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July 21, 2014

First World members of the world made a compact agreeing to play by a set of civilized trade rules in an attempt to level the playing field with workers in other parts of the globe and offered to make membership available to China in return for China’s living up to the rules. China complained about having to live up to such rules since they argued that China was a developing country with an emerging economy that had neither the history nor other social or economic infrastructure to live up to such rules that the more developed countries could live up to. They also said that they and other poor nation states were being forced under such requirements to live up to requirements that were not imposed on America and Europe when they developed. There was a way to have handled these complaints and it is this: “Very well. If you are not able to live up to the trade rules of our organization, then don’t join.”
Enter Wall Street, which saw an opportunity to get to cheap labor (and huge profits as a result) by pulling the political levers to let China and other low-wage under-developed countries into our various trade arrangements (most favored nation, WTO, etc) even though Wall Street had to know that there would be trouble in meshing such primitive economies with that of the West. (Wall Street has found yet cheaper labor than China, hence the current hurrah for TPP – to which China has not been invited – and which serves our national purpose of encircling an expanding China both militarily and trade-wise in addition to cheaper labor, a dual purpose.)
The TPP (currently on hold until the heat is off), like its predecessor trade treaties, carries the usual propaganda about how such a treaty would put America to work etc. Where have I heard that song before? Look around. How many people are newly-employed because we let China in on the deal without vetting their prospective ethical performance as a trade partner? Answer: There are a few newly-hired in finance (building their factories and skyscrapers and bribing their officials for banking contracts) there. There are probably some hired anew in accounting, law firms (patents and contracts), and assorted engineering and specialties, but the millions left home without jobs are not newly-employed; they are newly-unemployed, and the superrich few who arranged for this social and economic disaster of flight of both production and capital seem to have little concern for the enormous harm they have caused to this country and its people (as well as the trillions in gross underperformance of our domestic economy caused by their uncontrolled greed and political underhandedness).
We are of course hearing the usual propaganda from the investment class (who need cover for their greedy and sometimes criminal conduct) that our people are lazy, the government is bad etc. If they want to see who’s “bad,” I will direct them to the nearest mirror. A fundamental concept in political science is that those who are in charge are responsible for results. Wall Street as owners of the political class is in charge, so they are responsible for what has happened (and is happening) to America and its people, and that is not propaganda. That is painful truth, and there is no “plausible deniability” to account for it among the rich other than greed and purchase of power via campaign contributions etc.
Some of the protocols and agreements with China in our trade agreements (and amendatory language of side agreements) call for all signatories to follow pollution controls. So how is China doing? Their people are literally dying every day from pollution so bad in some cities that one cannot see across the street, and still they open new coal-burning plants by the dozens. How about the good treatment of organized labor China was required to follow under terms of the agreement? That is not a serious question; their workers have merely migrated from the countryside’s rice paddies to cities where they cannot breathe well while assembling electronic gadgets together for American and other corporations who make big bucks while underpaid Chinese workers come up with COPD and premature disability and death. It would take too long to enumerate each environmental insult China refuses to take or takes its time in correcting, such as toxic-filled rivers, dangerous additives added to animal food which killed some pets in America by destroying their kidneys, toothpaste exported to our country containing toxic material etc. The list is long – and only rarely discussed by Wall Street and the Politboro.
Let’s turn to intellectual property. The Chinese care little for copyrights and patents. They turn out counterfeit copies of American software. They openly pirate and sell movies and music. Their government requires industries that would locate there to give up industrial and/or other trade secrets as a condition to doing business there. They even manufacture parts for our defense industry there!
How about trade per se? China suppresses many American exports. Since tariffs are forbidden, they make up all kinds of barriers to trade but are not technically known as tariffs. As recently as 1985, trade between China and our country was balanced. We bought as much as we sold. It is true that we export more to China now than we used to, but their exports to us have exploded, making for huge trade deficits, and their deliberate suppression of what we export to them makes it worse. Korea? As recently as seven years ago, there was one Ford dealer in Korea and the year before they exported 700,000 cars to the United States but imported fewer than 5,000. Look around today; Hyundai and Kia have some 2,000 dealerships in this country. This imbalance in car sales in the largest cause of the imbalance in trade with Korea, running into billions in deficits to be added to that of China. Japan, again to tell it like it is (a tariff), used to have a system where the few American cars imported to Japan were required to wait on the docks for up to six months awaiting “an inspection.” That plus tax, safety and other such rules are used by both Japan and Korea to insure a continuing trade deficit on our part under the aegis of “free trade” (or more accurately stated, “unfair trade”).
Our Wall Street-inspired trade treaties, protocols, rules and regulations were written under the thin and pretended veneer of “government” (read lobbyists’ instructions) following “public hearings” to “protect the public interest.” Question: How are your interests being protected via these Oriental trade treaties?
It’s not just Oriental and cheap labor venues where we are giving away our national wealth through trade treaties that fail our broader (as opposed to Wall Street’s) interests. We can’t even make an even pitch under NAFTA – with Mexico and First World Canada. We run in chronic trade deficit with both of those countries as well. We seem to have given up on the former government objective of seeking equilibrium in foreign trade; we used to think that such equality or something near it was good for our labor and our markets. No more – our view of trade has been redefined (and bought in practice by Wall Street).David Cay Johnston in his book Free Lunch tells us that. . . “Thousands” (of factory workers) “have lost their jobs to the rigged game the politicians, and their donors, call “free trade.”
The learned professor knows whereof he speaks. What are we going to do about it, anything? GERALD E


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