Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Ebola and liberty

Ron Paul argues that the solution to containing diseases like Ebola is to allow foreign countries to grow their economies so that they can afford modern medical facilities.

On the face of it that makes sense, as does so much of he says. But it does link to another issue: what is free trade, and what should it be?

Twenty years ago, billionaire Sir James Goldsmith warned that the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade would destabilise society by undermining the labour forces of developed economies. This is exactly what has happened, and it also has the potential to unsettle the countries to whom the work has been outsourced or "offshored". I had previously produced a jokey graphic to illustrate the disruptive effects of what I might call "free trade without brakes or steering":

from Broad Oak Magazine, 18 June 2012

The order-givers have, in effect, used the Chinese like coolies and are quite prepared to switch to other countries (such as Vietnam) to keep down labour costs; and to "re-onshore" business to the USA when robots can do the work instead.

I don't at all include Ron Paul in this picture, but it does seem to me that if we are to have peaceful evolution on world trade then we need more than GATT, TPP and TTIP, which are (as far as I understand) simply battering-rams for accumulated capital to force its way into markets irrespective of the human costs there and at home.


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1 comment:

Paddington said...

I know that it sounds too warm and fuzzy, but the point of an economy should be to make everyone happier and healthier, shouldn't it?