest.

Don't believe me? Look how government spending took a U-turn from the late nineties, when we were paying down our national debt, to the instant hyper-debt accruing from 2002 forward.

It's a scam, this call for 'small government'. And you fall for it every time.

Serious misconceptions-- 2, 3 & 4
"You also mention 'common property', and I also reject this collectivist notion."

I swear, you are just dumb as a stump. This entire experiment, the United States of America, has been a collective enterprise. Together, we own this land of ours. And we began by instituting a government responsive to the needs of its people. Would you, by any chance, remember anything about "of the People, by the People and for the People"?

When you reach the end of your driveway, what do you find? COMMON PROPERTY, that's what. And it costs money to keep this stuff up.

"I just don't believe that without a kleptocratic government there would be no more cell phone towers or services." etc.

Nor do I. Never said I did, in fact.

But what I DO believe is that if we had no US government, by now we'd have had someone else seize power over us. The Soviets, or the Chinese, or even the Mexicans. Because power never permits a vacuum.

So when you say "You're using an 'argument from fear' when you try t tell us those things wouldn't be possible, and that's also false logic" you're trying to tear down an argument I'm not making.

Which is why I accuse you so frequently of being dumb.

More misconceptions
"The norms in all sectors years ago in all coutries with or without unions was to work longer hours."

It didn't change other than through unions arising and forcing the owners to offer labor better terms.

But, as you fancy yourself as being some master of history, find an occasion when factory owners of their own accord improved working conditions.

You won't find anything until you go back to the times of the great plagues. Europe, at various points, became so depopulated that shop owners actually had to bid for the services of the remaining workers. Other than that, we had to await the rise of brotherhoods of workers, before poor working conditions could be effectively addressed.

"Even during the medeiaval guild times, when they had all the power to regulate everything in their sector; they still worked much longer hours and under much worse conditions."

Medieval guilds had nothing in common with labor unions. They were established by craftsmen, to restrict competition in their trades. They did not address in any way the situation of workers. What they did was raise barriers to entry into the existing professions-- much like the modern AMA and other professional associations do.

"Even now in places that are not unionized we see that proprietors that otherwise could, do not impose say 80 work weeks, etc."

Complete that thought. Find such a place, and give us some references to that effect. I think you'll find today that industrial nations all have some kind of labor law, even if it's often not as good as US law.

It's like slavery, which has been outlawed by international agreement. You won't find any places where slavery is legal (although you'll find a few where it still exists).

Thinking unkindly of me
"It's possible that YOU would do that, thus you feel everyone would, but most people treat underlings kinder than they did in former times."

Most employers either (a) follow the law, or (b) are rich enough to buy noncompliance, and flout the law.

Me? There were a lot of guys who wanted to work for me. The only complaint they ever had was that I couldn't find enough work to use them all.

What a silly question
I can't even imagine what it is you're trying to prove.

Brazilian sugarcane is a massive, highly mechanized, capital-intensive industry. It's cut, transported and processed using heavy equipment. See this informative article:

"Half a million jobs and five centuries of tradition are to be phased out in Brazil's booming sugar-cane industry to satisfy western demands for more socially acceptable work practices in the biofuel sector.

"Sugar-cane cutters, who have been working Brazil's land since the 1520s, when Portuguese colonialists first experimented with growing the crop, are to make way for mechanisation.

"The Brazilian Sugar Cane Industry Association (Unica) said 80% of the 500,000 jobs would be gone within three years and admitted that moving to a tractor-based system would cause pain and upheaval for its migrant workforce. Unica acknowledged a lack of alternative jobs."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2008/jun/05/biofuels.carbonemissions

And this excellent overview:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethanol_fuel_in_Brazil

BS
When the people really care they turn out and vote the bastards out.

But you still haven't addressed the issue the Col. and I raise. There would be little or no money in politics if the government didn't have so much control over everyone's lives. Which is what you continue to advocate for.
Stossel had a good piece today about how Cleveland is collapsing due to an oppressive government. The kind you like.

Then you support the US Constitution?
That is the only way to curb the government's power.
"Its regulatory powers were destroyed back in Reagan's day."
You really live in a fantasy land.

You support free trade unconditionally?
I don't think so.

why do you say.....
You ask what I you admire in the current admin. I would say that it have the type of power over certain aspects of the country, which in turn make it vulnerable to being bought off. I don't think they should have those powers in the first place.
So you favor them having power to use force to make us do things against our will, or prevent us from doing other things. You favor authoritarianism, and you think that if we resist we should be thrown into the rape rooms or killed.

I would rather the government have the power they do over say, who we marry, for example, or in which city or state we live. They have no power over that, thus they couldn't do something like, say get the government to mandadate that so many of us live in one area or another so that they might have abundant cheap labor there.

But they can't make us do things like that, and I think it should be expand to cover....pretty much everything. They would not try to bribe politicos that have no power.

Somehow it's you who don't understand my point that it is the very existence of the power over certain sectors that is the main problem.

seriously....false logic
So you claim that if one faction is going to expoit us, we should choose an alternate faction to expoilt us, but somehow we should naivly assume that we can control this second exploiter.

That logic would be like saying; we're expoited by the triad gangs in our neighbourhood, so let's make a deal with sicilian mafia to protect us from them, surely we can control this second group.

Let's say we're one little tribe of indians who are being set upon by a rival tribe; let's ask the Incas to come in and protect us; surley we can control this second group of exploiters.

I don't think our expoitation will go away at the snap of our fingers, but I think it's proper to point out how immoral it is. During the slave times I could do anything about it either, but I would have spoken up about it being immoral too.

You make it sound like I had been a follower of Bush, and had swallowed his line of reduced government. You must be mistaking me for someone else. I conserded him just as I did all other presidents, sort of below used car salesmen.
So I never fall for any promises from any politicians because all of them are rotten corrupt statists.

2,3,4
No, you call me dumb because you have a different point of view from mine. You also do it because it's the normal tactic of left wingers to call people dumb when they disagree with them.
It's also because you can't properly defend your positions. That's about the same level as using an ad hominem agreement.

The experiment of the US was to respect private property and get away from the tyranny of old europe. But when your position is more like that of the old tyrants, it's kind of hard to outright try to defend oppression, so it's easier to say to a peson who defends liberty by saying things like; you are dumb therefore your stance for more freedom is wrong. That's the logic you use.

It is an argument from fear to say that we need big repressive government because if we don't then the russians, or the chinese or mexicans would take us over.

We see that the Russians can't even take over their closest neighbours anymore; yet you still think they want to take over the US.

We see that China is making no attemt to even take over it's tiny weak neighbours either, yet you try to scare us that they will take over the whole US?

The mexicans? All it would take to let the good old boys down near the border have a free fire zone, and you could already discount that threat. Not that mexico is trying to take over the states. We don't even see them trying that on very weak places like Guatemala, Honduras, el Salador.

Your argument would be akin to Portugese people trying to justify militarism there just in case the germans might want to take over portugal.

TCS Daily Archives