Category Archives: Free Trade
Family members were left stunned in Hong Kong on Thursday (November 22) after a Chinese decision denying the USS Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier entry into Hong Kong.
The decision was later reversed by Beijing.
Hundreds of families poured into Hong Kong to greet servicemen from the aircraft carrier and fleet, which holds 8,000 of United States’ servicemen, airman and sailors, only to find out Thursday morning that the carrier would not come port-side.
The Kitty Hawk is not expected to make it back to Hong Kong by the end of the Thanksgiving day in Asia, according to the
U.S. Consulate in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong is home to thousands of U.S. expatriates, with many gathering at midday for special Thanksgiving day service at the city’s oldest church, St. John’s Cathedral. Hong Kong is also a favoured stopping point for U.S. warships in the Pacific region.
There are several issues which may have prompted Beijing’s action, including U.S. plans to sell Taiwan a $490 million U.S. dollar upgrade to its missile system and last month’s meeting between George Bush and the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Buddhist leader whom Beijing considers a traitor.
The State Department and Defense Department said it remained unclear why the aircraft carrier strike group had been denied access at the last moment just as the crew of some 8,000 sailors and airmen were to celebrate the annual US holiday on Thursday.
“At present, it appears the USS Kitty Hawk strike group will not be making a port call in Hong Kong as previously planned as a result of a last minute denial by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” said State Department spokeswoman Nicole Thompson.
“The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not give an explanation for its denial. The United States is pressing the Chinese Foreign Ministry for an explanation and for a reconsideration,” she stated.
A spokesman for the Pentagon, Lieutenant Commander John Daniels, said, “We don’t know the reason the Chinese have done this.”
It is no secret that China has an array of industrial spies roaming the planet. It freely pirates US technology with no regard for intellectual rights, and has used that technology to cyber attack countries like Germany, blast a satellite out of orbit and demonstrate that it can cripple US defenses if need be.
It was only a few years ago that China could barely make a stable rocket launch. Now the Chinese turned that program around with purchased and stolen American technology.
So why did China bar the Kitty Hawk?
They barred it because they are an aspiring global super power, and they want everyone to know that they could – a demonstration of diplomatic bullying.
China is a quasi capitalist/communist super state that is rapidly expanding with a carefully controlled, state run ideology. The curious thing is, unlike the old Soviet Union, it is working. They believe in what they are doing, because their approach is producing tremendous wealth which conveniently for the Chinese, is driving the world’s fastest growing economy at the expense of U.S. workers. There is no period in history where so much wealth and economic power has been created in such a short period of time. In turn, from that wealth and industrial power, the Chinese are building military might. They are rapidly militarizing, and in a few short years, will be able to control events in Asia, without any interference from the U.S.
Taiwan will become whatever China wants it to be, the U.S. economy will continue to suffer, and the United States will simply have to accept that, because we continue to cow-tow to a country that is run by Communist thugs and continues to ignore international law.
To neutralize, or at the very least, attempt to check this coming military might that China will undoubtedly exploit to its full advantage, the U.S. must begin to respond in kind to such diplomatic slaps in the face. Our current policy of bending but not breaking, in the name of an apparantly failed mutually beneficial economic relationship with the Chinese, must be halted immediately. That is to say, scrap globalism…it isn’t working as intended.
We must begin to rebuild from within, and that includes rigorous education reforms that focus on science and technology including medicine, a wholesale change in our international economic policy with regards to China, and a renewed push in the area of space exploration, as well as advanced defense technologies.
Shoring up what little manufacturing we have left here might not be a bad idea either.
Anything short of this is suicide, and it can be done in as little as twenty years.
More to come on this.
Poverty isn’t what it used to be. If one takes the time to characterize the modern poor vs. the historical poor, they would find that the avenues out of poverty are quickly being closed by the new world economy and the dynamic that is ‘globalism.’
The postmodern American economy is in utter disarray and social safety net policies used throughout the 20th century, have de-evolved, resulting in a new demographic of poor people. The most visible result of this disarray is that poor children are relatively worse off now than at the beginning of the 20th century despite all of the political rhetoric through the years. More alarmingly, their opportunities out of poverty are slim and none. Maanufactuing jobs that could be had on a high school diploma have evaporated to a large extent, and many are simply priced out of trade school or college.
What is so dangerous about the new poverty is the sense of surprise it brings. Poverty can hit so suddenly, that people can fall so far behind so fast, and lose everything they’ve worked for in a matter of a few months, because they are literally living paycheck by paycheck. The new poverty is about our loss of faith in relationships we once had with companies and the government. It seems nothing is guaranteed anymore. Many people work for several companies in their lifetime because they are simply burned out or pushed out or outsourced out of their old one. Workers cannot depend on a pension, savings, or even Social Security. The new poverty is a complex sociological issue that has many causes and seemingly fewer and fewer solutions.
Globalism has clearly not helped the situation. For years talk of free trade and the benefits of that trade, was standard political speak. Bob Zoellick, a U.S. trade representative at a recent press conference said, “If one is concerned about developing countries, both history and recent studies would suggest an open system is going to be the formula for them. Others like Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Dean of Harvard’s Kennedy School, claim that globalization “has improved the lot of hundreds of millions of poor people around the world.” I do not agree.
I would argue that globalization has been a losing proposition for most of the countries, including the U.S. When you talk to people like Robert Reich or anyone else that supports free trade, and express concerns, you’re labeled as an isolationist. However, I’m not arguing for an isolationist position – merely to construct free trade in a common sense fashion that softens the broad sword that usually comes down on the world’s poor with brutal consequences. Reich and others suggest that these people must simply get themselves re-educated and lift themselves up. The problem is they often do not have the resources to do so, so they are simply cast aside as a necessary evil of global economic expansion.
The visible results of globalism do not appear to be as positive as supporters would have us believe. The vast majority of countries, over the last two decades, have experienced slower growth than was seen in the previous two. Moreover, poorer countries have generally suffered the worst declines in the growth of income per person.
Then there is China. Supporters of free trade point to China as a beacon of progress – but at what cost? China has highly protected domestic markets that close off foreign import across broad sectors of their economy, illegal currency manipulation, and a state owned banking system…remember…they are a Communist nation. As a result, China has been able to resist import pressure from the West especially in the areas of durable goods and technology, as they jail anyone who dissents and poison they’re rural inhabitants with a level of pollution the world has never seen. It begs the question – is this free trade or trade for free?
There is clearly something wrong with the prevailing orthodoxy. Strategies for common sense economic development have been abandoned in the name of profit, and it is generally assumed that open markets, privatization, and attracting foreign investors will do the job in a humane fashion. So far this is not the case.
The last two decades of globalization have also shown substantially diminished progress in health outcomes for infants and older children, as well as life expectancy, which has also dropped in the U.S. recently. The same is true for other social indicators, including education and literacy, with the slowdown in progress far worse among lower-income countries.
A world in which many third world countries enslave poor children for the purpose of making consumer goods, and where half of all people survive on less than $2 a day, speaks volumes to the failure of globalization, especially whens world trends are moving in the wrong direction from a human rights perspective. The U.S., nor can the rest of the world, afford not to re-think economic policy simply because free trade is fashionable, or to bow to the whims of special interests and their paymaster multinational corporations. No one is arguing to quell the expansion of trade to international markets, however it must be done with humanity as a primary concern, not a socio-economic afterthought.
In short, the globalists have it wrong, and people are beginning to wise up…finally.
A few days ago I posted on to this blog on recent developments in the Republican party in regards to globalism and free trade. In short, support among Republicans for free trade is ebbing…and quickly at that. However, president Bush once again seems to be rallying around a narrow minded ideology of trading American jobs and prosperity for profit, rather than listening to the cries of help from the middle class and his own party! Business as usual at the White House.
In the last six years, the Bush administration has signed 11 free trade agreements, including seven new agreements in Latin America, and in spite of the under current of opposition to new deals, is pushing new agreements with Peru, Colombia, and Panama. To defend his position, Bush argued just days ago that free trade is necessary because “More exports support better and higher-paying jobs — and to keep our economy expanding, we need to keep expanding trade.”
The problem is, these high paying jobs aren’t materializing.
Bush said these three agreements would lower agricultural and industrial tariffs on American businesses as well, while providing 75 million new consumers for American goods. Although the President acknowledged that many Americans are questioning free trade, he added that “the federal government is providing substantial funding for trade adjustment assistance that helps Americans make the transition from one job to the next.”
Another problem is, the program is filled with massive loopholes that make it almost moot to most Americans.
Link here for AFL-CIO congressional testimony regarding (TAA) loopholes.
In spite of all these outcries, the administration is currently working toward a new trade agreement with South Korea that will be closed to beef autos, and steel, according to analysts.
What Bush continues to struggle with is the fact that the very foundation of globalism and free trade, as well as the benefits that it was supposed to bring to this country, have been proved false. Globalists insist, as echoed by Bush, that free trade creates new jobs and keeps consumer goods cheap. Thus, free traders claim markets will continue to expand.
The opposite is happening.
Granted, some jobs have been created, but the jobs, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, are mainly service sector jobs that are not exposed to outsourcing, unlike manufacturing and high tech jobs that are. The caveat here, is that these service sector jobs pay up to 60% less than the manufacturing and high tech jobs that have been lost. The job creation is simply not an apples to apples comparison, and that fact is conveniently left out of free trader dialog. Also, many college graduates are finding it difficult to find gainful employment than even warrants going to college or justifying the ever increasing tuition costs and student loan interest rates, which this administration has allowed to sky rocket.
Simply put, Republicans cannot and traditionally have not been able to manage the economy. Unfortunately, we have been at the mercy of Reagan and two Bush’s – all big time spenders, all incompetent in the area of macro economics and trade policy. If you look at economic records and rates of job creation and unemployment going back to Harry Truman, the data proves this out. During Carter’s administration for example, the economy added 10 million jobs and reduced government spending, all in the face of high inflation. George H.W. Bush holds the dubious honor of having both the poorest GDP growth and income growth for working class Americans on record. The deficit also exploded by $100 billion in only four years. Bush Jr. is even worse than daddy.
The economy is the worst it has ever been under the current president. The Bush administration’s annual loss stands at three-quarters of a trillion dollars and he has only managed a net gain of 5.6 million jobs – the worst ever. The numbers of ‘working poor’ and unemployed are creeping up as well, while the income gap between the rich and poor is the widest it has been since the 1920’s – great for lords at the top, not so much for the serfs at the bottom. The trade deficit with China speaks for itself.
So, what does it all mean? On a macro level, it means our current policies are not working. Short-sighted conservative corporate fat cats are gutting the economic fish for a seemingly final meal. Real economic growth comes from the bottom – via a thrifty working class that is able to save and rely on affordable health-care, guaranteed retirement, and reasonable consumer prices. Free trade was supposed to provide all of this. Instead, we have gotten currency manipulation from China, higher prices on essential goods like home energy, garbage consumer products, trade deficits, an insurance crisis, an evaporating manufacturing and high tech sector, and a cash strapped middle class who cannot even escape the crunch through re-education, because there’s nothing to re-educate to. And then when you’re in your senior years, you get to coast to the finish line with a reverse mortgage. All of this smells to me.
Can someone explain this to Bush please…and Robert Reich while you’re at it?