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« More Good Texas Listening | Main | Magazine Design »

April 04, 2008

Critiques of the Imperial Status Quo

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

* Steve Sailer wonders why NATO is expanding.

* Tom Piatak is tired of dogmatic, wet-behind-the-ears "free traders."

* Allan Wall reports that Mexicans are rooting for Hillary. (UPDATE: Thanks to Bryan for pointing out this amazing L.A. Times story.)

Best,

Michael

posted by Michael at April 4, 2008




Comments

Tom Piatak can be angry about free trade all he wants. The question is: What in the hell is he going to do about it? And the answer is: Nothing.

So, exactly what good does getting all worked up about it do?

My parents were both factory workers way back when. From the late 60s through the mid 70s, the factory base of the midwest was completely dismantled and shipped off to Asia.

My mother retrained as an LPN, and she now makes very good money. My father could not adapt and he never worked again.

Try as you might to make this into a political issue... it isn't. It's reality. The old trade union notion of something being owed to the worker is dead, and it will remain dead.

This is something that can only be addressed on an individual level. Face it. Nobody is going to feel sorry for you. Nobody is going to help you. I know a dozen men in their 60s who've been dumped out of the job market by companies who've hired younger, cheaper employees in their place. The old guys have two choices: (1) bitch and complain (and remain unemployed), or (2) retrain in new fields. Probably, they have to swallow their pride and learn to be a CNA or an LPN. If they do, eventually they'll make a good living.

I have spent the past two decades struggling to stay one step ahead of this. Self-pity is a pile of shit. Whining that somebody should find a political solution is self-deception and a one-way ticket to unemployment or obsolescence. I learned to build a suite of skills that couldn't be replaced by a cheap Indian programmer.

The only solution available is being quick on your feet, being willing to adapt and doing what you have to do. Anybody who tells you that there is (or will be) a political solution to this is lying to you.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on April 4, 2008 1:43 PM



Holy crap, I actually agree with ST.

Posted by: JV on April 4, 2008 2:50 PM



Time for a party.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on April 4, 2008 2:54 PM



I'd like to have a party, but my doctor advised me today that I should only drink "in moderation."

See here for details.

And, for Christ's sake, I thought that I was drinking "in moderation." I drink a bottle of red wine over the weekend. The blues band likes to throw down a shot or two of whiskey before it plays.

Isn't that "in moderation?"

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on April 4, 2008 3:20 PM



Chris White, there's a group hug developing here that you don't want to miss. Come on in!

Posted by: PatrickH on April 4, 2008 3:21 PM



Not only are the Mexicans rooting for Hillary, they're pining for the return of California, Texas, et. al.

Posted by: Bryan on April 4, 2008 3:29 PM



The actual question, Southing Thomas, isn't: What can Tom Piatak do about preventing free trade--but what right has he to do so?

Posted by: Bilwick1 on April 4, 2008 4:22 PM



Can anyone tell me if there is any reason for NATO to exist beyond keeping Europe from falling into the hands of Germans or Russians? And why should we care? Just asking. Not trying to be flippant.

Posted by: Charlton Griffin on April 4, 2008 5:23 PM



"Free Trade" is just a bunch of nonsense designed to bankrupt and elimnate the middle class, so that the corporations can run amok, and abuse workers at will. The trick is to avoid any chance of the workers fighting back by running around national sovereignty, playing currency games, and shipping the jobs overseas. The current thread here of atomization is exactly what they want. Congratulations! You're only for it because you haven't felt the the brunt of it--yet! But you will, and rather soon, too.

Just wait until those service jobs start hitting the tank. Our service economy is a house built on sand. It seemed okay as long as easy credit and artifically low interest rates made up for the loss of income from real production. Now the dollar is going into the toilet, and our reserve currency status with it. Guess what? No more easy credit! You will feel the baseball bat too, my friends, as the service economy shrinks like mad.

No man is an island. Can you hear the bells tolling, getting closer and closer? They toll for thee.

Posted by: BIOH on April 4, 2008 5:31 PM



I'll join in a group hug ... but will pat all the men on the back as I do. Oops, that thread was a while ago.

Posted by: Chris White on April 4, 2008 5:53 PM



I do find myself confused trying to understand the contradictions that seem inherent in arguing for tight immigration on the one hand while on the other championing (or at least accepting as a given) unrestrained free trade. At their core both of these topics appear to me questions of how to balance individual rights and desires with societal responsibilities and cohesion.

Free trade policies are based on an ideal of a world in which borders are meaningless, at least to capital, goods and services. Free trade agreements, in practical terms, move decision-making and dispute resolution from nations to international forums like the WTO.

Those arguing for tighter immigration enforcement (here in the US especially in terms of the flow of Mexicans and others from south of the border) make the case for the need to protect national, state and even local sovereignty and culture.

Shouldn't we be looking for a middle ground in both areas? Fair trade and fair immigration policies that attempt to find a reasonable balance between individual rights & responsibilities and social & cultural cohesion may be difficult to work out, but seem to me well worth the effort.

Posted by: Chris White on April 4, 2008 6:28 PM



Shouting Thomas: First of all, Tom Piatak is a writer. What did you expect him to do about free trade? Bomb the WTC? Writing isn't a totally ineffective way of changing things.

Secondly, of course it's a political issue. Place a tariff on those goods and voilà.

Thirdly, even though we're not all as brass balled as you and, yes, might whine a little about losing our way of life, in this instance Tom Piatak is arguing on behalf of other people. If anything, offshoring is helping his career by giving him something to write about.

Regarding comparative advantage, specialization, free trade and all that. As long as there are differences between the abilities of countries there will be some skills it will pay to export (i.e. offshoring/outsourcing) or import (i.e immigration). The pressure to do so would only cease once every country became like every other.

Tom Piatak's point is that Americans don't (or shouldn't) want to live in that kind of a world and that ideological free-traders deceptively trick people into thinking that they do.

Posted by: James on April 4, 2008 6:50 PM



mexicans rooting for hillary is music to mccain's ears

Posted by: cjm on April 4, 2008 7:10 PM



I can't get past the link to Steve Sailer. At long last, have you no decency?

Posted by: david duke astin on April 5, 2008 9:40 AM



Actually, I am a lawyer. Lawyers tend not to be harmed by free trade, because our profession is surrounded by quite rigid protectionist measures. Writing is a hobby.

I am concerned about free trade because I live in a community being harmed by free trade, and I have friends, neighbors, and relatives who work in American manufacturing and are being hurt by free trade. I care about free trade because I love Cleveland, and don't want to see it become a ghost town. I care about free trade because I think a strong manufacturing base is good for America, and free trade is destroying our manufacturing base. As a practical matter, I buy American whenever I can, and urge others to do likewise.

Posted by: Tom Piatak on April 5, 2008 11:08 AM



By the way, thanks for linking to my article, and for the kind words of those who commented on it.

Posted by: Tom Piatak on April 5, 2008 1:56 PM



James,

"Place a tariff on those goods and voilà."??

I might be misunderstanding your point, but on it's face, the "voilà" is all bad. Get out a history book and read up on the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act. The US enacted massive tariffs, other countries responded in kind and as a result: the Great Depression.

Tom Piatak:

In the mid-1800s, the US was an agrarian economy with 80% of the population deriving their livelihoods from farming, either directly as farmers or providing services to farmers. Over time (into the 1960s, in fact), the US evolved into a manufacturing economy. If you'd been around during that transition period, would you have been one to rue the demise of the farmer? Probably not, but I could be wrong. Now, the U.S. is transitioning to a "knowledge-based" economy. As one of the richest countries in the world, spending huge amounts on education and with the majority of high-school students heading off to college, it's a natural transition. Yet, here you are ruing the demise of the manufacturing base. As I advised James above, get out a book. Read about Sombart's and Schumpeter's notion of "creative destruction". As old processes are destroyed, new, better, and more creative ones rise to take their place. In essence, you either embrace change or you're devoured by it.

Posted by: Ronald Smith on April 5, 2008 2:00 PM



With respect to Smoot-Hawley, this is what Milton Friedman had to say about it: “It played no significant role in either causing the depression or prolonging it.” Which is unsurprising, since total imports in 1930 represented only 4% of GNP, and Smoot-Hawley applied to only one-third of imports, or 1.3% of GNP. In addition, between 1929 and 1933, net U S exports fell only $700,000,000, or 1.5% of the GNP.

What prolonged the Depression was the fact that one-third of the money supply essentially vanished. That is why 5,000 banks failed, the stock market lost five-sixths of its value, the GNP fell by 46%, and unemployment rose to 25%, not because of a tariff in an economy geared for domestic production for domestic consumption.

As for the "information economy," it is well to remember that many such jobs have been outsourced, and many more will be. Former Fed official Alan Blinder has estimated that 28-39 million more American jobs are offshorable in the near future.



Posted by: Tom Piatak on April 5, 2008 3:30 PM



you think that ohio's confiscatory socialist policies - second only to that other economic miracle, michigan -- might have something to do with things? how many ohio jobs have been lost to kentucky or tennessee? unions kill jobs, say it with me "unions kill jobs". there, now you know what you have to do to save cleveland.

Posted by: cjm on April 5, 2008 4:15 PM



Ronald Smith:

I would reply to your points myself but the financial blogger Hellasious already said it better apropos creative destruction:

For the United States, therefore, the creative destruction process ran in reverse: it destroyed high-value manufacturing and replaced it with specifically low-value services. The loss of earned income implied by this shift should have been unacceptable to society, but as we know living standards were artificially maintained by increasing debt and by the illusory rise of purchasing power from cheap imports. Instead of going through the painful, but ultimately beneficial process of creative destruction, America took the easiest way out.

Simply put, Greenspan threw a monkey wrench into Schumpeter's creative destruction process and now Bernanke is repeating the mistake. What's worse, we have been led to believe that the Fed can keep the economy going indefinitely by mere adjustments of interest rates and injections of liquidity. However, wealth is not created by monetary policy but by constant innovation and judicious investment. We are clearly not investing as we should and innovation will soon depart, following industry abroad. No one has a lock on knowledge, after all.

We can make one more observation linking the cost of money with the creative destruction process. When capital costs are unusually low, businesses can be less choosy about their investments. For example, if a businessman can borrow at 4% he may be happy with starting a hair salon returning 8%. But if rates are at 10% he has to invest in something that adds more value and is potentially more profitable.

The conclusion is that for a developed economy, at least, unusually low cost of capital - debt and equity - ultimately works against the creative destruction process and leads to a loss of competitiveness. Let me put it another way: artificially low interest rates and high share prices over a prolonged period make America complacent and "dumb", particularly if it has to compete with a dynamic bloc like Asia.

You can read the entire piece here.

And, of course, much of the capital that provides us with the cheap credit we've used to maintain standards of living comes from Asia recycling our huge trade imbalances back to us. This effect has been estimated by several serious economists to have lowered interest rates a full 1%-2% over the past five or so years. I think we're seeing some of the problems with going into debt to maintain our lifestyle spending in the context of Wall Street and Main Street alike.

Creative destruction requires risk taking and, well, um, creativity, and our elites prefer to make money by leveraging assets with other people's cheap capital instead of taking risks by making, you know, stuff. Also note that what you call free trade is a rather odd beast: the Chinese have assiduously manipulated their currency rates to keep them 40-50% below market values. Is that your definition of "free"? A better term, I would say, as a current description of international trade would be "managed trade" and we have managed ours for the benefit of certain industries and class interests. Apparently Cleveland and its businesses are not among them.

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on April 5, 2008 5:14 PM



The difference between tariffs when the US was a huge exporter and now when the US is a huge importer are night and day. Tariffs on imported goods now would only help US manufacturing. Yes, prices would rise, but they will anyway when our dollar drops against other currencies. So whoopeee! Stop killing the US withe your free trade nonsense. You've been brainwashed by the corporations, and just parrot their disinfo now.

The US built itself on import tariffs and low taxes for its citizens. And ever since then its been going downhill. I'd say if we started to actually produce what we consume, and downsize government by 2/3 or more, things would be just fine. Same for everybody else.

Posted by: BIOH on April 5, 2008 6:06 PM



FvB:

Thanks for the courtesy of a reply.

I'm not going to be sucked into defending Greenspan and Bernanke. I agree they bungled - and continue to bungle - the money supply. However, I reject Hellasious' premise that the creative destruction process ran in reverse, destroying "high-value manufacturing and replaced it with specifically low-value services." Let's talk about "high-value" manufacturing. I can look around my house and see a Sony TV, a Samsung microwave oven, a Panasonic cordless phone, etc. On the surface, your argument looks valid. You can call this high-value manufacturing if you'd like. I call it assembly. What's inside every one of those products? A semiconductor. Invented by Bell Labs. Sure, run-of-the-mill semiconductors have become commodities, but cutting edge semiconductor development still happens here. The U.S. leads the world in fiber optics, routers and switches, satellite technology, aerospace, and advanced heavy equipment. Even steel production, an industry where we were getting our clocks cleaned only 20 years ago, has resurrected itself with boutique production techniques. I could go on and on, but the point is they're all knowledge-based industries.

Sorry, I don't buy into the fad of bashing America because people are uncomfortable with change and want to cling to the past like some "blinky" carried around by a toddler.

Tom:

Again, thank you for replying.

I'm an average guy and rebutting the great Milton Friedman certainly puts me on thin ice. HOWEVER, Mr. Friedman's opinion is his own and runs counter to the conventional thinking about Smoot-Hawley. While the Act was being debated in Congress, over 1000 economists signed a petition begging the lawmakers not to pass the legislation. The Act was so onerous that it imposed a 1000% tax on cashews, a product where there were NO domestic growers. Prices rose, consumer spending dropped, and world trade declined by two-thirds. That's why the stock market hit bottom, banks failed and unemployment rose.

And as for outsourcing of American jobs, those jobs are low-tech, low-pay jobs. Sending a help center to India, where a "specialist" runs through a canned checklist with a caller isn't the kind of jobs that belong here anymore.

Posted by: Ronald Smith on April 5, 2008 7:07 PM



Who gives a darn about high tech research jobs held only by the few? That can never drive an economy--ever! I know guys who do those kinds of jobs at high tech companies and national labs, and their jobs are anything but secure. And when they are done with the patents, all the mass production can be shipped overseas, and then what's the average guy to do? China has built up a HUGE trade surplus making those super high-tech items like shoes, lawn mowers, shirts, microwave ovens, etc. All the while our workers are idle, or working at selling those chinese goods at Wal-Mart.

"Free Trade" is joke--a very unfunny joke. Its told over and over again by college graduates who have absolutely no idea how things work. And the proof of that is that these same college graduates are the ones responsible for the mortgage and internet bubble mania economies we just had, and they cheered it along all the way until it cratered. They couldn't give less of a darn about their fellow citizens because they've been prepped in the false sense of yuppie cool-dom they learned in college. They think they are oh-so-smart because they graduated from a big U, and they see blue collar workers as largely worthless idiots, while they swagger around in cities, trying to look trendy and cool at sports bars and coffee shops.

And you know what? A lot ot these people have absoutely no moral qualms about lying and taking advantage of others for a living. That's why they don't care. Its a habit.

Unions were the best things that ever happened to America. They bulit the middle class and won benifits for everybody, white and blue collar alike. Anyone who says otherwise has no idea of the conditions that people had to labor under prior to their ascendancy. And these same self-centered economists couldn't care less about the industrial slaves in China and elsewhere. It just hasn't happened here--yet! If you don't think it will, you need to look around the world, because that's coming here very soon. We're bankrupt! Foreign money is going to come in and buy up everything. The way of life you know is going to be over soon, to be replaced by the way life is like in other bought-up countries (like China). That you can bet on.

Is this type of thinking that passes for an economics education? Holy cow, talk about the blind leading the blind! We're in big trouble, alright.

Maybe all these laid off workers should retrain themselves as economists. It obviously doesn't take much. You just jump up and down for the Federal Reserve counterfeiters, Wall Street gamblers, and the corporate robber-barons, waving your pom-poms and smiling, until the game is over. Then you head out for the nearest bar in your trendy clothes and yammer endlessly to your buddies.

That is, if you can get a word in edgewise.

Posted by: BIOH on April 5, 2008 8:34 PM



Mr. Smith:

You're all wet on Smoot-Hawley. Look at the numbers involved. At the time of Smoot-Hawley, imports were only 4% of GNP, and Smoot-Hawley applied to only one third of that 4%. Putting a 100,000% tariff on cashews wouldn't have an appreciable impact on the economy, much less plunge us into a depression.

You seem to think everyone in America is as bright as you are. They aren't, and no amount of higher education can change that fact. People on the left half of the bell curve need jobs too, and they have been hurt by the collapse of manufacturing and will be hurt by the continued outsourcing of the IT jobs you disdain. Something I wrote four years ago might be relevant here, too: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1152580/posts

cjm:

Of course the tax policies in Ohio do not help the situation. There are two competitions going on, a competition between nations and a competition between states. Ohio is being hurt in the competition between states by our own policies, but we are being hurt in the competition between nations because we have a lot of heavy manufacturing and that is the sector that is being hurt because of the free trade policies adopted by the federal government. There are a lot of small, non-union manufacturers hurting in Ohio and throughout the industrial Midwest because of free trade.

Posted by: Tom Piatak on April 5, 2008 9:18 PM




Let us outsource banking; it is clear that job cannot be done here. Let us outsource higher education in all but the hard sciences and medicine -- and throw in --that is throw out -- early education, too, for obvious reasons. Throw out govt and journalism. And, of course, let us outsource libertarianism; their failure to find a good foothold in the U.S. demonstrates the unsuitability of its domestic practitioners.
s

Posted by: s on April 5, 2008 10:23 PM



Mr. Smith:

Down below a few posts I pointed out that the compound annual real per capita GDP growth rate of America has slowed considerably from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, when it was in the 2.25% - 2.75% range, to the present decade, when it's run around 1.25%. On the face of it, I'd suggest that your 'knowledge economy' (which is actually largely a FIRE, or finance-insurance-real estate economy) ain't working as well as the old manufacturing economy...at least for 90% of the population. Maybe we're not quite as innovative as you like to think we are, or, possibly, that we're seriously mis-allocating our resources, in large part because of our financial and trade policies. You know, government policy doesn't always make for the best of all possible worlds, and noticing that the deck has become stacked in favor of certain kinds of economic transactions doesn't mean we're just uncomfortable with change. You know, it's even possible that your ideas about how the knowledge economy makes this the best of all possible worlds might just be a bit of a blinky in its own right.

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on April 5, 2008 10:47 PM



BIOH the union guy! Eager to learn more about that, and very glad that life keeps taking me by surprise.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on April 5, 2008 11:05 PM



"People on the left half of the bell curve need jobs too, ..."

And it is important that they get meaningful jobs, not merely a flood of cheap/free stuff to substitute for what they would have bought with earned income. Idle hands are the devil's tools, particularly when deciding whether to elect a government based on magical thinking.

Posted by: Daniel Newby on April 6, 2008 2:19 AM



Unions! Finally, we get to the crux of the issue. And, what a laugh!

The people who read and respond to this blog, including me, have absolutely no interest in belonging to a union. There is absolutely no interest among the general public in reviving unionism.

So, great! I'm in favor of the Tooth Fairy leaving dollar bills under my pillow, too.

What exactly is the purpose of political discussions that posit solutions that nobody has any intention of enacting? Is this the "fallacy of good intentions?"

Woodstock's commies have these kind of discussions all the time. Currently, they are debating whether to ban "tourists" entirely from the town in order to achieve the glorious goal of Zero Carbon Footprint.

Michael, please tell me. What's the point of BS-ing about unions? You don't want to belong to one, and you know it ain't gonna happen.

So, I'll commit the unforgiveable sin of once again mentioning reality. It's every man for himself. If you want to keep working, watch your own ass and forget about the high falutin' theories.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on April 6, 2008 8:51 AM



let's do a thought experiment: i walk into uaw headquarters with a technology that gives american companies an insurmountable edge. my terms to the auto-companies are that they have to double employment permanently. my terms to the union leadership is that they have to disband. who accepts and who declines?

i give unions exactly 0 credit for the improvement of working conditions, anything positive they accomplished was purely incidental to their actual goals. unions are just the public face of organized crime.

Posted by: cjm on April 6, 2008 11:35 AM



MB,

I think unions are fine. I've never understood the difference between one guy going into the boss' office asking for a raise, and 5 guys walking into the boss's office looking for a raise. I don't demonize them. The big demonization of the union worker is driven by the propaganda machine of corporations. They greatly fear unions, and have done everything in their power to break them. The top 10% of skilled workers look down on unions because they don't need them (they think). But most of the benefits they take for granted were won by unions and are disappearing fast.

cjm,

Corporations are the public face of organized crime. And if you don't think so, just look at the FED bailouts of these criminal gambling operations on Wall Street, or the bribery/inside dealing culture of most corporations. Whose pushing the modern slave trade In China and elsewhere? Corporations. Look up Dyncorp and its child kidnapping rings. Unions are responsible for just about every improvement in modern working life you can think of. Do some research.

Watch out for yourself? Good luck. Like I said, most of the top 10% have been swimming above the rest for a long time, but that's about to change for good. Enjoy it while it lasts. You'll find out why you should care about your fellow man soon enough.

Posted by: BIOH on April 6, 2008 10:29 PM



Mr. Smith:

You wrote: "As one of the richest countries in the world, spending huge amounts on education and with the majority of high-school students heading off to college, it's a natural transition."

“A new report released by America's Promise Alliance and prepared by EPE Research Center, finds that approximately half of the students served by the principal school systems in the nation's 50 largest cities are graduating from high school.”

http://www.edweek.org/rc/index.html

“Depending on who's doing the counting and how, the dropout rate in the Los Angeles Unified School District is somewhere between 25% and 55%. Spellings can do more harm than good if she devises rules that make schools look unrealistically bad. A case in point is the study released last week by the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center, which placed the city's dropout rate at 55%.”

http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/opinion/la-ed-dropouts6apr06,1,1936617.story

And many of the students who graduate from high school will not enter college, or may attend a community college for a year or two before necessity dictates that they find a job.

I agree with BIOH. It’s a fantastic scenario where we’re all going to become “smart collar” workers designing the circuit topology for the next big high tech wonder toy or weapon, all while working at “campuses” where workers have ping pong tables and treadmills to relieve their stress before going off to the cafeteria for a nice organic swordfish salad sandwich.

Very few jobs are immune to outsourcing, even ones requiring a very high level of education and specialized skills. A couple of years ago I heard a story on NPR about how the evaluation of medical images, a job requiring an M.D. trained in radiology, was being outsourced abroad.

Posted by: Peter L. Winkler on April 7, 2008 4:57 AM



Will wonders never cease?! How odd to find myself in agreement with BIOH. "Corporations are the public face of organized crime." Indeed. Hence, as I've I've noted elsewhere, the one bumper sticker I sport reads "BUY LOCAL."

Posted by: Chris White on April 7, 2008 8:04 AM



Peter,

I don't know if everybody can be employed in the way you discuss, but I turn down three to five jobs a day. So, in my area of expertise, demand seems virtually limitless. My mother works, at the age of 81, as a LPN. She also turns down work.

So, my personal experience tells me you are wrong.

"Corporations are the public face of organized crime."

Chris, this is goofy shit. You should be writing for the Woodstock Times. Silly, silly stuff. Heard it a zillion times. It isn't clever or insightful. It's laughably goofy... the sort of insight you might expect from some doofus Michael Moore movie.

What you mean (and I'll summarize) is this: "I don't want to work for a boss. I'm too good to do what somebody else tells me to do. Serving other people is beneath me. And, God forbid that I just do my bit to grease the machine. My job is to Save the World."

Boring. No, Chris, you are not very important. Neither am I. Nobody is.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on April 7, 2008 12:10 PM



Chris White and BIOH, together at last. It really is time to party.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on April 7, 2008 12:14 PM



Well Michael, even if I found a tiny sliver of a point upon which I can find agreement with BIOH, any party thrown would undoubtedly end in a Shouting match with Thomas. Speaking of ST ... ST why not lambaste BIOH for the "goofy shit"? The quote you found fault with was, after all, from his comment and not original to me.

Given that you persist in distorting my views, constantly confusing me with some mythic commie, I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't attempt to put words in my mouth. I'm happy to work for a boss; nearly all of my labor is expended doing what my clients tell me to do; I consider service to others, whether done as a business exchange or not, a joy.

Now, whether 'greasing the machine' makes sense depends a lot on what you mean by 'the machine'. If it means 'getting a job done efficiently' then I'm happy to get greasy; if it means going along with whatever serves the interests of the elite because I'm just a lowly cog, then forget it. And I am no Messiah, nor do I have a Jesus complex, I have no illusions about saving the world. That said I do believe one should make decisions based on some notion of right and wrong, with an eye to the type of world we leave our children and their future children's, children's children.

An example of the kind of "free trade" corporate behavior I find objectionable ... and little better than organized crime offering to "protect" some tavern-keep ... is Monsanto's jihad against small dairies that don't use their products. While subsequent lawsuits have taken place, and then the government stepped in and essentially gave Monsanto what they wanted, it was a big local story a number of years ago when Monsanto first sued a local dairy for advertising their practice of only purchasing milk from farmers who pledged not to use artificial growth hormones on their cattle. Since Monsanto has very deep pockets and kept taking it to the next level in the court system the local dairy eventually gave up and agreed to modify their ads and place a disclaimer on their labels to the effect that the FDA finds no difference in the milk produced with or without rbST.

Now, as I understand "capitalism" different business entities are supposed to be able to advertise and differentiate their products and practices from one another, allowing customers to make informed decisions. In this way "the market" gets to determine winners and losers. When a giant corporation can use their lawyers and lobbying powers to get a ruling that seeks to effectively muzzle those much smaller companies who, for whatever reasons, are marketing their product in a certain way, whose interests are served? Certainly not the public's. Nor capitalism's for that matter. Regardless of what one thinks about rbST use ... or organic feed ... or pasteurization ... shouldn't companies be free to advertise their practices in a manner that allows them to reach whatever portion of the market they wish without facing lawsuits from mega-corporations bent on building a monopolistic grip on an industry?

Buy Local!

Posted by: Chris White on April 7, 2008 4:27 PM



As "Shouting Thomas" states what is Piatak going to do about free trade, perhaps nothing if the sentiment of this crowd is the prevailing voice, but you can be damned sure Pelosi, Bush, Clinton, Obama, McCain et al will give us something. This "something" is big government on steroids, i.e. "economic stimulus packages", job retraining, worker dislocation packages, "medical care and benefits, extended unemployment benefits, etc, etc... to the unemployed, the underemployed and the outsourced worker. (See today's New York Times as to what Pelosi is proposing)

I prefer our traditional sytem where we protected the market system given to us by our Constitution; where individuals are (were) gainfully and productively employed taking care of their own needs and the needs of their own families.

Free Trade is a high tax, big government, high regulation society. The residents of Cleveland (near where I an located) and similarly situated metropolitan areas have high unemployment, low graduation rates for students, diminishing "traditional manufacturing industries", i.e. good paying jobs, etc... They will get their housing, their food, their medical care from somewhere. As von Mises stated: "then came the reaction" to free trade. Either that reaction will be the clarion call for thoughtful conservatives to return to our traditional system of Protectionism or we will get big government from our elected officials, because the "other side" will do something about free trade. They do not share philosophical concerns about "legal plunder" as many memebers of this group may.

By the way - even Milton Friedman and Rothbard do not indicate that Smoot Hawley had anything to do with the Great Depression.

Let us get away from the "market is supreme" to restoring our Constitution and return to building a "more perfect union". My family and I can thrive in this environment of free trade as well as in other socialistic environments. I am certain, many members of this group can also survive and even thrive, but 25 years down the road we will not recognize our country if we continue along this path.

After all, the Constitution is not a national suicide pact, but greed and "the love of money" crowd, I do not think, really care about that.

Posted by: Publius Jr. on April 7, 2008 6:39 PM






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