The Bishop and the Butterfly: Murder, Politics, and the End of the Jazz Age

    Trade Policy Reality Check - neither Scrooge nor Sucker

    I've noted this over and over, but maybe this one will get through. Below's a chart showing the largest countries. The 2 largest are down at the bottom with pathetic GDP per capita of China's $10K and maybe $4K for India. China has roughly 5x our population, India 4 1/2x. And while their income is awful, China's rose about 500% from super awful over 25 years, while India's has more than tripled.

    For some reason we're not able to ever think of that as *OUR* success, that rather than sending Bibles and powdered milk, we have found a real way to lift almost 3 billion people out of poverty in just 2 countries, and it certainly doesn't end there.

    Of course much of the credit belongs to them - cutting their birthrates drastically, producing productis and services that are wanted by the rest of the world, steady incremental improvements and attention to obvious areas like infrastructure & education, and less obvious ones like government regulations & judicial reform and various human rights. In the meantime, the last 8-10 years, we've been flat.

    Part of this can be blamed on opening up the world's workforce to compete with us over the last 25 years, years where our total manufacturing output has grown hugely while keeping the same number of workers, but also where we've largely dominated IT & other important fields. Including more and more women allowed to be educated and working positions of responsibility - yay!

    Part of this can be blamed on fighting stupid wasteful wars in the stupidest way possible to piss over a trillion dollars down the toilet that could have gone into.... (drumroll) higher wages & government supports!!! Yes, while we sit there bitching about other countries, we've wasted more money in 10 years than most of them have made in 100.

    And part of this can be blamed on our banks & insurance companies and other FIRE institutions running the economy into the toilet with the then-government's blessing or collusion, to use the nom-du-jour.

    And then part of this is through competition and the changing workforce and the aging boomers and the less unique state of our institutions and other issues like the EU's better integration & efficiency, and yes, offshoring in China, India, Vietnam, East Europe, etc.

    We could be happy that we're still holding steady despite our helping the rest of the world and the chaotic times, including our brainfarts in choosing leaders (overall a completely incompetent Congress that doesn't understand basic economics but does understand nepotism and corruption sadly too much, including supporting price-gouging healthcare, education and housing policies that suck off that GDP per capita, while letting many companies avoid paying much tax at all). I mean, the bottom's fallen out of the oil market, but thanks to a decade of ill-got profits from our Mideast wars plus a fortuitous discovery/pioneering of fracking, we're leading the world's energy producers, rather than say tightening our belts like the fucked Russians.

    But many among us have decided to blame it all on "free trade". well, there are restrictions on that trade (as Mexican truck drivers found out when they tried to cross the border). But it has loosened things up quite a bit. But not enough to siphon away money like 10+ years in Iraq/Afghanistn, or trillion dollar bailouts to the biggest banks, and an inability to pave our roads and fund basic infrastructure, etc., etc.

    Somehow I think there are more than a few conclusions to draw from all this, but if we can't agree on some basics of what the economies have looked like, what's happened to world demographics and labor markets and production the last quarter century, and what a semi-altruistic/humanitarian policy might look like, we'll keep spinning in circles.

    And yes, to be a bit selfish, this growth helps us - countries that are more self-sufficient are also often less dangerous, more cooperative, more prone to liberal democracies, even if incomplete hybrids. The dangerous nationalistic populist ones tend to be those with a tenous grasp on their future. So a leveled playing field is great for us, even if we don't recoup our expected year-on-year returns for a while longer - it'll come, if we don't continue to blow it.




    This is the big part of why the Democrats will not turn on globalization any time soon. This is all part of a so far successful, long-term campaign against global poverty. The problem is where the bills for this are paid.  The CEO who outsources successfully makes millions. The workers who are laid off, never hired or kept working for stagnant wages are paying the bill.

    A real problem is that when those people say, "What about us?" we don't have much of a better answer than "job training programs!"

    All of this is complicated, of course.  The recession skews the numbers. The admirably skeptical attitude of Millennials towards consumer goods consumption skews the numbers. Then there's that issue of "treading water" that you mention, which does not sit well with people who were taught to believe that your lifestyle should be better than your parents' lifestyle and that it should improve the longer you work. We've definitely not delivered on this to too many Americans.

    But turning off trade does not seem to be a viable answer here.  It would definitely have its own winners and losers.  Some Americans do create things for export, after all.  Some of the money we spend on overseas goods does come back as foreign direct investment.

    A better distribution of the spoils of trade would probably make trade more appealing to a great many people.


    It see this as an argument about history.

    Robots are here manufacturing products, not near future, now.

    So you have service work instead but drones are starting to deliver packages in Iceland

    (Lots of work in disaster recovery maybe?)

    As far as decade or two in the future (and a reminder that that's how long it can take to change the politics of our country), I've been thinking like this lately: western millennials might be more interested in living in a place that is proud of reducing the GNP. Given the environment, given driverless cars and given still living in Mom & Dad's house. MAGA might get a new meaning: stop running on the hamster wheel to produce more stuff. Efficiency and quality of life is where it's at? Intellectual property, engineering, software, medicine, etc...

    With the right politicians, a reduced workweek, not more hamster wheel.

    Why not work less and still increase GDP? Seems to be the Scandinavian route. I have two Danish friends currently on their one year paid maternity leave. Other Danish friends get at least 7 weeks vacation a year. I can't get ahold of my Norwegian bureaucrat counterparts after 3 pm. 

    Shorter work weeks seem to increase productivity

    With the right politicians, a reduced workweek, not more hamster wheel.

    This would seem to make a lot of sense and could lead to a cultural/artistic renaissance or at least a lot of merry making and wine drinking.  We have to culturally respond to the fact that we can do more work with fewer people and that idleness is no longer sinful or evidence of shirking duty.

    That's the Star Trek: The Next Generation version of the future. It might be more like the dystopian novels like The Diamond Age by Neil Stephenson. What makes you think the people without anything more than a high school diploma are going to use their free time to do art or make wine? What are the unemployed men with a high school diploma or less doing with their free time now? Mostly playing video games and watching tv. Unfortunately a significant minority of the population is stupid, lack knowledge and have little interest in gaining any, and have no ambition to do anything but be entertained usually by the lowest of the cultural/artistic offerings.

    It's really no skin off me if they want to smoke pot and play video games in a basement somewhere.  Some people will flourish expressively with this freedom and some won't. But I don't think the answer is to put them to work in some factory and tell them "this is the point of your life," when it's not even necessary.

    Of course the answer isn't to put them to make work in some factory. It wouldn't be possible even if we wanted to. I'm just pushing back at your theory that there'll be some sort of cultural/artistic renaissance or merry making. My vision is much more dystopian. It's not like the uneducated aren't a problem. The attraction of the uneducated to low brow entertainment is one factor that turned a reality tv star into the president. Bannon got his start investing in gold farming for gamers and saw what the power of gamer culture could be as a political force. Breitbart is in part an attempt to draw them into right wing politics.

    These people still have the right to vote. You're missing a powerful degenerative force in our society if you can't see the problem of the uneducated who can't tell the difference between the slight liberal bias of the NYT and the outright lies of Breitbart and Infowars. More than not being able to tell the difference, they seem to prefer the lies.

    So, we slip into Idiocracy well before we join the United Federation of Planets?

    Gees this discussion is really sinking into elitism. Thanks Michael, for trying to make them see the light.

    I have zero problem with people having more time to smoke dope and play video games. I wish I could be a news junkie on the internet all day while smoking cigarettes. I don't see that as far above what they are doing.

    I don't buy that keeping people without tremendous smarts busy with shitwork keeps them out of trouble.

    Actually, I am seeing on teevee right now some guys who look like the type that spend a lot of time smoking dope, drinking beer and playing video games But because they saw a chance to save lives, they got out in their little boats and are cruising around Houston. They're able to do so because they ain't got to be at the factory @ 7am, it's closed.

    Joy in the moment is all there is, folks! After you've lost a lot of loved ones earlier than expected, that hits you hard. Don't bother trying to convince me that forcing people to buckle down and be disciplined and do the stuff they don't want to do is what made humanity great. I'm an art historian, have read thousands of artist's bios. There are two kinds. Those going after eternal fame or money against what they enjoy are torturing themselves to death.

    I will never buy into the Protestant work ethic, is one of the worst ways to approach life. No one ever wishes on their deathbed that they had spent more time at the office.

    Who exactly are you responding to? Because if it's me this is a gross distortion of my comments. In fact at times you're posting things I directly denied. Not much point in responding to it. Just think of what you'd be saying to rmrd in a similar situation and imagine I'm saying it to you.

    Yes, it's easy to think of people as Europeans going on casual vacations to the Baleares or taking up sculpture lessons. The American version looks more like Hatfields and McCoys. And since 1 faction has premised its existence on hating government and everything free except their freebies, won't be an easy transition.

    It's a liberal fantasy that we wish we had the time to read Dostoyevsky, learn to play the ukulele, and do pottery. We think the uneducated would do the same with their time. When it's more likely they, and perhaps many of us, will spend their time Amusing themselves to death as they stew in their discontent and gravitate to sites like Breitbart that fuels their anger.

    Thanks for the link. Postman was a professor of culture and communication, this from his 1985 book, Amusing Ourselves to Death:

    page 113 Postman states: “It has been demonstrated many times that a culture can survive misinformation and false opinion. It has not yet been demonstrated whether a culture can survive if it takes the measure of the world in twenty-two minutes...

    1985 was before, or at advent, of 24/7 misinformation and false opinion so I'm not sure how that affects things.

    Many also appear to take a 'measure of the world' from 30 second campaign commercials, or 2-4 word slogans on ballcaps or bumper stickers..

    Personally, I don't watch TV news, haven't since 4/2003, when they treated the war like the Superbowl. Driftglass also does an outstanding job of evisceration of TV and op ed pundits like David Brooks, Joe S etc...what he calls Havers of Opinions.

    Amusing selves to death through adrenalin sports, walks in the park, hanging out at concerts dancing, driving or flying places, or even sex orgies is vastly different from sitting in a stupor by the TV drinking ourselves to death. Some people may study or pick up crafts, many won't. But like people who retire, the transition to no obligation to fill your time can be tough.

    The rise of Communist totalitarian China as a global superpower, largely based on the wholesale transfer of what was once our manufacturing base several thousand miles east, has hardly made the world a safer place.  But it has greatly aggravated global warming.  There are better ways - indeed there could have hardly been a worse way - to reduce global poverty.  Jury's out on India at this point.  But what reducing or eliminating trade barriers has done, more than anything else, is transfer wealth from the working and middle-class in the United States to global elites and a professional class that serves them.


    China Robots Displace Workers as Wage Spiral Pressures Profits

    Bloomberg News

    July 2, 2017, 5:00 PM EDT
    • Study finds average factory wages doubling over 10 years
    • Companies are tapping subsidies, tax breaks, and automating

    Roboticization is certainly a significant factor when it comes to eliminating jobs or at a minimum tamping down working-class wages in America.  Coupled with "free trade", it's got our heartland hemorrhaging.

    I don't think you get this enough, Hal or you wouldn't be arguing what you do. You need to make arguments for the future. There's no changing it, it's here, worldwide, manufacturing jobs are going to go way way down and rapidly.

    I can't recommend that WaPo article enough to people. I think if you haven't read it, you need to. It hits how real it is. It tells the story of installing two robots to try them out in a small factory in Wisconsin. They cost less than two low-paid workers do for a year. Once installed, everyone, including the workers on that line, could see that they did lhe work of like 8 workers. The most efficient and dependable worker on that line concluded it would probably work out well if she and the next more efficient and dependable worker worked with the robots and everyone else left.  And the end of the story is that the owner ordered more robots, as he's real real tired of trying to get people to show up for work for the wages he can pay. And the robots are way cheaper! And they "show up," they don't have family or health troubles, don't need benefits, won't form a union, etc. etc.

    Figure out how else to fix those inefficient workers lives, that's what you've got to offer, manufacturing jobs are just no longer an answer. Worldwide. I dunno, higher pay for gardeners, strawberry pickers, home health care and cleaning ladies, whatever. You need to offer something else. Manufacturing is no longer an answer except for workers who are highly skilled.

    The old joke about the future of factory employment is:

    • Computer controlled robots do the work.
    • A human is hired to feed the factory dog.
    • The dog is trained to keep the man from interfering with the equipment.

    And, you know... isn't the bright side of this that factory work kind of sucks? Isn't part of the point of what's been going on that if we can spare people from spending their lives sewing shoes together for Nike, we should?

    I'm totally with you Michael. Not just about humans of any intelligence level not having to spend their lives sewing Nikes (unless they are one-of-a-kind personally altered and that's what they like to do.) But also about the joke about feeding the factory dog. That's not a joke. Some things humans like to do and will always do better than A.I. I think that will sort itself out via capitalism, i.e., machines that do things that many people want to do themselves, they won't sell.

    You see. I get the opposite argument than I am seeing here, a lot, from a couple of friends who keep up on business and tech news. They keep arguing more like replacement of virtually anything humans can do is coming very soon, sooner than we think. I disagree with them strongly all the time! It's kind of weird being seen here like I am being alarmist; within that context I see myself falling in the middle.

    Yes, like you've pointed out many times many of what we now see as problems will just disappear as the problems in the future. No one will care about whether or not free trade deals exist when all the factories come back and there's still no jobs since most of the workers are robots.

    I'm just saying it's reality, not saying it's a good thing, bad thing or inbetween.

    Well, we disagree about whether the only manufacturing work available now is for the highly skilled but I share your view that automation and technology advances are reducing the need for labor worldwide.  One solution, which I'm not sure I support, is much higher taxes on the wealthy with an income sufficient to lead a comfortable life guaranteed for all.   At this point, I'd raise taxes to perhaps 1936 levels, guarantee health care, education, and retirement, impose a stiff and rising fossil fuels tax with collections rebated evenly to all Americans with a significant chunk set aside to help struggling people around the world.  I'd also strengthen protections for unions so they can organize low-wage service employees and I'd definitely impose barriers to trade in the expectation that doing so would lead to higher demand for labor here.  What would you do?

    I don't have any answers. I am into reading analysis ideas and prescriptions.

    What I was telling you: I don't take seriously prescriptions that rely on tariffs or protectionism to keep jobs where it is clear most of them will surely disappear in a few years. When I also know that at the same time those tariffs will probably make consumers have to pay more for less choice for things they need and want.

    An example of an argument about protectionism that I will buy as reasonably debatable is that certain industries and products are best kept locally made for security or environmental reasons. But not for the jobs reason, it's hard to take any of your arguments seriously precisely because one of the main things you argue flies in the face of reality I see.

    Fair enough. I tend not to take seriously criticism of proposed solutions to extremely serious problems afflicting millions from people who refuse to hazard any on their own.

    Speaking of "hazarding one of your own", I've asked you for the umpteenth time what you think of helping billions of dirt poor Indians and Chinese (and Africans and Muslims...). Imagine  instead of American you were born as a Chinese social justice advocate fighting classissm and injustice - how would you see the last 30 years, what policies would you be fighting for to raise all boats?

    You write: "I've asked you for the umpteenth time what you think of helping billions of dirt poor Indians and Chinese (and Africans and Muslims...). Imagine  instead of American you were born as a Chinese social justice advocate fighting classissm and injustice - how would you see the last 30 years, what policies would you be fighting for to raise all boats?"

    I wrote on 7/10/2016 at this website here in response to you (of particular import to this colloquy is the final quoted paragraph):

    All right.  I'll reply although I have little no hope you'll actually take seriously what I write or consider changing your opinion.  

    It is possible that free trade very slightly improves the quality of life for barely surviving people in third world nations.  Rather than starving in the countryside, they may live incredibly difficult stressful lives in sweatshops and factories.  If this is the best that can be done for them, I suppose it would be okay if the same "free trade" that you and some others champion didn't also impoverish millions in the first world while making others multi-billionaires. 

    So, if "free trade" were the only workable solution for reducing poverty in the third world, we and others in rich nations must ensure the pain such trade inflicts on people in the first world is shared by all and those at the top suffer more than those at the bottom.  Obviously, the precise opposite has transpired over the past 35 years.

    But is "free trade" the ideal solution for third world poverty.  Almost certainly it is not.  Land reform, education for girls and women, anti-poverty programs, and economic development that relies on developing small businesses in industries that serve domestic markets are all much better, i.e., more sustainable, more environmentally sound, more equitable long-term strategies.

    Now, let me try again since you've said you wanted "to have a serious practical debate about trade".  What would you do about the problem of stagnant wages facing the American working and middle-classes since the mid-1970s?

    That's absurd that 5x improved GDP in 25 years is "slightly improved". That doesn't mean it's all pie, but a country that breeded itself into 1.4 billion people isn't going to have a lot of empty spaces and quiet areas to work with. Your wan, bored "if this is the best... now let me get back to my classist arguments" isn't much to be taken seriously. Either you're going to acquaint yourself with the real plight of the 3rd world, or we're just going to talk absurd solutions to fantasized problems that don't address the actual crcumstances around the world.

    As for my solutions, I've many times proposed turning education into a more modern flexible system rather than cookie-cutter anachronistic setup modeled on 1820's needs. I've discussed various ways to get large corporations including multinationals to pay their fair share of taxes. I've discussed gerrymandering and voter supporession that I think do more to tamp down working conditions via bad industrial policy than anything specifically generalized trade related - it's all sweetheart deals to benefit 1 or 2 prize clients. I've also noted that Americans can't just readily assume that the world would stay walled off forever and that we'd just retain our #1 economic spot through inertia - that maybe we simply have to fight and do new stuff, rather than acting so bloody blinkered and entitled and exceptional that we don't accept that everyone has to keep reinventing themselves, and that the relative monopoly/oligopoly position held in 1950's is an illusion for both left and right in this country - sure, built on the Cold War and the ruins of World War II and our big ocean to keep us safe, and now it's time to stop bitching and do something really impressive. When's the last seriously new vaccine we created or disease we cured; when's the last invention that compared with refrigeration or electricity or the steam engine or the telephone. Instead it's all this boring old socialist/capitalist blather about my fucking great-grandfather in a coal mine so I should be able to get black lung too, while spending billions to save 50,000 crappy coal jobs while ignoring the life saving effects of trade on billions of people world-wide, or maybe some shit about how great unions used to be or how we should be giving more debilitating unhelpful aid to Africa or crocodile tears because we don't make TVs and recofd players in Ohio anymore. 

    America keeps voting in fucktards, and those fucktards screw them over. What am I supposed to say? The one decent choice in my lifetime we voted in a guy who brought prosperity and stayed out of massive wars for 8 years, and yet both the left and right hate him. Hey fucktards! Wages weren't stagnant in the 90's!!! Grow a motherfucking clue. All these politicians are equal? NO, they're not - you'rer a fucking idiot, that's what. 

    So, come to trade talks with some serious documented & relevant facts, otherwise, it's just repeating the same shite, over and fucking over.

    First you wrongly claimed that I never answered your question regarding how to address third world poverty without impovershing our working-class.  In fact, I answered it very specifically, albeit not to your satisfaction.

    Second, in this response and elsewhere, you wrongly conflate a rising GDP with a rising standard of living for the poor and working classes.  If all or nearly all of the additional wealth generated go to the elites, there is little change in the quality of life for the masses.  In any case, I have acknowledged that free trade has likely improved marginally the quality of life for millions (if not billions) around the world.  I've also pointed out that there were and remain much better ways to address the problem. 

    In the end we simply disagree.  You think "free trade" is "good" even with countries 1) where prevailing wages are 10% or less than those in the U.S., 2) an ocean or two away that ship goods here via filthy diesel container ships, 3) run by tyrants or undemocratic elites, 4) where union leaders and organizers are routinely arrested or shot, 5) there are few if any enforced laws protecting the environment, 6) whose governments manipulate currency rates so that their goods are artificially cheaper than ours, and 7) that have or had large agricultural sectors that are vulnerable to dumping from our agribusinesses.  I don't. 

    But it's more than a mere disagreement.  You have your sources.  I have mine.  I find yours fundamentally biased by the financial interests of the writers/reporters/publications.   You find mine naive and politically suspect.  So, neither will listen to the other.  Neither can persuade the other.  Sad but there it is.

    Oh, cut it - "Land reform, education for girls and women, anti-poverty programs, and economic development that relies on developing small businesses in industries that serve domestic markets are all much better" - land reform presumes agro societies, so last century. Education for girls & women? well that's happening, but when the only jobs available are manning the phones or working a counter or worse, walking the streets, you just have an over-educated workforce. "anti-poverty programs" - that's like "peace" or "pie" - who can be against, but what does it mean?  developing small businesses in industries that serve domestic markets? WTF?? the corner store is largely dead - there is no business rationale behind the tiny rinky-dink craft shop - you're talking about reviving the 1950's - it's over.

    I can conflate rising GDP with better living conditions or I can also just go find a source that shows how much better the average person lives. I can do this without even trying, yet you don't even try - here you go, increase in average age lived - India *doubling* life expectancy from 38 to 76, which you'll dismiss as living longer in horrible conditions.

    PS - "points" about China too funny - can be said about almost any poor country on earth. Guess they have to up their game to deserve liberal sympathy and support? The fact is they're making better wages - what you bitch about not happening in the US - but then you manage to shit all over that success. You're unsatisfiable - you simply want to complain.

    See reply at bottom since the chart is cut off due to narrowing margins in this sub-thread.

    The answer is in the discussion up-thread, Hal.  Maybe everybody doesn't need to work. Maybe, at the point where we're erecting trade barriers to keep people on an assembly line, we need to start asking ourselves if it is truly valuable to keep those workers on the line. Maybe we should give those displaced workers a lifetime pension and tell them to go enjoy themselves.

    Ocean-Kat has implied that many of these people will squander the opportunity or harm themselves. I think, and artappraiser mostly seems to agree, that these people will be full of surprises and for those who might drink themselves to death in front of a game system -- well, people do that when they have jobs, too. Heck, maybe the jobs are even to blame for that.

    These issues need to be discussed; following proper research of course!

    When I was about ten, we were sitting at Thanksgiving Dinner and my drunken father said something?

    It had something to do with how communism was killing the Chinese?

    What do I know; I was ten.

    My 15 year old sister said:

    Well, if many Chinese die, that might help the World's population problem?

    My father who was a confirmed racist as well as an incomplete Christian....well he threw his Thanksgiving plate against the wall.

    My sister, soon after moved in with her saner paternal grandmother.

    There are good things arising from the rising economies of India and China.

    Shit, we are barely rising to 5% of the world's population.

    China and India have populations approaching 40% of the world's population.

    And yet I can purchase eggs for a buck.

    Oh, and Peracles please answer this query:

    Is 'stupidest' a word?

    There are hundreds of millions of Indians and Chinese doing just wonderfully (is wonderfully a word?) and yet, hundreds of millions of Indians (the so called capitalists) are hurting as the hundreds of millions of Chinese are hurting.

    I dunno.

    I can get a dozen eggs for a buck. Just as an aside:

    With all those Indians and Chinese hurting, should I really spend my time worrying about captive chickens/




    Stupidest as stupid does, that's the right quote, no?

    Yeah and I am pretty stupider.


    He stupes to conquer.




    Divisive. Multiplicative.

    The increase in life expectancy in India isn't necessarily due to "free" trade.  For the past 50 years, Cubans have been living as long as or slightly longer than Americans and during nearly the entire time lacked access to U.S. markets.  Per your chart, China's steepest growth rate in longevity occurred before Nixon went there.  From today's Washington Post (a staunch advocate of "free" trade):

    The degree to which NAFTA has transformed Mexico or “Americanized” the country remains disputed. The Mexican government promoted the agreement in the early 1990s with the heady promise of making Mexico “First World.” But the economy has expanded at a middling pace of roughly 2.6 percent annually.

    Some states have boomed, including those benefiting from tourism, such as Quintana Roo and Baja California Sur (home to Cancún and Los Cabos, respectively), and the central-west region known as the “Bajío,” where auto and manufacturing investments flooded in. However, almost half the population still lives in poverty, according to government statistics, while average purchasing power has eroded in recent years.

    Chart comes from indexmundi.

    Cuba's not a great example since it's had access to every other market in the world. You can always buy a Cuban cigar in Canada.

    The China longevity slowdown is likely tied to how industrialization was managed. I can't imagine that cities with unbreathable air help the ol life expectancy.

    Which brings us to Mexico. What's caused the rise in the poverty stricken population? NAFTA or Mexico's own mistakes in governance and finance?

    Yes Cuba has traded with other countries and this is almost certainly on balance good for its citizens. I do not argue against trade. I argue: 1) "Free" trade with low-wage nations hurts our workers and middle-class. 2) The benefits that allegedly accrue to the masses in poor countries from multi-lateral "free" trade deals are over-stated and most likely are achievable in other less destructive ways. 

    Unlike Mexico which NAFTA transformed in many ways, Cuba remained stubbornly anchored in a 1950s world for 40 years, yet it achieved longevity rates comparable to ours.  This would appear to belie PP's argument that rapid development in 3rd world nations due to "free" trade is THE way to increase longevity.  So, by the way, does your argument that pollution in China due to rapid industrialization, secondary to MFN with the US, has slowed increases in life expectancy.

    Regarding the recent rise in poverty in Mexico and since 1998, I'm sure there are many factors.  One may well be NAFTA.  In any case, this shows does it not that "free" trade is hardly the panacea that its staunch advocates here and elsewhere claim it to be. 

    In 2006, Honduras signed CAFTA.  Through the middle of 2014, poverty rates were up there significantly.  IndexMundi notes the following:

    Honduras’s economy depends heavily on US trade and remittances. The US-Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement came into force in 2006 and has helped foster foreign direct investment, but physical and political insecurity, as well as crime and perceptions of corruption, may deter potential investors; about 15% of foreign direct investment is from US firms.

    The economy registered modest economic growth of 3.1%-3.6% from 2010 to 2016, insufficient to improve living standards for the nearly 65% of the population in poverty. In 2016, Honduras faced rising public debt but its economy has performed better than expected due to low oil prices and improved investor confidence. The IMF continues to monitor the three-year standby arrangement signed in December 2014, aimed at easing Honduras’s poor fiscal position.

    Hal, I never posited that trade was the only or primary drive of increased GDP and longevity. I just used these graphs as easy examples that people's lives are getting better despite you throwing shit on every example of positive change. I talk about countries of over 1 billion - the crux of the challenge - and you talk about your favorite socialist country with population of 7 million in 1960. I really don't give a shit - the problems of Topeka aren't the problems of Mexico City or Dhaka.

    We have been part of the solution, despite many mistakes. Our drug development and seed pest control have been helpful, just as where we've supported the UN we've created population programs and food programs and diseases control programs that have helped these countries, while certainly people's access to jobs and money and thus food and medicine mean they have a greater chance of surviving the basic threats of child mortality, death by disease, starvation, work instead of education, and simply a life of doing without. If you can look at China and think that the life they're living now was even remotely possible based on the basic Mao reforms of the 1950's (which should have included not starving your people or making them set up iron foundries in their backyards), you're simply obtuse. And yeah, he caused them to breed themselves into crisis for the next 100 years, building more internal problems than he solved. Whatever, bored, had enough. Here's some bits on Norman Borlaug who you've probably never heard of as he probably doesn't fit the "US destroying the world/never does anything right" viewpoint you're stuck with in your search for classist warfare. More on him in the Atlantic's quintessential "Forgotten Benefactor of Humanity". So yeah, those longevity graphs go up before Nixon got to China because we started curing the world's food problems long before Nixon got to China, back when being a liberal Republican wasn't anathema and when rich people spent as much effort helping the world as destroying it and liberals thought the 2nd & 3rd worlds places to help out rather than scorn and pout over "taking our jobs" whine whine whine. Call it the Norman curve, just figure it out finally.

    I never said either that the lives of many aren't improving or that their children aren't even better off.  The question which I understood we are debating is whether the benefits of "free" trade outweigh the costs and whether the benefits that may be traceable to trade can be obtained in less costly ways.  You seem to think "free" trade is more than worth it and have posited evidence in support of that view.  I don't believe your evidence is nearly as powerful as you do and have presented competing data and analyses. 

    But just as I don't accept your data, you don't accept the evidence that I present in support of my position.  Again, I don't see anywhere to go from here except to continue to disagree vehemently since I consider "free" trade to be one of the biggest drivers of the two gravest threats humanity faces - extreme wealth and income inequality and anthropogenic global warming. 

    You identify Mexico City, 21 million residents, as an example of a region that you care about as opposed to Cuba about which you don't.  Earlier in this thread I posted a chart documenting growing poverty rates in Mexico.  Mexico City itself is sinking at a rate of 3 feet a year and confronting extremely serious fresh water and air pollution crises.  Despite (because of?) Mexico's adoption of NAFTA, it appears that life may not be getting all that much better, if it's not actually getting worse, in Ciudad Mexico.

    How does Mexico City sinking and fresh water problems have anything to do with NAFTA? I hear their soccer team is doing worse too.

    Free trade driving global warming? That sounds on the face of it pretty silly - those container boats probably use a lot less fuel than a few tourist planes to the Caribbean or US and Russian jets over the Mideast. And how would TPP shifting trade from China to Vietnam or Chile make that worse?

    From Quora:

    A ship produces more carbon dioxide emission per mile and per gallon of fuel than a car. Ships in general, however, have the lowest emission levels of any other method of cargo transport , producing fewer emissions per ton of freight per mile than barges, trains or trucks.

    I recall the days when the leaders of Nicaragua, Philippines, Iraq, Congo and China controlled say 95% of the wealth. Are you saying it's got worse, or you're still looking at this from a purely American viewpoint and projecting on everyone else? Tell me with a straight face that India and China's wealth distribution has goten worse even as living conditions have gotten vastly better, aside from pollution issues that China's working on? Tell me China wouldn't be phasing out coal and leading the world on solar if it weren't doing so much better financially

    No comment about NORMAN BORLAUG, eh? Is he irrelevant to 3rd world problems as well?

    There's so much to respond to here:

    Regarding NAFTA, in your last post you argued that you weren't just talking about "free" trade, you were talking about how things were getting better around the world.  Therefore, you wrote, I shouldn't be constantly (allegedly) pointing out how bad things were.  You identified Mexico City as one of the places that are important to you.  (Cuba and Wichita don't make the grade for some reason.)  I noted that despite your Panglossian viewpoint, things weren't going so well in Central America's largest city 24 years after Bill Clinton signed off on NAFTA.  You have ignored this point altogether. 

    Per the Sierra Club: "Fifteen years later, NAFTA has created a legacy where corporate profits are promoted at the expense of environmental safeguards, health protections, and workers’ rights. While NAFTA’s impacts have been felt in all three countries, Mexico has been most negatively affected."

    Regarding the general environmental impact of increased trade outside North America, it is a truism that flying or shipping finished goods thousands of miles by diesel-powered ship or truck is worse for the environment than manufacturing them with local inputs close to their point of sale to the ultimate consumer.  Likewise, it is a truism that Americans have control over our environmental laws but not those in other countries.

    Regarding the specific impact of "free" trade with China, this is from the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns in 2015.  All the facts stated are sourced.

    In just the first seven years of its membership in the WTO, 2.4 million manufacturing jobs were moved from the U.S. to China, according to the Economic Policy Institute. China’s lack of environmental protections, which helped lower production costs, was a draw for many transnational corporations. President Bill Clinton’s chief trade negotiator, Mickey Kantor, later admitted, "We made a big mistake" by not including environmental safeguards in trade negotiations with China.

    But not only trade policies have contributed to China’s increasing pollution. U.S. and multilateral financial institutions helped finance at least 20 coal power plants in China between 1994 and 2009, according to the Environmental Defense Fund.

    The result has been a marked increase in greenhouse gas emissions, from 2.2 billion tons of carbon in 1990 to 9.9 billion tons in 2012. While the U.S. and Europe proudly announce small decreases in their greenhouse gas emissions in recent years, the WorldWatch Institute and others estimate that about one-third of China’s emissions come from the production and export of cheap goods to the U.S. and Europe.

    The results for Chinese citizens have been striking. Recently, an eight-year old girl died of lung cancer caused, according to government officials, by the intense smog in her city. Close to 60 percent of China’s underground water is polluted by the intensive industrial production. In response the Chinese government plans to build dozens of "coal bases" in rural areas that will convert coal into cleaner-burning liquid fuels, chemicals and electricity that will be shipped for use in major cities. The process to extract these materials requires huge amounts of energy, which releases greenhouse gases (GHGs), with more gases released in the transport to and use in urban centers. While likely to reduce pollution and smog in most cities, the GHGs released by this plan might possibly be double the current amount.

    You contend that the TPP wouldn't make things worse because moving manufacturing from China to Vietnam wouldn't change anything.  The assumption underlying this point is that I support the status quo.  I don't.  I support tariffs that  would reduce the total cost of distributing American-made goods in America below that of distributing comparable foreign-made goods in America.

    Regarding your insistence that industrialization has left China and India more equal places, in 2015 the IMF reported otherwise.

    New Delhi: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned that both India and China face the social risk of growing inequality.

    By implication, it is suggesting that there is a problem with the redistribution of incomes in both these economies as high economic growth rates are not reducing inequality.

    In its regional economic outlook for Asia and Pacific, IMF said that Asian countries are unable to replicate the “growth with equity” miracle and pointed out that inequality has only increased in the past two and a half decades, lowering the effectiveness of growth to combat poverty and preventing the building of a substantial middle class.

    None of this will be solved by nations being isolationist on trade. Rather, it's the opposite, you need international agreements on what to do.You do not like the agreements that have been made in the recent past. Fine. Go at it, promote different international agreements. But tariffs and protectionism are not an answer. That's over. We have the internet. There will be black markets if you chose not to participate and you will be a loser nation if you don't. It's really that simple: be there or be square.

    There will be black markets if you chose not to participate and you will be a loser nation if you don't.

    Black markets exist where demand can be met profitably by some party that can sneak their product past the regulators and the tax man. Most durable goods manufactured overseas can be easily interdicted. 

    In a world where robots do most of the remunerative things humans used to do, you still have the problem of who owns the robots and the increased revenues and profitability generated by the robots?

    Humans may be freed up to become artists (most won't be any good) or dog walkers (though a robot could do that) or home aids for aging boomers...but how much are they going to make for any of that?

    The owners of the robots will become rich as Croesus, but everyone else?

    And will the owners of the robots be willing to pay the rest of us robust or even decent guaranteed incomes?

    And with all that free time and nothing one has to do, what happens to the ole population? Do babies boom?

    When most of the world is owned by capital (liquid, R.E. or machinery) and human labor is worth almost nothing, individuals will need some kind of capital, will need to own something, to rise above subsistence living.

    They always left that part out of the Jetsons.

    There's lots of problems that will need to be solved if/when robots do most of the manufacturing. Capitalism can't survive as we now know it without a robust middle class. If/when the unemployment rate is 50% who is going to buy the stuff the robots make? And we'll have to deal with that problem long before the unemployment rate is 50%

    All good to think about but as far as the near future, which is the only reason I brought it up in the context of this thread. For now we are only talking about repetitive tasks like assembly line workers and like, perhaps, loading orders at Amazon.

    My only point was that arguing about protectionism/free-trade in context of saving assembly jobs seems to be fool's errand, strikes me as an argument about past history. It's like arguing about how we should win WWI

    For example. It doesn't seem to me that millenials have much interest in buying what Hal and Trump are selling on this:

     Millennials Are Not Worried About Robots Taking Over Human Jobs
    A new survey shows that 80 percent of Millennials believe technology is creating new jobs, not destroying them. @Business Insider, Aug. 28

    and places like Japan and Germany are not at all dystopian about it all

    Japanese Not Worried About Robots Taking Their Jobs

    @ VOA News, Aug. 26 (scroll down to see Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or OECD, gathers information about the use of robots in its member countries and things like the "lifetime employment system" in Japan.) “Basically, nothing goes wrong. The lines are up and running 96 percent,” said Shinichi Uno, a manager at the factory. “Although machines make things, human beings oversee the machines.”....Leading the field. While some countries, like the U.S., are debating the issue of robots taking jobs from humans, in Japan, the discussion is much different. Birth rates in Japan have been decreasing for many years. This has caused many in the country to fear the possibility of a labor shortage.The introduction of robots has filled this need for labor. The robots appear to be a welcomed addition to the workforce in Japan....

    Protectionism of manufactured goods is just not the way things are going, it's history. Bring up outsourcing of service jobs, now there's something you might be able to sell politically.

    Localities that are paying lots of tax money to get a factory built for 3,000 jobs are playing a fool's game if they think they are going to produce long term unskilled jobs. Those 3,000 jobs will quickly reduce to 1,500 skilled and then further.

    One does have to deal somehow with people that refuse to or can't be trained for skilled jobs. But protectionists talk like they can bring back the past to do that.

    Also, I think: beware of extrapolating from dying rust belt economies that our whole nation is crying out for this. Just because our political system is gerrymandered to give like Ohio and West Virginia more power in the electoral process than they should have doesn't mean the rest of the country, everyone in like California and New York and Florida, is crying out for more protected assembly line jobs and factories to be built and wants only socks manufactured by humans in the U.S.A and wants unautomated textile and steel manufacturing to come back to their state so their grandkids can work at repetitive tasks. Strikes me that the protectionist thing panders to a geographic minority just to unfairly win elections and probably isn't what the majority wants. They want their kids to have skilled jobs, not work in factories for generations.  Even the whole idea of Goodwill Industries has been to train people, it's not like this is a new thing that you need training to work.If you apprenticed to a blacksmith in the 17th century, you became a more valued person in the community.

    Yes, there is always the problem of "what will slackers do?" and people that don't want to and can't learn skills. But beware of thinking their numbers are huge or different from any other era just because we have a few regions that haven't adjusted to reality and politicians are unrealistically pandering to them with the idea that no skill jobs can be created out of thin air. So that they don't have to be trained. Because our political system is gerryrigged to make it beneficial to do so.

    Your point on capital for the lower classes is interesting, though. A friend and I were talking the other day how Taxi medallions in NYC (the license number that adhere's to the taxi and allows it to operate and for the city to regulate the market of how many are on the road) became worth a small fortune. Until Uber just came along. And then we wondered about Uber stock, how it is constantly in the news. But then, what happens to that when big cities actually install a driverless car system....well, first of all, go back to that article on Japan: it takes people to maintain the system.

    P.S. I think it's good to keep this historic perspective when ruminating, such as: why have the jobs Henry Ford created out of thin air a little more than 100 years ago become so sacrosanct and crucial to civilization? Well paid assembly line jobs were a half century blip and were doled out to a lucky few in the scheme of things. Planned economies like the Soviet Union tried to do it fairly and failed.

    Meanwhile, many plumbers and their assistants who had jobs before the assembly line was invented will still have jobs. They will surely be needed to install the pipes robots make until all the housing stock that exists now disappears and is replaced with something that inexpensive A.I. is able to repair.

    Craftsmanship is never going to go away. The whole argument about how not everyone can be a precious artist argument on this thread I find to be silly hyperbole. Some people will always like to work with their hands and some other people will always appreciate what they do with their hands and want to trade value for it.

    AA, I suggest that the future is here--people just don't realize it yet. Automation already plays a big role in the decline of manufacturing jobs, and the value of capital is surging relative to the value of labor, re: Picketty. The whole country feels the effects of these changes--indeed the whole western world--but some places feel it more acutely, and too few understand why it's happening.

    So it really is a question about what to do in the next few years as wages continue to stagnate and inequality continues to grow. I'm not a big fan of the capitalists-subsidize-income-for-the-masses model. It doesn't strike me a politically stable or socially harmonious solution.

    PS Peter should get line-of-the-day for "They always left that part out of the Jetsons."

    PS Peter should get line-of-the-day for "They always left that part out of the Jetsons."

    TOS for gimmick infringement against Richard Day.

    Damn, who added the gimmick infringement clause?

    I think it was Dick trying to spell "jiminy cricket" with that PC that's always giving him fits, but cain't be sure.

    Yes, there is always the problem of "what will slackers do?" and people that don't want to and can't learn skills.

    This isn't quite my angle. It seems to me that the industrial revolution created more jobs than it destroyed, and a good number of them could be done with the basic skills acquired during the previous period. So, for example, a farm kid was basically equipped with the manual and mechanical dexterity and know-how to work in a factory with just a bit of training. And while the buggy makers and buggy whip makers were put out of business, Detroit assembly lines and their attendant supplier industries created many more jobs than were lost.

    But the whole point of the IT revolution is to reduce the number of people required for various tasks and equip those fewer people with abilities that far outstrip the combined abilities of the people replaced. So one person replaces 10 and does the same tasks AND more sophisticated tasks than the 10. I can't remember the name of the virtual reality company Zuckerman bought, but he paid something like $2 billion. All of a sudden--and I'm making this number up, but it isn't far off--a company with ten people, including the owner, was worth $2 billion. The capital or profit producing leverage of each of those ten people was phenomenal.

    Now, it's possible that, ultimately, the IT revolution WILL create as many and even many more jobs than it replaces, but thus far, the trend seems to be going in the opposite direction. So what are those 10 people supposed to do to earn a living? They aren't slackers; they want to work, and they need to work. And it's not even as if getting trained for higher-level work is necessarily the answer if many fewer higher-level workers are needed than were needed for more basic tasks.

    In a way, this could be great, as long as the 10 people are supported somehow, perhaps with a mandatory minimum income as a start. And the futurist image, a la the Jetsons, was that robots would take over so many of the tasks that used to occupy us, we'd be free to do what we wanted. No one envisioned that the robots would take all the jobs, and we'd still be left trying to figure out how to make a good living. Labor-saving devices have always been sold as "time savers" that would give us more time to do the things we really wanted to do, e.g., take long road trips, fish, play catch with Bobbie, and so on.

    But unless the average person has some claim on the massive profits generated by the robots--say, by owning capital, which could be robots or dividend-paying stocks--he will lose his job, but still need to make a living. Otherwise, he'll end up...doing what, I don't know. I was going to say "pushing a broom," but we already have the Zoomba. So this strikes me as the problem upon us, or coming soon.

    Then again, the new technology could create gillions of brand new types of jobs, and my worry is ill-founded. I don't know whether my "vision" here is based on reality or off-base because I don't know enough.


    Interesting that China seems to have come to the point of basically having the same urban vs. rural problem that we have as far as rising income equality is concerned Also interesting that reversal of one child policy is seen as a solution by some as to some of what ails them. And another point: If I recall past reading correctly, antagonism between ethnic groups is also part of the equation when one gets into the rural problem...

    Yes, visit western China, aka Xinjiang, aka Eastern Turkestan to see the worst of these trends all together. Regions butting up against Burma also bad, don't even think about Tibet.

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