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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

Today's Note From a Madman

November 11, 2007


Free vs. Fair Trade

Lost in the Free Trade / Global Economy argument has been the American worker. You see, the Bush administration, the US Chamber of Commerce, the American Enterprise Institute and all (yes, I said ALL) of the other Global Corporation representatives. have convinced way too many of us living in the US that cheap goods are what we need, and that there are no alternatives.

Let's face it: President Bush and the others mentioned above are merely employees of those Global Corporations and special interests.

We're told things like this economy - the Bush economy - is in great shape and the very few who haven't benefited by it are about to. They're just waiting for their tiny boat to be lifted to the lofty heights that the other, larger boats have already risen to.

Those whose boats have been beached in the low tide's mud have even been told that 911 was the reason for their misery. Remember when that was the big excuse used as to why our economy stunk? "911 changed everything!" was their battle cry. And Some still use it.

Possibly the biggest problem which we face here at home is the trade deficit, especially the one which we have with Communist China. According to the US Census Bureau, at the end of September 2007, that deficit was just a hair under $188 billion (or roughly what we spend in Iraq in about a year-and-a-half). Our exports to China ($46.8 billion) pale in comparison with our imports ($234.4 billion). In September alone, what we imported from China overshadowed what we exported there by nearly a six-to-one margin. (http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/balance/c5700.html#2007)
This might be "Free", but it is by no means "Fair Trade".

The good news about the trade deficit between the US and China, according to a Chinese government website that is, is that the weakening of our US dollar has been a huge plus for us, the American people. (http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/world/2007-11/10/content_6245372.htm) In other words, we should all be happy with the shoddy, lead-painted toys our children play with. Just go out and buy them a HAZMAT suit. I guess we should also be okay with our pet's poison-laden food. After all, it's fun looking for a new dog, isn't it?

The site goes on to quote a "expert" on trade and the US dollar:

"Recent weakness in the dollar should maintain the improving trend in the future,"
The trade (im)balance is "one of the few remaining pillars of growth in the weakening US economy."
-Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI, Thomas Duesterberg

By the way, if you were wonder who and what Mr. Duesterberg and his MAPI are, here's a statement right from their "Who we are" page:

"Our members are leading global companies in manufacturing and related business services, including electronics, aerospace, automotive, information technology and software, medical technology, precision instruments, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and energy and utilities."

Sounds a whole lot like the Bush "base" of "haves and have mores" doesn't it? And these are just the few who favor trade with China and other "Free" trade partners who benefit from the imbalance between our two nations. In truth, if there were a "Fair" trade agreement between us and all of our trading partners, we'd be in much better shape.

A good step towards "Fair" trade would be setting up tariffs on incoming goods from nations with which we do have a trade deficit. For example, we could put a duty on items coming into the US from all unequal trading partners (which I would re-define as those with a trade imbalance of more than twenty percent). Then we could use this money to reinvest in companies determined to manufacture here at home. I believe that this would force nations such as China and South Korea, nations which either own their industries or invest in their industries, to import more US goods. And in the end, that's exactly what we want.

We also have to stop Global Corporations from using the excuse that taxing their goods as they enter the US is double taxation, It isn't. These companies, most of which only have token representation in the US and, as a result, only pay a small (if any) amount in US tax dollars, have been using that excuse because they've been getting away with it. Their argument is that, since they pay taxes in their nation of manufacture (small as those taxes may be), they shouldn't have to pay any other taxes at all, especially those in the US. And their "K" Street Lobbyists - those providing huge monetary "incentives" to our political leaders - agree.

The only "Fair" tax is one that is paid right here in the US and it's the only one that counts.

There are many things we can do to create a more Fair and balanced trade (with no apologies to Fox news), and we have to start doing it. Although the main stream media is, apparently, owned by these Global Corporations, either through advertising revenues or actual ownership, common sense will have to take over and the American people will just have to get smarter.

-Noah Greenberg

BushWorld: The Video Game

Now for another adventure into the alternative realm of reality called "BushWorld". On Thursday, Bush gave an interview with German TV. Here is an excerpt:

Q Do you think there's a point where you'd say only a military option is a possibility for us?
PRESIDENT BUSH: I would never say that. I would say that we would always try to try diplomacy first. In other words, I -- I've committed our troops into harm's way twice, and it's not a pleasant experience because I understand the consequences firsthand. And so I owe it to the American people to say that I've tried to solve this problem diplomatically. And that's exactly what I intend to do. And I believe we can do it, so long as the world works in concert. And Chancellor Merkel understands the dangers and she wants to solve this issue peacefully.

So, Bush understands the consequences first hand? But, he never seen combat in Vietnam when he served in the National Guard. Perhaps, the answer is to be found in this AFP story:

US President George W. Bush had a shoot-out with the "bad guys" in Iraq on Thursday, playing a computer game with war veterans that simulates a firefight in Baghdad, the White House said.

Okay I get it. Bush's "first hand" experience is a video game. It's good to know that your President has such an "informed" opinion. So, how many more days of "Bush World" are left?

-Robert Scardapane

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-Noah Greenberg