Wednesday, March 31, 2004


This man is so ill-informed it hurts, and yet he enjoys regular columns in two of the most widely influential print outlets in the country: the WaPo and Newsweek.

How do I debunk thee, let me count the ways...

Samuelson begins with an apologia for China's egregious human rights violations. "What repressive labor practices?" Samuelson asks. Are these not similar conditions to those endured by American workers in the United States' late-19th century industrialization? Well, yes, but only if you ignore the rampant prevalence of forced prison labor, the "re-education-through-labor" camps where inmates are contracted out to private enterprises or made to work in prison-owned factories, human trafficking, children forced to work in factories attached to their schools, etc., etc. If you ignore all that, then the situation in China is very similar to what happened to American workers around the turn of the century (notwithstanding the fact that such abuses have since led the world community to sanctify human and worker rights in the ILO, the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and Article XX of the WTO).

While Samuelson concedes there may be human rights abuses in China's export economy, he writes: it is also true that China's economic liberalization has been a vast engine of human progress.

In citing statistics to support up this claim, Samuelson demonstrates he commands precious little knowledge of Chinese history.

Samuelson's evidence: Life expectancy increased from 61.7 years in 1970 to 71 in 2002.

Has Samuelson never heard of the Cultural Revolution, when Mao fomented public upheaval (a revolution on a revolution) between 1966 and 1976, resulting in the killing of tens if not hundreds of thousands of Chinese. It should be no surbrise that life expectancy in 1970 might be pretty low for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with the level of tariffs and capital controls maintained in China.

Samuelson's evidence: expanded trade has lifted millions of Chinese out of poverty.

Was this because of expanded trade, or because Chinese domestic policy explicitly targeted poverty alleviation through a number of phases of massive public spending since 1978?

At this point in, Samuelson feels he has thoroughly disarmed critics who might kvetch about the abhorrent conditions endured by Chinese workers. So what if the US economy lost 797,000 jobs due to slave labor in China? These jobs are just a drop in the bucket: They're equal to less than 1 percent of total U.S. employment, about 4 percent of manufacturing jobs in 2000 or about three months' job growth in the late 1990s.

Okay Robert, let's pick the appropriate benchmark. One might be inclined to compare the number of American jobs lost to human rights violations in China to the number of jobs lost to, say, import penetration and competition in foreign markets (a little over 3 million)...or perhaps even the number of jobs lost since the manufacturing slump began in 1998 (also, a little over 3 million). Then we would see that 797,000 jobs is a substantial chunk of change.

So you see, in conclusion, if you ignore and contort all the evidence from China (as Samuelson has done) you cannot respectably argue against the fact that: open trade still enjoys the high moral ground [and] remains a proven path to human betterment.

Ipso facto.


Is it fair to have free trade that--by definition of economic theory--we know will cast countless people out of work without having a proper safety net in place?

Michael Triplett writes:

The Labor Department's program for providing
assistance to workers who lose their jobs because
of trade has come under fire from the federal court
that reviews the denial of claims, and says that
poor investigations and oversight are crippling the
program designed to approve re-employment

In a series of blistering decisions, the U.S. Court
of International Trade has criticized the Labor
Department's Trade Adjustment Assistance program
for not properly completing investigations and
failing to adequately support denials of
assistance. Alleged problems with the program
escalated to the point that Judge Delissa Ridgway
suggested in a late December 2003 decision that
Congress should intervene to determine why the
program has gone astray.

Ridgway cited a "growing line of precedent"
involving the trade court ordering certification
after the Labor Department has rejected claims,
"evidencing a mounting frustration with the Labor
Department's handling of these cases," on the
court's part. "Clearly there is a message here.
Only time will tell whether the Labor Department,
and Congress, are listening," she said.

The criticism of the program comes as several
congressional Republicans and Democrats are calling
for more workers--including "knowledge workers" not
engaged in manufacturing--to be eligible for TAA
benefits because of outsourcing of jobs to foreign

A Labor Department official told BNA that the
court's criticisms had been heard at DOL and that
regulations were being drafted for the 2002 Trade
Act that would respond to some of the court's
concerns. The official, however, noted there was a
sense that the trade court focused some of its
comments on the "minutiae" of the program and that
the court was not in a position to "direct us on
how to manage the program."

The DOL official said that the department was
working to improve its explanation to potential
claimants of the process for making certifications
and to more fully describe the petition process so
claimants could provide more complete information.

Ridgway: DOL Needed Eight Reviews of Claim

It was Ridgway's decision in late 2003 approving
certification for former employees of Chevron that
encapsulated the trade court's increasing
frustration with the Labor Department. By the time
the case was decided in late December, Ridgway had
issued two other remand orders requiring the Labor
Department to do further investigations because it
had failed to substantiate its determination (See
related article in this section.)

After eight attempts to make a proper ruling on the
claims, the court finally approved the Labor
Department's certification, but only after
emphasizing that the certification was based on
information that DOL had in hand four years earlier
at the first step of the investigation.

"In a word, this case stands as a monument to the
flaws and dysfunctions in the Labor Department's
administration of the nation's trade adjustment
assistance laws--for, while it may be an extreme
case, it is regrettably not an isolated one,"
Ridgway wrote in Former Employees of Chevron Prods.
Co. v. Secretary of Labor, 298 F. Supp. 2d 1338
(Ct. Int'l Trade 2003); 6 DLR A-1, 1/12/04. "The
relatively high number of requests for voluntary
remands in trade adjustment assistance cases
appealed to this Court speaks volumes about the
calibre of the Labor Department's investigations in
general, and the Government's ability to defend

In BNA's review of the 41 published opinions by the
court between 2001 and the present, the Labor
Department's denial of certification was affirmed
only five times, or in 12.5 percent of the cases.
In contrast, the court sent cases back 19 times so
the department could justify its holding or further
investigate the claim.

In 2003, when judges on the trade court increased
their criticism of the handling of trade claims,
the court issued 24 rulings in trade assistance
claims. Only two of them--both by Judge Nicholas
Tsoucalas--affirmed the department's denial of

In contrast, 14 decisions--or 58 percent of the
cases in 2003--involved remands back to the Labor
Department because the conclusions were unsupported
by the record or because the court found the agency
failed to properly investigate the claims. Eight
other remands were initiated by the Labor
Department, acknowledging it failed to fully
support the decision or investigate the claims.

During 2003, the court approved certification of
benefits five times. Three were affirmations of the
Labor Department's reversing itself and deciding to
grant certification after further review. Twice,
however, judges rejected the Labor Department's
investigation and granted certification despite
DOL's denial.

As of March 29, the trade court has issued only one
decision on TAA so far in 2004. In that case, the
court granted DOL's request for a voluntary remand
so that it could more fully investigate the
certification denial.

Judges Question DOL's Efforts

Although Ridgway has been the most outspoken critic
of the TAA program, her decisions are not the only
ones during 2003 that questioned how the Labor
Department was dealing with laid-off workers.

(Embedded image moved to file: pic02306.pcx)
Chief Judge Gregory W. Carman awarded attorneys'
fees to attorneys representing former employees
of Tyco Electronics in March 2003 as a sanction
for the Labor Department failing to conduct an
investigation while a remand order was in place.
The Labor Department waited 45 days after the
court's deadline before requesting an extension
of time to complete the investigation (Former
Employees of Tyco Electronics, Fiber Optics Div.
v. Department of Labor, 264 F. Supp. 2d 1322, 25
ITRD 1564 (Ct. Int'l Trade 2003); 98 DLR A-7,

While finding the delays were caused by
"excusable neglect," Carman stressed that "
'administrative oversight' is barely excusable,
and 'personnel shortages' and 'increased
workloads' are weak reasons to justify a delayed

(Embedded image moved to file: pic31673.pcx) In
a case where the Labor Department argued former
employees of Quality Fabricating should not be
permitted to appeal because they missed a
deadline, Judge Evan J. Wallach chided the
department for raising the timeliness argument
since the employees filed their appeal too late
because they relied on information provided by
the Labor Department (Former Employees of
Quality Fabricating Inc. v. Secretary of Labor,
259 F. Supp. 2d 1282, 25 ITRD 1366 (Ct. Int'l
Trade 2003); 56 DLR A-1, 3/24/03).

"The DOL should blush to have raised this
argument against the working people whose
interests it supposedly represents," Wallach
said. "It is this sort of bureaucratic
finger-pointing and blame avoidance which caused
Ronald Reagan to say, 'The nine most terrifying
words in the English language are "I'm from the
government and I'm here to help." ' "

(Embedded image moved to file: pic22386.pcx) In
another 2003 case where the court ultimately
awarded assistance despite the Labor
Department's insistence that certification was
inappropriate, Judge R. Kenton Musgrave argued
that "[o]rdering certification of eligibility
for trade adjustment assistance is a remedy of
last resort," but such certification is
appropriate when "after one or more remands, it
is clear that Labor continues to adhere to a
discredited position that is at odds with the
developed facts of record." (Former Employees of
Pittsburgh Logistics Sys. Inc. v. Secretary of
Labor, 25 ITRD 2125 (Ct. Int'l Trade Aug 28,
2003); 170 DLR A-10, 9/3/03).

In addition to questioning DOL's reasoning in
the case brought by former employees of
Pittsburgh Logistics, Musgrave also was critical
of DOL's handling of the case and its failure to
include the plaintiffs' attorneys in
consultations before requesting an additional
remand. The plaintiffs labelled DOL's failure to
cooperate a "delaying tactic" and opposed a
second remand, arguing that it would result in
DOL's "sixth bite at the apple" and would be
inequitable since DOL rejected the employees'
offers to meet with DOL to discuss the ruling.

Musgrave found that there was no reason to permit
DOL another attempt at refining its ruling since it
was clear where the agency was going to rule.
Further, he chastised DOL for failing to cooperate
with the employees and for failing to submit a
complete ruling when it had the chance.

"[W]hile Labor's actual motives for remand may, as
the government asserts, differ from the portrayal
by the plaintiffs, the Court expects that its
practitioners will continue to uphold the highest
standards of the bar, which includes extending
dignity and professional courtesies to one another
as officers of the Court," Musgrave wrote.

(Embedded image moved to file: pic05021.pcx) In
October 2003, Ridgway took DOL to task for
failing to properly investigate the claims of
former employees of Ameriphone. In approving
DOL's eventual certification, prompted by a
remand order from the court, Ridgway said there
was "something fundamentally wrong with the
administration of the nation's trade adjustment
assistance programs if, as a practical matter,
workers often must appeal their cases to the
courts to secure the thorough investigation that
the Labor Department is obligated to conduct by
law" (Former Employees of Ameriphone Inc. v.
United States, 288 F. Supp. 2d 1353 (Ct. Int'l
Trade 2003); 209 DLR A-1, 10/29/03).

Ridgway called it "cold comfort" to the workers
who lost their jobs that they finally were
awarded assistance, adding that they "had to
haul the agency into court to force the agency
to take a hard look at their claim."

In a lengthy footnote, the court cited nine
cases in which judges on the trade court
criticized DOL's "perfunctory investigations"
that required employees to appeal their claims
to the court before DOL conducted a more
thorough investigation. Of the nine cases cited,
five were decided in 2002 and 2003.

Decisions Called Unusually Critical

The often heated language used by the court in
response to the department's handling of TAA claims
is in sharp contrast to the usual treatment trade
cases get before the court, observers of the trade
court told BNA.

A New York customs lawyer who has represented TAA
claimants said that language used by the judges is
unusual, especially since delays are common in
anti-dumping and customs cases that traditionally
find their way to the trade court.

The lawyer, who is still in negotiations with the
Labor Department over the resolution of TAA claims,
said the court's impassioned criticisms are likely
fueled by the fact that the claims involve actual
people, as opposed to most of the court's docket,
which involves commerce and products.

"It's one thing to see delays in cases involving
dumping products on the U.S. market, it's quite
another to see delays where people are being denied
basic assistance so that they can find jobs," the
attorney said. "I was actually quite surprised by
how pointed the court's criticisms of the Labor
Department were, since you rarely see that level of
displeasure focused on a government agency by the
trade court."

The attorneys who represent claimants before the
trade court rarely specialize in the TAA program or
even labor and employment law. Instead, most of
them are assigned the cases pro bono by the clerk
of the trade court. The claims represent one of the
few public service opportunities available for
lawyers who specialize in trade and customs law.

This lack of a consistent group of attorneys
advocating for workers before the trade court and
the Labor Department is something Howard Rosen of
the advocacy organization TAA Coalition in
Washington, D.C., would like to fix.

TAA Seen as 'Orphan Program.'

Rosen, a former Democratic Senate aide on trade
issues, said that the trade court "gets it" that
there are problems with how TAA claims are handled
and that too many claims are denied. Advocating for
change in the TAA program and developing a core of
attorneys to represent claimants is one of the
goals of Rosen's group, which is housed at the New
America Foundation.

"The Labor Department has big policy intentions
with TAA but their implementation has been
inconsistent and weak," Rosen told BNA, adding that
problems at the Labor Department date back to the
Clinton administration and the introduction of the
North American Free Trade Agreement. Although
problems with the program have been more pronounced
during Secretary Elaine Chao's watch, he said, the
number of denied certifications has remained fairly
constant at one-third since the 1990s.

Describing TAA as an "orphan program" without a
"logical constituency," Rosen said that one of the
reasons claims are rejected and then land at the
trade court is that there is no consistent group of
attorneys representing claimants during the Labor
Department's reviews or before the trade court and
therefore no one looking out for the interests of

A larger concern, however, is that the Labor
Department's attitude toward TAA is that since it
is viewed as a "welfare program" and an
entitlement, it is necessary to limit the number of
people receiving the benefits in order to preserve
the money allocated, Rosen argued. Such an approach
explains why the Labor Department fails to spend
the money allotted in its budget for benefits, he

DOL: Trying to Fix Systemic Flaws

A Labor Department official, however, bristled at
the suggestion that the department rejected
certification requests in order to save money.

"It has never crossed anyone's mind to limit the
budget of the program by not certifying claims,"
the DOL official said, adding that the percentage
of denials has remained relatively constant over a
number of administrations.

The Labor Department contends that it is attempting
to fix a number of systemic flaws that have
prevented claimants from fully understanding the
certification process and have prevented quick
resolution of cases.

Under a revised management structure, the DOL
official said, last year's backlog of over 100
overdue petitions that have not been resolved in
the mandated 60 days was eliminated and that there
were no petitions--as of February--that were not
resolved under the tighter 40-day time period. As
of February, the official said the department was
processing claims in an average of 28 days.

Despite the increased productivity, critics of the
TAA program say that the Labor Department is still
not meeting the needs of all the dislocated

Budget Decreased

In a statement submitted March 4 to the House Ways
and Means Committee, the labor-friendly Economic
Policy Institute said "[m]ost dislocated
manufacturing employees get no help from TAA."
Citing statistics that show that 500,000
manufacturing jobs were lost in 2003, EPI policy
director Ross Eisenbrey--who worked for the Clinton
Labor Department--said department data show that
only 195,738 workers were certified for TAA
benefits during fiscal year 2003 and that from June
30, 2002, to June 30, 2003, only 68,568 people
received services under the program.

According to Eisenbrey, in FY 2004, the TAA had
program authority of $1.388 billion, but outlays
only amounted to $770 million. While the entire TAA
training budget of $259 million was spent by the
states, only 60 percent of the $770 million in
monetary benefits and wage insurance actually was
provided to workers by DOL and the states.

The irony, according Eisenbrey, is that while there
appears to be increased pressure to provide the
benefits in the current discussion regarding trade
assistance, the Labor Department has requested
decreased funding of the program. With the training
budget capped at $259 million (a $4 million cut in
real terms, Eisenbrey argued), the proposed budget
for monetary benefits calls for a reduction from
$1.06 billion in FY 2004 to $750 million in FY

The Labor Department, however, disputes those
numbers and the interpretation, explaining that
monetary benefits are a "true entitlement," which
requires all recipients to be paid regardless of
the actual budget and that the FY 2005 numbers are
merely a projection of expected payments. Should
the number of applications for benefits increase,
the DOL official said the amount spent on benefits
would increase to satisfy those requests.


Ridgway's Frustration Shows in Chevron Trilogy

The saga of former employees of Chevron Products
illustrates the increasing frustration the trade
court--especially Judge Delissa Ridgway--has had
with the Labor Department's handling of TAA claims.
During 14 months, Ridgway issued three rulings in
the case brought by former employees of Chevron
Products, with each ruling sharpening the judge's
questions about how cases are handled by the

The Chevron cases involved claims of "gaugers" who
performed a number of tasks at well heads and crude
oil tanks before the oil was purchased and

The workers' claims were finally approved by DOL
and affirmed by the court in late December 2003,
but Ridgway's criticism of DOL's investigation
began in late 2002 when she said "sloppiness" in
the first investigation led DOL to ignore
information it had before it that would have aided
in certifying workers. Instead, the court said, DOL
relied on information that should have "raised red
flags" that it was unreliable, yet it was that
information that the Labor Department used to deny
the claims initially (Former Employees of Chevron
Prods. Co. v. Secretary of Labor, 245 F. Supp. 2d
1312 (Ct. Int'l Trade 2002); 211 DLR AA-1,

Ten months later, Ridgway again criticized DOL's
investigation of the claims on remand, emphasizing
that despite seven previous attempts to provide
proper evidence, the department had again failed to
properly support its decision. Remanding DOL's
decision for a second time, Ridgway said that
despite "a fairly scathing critique of the Labor
Department's investigatory methods, its findings
and its determinations" in Chevron I, DOL again
failed to properly explain its decision, adding
that DOL had "no one but itself to blame" for
failing to properly investigate the claims (Former
Employees of Chevron Prods. Co. v. Secretary of
Labor, 279 F. Supp. 2d 1342 (Ct. Int'l Trade 2003);
149 DLR A-1, 8/4/03).

By the time Ridgway made her final ruling in
Chevron III, the Labor Department had been given a
short time period to find whether imports were
responsible for the job losses. In the department's
final decision, however, it relied on data and
information it had in hand for over four years and
approved the benefits under a non-NAFTA related TAA
program (6 DLR A-1, 1/12/04).

"Workers who are entitled to trade adjustment
assistance benefits but fail to receive them may
lose months, or even years, of their lives,"
Ridgway said, adding that the lack of assistance
can take a "devastating personal toll" on those who
face unemployment.

Ultimately, Ridgway argued, Congress and the Labor
Department "break faith with the American workers"
when TAA claims are not resolved efficiently and

Tuesday, March 30, 2004


Big paychecks are luring top American military specialists into the employ of private military corporations, the NYT reports this morning.

Oh vey! (Note how the NYT quite nicely keeps all the private military companies anonymous.)

These privateers are "experts with handguns and rifles, physically fit, hand-selected guys that also speak a foreign language," trained for who knows how much taxpayer money, and then snatched up by the for-profit war/security sector. The phenomenon of top American military forces defecting to the private sector can tell us something interesting about the labor market for lethal operatives.

The wages offered by the US military are well below the market rate:

"We can never compete dollar-for-dollar with outside firms," said Command Chief Master Sgt. Robert Martens Jr. of the Air Force, the senior enlisted adviser to General Brown. "We compete on job satisfaction."

Or in other words, service in the US military constitutes some non-market value that more than compensates for the spread between military and private sector wage rates. This non-market value, what we may call a patriotism dividend, owes to the feelings of valor and public prestige bestowed through service to country and from sacrifice on behalf of American liberal ideals.

The article notes that the demand for these workers escalated in the aftermath of 9/11 and particularly in Afghanistan and Iraq. Given that, in both of those places, insurgent forces have directed violence upon both private sector and military workers, we can assume that the risk premia assumed by both public and private military forces are comparable.

Thus, we can infer from the exodus of special military forces from the public sector to the private sector that the patriotism dividend is shrinking in the post 9/11 era. For the military "cream of the crop"--the most educated, highly skilled and culturally aware--service in the US military on behalf of the foreign policy it underwrites is losing its value...dare I say for the moral bankruptcy (or at least moral relativism) of the war in Iraq. Viewed another way, the Bush administration's unapologetic pursuit of a belicose American empire has trampled on the moral righteousness of American liberal ideals and shred the bond that compels individuals to serve in its interest.

Friday, March 26, 2004


My blogging has been slow this week as my home computer is in the shop and I am having mondo hassles with Fed Ex trying to get it delivered back to me. (Apparently guaranteed over night delivery by 10:30 am should not be taken at face value). I've been using the down time to comb through two days of testimony before the 9/11 commission and to sort through all the statements by and counter-statements against insta-celebrity Dick Clarke.

Would the real Dick Clarke please stand up...

In the mean time, I've been perusing the sites of a number of my fellow blogonauts. Specifically, I've been checking out Blogstreet's rankings of top blogs in an attempt to learn just what it takes to publish a popular blog (could I say blog more times in one sentence?). Some of them I find excellent. Others, I find myself asking, "Huh?"

I can't seem to discern any hard and fast rules for what makes a blog succeed, so I decided to make up my own, universal rule for good blogging. Bind it as a sign upon your doorpost. Speak of it when you lie down and when you rise up.

Blogs must add value to the public discourse. Add new information that isn't already out there, or flies under the radar of the mainstream outlets. Provide insightful analysis that obliterates the conventional wisdom. Entertain the world with your creativity. And so on.

Any schmoe can post a hyperlink to the latest Paul Krugman column. Any schmoe can reproduce content that they lift from other sites. Some people even have the gall to beg readers for money for such a shallow service (and somehow they manage to be ranked no. 1/2?!?).

Thursday, March 25, 2004


Not these guys.

They are the people behind last week's ministerial statement calling for a more democratic approach to appointing the new IMF Managing Director.

Hell, when the Swiss are calling for more transparency in international financial affairs, you know big things are afoot.


On this day in 1911, 146 people died in the Triangle Shirtwaist fire.

People jumping out of windows broke holes in the sidewalk.

But surely, anti-union critics say, this could never happen in today's modern age. Workers today aren't killed by their employer's negligence and greed.

Oh, and getting back to the things that really matter in life, I heard on the radio this morning it's Sarah Jessica Parker's birthday today. She's 37.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004


This WSJ story on Wal-Mart's foray into Washington lobbying will really make your stomach turn.

In 1998, the retailer hired its first lobbyist -- a retired Air Force lieutenant general -- and set out to transform itself from a company without a Washington presence to one that could bend public policy to suit its business needs...Unlike most corporations, which contribute to both parties in rough proportion to Congress's partisan split, about 85% of Wal-Mart's checks go to Republicans. And recently Mr. Allen was named a "Pioneer" by the Bush campaign, meaning he has raised at least $100,000 by getting friends and colleagues to make contributions of up to $2,000 each...Congressional allies rushed to offer advice, including Trent Lott, then Senate majority leader. Mr. Lott arrived in Bentonville in late 1999 with a simple message, according to a congressman who attended the meeting: Increase your profile and open your wallet.

Wal-Mart has been successful in raising PAC money (nearly $1.5 million, making it the second largest) by relying upon many of the same tactics it uses to force employees to work unpaid overtime:

For some employees, the pressure to contribute became a point of contention. "With my district manager sitting 3 inches over my shoulder, you think I didn't sign up?" recalls Jon Lehman, a Wal-Mart manager who quit in November 2001 and is now working with union organizers to enlist Wal-Mart workers. Current Wal-Mart employees, who asked not to be named, also report feeling pressured to give to the PAC.

In defense of their political activities, Wal-Mart offered that they were merely donating to candidates who shared the company's priorities. Truly a laudable goal.


Commissioner Timothy J. Roemer took National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice to task for her refusal to testify before the 9/11 commission:

I want to start, Mr. Chairman, by, I believe, underscoring something you said in your opening statement.

You said that we have invited Dr. Rice to talk to this 9/11 commission. Well, we have a book issued by Richard Clarke which is a blistering attack on the Bush administration. We have Dr. Rice on the airwaves saying that she strongly condemns and disagrees with Mr. Clarke's assessments and analysis. I would hope that this discussion would not be for the airwaves and would not be a partisan type of discussion that we have, but belongs in this hearing room tomorrow in a substantive way so that the 10 commissioners can ask factually based questions and so the American people have the access to those answers to try to make this country safer. So I would underscore your comments, Mr. Chairman, that I hope Dr. Rice will reconsider and come before our commission for the sake of the American people tomorrow. (APPLAUSE)


Last night and this morning I have been frantically sorting through yesterday's testimony before the September 11 Commission and awaiting the full release of today's transcript.

I'm planning more on this once I've had some time to digest the bulk of it (yesterday's transcript from the NYT is 70 some pages long). Until then, I wanted to share this excerpt from Madeline Albright's testimony, which lucidly captures the nature of the American conflict with Al Qaeda, and the path forward for a more secure world. Disappointingly, much of her vision is lost in the Bush administration's response:

We were not attacked on September 11th by a noun, terrorism. We were attacked by individuals affiliated with Al Qaida. They are the enemies who killed our fellow citizens and foreigners, and defeating them should be the focus of our policy. If we pursue goals that are unnecessarily broad, such as the elimination not only of threats but also of potential threats, we will stretch ourselves to the breaking point and become more vulnerable -- not less -- to those truly in a position to harm us. We also need to remember that Al Qaida is not a criminal gang that can simply be rounded up and put behind bars. It is the center of an ideological virus that has wholly perverted the minds of thousands and distorted the thinking of millions more. Until the right medicine is found, the virus will continue to spread, and that remedy begins with competence. Bin Laden and his cohorts have absolutely nothing to offer their followers except destruction, death and the illusion of glory. Puncturing this illusion is the key to winning the battle of ideas. The problem is not combating Al Qaida's inherent appeal, for it has none. The problem is changing the fact that major components of American foreign policy are either opposed or misunderstood by much of the world. According to the State Department's advisory group on public diplomacy, published recently, the bottom has indeed fallen out of support for the United States. This unpopularity has handed bin Laden a gift that he has eagerly exploited. He is viewed by many as a leader of all those who harbor anti-American sentiments, and this has given him a following that is wholly undeserved. If we are to succeed, we must be sure that bin Laden goes down in history not as a defender of the faith or champion of the dispossessed, but rather as what he is: a murderer, a traitor to Islam and a loser. The tarnishing of America's global prestige will require considerable time and effort to undue, and that's why we need long- range counterterrorism plans that advantage of the full array of our national security tools. This plan must include the comprehensive reform of our intelligence structures; a vastly expanded commitment to public diplomacy and outreach, especially within the Arab and Muslim worlds; a far bolder strategy for stabilizing Afghanistan; revised policies toward the key countries of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia; expansion of the Nunn-Lugar program to secure weapons of mass destruction materials on a global basis; a new approach to handling and sharing of information concerning terrorist suspects; and a change in the tone of American national security policy to emphasize the value of diplomatic cooperation.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004


The FT and the WSJ weigh in on El Salvador's recent election.

Here are the headlines, respectively:

"Voters give big win to El Salvador rightwinger"


"Our Friends in Salvador"

According to the WSJ, El Salvador's new president's favorite political hero is Ronald Reagan. Under Reagan, of course, the US government fomented civil war in El Salvador with covert operations and military aid throughout the 1980s in support of a military junta--trained at the School of the Americas--that terrorized Salvadorans with death squads, torture, extrajudicial executions and "disappearances" for the good part of 12 years. You know, "our friends."

In contrast, the main opposition candidate staked his bid on a platform of pulling Salvadoran troops from the U.S.-led occupation force in Iraq, renewing diplomatic ties with Cuba's communist regime, and raising taxes on the rich to finance social programs for the poor.


Monday, March 22, 2004


The free trade automatons over at theWashington Post editorial board finally get it...sort of: multinational corporations are profitting from slave labor in China. A speacial thanks to John Sweeny and the 13 million strong memebers of the AFL-CIO.


Though the IMF is a member organization of 184 countries, in practice everything important that happens at the IMF must pass through the organization's board of directors, comprised of representatives of 24 countries, but dominated by the US Treasury (see Global Gamble by Peter Gowan for more) and, to a lesser extent, Europe.

By tacit agreement, historical convention has deemed that the US picks the head of the World Bank and Europe picks the head of the IMF, with US approval. But just as European finance ministers were expected to meet this week for a session of horsetrading top positions at the IMF and the European Central Bank, a group of IMF executive directors representing more than 100 countries--developing countries as well as Russia, Australia, Switzerland, et. al.--released this statement:

"The G-11 Executive Directors, representing emerging and developing countries from Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East, joined by a group of Executive Directors from Australia and Switzerland, who each represent a range of countries, along with the Executive Director from the Russian Federation-well over 100 countries-met today to discuss the selection process for a new Managing Director of the IMF, arising from the resignation of Mr. Horst Köhler.

1. The above group is of the strong view that the candidate nominated for the position must be an eminent person, familiar with the goals of the institution.

2. The process of identifying and selecting the candidate must be open and transparent, with the goal of attracting the best person for the job, regardless of nationality. A plurality of candidates representing the diversity of members across regions would be in the best interest of the Fund.

3. All members of the Executive Board should be consulted in the process of considering candidates that lead to the selection of the Managing Director and informed in a timely manner regarding candidates, including their credentials and knowledge of the institution."

Not quite this, but its a start.


A note from Rand Beers (via JFK '04):

“One year ago yesterday, I resigned from the Bush Administration to protest the Administration’s rush to war.

George Bush may have declared “Mission Accomplished,” ten months ago, but yesterday’s horrific bombing in Iraq shows that American soldiers and Iraqis are still very much in harm’s way. But while Baghdad was bombed, Dick Cheney emerged from his bunker to engage in partisan attacks. It’s time for the President, the Vice-President, and the Secretary of State to stop playing politics with national security. We need to fix their failed go-it-alone policy that is making Iraq more dangerous for our soldiers and harder for them to secure the peace.

I signed up with John Kerry because I know his values, experience and toughness will make peace a reality.

Having worked with John for almost a year now, I feel confident he will restore America’s leadership in world affairs, but he needs your help now. Please join us; your donation to John Kerry is a statement that you’ll fight for change.”

Friday, March 19, 2004


(Scalia's words appear in italics):

I never hunted in the same blind with the Vice President. Nor was I alone with him at any time during the trip, except, perhaps, for instances so brief and unintentional that I would not recall them. Excepting of course when we flew down to Louisiana together aboard Air Force 2. The Vice President had invited me and my companions to accompany him on his private jet. Man did that make me feel like a big shot.

Moreover, granting the motion [for recusal] is (insofar as the outcome of the particular case is concerned) effectively the same as casting a vote against the petitioner. You see, there is no way in hell I would ever rule against the Vice President, with whom I am well acquainted from our years serving together in the Ford administration. Therefore, not casting a vote is not an option, as it would surely lead to an unfavorable outcome for the Vice President.

[There is no reason that] my impartiality might reasonably be questioned, excepting of course the fact that we are well acquainted from our years serving together in the Ford administration and we take luxurious hunting vacations together. Many Justices have reached this Court precisely because they were friends of the incumbent President or other senior officials and precisely for the reasons before the Court in this instance.

You see, a case against Vice President Richard Cheney, in his official capacity as Vice President of the United States and Chairman of the National Energy Policy Development Group has little bearing on the personal freedom, fortune or ambition of average citizen Richard Cheney, petro-military-industrial complex insider and cadidate for re-election to the Vice Presidency. Evaluating the ethical and legal conduct of Vice President Richard Cheney, in his official capacity as Vice President of the United States clearly has no bearing on citizen Richard Cheney's personal stake in convincing American voters that he possesses the credibility to be re-elected to the office of the Vice President. Anyone who argues otherwise is unequivocally a political hack, as my lucid reasoning leaves no room to question my impartiality.

The people must have confidence in the integrity of the friendship
with persons in the current not the issue here. Nor is the issue whether personal friendship with the Vice President might cause me to favor the Government in cases in which he is named.

If I could have done so in good conscience, I would have been pleased to demonstrate my integrity by recusing myself from this case. Unfortunately, I have no integrity. I am merely a political hack who reached this Court precisely because [I was] friends of the incumbent President [and] other senior officials.

In conclusion, Al Gore would be president right now if it were not for my "impartiality."

Yours truly,

Justice Antonin Scalia, WWJD


Here's the blog that got shut down:

Anyone have any idea what it says?


Oops. Turns out Bush has been outsourcing campaign paraphanalia to a country with one of the worst human and labor rights records in the world.

Burma is so bad that Sen. John Kerry's home state of Massachusetts even enacted a law to ban official state business with the rogue nation.

Fleece pull-overs from Burma are just a drop in the bucket for the Bush-Cheney axis. While at the helm of Halliburton, now Vice President Dick Cheney made deals with Burma's military junta to build two oil pipelines:

From 1992 until the present, thousands of villagers in Burma have been forced to work on these pipelines and their related infrastructure, have lost their homes due to forced relocation, and have been raped, tortured, and killed by Burmese soldiers hired by the companies as security guards for the pipelines.

I guess the Bush administration is right. Outsourcing murder and mayhem is certainly more efficient than getting blood on your own hands.


Let's face it, we're driving ourselves to death. Thank g-d for sustainable public transit.

Compare these visionaries from 100 years ago with the quagmire of the world's largest and most costly civil engineering project ever undertaken. Years and years and billions and billions of dollars later, Boston's "Big Dig" project will still leave the city's highways over capactiy, literally choking with traffic.

[Unlike the dynamos who drove New york City's ambitious public transit project, the Big Dig languished under the stewardship of Andrew Natsios, who left in disgrace for the rampant corruption under his watch to spearhead the Bush administration's efforts ar reducing US overseas development assistance to evangelical humanitarian aid.]

Thursday, March 18, 2004


Manufacturing ain't all sweat shops.

Philips, the Dutch electronics giant, is making a $21 billion green investment in Korea to produce next generation TFT-LCD screens--the ones used in computers, PDAs, flat panel TVs, cell phones, and a growing number of other electronic devices.

Dow Jones wire: The plant and the research-and-development facility in the Paju area is expected to create about 25,000 new jobs.

Korea, you'll recall, ain't exactly a low-wage country.

The firm-specific knowledge embodied in the manufacturing equipment and production processes are incredibly high-tech, producing huge positive spill-over effects that drive employment multipliers and dissemanate new technologies throughout the rest of the economy.

An LCD screen is comprised of hundreds of thousands of tiny little dots, each controlled by a tiny little transistor. The trick is to get every single dot on a screen functioning properly, otherwise the LCD screen becomes junk. Even the slightest contamination, a microscopic speck of dust, can render these transistors dysfunctional. In short, the real technological value is in the design og manufacturing process and the ability to deliver such quality control.

Market leaders in LCD displays, such as Philips, typically enjoy yields in the range of 90 percent. That is, for every 10 screens they manufacture, only 1 is faulty. In contrast, were we to try developing similar industries in the United States, the successful yield would be more like 10 percent. America will never be able to enter into this industry because we lack the technological sophistication to compete.

Manufacturing is high technology. When we lose it, we lose innovation and we lose the benefits and externalities for the rest of the economy that cannot be replaced by other sectors, even knowledge-intensive services.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004


Yesterday in Slovenia.

Or at least some paint.

This just goes with the territory for minions of the global capitalist class:

Wolfensohn in Helsinki, 2001.

IMF Managing Director Michael Camdessus pied in Bangkok, 2000.


You don't see this too often: the number of unemployed college graduates now surpasses the number of unemployed high school dropouts.

Just another perverse indicator of the economic miasma spawned by Bush's shameless economic policies. Economist extraordinaire Jared Bernstein explains it all.


...because if the leader of the free world won't do it, someone has to. Yesterday, the AFL-CIO filed an unfair restraint of trade petition with the USTR against China for its egregious human and labor rights violations.

The economic relationship between China and the United States--and the repression on which it rests--has come to define the global economy. Just these two countries accounted for some 40 percent of the growth in world economic output in the past 5 years (according to the IMF World Economic Outlook). As Rich Trumka put it, "China has emerged as a chief violator of workers’ rights, and its workforce is so large and its labor repression so comprehensive, that it is dragging down standards for the entire world."

The petition is a truly momentous occassion; the first time ever that anyone has tried to invoke US trade laws in defense of human rights. In 1988, Congress amended US trade laws to specify that persistent violations of internationally recognized workers’ rights – including freedom of association, the right to organize and bargain collectively, prohibitions on forced and child labor, and standards for minimum wages, hours and occupational safety and health – constitute an “unreasonable” practice that is actionable under Section 301.

The Financial Times reports on the petition this morning while Harold Meyerson hones the message:

Critics will doubtless call the AFL-CIO "protectionist" for filing this petition. And if it's protectionist to demand that millions of Chinese women have the right to leave their jobs and apply for better ones, or to unionize their workplace or be allowed at least one day off a year, if it's protectionist to demand that U.S. workers not lose their jobs because they cannot work as cheaply as these repressed Chinese workers, then the AFL-CIO should absolutely plead guilty. What I'd like to hear from the critics -- and from George W. Bush -- is why they're protecting the deal between U.S. corporations and China's neo-Stalinist state to extract profits for them both at the expense of tens of millions of desperate young women.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004


The WSJ reports this morning:

MGM has been talking about ways to "share the wealth"...

...but not with us.

Billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian would reap a windfall of between $1 billion and $1.6 billion if the film studio he controls, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., issues a one-time special dividend of $6 to $9 a share that the company is currently considering.

The important thing is that he earned it.

Hey, how about sharing a little of that over here.


Here is a great scatter plot of amalgmated presidential polling data.

Props to MaxDProphet for the tip.


The Iowa Electronic Market presidential futures shows Bush pulling slightly ahead of Kerry since Super Tuesday. At latest quote, Bush is running 50.2 to Kerry's 47.4:

Given the relative bid-ask spreads on the Kerry and Bush contracts, though, (and without volume data on the market) it seems a lot of speculators have reversed their positions from long Kerry/short Bush to long Bush/short Kerry. The smart money position has to be short Bush at this point. Happy arbitrage!

Monday, March 15, 2004


On September 24, 2001 George Bush had these strong words to say about the US response to terrorist financing:

"Money is the life-blood of terrorist operations...We will starve terrorists of funding, turn them against each other, rout them out of their safe hiding places, and bring them to justice."

Since then, Globalize This! has reported a number of times about how the Bush administration accomodates global financial corporations, and chemical and weapons manufacturers that launder money, provide armaments and otherwise aid and abet terrorists.

Last Monday, Treasury Secretary John Snow once again boasted of "agressive enforcement" of laws in the financial war on terror.

And, once again, major corporations that are in bed (or at least in business) with the terrorists and terrorist countries are getting slaps on the wrist from President Bush for their role in enabling terrorists to wreak havoc around the world.

This month's release of civil penalties assessed by the Treasury Department shows somewhat lighter activities than previous releases. Whereas in past months, companies assessed fines were largely laundering money through private banking accounts in a number of offending countries, this month companies mostly were involved in trading (or helping others to trade) contraband materials with Iran and Iraq. In the most serious incident, the AT & C Corporation sold Iraq aluminum tubes ostensibly intended for a nuclear weapons program. AT & C contracted to provide some 60,000 of these babies for a total price tag of $900,000.

In keeping with their pledge of agressive enforcement, the Bush administration fined AT & C Corp. a hefty $66,250.


Maybe Tom Friedman is good for something after all. Watch here, on CBS's Face the Nation, as Friedman makes Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld eat his words.

Thanks to the Center for American Progress' Daily Progress Report for the tip off. If you haven't done so yet, sign up now to get the daily PR.

WaPo: Time May Be Up for Naps in Pre-K Class

If American students can't sleep in school, how can we expect to keep on the cutting edge of math and science education? How will Americans compete for knowledge-intensive white-collar service jobs?

From the Trends in Mathematics and Science Study 2003.
Top 20 Countries, Overall Science Scores*

1 Taiwan 569.08
2 Singapore 567.89
3 Hungary 552.38
4 Japan 549.65
5 Korea 548.64
6 Netherlands 544.75
7 Australia 540.26
8 Czech Repub 539.42
9 England 538.47
10 Finland 535.21
11 Slovak Repub 535.01
12 Belgium 534.86
13 Slovenia 533.25
14 Canada 533.08
15 Hong Kong 529.55
16 Russia 529.22
17 Bulgaria 518.01
18 US 514.91
19 New Zealand 509.63
20 Latvia 502.69

Look out Bulgaria, here comes the American dynamo!

*Neither China nor India were included in the sample for this study.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004


From a quote in the artwork of the John Adams Building (Library of Congress) Main Reading Room:

The ground of liberty is to be gained by inches. We must be contented to secure what we can get from time to time and eternally press forward for what is yet to get. It takes time to presuade men to do even what is for their own good.

Depends what your definition of is is.

Another way of saying this: progress can only be made inch by inch, except in periodic episodes marked by crises, which allow for revolutions in the organization of social institutions.


Here is a great example how journalism obscures the role of political interest groups in politics: by burying them in he-said-she-said "process" stories that detaches the political money from the issues and interests in question.

The newsworthiness of this article is that **NEWS FLASH** both sides are spending money in the 2004 presidential race. Democrats are spending more than they used to, and getting more sophisticated. That is to say, dems may be catching up by creating political organization outside the structure of the DNC party as a way to anchor it to core democratic issues.

What is Left money buying?:

1. TV ads:"Politically, we are trying to really highlight, underscore and push into sharp focus the policies of the Republicans. That may have a certain effect on the Bush or the Kerry campaign, but we are not involved in electing or defeating people. We are raising issues."

2. Grassroots organization: The group is recruiting an army of people like Sean McDonald, a 31-year-old who left his job installing carpet to make $8 an hour as a door knocker in Massillon, Ohio, near his hometown, Canton. The goal is simple: Find out what issues are on the minds of potential voters...At some houses, he thrusts a palm computer in the door to show a 16-second video clip of a steelworker talking about losing his job.

How the Right does it and the missing interest:
Even with all this new spending from the Left in 2004, it still won't add up to a hill of beans in comparison to what Right groups spend on politics all the time, election year or not. I would be willing to wager that the money spent by business on passing NAFTA (on the order of $30 million, not counting the Mexican government's Washington lobbying campaign) and China PNTR (i have no hard figures on this) alone still blows Left spending on presidential spending out of the water.

Rest assured the Right is not sitting idley by:

[A] conservative group, Club for Growth, is expected to run advertisements against Mr. Kerry soon.

First off, calling the Club for Growth a "conservative group" really betrays the precision of focus in what CFG's 9,000 members, dominated by Wall Street financiers and executives intended as the organization's purpose and agenda: "Our members help elect candidates who support the Reagan vision of limited government and lower taxes."

[P.S. CFG's director is Stephen Moore, formerly of the Cato Institute, and mass media mogul at Time, Wall Street Journal, National Review, Fox News, etc.]

**UPDATE: And of course, Bush fundraising and affiliated spending does not capture the campaign costs that Bush is able to pawn off on the American taxpayer--flying all over the country in Air Force One to do political events, and then staying over for a million dollar fundraiser almost every single day; spending $22 million on a propagandistic Medicare media campaign, akin to electioneering on Bush's Medicare law.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004


Martin Indyk of Brookings takes issue with the Bush administration's claims that Gaddafi was cowed into compliance by shock and awe in Iraq in this morning's FT.

Did shock and awe lead this dictator to disarm? Emphatically NO, according to Indyk:

In fact, Libyan representatives offered to surrender WMD programmes more than four years ago, in then-secret negotiations with US officials. In May 1999, their offer was officially conveyed to the US government - at the peak of the "12 years of diplomacy with Iraq" that Mr Bush now disparages.

Libya was facing a deepening economic crisis amid disastrous economic policies and mismanagement of oil revenues. In this context, United Nations and US sanctions that prevented Libya importing oilfield technology thus prevented Mr Gadaffi from expanding oil production. The only way out was to seek rapprochement with Washington.

Reinforcing this imperative was Mr Gadaffi's quest for respectability. Fed up with pan-Arabism, he turned to Africa, only to find little support from old allies. Removing the sanctions and their stigma became his priority.

From the start of President Bill Clinton's administration, Mr Gadaffi had tried to open back-channels. Disappointed, he turned to Britain, first settling a dispute over the shooting of a policewoman outside the Libyan embassy in London and then offering to send the two Libyans accused in the Lockerbie PanAm 103 bombing for trial in a third country

...On the issue of WMD, the US at the time was concerned about Libya's clandestine production of chemical weapons. Expressing a preference for a multilateral forum, Libyan representatives offered to join the Chemical Weapons Convention and open its facilities to inspection. In October 1999, Libya repeated its offer on chemical weapons and agreed to join the Middle East multilateral arms control talks.

...The fact that Mr Gadaffi was willing to give up his WMD programmes and allow inspections four years ago does not detract from the Bush administration's achievement in securing Libya's nuclear disarmament. But in doing so, Mr Bush completed a diplomatic game plan initiated by Mr Clinton. The issue here, however, is not credit. Rather, it is whether Mr Gadaffi gave up his WMD programmes because Mr Hussein was toppled, as Mr Bush now claims. As the record shows, Libyan disarmament did not require a war in Iraq.

Monday, March 08, 2004


In two recent posts I opined on the origins, interests and importance of the free market ideology movement and the material infrastructure by which it continually reproduces the conditions that reinforce its hold on public policy debates.

On Thursday, the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy released a report that studied just how this free market ideas machine works. A reporter from the Witchita Eagle was sitting next to me at the press release. Witchita, as it happens, is home to Koch Industries--one of the biggest players in the free market ideology machine.

Conservatives Spend Big Time on Public Policy
By NCRP’s modest estimate, between 1999 and 2001 conservative foundations gave some $253 million to conservative policy organizations, those espousing evangelical Christian or economic libertarian bents who are actively engaged in public policymaking. This number represents about 30 percent of the direct public support—the individual gifts, bequests, corporate or foundation gifts, and estate contributions—received by conservative policy organizations.

Of the $253 million, $116 million or 46% of giving went to think tanks and policy groups promoting a market deregulatory agenda at local, state, national and international levels. Ninety million went to national think tanks: $28.6 to Heritage; $7.6 to AEI; $5.5 to Hoover; $4.8 to Cato.

It should be noted that the foundation giving to conservative policy organizations represents an incomplete rendering of interest group spending on the conservative ideas industry. Corporate contributions to 501©3 non-profits are largely unregulated and face no disclosure requirements (other than grants made by corporate foundations, of course), which unfortunately makes it difficult to pinpoint a precise number for corporations’ (and corporate-affiliated individuals) investments in the conservative think tank industry.

Nor does this tally include conservative foundation spending on other programs that are more removed from the policymaking process, such as conservative media. These and other cultural endeavors including sponsoring television shows; convening conferences; endowing academic chairs in business, law, economics and political science departments; publishing books, magazines and quasi-academic journals which nonetheless play an instrumental role as the infrastructure bywhich conservative think tanks propagate their philosophy, create constituencies for policy proposals, and form the discursive parameters of the public debate.

The NCRP report also notes the substantial political contributions from individuals in leadership positions in these foundations and organizations (and the corporate entities to which they are affiliated) can be traced to Republican PACs and candidates to the tune of $44 million.

Different Strategies
The success of conservative foundations and other conservative policy donors relative to the overall pool of charitable giving to nonprofit organizations is disproportionate to the amount of influence they are able to wield on the policy process. This success reflects major differences between the cultures and strategies of conservative philanthropies vis a vis moderate to liberal philanthropies both in macro and micro-level strategies.

Conservative philanthropies focused on building institutions that became pillars of the public policy process by providing mandates on broad themes and then providing their grantees with multi-year, unrestricted general support that allows them the agility to keep pace with ongoing political developments. They have also emphasized the need for developing intellectual leaders, for mass communication and education and have been explicit in their intent to lobby government. By a sort-of Leninist party-state movement, they have succeeded in influencing government at all its levels: local, state, national and international; executive, judicial and legislative.

In contrast, moderate-liberal philanthropies have been more inclined to short-term, program/project-specific giving that leave their grantee organizations scrambling from grant to grant. As such, many of these organizations develop narrow, single-issue foci and tend to act largely at the national level. Moderate-liberal philanthropies also often demonstrate an aversion of politics, and eschew lobbying.

The agenda and strategy of conservative donors is coordinated through networks of cross-memberships on corporate, foundation and NGO boards of directors, creating a closeness which eliminates much of the impetus felt in the moderate to liberal philanthropy/nonprofit organization realm to spend resources assessing the efficacy of programs and on other oversight measures.

The Movement In Action
Take Koch Industries, the second-largest privately held company in the U.S. with business activities in petrochemicals, natural gas, plastics, and of course commodities trading. Koch’s website boasts, “If Koch were a publicly traded company, its revenues would rank it among the Top 25 in the Fortune 500, ahead of such companies as Microsoft, Disney, Pepsico, and Merrill Lynch.”

Three of the top fifteen biggest spending conservative foundations in NCRP’s study are affiliated with Koch: the Charles Koch Charitable Foundation (7), the David Koch Foundation (8), and the Claude R. Lambe Chartiable Foundation (13). Together, these foundations gave over $20 million between 1999 and 2001; between 1998 and 2003 David Koch (and other leaders of at his Foundation) gave more than $1.7 million to Republicans.

David Koch serves on the board at the Cato Institute and the Reason Foundation, and is chairman of Citizens for a Sound Economy. Charles Koch co-founded Cato with Ed Crane in 1977. Wayne Gable, president of both the Charles Koch and Claude R. Lambe Foundations serves as director of Citizens for a Sound Economy.

It should be no surprise that a petrochemical company would have some issues with the EPA and environmental regulations in general. No problem, in 1985 the Kochs and others created an organization called the Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment: protecting the environment through secure property rights. One program FREE runs provides all expenses paid seminars on economics and the environment for federal judges. Throughout the mid-1990s, 137 judges reported 194 trips to FREE seminars. FREE itself claims one-third of the federal judiciary has either attended or requested enrollment in FREE seminars.

Oh, and FREE will be hosting the 2004 Mont Pelerin Society tryst in Salt Lake City.

Koch was rewarded handsomely for its investment. Facing fines of over $350 million and possible jail time for 97 counts of violating federal clean air and hazardous waste laws in Corpus Christi, Texas. Levaraging its close relationship with President Bush and the judicial brain-washing activities of FREE, Koch was able to convince the DoJ and the federal judge to accept a guilty plea in exchange for a $10 million fine and $10 million "for special projects to improve the environment in Corpus Christi."

On the Koch family's lifetime commitment to philanthropy, a spokeswoman from Koch Industries told the Witchita Eagle reporter: "When the Kochs give, they give so lawmakers can make better decisions." Better decisions for the Kochs, that is. Ain't democracy grand.

Friday, March 05, 2004 US WILL HUNT BIN LADEN 24/7

(Story here).

Umm, if the Bush admin has just decided to start a full-time search for OBL, what the hell have they been doing for the past three years?!?


Economist extraordinaire Jared Bernstein has the dirt on what's happening to jobs in America this month.

The unemployment rate in February remained unchanged, but only because 392,000 people got so frustrated with Bush's jobless recovery they decided to stop even looking for work. (Oh, and the household survey--fabled to reveal a phantom recovery--also shows civilian employment declines of 265,000 in the last month).

The economy added 21,000 jobs--but only in the government sector and in temprorary employment. Private employment saw no growth. The manufacutring sector posted its 43rd straight month of declines, shedding 3,000 jobs--hamburger flipping or otherwise. Oh, and the "big" job growth we saw last month was revised downward by 15,000 to 97,000.

Thursday, March 04, 2004


By Susan George.


The Boy Scouts are invading Iraq...and little boys everywhere are worried. Very worried.

That's all Iraqi youth need is a little more indocrtination.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004


Every once in a while when I get bored, I like to peruse conservative websites in an effort to keep abrest of whatever scourge the right wing is planning to unleash.

So here is what I found tonight: next week is the 60th anniversary of Fredrich Hayek's Road to Serfdom.

Hayek is the Karl Marx of neoliberalism--even more so than Adam Smith, because Hayek was able to make a moral argument for the tyranny of the market. In doing so, Hayek unleashed a movement bent on deconstructing the social contract painstakingly constracted in the years since the Great Depression. To this end, Hayek and those in business who supported his views convened the Mont Pelerin Society to wage an ideological/cultural war on behalf of market fundamentalism. Milton Friedman was one of the movements primary intellectual enablers.

RTS argued that any incursion of the state into the economy would unleash the unstoppable momentum--a slippery slope--toward tyranny and an end to freedom. To Hayek, it would only be a matter of time before the SEC would devolve into Stalinism (or worse, the New Deal). There is no doubt Grover Norquist oft found comfort in RTS during his awkward, hormone-crazed adolescent years.

Of course, Hayek concedes in RTS that some degree of statism is a necessary evil, at the minimum an institution to enforce contracts and dare to speak of other public goods. Therein arises a fallacy that seems to leave market fundamentalism--as far as concerns its internal validity as a social philosophy--with no legs on which to stand. Once state intervention comes into play, it is only a matter of to what degree--a question that is determined through a political process by which institutions are made.

After 25 some years of the neoliberal propagation throughout the vast majority of the world's national and international economic institutions, it seems we are actually more on the road to serfdom now than in the pre-neoliberal era that embraced the mixed economy (see these two articles for good discussions: Free Markets and Poverty and the Scorecard on Globalization).

While of little worth as a social philosophy, Hayek's work is incredibly valuable as a political instrument in establishing and maintaining cultural hegemony that sets the boundaries of economic discourse according to the preaching of market fundamentalism. As an idea, market fundamentalism is incredibly powerful in the way it creates a moral system based on hording private property. So it's no wonder why some groups in this world would want these ideas to stick around: they could be used as a political weapon.

But ideas, it turns out, need a material infrastructure in order to be promulgated and disseminated so that cultural hegemony may take root. And that's where our good friends over at Cato, American Enterprise, Heritage, and scores and scores of others come in (tomorrow, the National Center for Responsible Philanthropy releases its annual report on the role of conservative foundations in public policymaking...stay tuned). They are needed to continually celebrate, advocate and replicate these ideas.

What is most disturbing, at least to me personally, is that Daniel Yergin is part of this crowd. I certainly suspected as much after witnessing PBS's 6-hour long globalization propaganda film based on Yergin's book, The Commanding Heights, though I still held out hope. But I just can't fathom how someone who knows what Yergin knows about the military-petro-industrial complex after writing such a masterful book, The Prize, could still be in bed with these guys?!? C'est la guerre.


If the human race as a whole, rather than 50 states plus the District of Colombia, could cast a ballot this coming November, John Kerry would surely win the presidency by a landslide.


The UN wants to know:

The United Nations Global Compact, a voluntary grouping of companies and pressure groups that promotes corporate social responsibility, is preparing its first in-depth study of whether the initiative is having any measurable impact on businesses.

The exercise comes as analysts increasingly question whether the current fad for public-private partnerships is anything more than a public relations exercise. Christian Aid, for example, recently claimed the "image of companies working hard to make the world a better place is too often just that - a carefully manufactured image".

In a report released for this year's Davos summit, it warned: "Some of those shouting the loudest about their corporate virtues are also among those inflicting continuing damage on communities where they work - particularly poor communities."

Here's the most important quote:

"Unless governments play their role, there are limits to what you can do with voluntary initiatives."

The notion that globalization undercuts the power of nation-states is a myth, and a convenient one for politicians with a proclivity towards the Dollar-Wall Street globalization agenda. The power is there, our leaders are just lacking the will to use it (or to apply toward a different end).

Tuesday, March 02, 2004


Last month I wrote about the rise of private military corporations and the conundrums of legitimacy, authority and autonomy posed by the use of PMCs.

As it turns out, ousted Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's security detail was contracted to a US-based multinational PMC, the Steele Foundation (comprised largely of former members of US special forces--read Pentagon and CIA--and the State Department's protection services), when Aristide disbanded the army in 1998.

The potential conflicts of interest in this situation raises some thorny questions and provides a case study in the pitfalls of outsourcing military capabilities.

International NGOs and the US State Department have long condemned Haiti for its human rights abuses. What role might Steele have played in training police, arming thugs, or even in perpetrating such abuses? What evidence of human rights abuses might they have suppressed in the interest of maintaining their service contract with Aristide?

To whom was Steele accountable? When Aristide sought to hire more private forces last month in the face of growing resistance, the US State Department stepped in to block their deployment. Did Steele troops work with the US government to orchestrate Aristide's ouster?


It's a Yiddish morning here at Globalize This! as Krugman deconstructs Alan Greenspan's not-so-subtle attack on Social Security. Here's the bottom line:

There are three lessons in this tale.

First, "starving the beast" is no longer a hypothetical scenario — it's happening as we speak. For decades, conservatives have sought tax cuts, not because they're affordable, but because they aren't. Tax cuts lead to budget deficits, and deficits offer an excuse to squeeze government spending.

Second, squeezing spending doesn't mean cutting back on wasteful programs nobody wants. Social Security and Medicare are the targets because that's where the money is. We might add that ideologues on the right have never given up on their hope of doing away with Social Security altogether. If Mr. Bush wins in November, we can be sure that they will move forward on privatization — the creation of personal retirement accounts. These will be sold as a way to "save" Social Security (from a nonexistent crisis), but will, in fact, undermine its finances. And that, of course, is the point.

Finally, the right-wing corruption of our government system — the partisan takeover of institutions that are supposed to be nonpolitical — continues, and even extends to the Federal Reserve.


Spring has hit the capital of the free world. March 1 and a high of 74 today.

It's already so humid I was shvitsing on the bike ride down to work this morning.

Monday, March 01, 2004


From inside the DC political process it's easy to lose sight of what regular people think about the issues that shape our lives and our world. Here is what regular Americans think about globalization and its politics.

Of note:

Labor and Evironmental Standards, Human Rights

93% say international trade agreements should be required to maintain minimum standards for protection of the environment.

93% say international trade agreements should be required to maintain minimum standards for working conditions.

87% say, "American companies that operate in other countries should be expected to abide by US environmental standards;" 89% say they should abide by US health and safety standards for workers.

64% were not convinced that "Some countries with poor human rights records are major trading partners for the US. If we get involved in trying to promote human rights in these countries we may irritate them and we may lose their trade."

81% say "While we cannot expect workers in foreign countries to make the same wages as in the US, we should expect other countries to permit wages to rise by allowing workers to organize into unions and by putting a stop to child labor."

Given a choice of a garment not made in a sweat shop, or a slightly cheaper garment of unkown origins, 61% would buy the non-sweatshop garment.

In Whose Interest?

49% say US Government officials give too much consideration to the concerns of multinational corporations in making decisions about trade policy.

77% say US Government officials give too little consideration to the concerns of American workers in making decisions about trade policy.

70% believe: "Family farming is an American way of life that should be maintained. Subsidies are the only way that small family farms can compete with large agribusiness and imports from low wage countries...People should have food available to them that was locally grown. Locally grown foods taste better and lead people to have a larger share of fresh foods in their diet. Without subsidies most of our food would be grown far away, even in foreign countries."

44% say NAFTA has been less positive than promised by US government officials. (30% say the effects of NAFTA have been as promised).

69% say the WTO tends to think about what's best for business, not what's best for the world as a whole.


Punk rockers organize at the grassroots to oust Bush.

And who doesn't love a little punk rock polemic?


Included with my issue of Foreign Policy magazine this month is a highly glossy report on the highlights of the 2004 World Economic Forum in Davos, Swizerland. (Unfortunately, I have yet to find a link to the report online--will try to post one later).

Davos is about as close as one can imagine to the mythical capatilist cabal where the rich and powerful meet to plot the course of the world. As even Samuel Huntington says, "Davos people control virtually all international institutions, many of the world’s governments, and the bulk of the world’s economic and military capabilities." It was at Davos, by some accounts, where Mexican president Carlos Salinas first approached Bush I Administration's Trade Representative, Carla Hills, about negotiating NAFTA. (More on Davos here).

This report is, of course, Davos' attempt to put a positive spin on this clandestine assembly of the world's 2,000-some leading ruling elites. In Davospeak, for example, off-shore outsourcing of jobs translates into "worldsourcing" (yes, it is "here to stay" and moreover "you haven't seen anything yet"). Unremarkable in most respects, the report belies the backroom deals and hotel lobby hob-nobbing and rather endeavors to convey Davos' soft face with glossy photos of celebrities like Quincy Jones and Peter Gabriel, and tries to establish the legitimacy of the Davos regime neatly crafted message of compassion, vision, and--dare I say--resolve on the key issues in the world today: terrorism and security, AIDS, environmentalism, and so on.

What is telling in the report, however, is how Davos responds to what it views as the criticism of its detractors:

"To hear some tell it, participants in Davos share similar educational, intellectual, and professional backgrounds, interests and values, and weild enormous influence and power...other critics see...the forum as a corporate cabal where business fat cats and government bigwigs cut dark deals at the expense of the poor."

Charges to which Davos wholly unrepentantly responds:

"All of these critiques contain at least a grain of truth. So, too, does the charge that an organization that talks about promoting transparency and redressing inequality is in fact opaque and aimed at the very rich. But while Davos has its faults and flaws, it cannot be dismissed."

In other words, yes, Davos is the annual convention for the political party of the world's ruling class, and they're not about change any of that. Pardon me for not feeling assuaged.