Tuesday, August 31, 2004


As Republicans pat their collective backs in NYC this week, let's look back at the real economic record. Originally posted 4/29/04:

This snappy little Flash piece propagandizing the Bush economic record flashed across my desk yesterday. I'm uncertain of its origins, though it does not appear to be connected with the official Bush-Cheney '04 campaign.

A quick survey of right-of-center blogs and other websites shows that Republican-leaners are going ga-ga over this piece as, on its face, it seems to validate what they have long believed, but have never seen substantiated in the public dialogue (most likely because of that pesky liberal media bias): that George W. Bush's economic policies are not a miserable failure and are not a royal screw job for most Americans, but that Bush has done as well as or perhaps better than Clinton.

It's a great, powerful spot. But unfortunately its almost all bunk. The economic "facts" it boasts are either simply not true, disingenuously misleading, or entirely irrelevant. But all of it is disturbing, for it reminds us of the viral characteristics of mis-(or dis-)information. So let me take a crack at it.

This spot claims private sector GDP grew 2.5% in the two years before Bush's tax cut and 5.3% after the tax cut. My first question: Which tax cut? There have been successive rounds of tax cuts in each year of Bush's presidency. I have no idea how this foolio is calculating these numbers (if in fact s/he attempted to calculate anything legitimately at all).

I don't know why you would only be interested in looking a private sector growth rates, rather than the growth of the overall economy, unless perhaps you are some market fundamentalist ideologue who thinks government is bad for the economy, and you believe government spending reduces growth even when it is for such economically important public investments as education, transportation and telecommunications infrastructure, basic science and applied R&D, etc. But I can tell that the numbers are not so kosher--their either using nominal figures, not accounting for compound growth rates, or making some other rookie mistake.

So let's assume s/he means one occuring after the first two years, and before the third year. Since the 2004 Q1 GDP numbers only came out today, we're talking about the growth in the economy (private economy) that occured between Jan 1, 2001 and Dec 31, 2002, compared with growth between Jan 1, 2003 and Dec 31, 2003. In real terms, GDP grew $266 billion in the first period (or $150.7 in the private sector). This is a simple total growth of 2.7% (1.9%) or average annual growth of 1.3% (0.9%). In the latter period, real GDP did grow 3.12% (3.07%). This shouldn't be too aurprising because the economy was in recession for most of 2001.

Dividing the periods like this really tells us nothing about the effects of the Bush tax cuts. More importantly it doesn't tell us why or why not Joe Citizen should vote for George Bush. As the Maestro said, (paraphrasing) zero wage growth and strong productivity growth means huge growth in pre-tax profits. Economic growth does not necessarily mean that people's actual living standards are improving.

Which brings us to Jobs:
I've written a lot about this topic, and Job Watch pretty much has this subject covered and debunked. This particular piece touts "500,000 new jobs created in the first three months of 2004." Of course, it says nothing about the more than 2 million jobs lost even after the end of the recession, nor does it tell us what effect the here lauded tax cuts have had on job creation (which, on balance, is a zero to negative-gain, see Job Watch).

True, after three years the unemployment rate stood at 5.6% in both the Clinton and Bush administrations. Most people get the reason that the unemployment rate is so low under Bush is because so many people have given up looking for work (exiting the labor force) in frustration over the worst job market this country has seen since the Great Depression. Right now there are some 8 million people out of work in this country. If we put back in those phantom unemployed, those who are no longer being counted as unemployed because they are sooo despondent, Bush's unemployment rate jumps up to a whopping 7.1%. YIKES!

Stock Market:
I calculate an increase of 24.7% in the DJIA between April 28, 2003 and April 27, 2004, not the 45% reported in the Flash. Of course, the DJIA only covers 30 out of thousands of stocks. In searching the web for other references to this Flash piece, I found that most postings were dated around March 30, 2004. Fair enough. From March 28, 2003 to March 30, 2004, the DJIA was up 27%.

How about this...Bush came to office as the 1990s stock market bubble was bursting, then 9/11 threw the stock market into a tail spin and the DJIA fell to a way, way low 8,235.81 pts. before climbing back 25% to today's closing price. Then came a wave of corporate accounting scandals beginning with Enron and trickling throughout much of corporate America. The Dow plunged to a low of 7,286.27 on Oct 2, 2002. From this nadir, the DJIA has climbed back 41% to today's price. Now matter how you slice it, the DJIA has not gone up 45% during Bush's presidency.

In any event, I'm wondering why stock prices should be an explicit goal of a president's economic policies rather than, say, the livelihood and living standards of regular Americans...

On that note, I'll wrap up with Poverty:
The average poverty was lower in the Bush reign than under Clinton (9.6 vs 10.5). This is untrue and stupid. It's untrue because the annual poverty numbers are calculated from the March CPS. That means, for example, that the 2001 number is calculated on March 2001, or only a little over a month after Bush took office. It's unreasonable to think that Bush should be responsible for could have influenced the poverty rate in such a short time. So whoever cooked up these numbers is using the wrong endpoints. The Census Bureau only recently released the data for 2002, so there is really only one year of data showing how poverty fared under Bush. If s/he used the right endpoints, the average poverty rate under Clinton would be 9.9% and Bush's would be 9.6%.

It is stupid because who cares what the average poverty rate is over time? The reason we calculate rates is to see the direction of the trend. When Clinton assumed the presidency in 1994, the US poverty rate was 11.6%. After three years, where Bush is now, it had fallen 1.3 percentage points. By the time Clinton left office and Bush usurped the election, the poverty rate had fallen from 11.6% to 9.2%. In the one year of poverty data that is available for the Bush era, the rate increased 0.4 percentage points to 9.6%.

'Nuff said.

Friday, August 27, 2004


TheFT has it down:

About 1.3m Americans fell into poverty last year, while the total without medical insurance swelled by 1.4m, according to official figures released on Thursday that will provide further political ammunition for John Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee.

...The figures play to the agenda of Mr Kerry, who has argued that the Bush administration has lavished favours on the wealthy to the detriment of middle- and lower-income families.

Yes, more people have fallen into poverty and lost their health care insurance under President Bush's economic policies. But in this view, these statistics are more instruments of political rhetoric than scientific measurements of True economic reality. (Never mind that the numbers are produced by a government agency run by the Bush administration).

Those dastardly Democrats...always exploiting poor people for political gain.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004


For those of you just tuning in, our regularly scheduled programming is on summer rerun mode as I transition to life as a graduate student. My home interent is not yet up and running, and computer lab blogging kind of blows. Until then, enjoy some of my most popular posts.


Sir Mark Thatcher, scion of neoliberal stalwart Margaret, has been arrested in South Africa for (allegedly) plotting to overthrow the government of Equatorial Guinea with a band of mercenaries.

If you can't force market fundamentalism through the coercion of foreign aid and the international financial institutions, sometimes the private sector turns to more direct measures.

The FT has the details here.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004


This post is so frequently googled, I put it into my nav bar. Enjoy.

Orginially posted 3/8/2004:

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.

UPDATE: A debt of gratitude is owed to Susan George who demystifies in her seminal article, The Gramscian Right, the the holism of the right-wing strategy to attain hegemony at all levels of society. This is a must read.

Friday, August 20, 2004


Originally posted 2/26/04:

What I'm Reading Today: State Department Report on Human Rights Practices 2003

Since the brouhaha over the trade and jobs issue that erupted when Bush's chief economist Greg Mankiw accidentally revealed to America how economists view the world, the global punditocracy has responded to the call of duty, circling their wagons and decrying protectionist China bashers.

Just out of curiousity about what these "China-bashers" are charging (that Chinese exports are being subsidized through egregious human rights violations, etc., etc.), I went straight to the source. No, not The Nation. I'm talking about that bastion of knee-jerk liberalism and ire of conservatives everywhere, Collin Powell's State Department.

Here's what I found out about what is going on in China:

The report mentions no less than 40 times by my count (I may have missed some) the cheery sounding reeducation-through-labor camps widely used in China (and it ain't talking about an AFL-CIO activist training). Rather, Chinese citizens (some 250,000 of them) were confined without judicial process and force to work "in facilities directly connected with penal institutions...[or in some cases] they were contracted to nonprison enterprises. Facilities and their management profited from inmate labor." Who were these prisoners? Activists for religious freedom, democratic reform, labor rights, women's rights, people who fall out of favor of the party, people who protest to demand back pay for wages that are withheld (more on this below), and generally people who rake too much muck. "Chinese prison management relied on the labor of prisoners both as an element of punishment and to fund prison operations."

"In 1992, the U.S. and Chinese Governments signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU)...express[ing] the intention of the governments to cooperate to assure that Chinese prison-made products were not exported to the United States. However, Chinese cooperation under the MOU and SOC has been poor," meaning, of course, we have no way of knowing whether all those cheap wares adorning the shelves at Walmart are made by compulsory labor. (Regardless, the mere existence of forced labor undermines the rights and protections of all workers in China and the countries with which China trades).

In case you were wondering, China has not ratified the ILO core labor standard prohibiting forced compulsory labor, although they are bound to it via other treaties and, not to mention, the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. US law (Section 301(d) of the Trade Act) specifically regards such human rights violations as an unfair trade practice.

But wait, there's more. It is common practice in China to keep workers in "bondage" by withholding their pay (which is by default forfeited if a worker decides to quit). Since workers in China have no right to associate freely in trade unions, to bargain collectively or to strike (all also established as universal human rights), they have little recourse but to submit to this exploitation. Even so, spontaneous "protests by workers seeking unpaid wages continued throughout the country" are common place throughout China. Protesting workers have resorted to blocking roads and railways, to threatening suicide, and even to self-immolation. (The reason we don't hear too much about it is because it is illegal in China to photograph and film labor protests, or even groups of unemployed people standing around).

This is just the tip of the iceberg: human trafficking, children sold into forced labor, women sold into prostitution, workers exposed to dangerous chemicals and unsafe working practices, and so on. It is really horrifying reading. Don't read it right before bedtime as I did. This little excerpt from the report kept me up for hours last night:

"Some students worked in light industrial production within or for their schools. In March 2001, an explosion in Jiangxi Province at an elementary school that was also used to manufacture fireworks killed 42 persons, most of them schoolchildren who worked to assemble the fireworks."

All this comes just from the 2003 report, but the State Department has reports posted on its website going back to 1993.

So, as this government report clearly proves, all those whacky China-bashers are protectionists looking out for their own self-interest in their effort to send America back to the economic dark ages. End of argument.

Thursday, August 19, 2004


Original air date 2/4/04:

For some time, private industry has walked hand in hand with the military sector: providing consulting and strategic advisory services; providing technical and military training to personnel; providing civilian logistical services, supply-chain management and technical support for frontline troops; and, of course, those sweet, sweet deals to develop and mass produce all those expensive toys. And sometimes, governments even use completely private armed forces.

This is the topic of interest for Peter Singer of the ideologically schizophrenic Brookings Institution. Private military corporations (PMCs) are now a multi-billion dollar global industry. Their ascendency results from a confluence of supply and demand spawned by the fracturing of the geopolitical order. At the same time more states are failing and small arms are proliferating--creating civil disorder and humanitarian crises--there is less political will to intervene in crises for states with the capacity to actually stop them. Meanwhile, the collapse of the Soviet Union unleashed a supply of advanced military hardware available at bargain basement prices from Eastern European governments financially strapped amid their transitions to market economies. The end of apartheid in South Africa and the end of communist state opression left a reserve army of military grunts highly skilled in thuggery (for example, soldiers who committed war crimes or egregious human rights violations).

It was a match made in heaven, and PMCs such as the euphamistically named South African firm Executive Outcomes profitted splendidly by having a hand in almost every civil war in Africa in the past fifteen years. PMCs were employed in the Liberian war in the early 1990s (International Charters, Inc. of Oregon), in Ethiopia in the 1998 war against Eritrea (Sukhoi of Russia), in Sierra Leone in the mid-1990s (Executive Outcomes of South Africa). Who employed these PMCs is a matter of debate, but it is clear that multinational mining, mineral and oil interests have backed PMCs or backed governments to hire PMCs. EO was able to accomplish a rout of the RUF and establish stability in Sierra Leone while the UN could not, despite having a 20 times larger budget and personnel. These groups have even formed an industry lobbying group: the likewise euphamistically named International Peace Operations Association.

Singer is interested in whether PMCs could be used in place of multinational UN peacekeeping forces on the ground in situations where public perception of injustice demands international attention, but the politics of national governments or international organizations prohibit the risk of intervention. Singer is quite aware of the pitfalls of PMCs and confering on them the legitmate use of force otherwise reserved for the domain of nation-states: questions of authority, legitimacy, accountability, and conflicts of interest between the profit motive and the demands of the mission. What Singer lacks, however, is a vision to provide moral guidance through the morally nebulous world of PMCs.

While Singer sees PMCs as a palatable option for Western bourgeois liberal internationalists who can't stomach the costs of humanitarian intervention, supplanting multi-national peace-keeping forces with soldiers of fortune undermines the whole credo of humanistic liberal internationalism: that the dignity and freedom on universal human rights should be bestowed equally on people everywhere irrespective of per capita GDP. They are not a problem that can be bought off to appease Western guilt. Have we all forgotten satyagraha?


Yep, it's the heat of summer and I'm swamped trying to get ready for grad school, which starts on Monday, moving, and tying up loose ends in DC. Rather than trolling the press for the latest tidbits on globalization political economy (which is being drowned out by Iraq and the presidential campaign anyway), I am taking a cue from my television colleagues and re-running some of my better and time insensitive entries, drawn from some of my most Googled posts. If you've already read them, I apologize. New posting will be sporadic for a little while until I adjust to life in the wilds of Western Mass.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004


Been devoting most of this last week to my in-laws and playing with my adorable nieces in Eastern Washington (state, that is). They are Vietnamese-Americans, many of the older men fought in the South Vietnam military before the fall of Saigon. For understandable reasons, all are ardently anti-Communist and many have been life-long Republican voters (since being wrested from their war-torn home and arriving on these shores). To a person, they have had it with Bush and are now ardently pro-Kerry (although for some of the older folks, "Kerry" becomes "Jerry" somewhere in the translation).

Back in Seattle, west of the mountains, Kerry is all that. By my non-scientific survey one in four cars has a Kerry bumper sticker and yard signs abound. After three days of driving all over the city and battling I-5 traffic, I saw less than a handful of Bush stickers (including one car that had both a Bush 2004 sticker AND a "No War In Iraq" sticker...go figure).

At National Airport, when I left DC last week, the news stand was selling Bush and Kerry campaign buttons. Kerry's were sold out. Bush's remained piled high in the bin.

Election fever is running high. People who I've never known tohave a political bone in their bodies are scanning polling results like they were baseball box scores. Everyone wants to talk about the election, about how much they loath Bush. People want to know what they can do to help put Kerry in the White House.

Can you feel it? The tide is turning.

Friday, August 13, 2004


Out on the left coast for a few days and internet access is spotty (yes, a little counterintuitive given my locale). Blogging will be light. See you next week.

Friday, August 06, 2004


Shape of the GOP to come?

Thursday, August 05, 2004


W, earlier this morning:

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we." (Emphasis added).

They are constantly thinking of new ways to ruin our country! So they do hate America!

Suddenly, the last three and a half years of the Bush regime make sense.


Whoopdeedoo. This should be good fodder for the Naderite sirens. Don't be fooled. There is a real and dire choice in 2004.

I'm not saying there's not a bi-partisan consensus to expand American militarism and use it to underwrite the foreign interests of American capital (though the methods may sometimes be different). I'm just saying that even granting this point in its most reductionist form, there is still a very clear choice between the competing duopolists with serious consequences for people's lives and livelihoods around the world.

I admit I am a recovering Nader 2000 voter (if only because I voted in Massachusetts where, as I drove to the town hall to cast my ballot, I heard a poll on the radio giving Gore 65% of the vote). Then, Nader was touting building a viable third party to recast the American political landscape. While it was a pipe dream then, now Nader is not even running with a party which to build.

I wasn't thrilled by Kerry and Edwards' militaristic overtures in their convention acceptance speeches. Nor am I thrilled by pronouncements such as this that Kerry is wooing American financial, media, IT, telecom, and manufacturing barons. But in 2004 the reality is that, while Kerry is not perfect, there are real and dire differences between he and Bush, and the cost of not choosing Kerry is too dear and not worth paying for the quixotic and megalomaniacal delusions of Ralph Nader.

Anyone reading this knows enough math to see that adding Gore's and Nader's vote shares makes a resounding rebuke by the American electorate for the radical conservative vision represented by the Bush-Republican political machine. Ditto, adding Nader to Kerry's total in the polls. Let's not fuck this up again, America. The world is counting on us.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004



[U.S. Capitol Police Chief Terrance W.] Gainer said he is urging congressional officials to create a "virtual fence" that would allow his officers to search any person who steps onto the Capitol grounds, a significant expansion of current policies on searching visitors.


Play By The Rules is organizing a petition against Fila--manufacturer of the official Olympic sportswear--to respect workers' rights and the Olympic spirit of "celebrating humanity."

Tell CEO Steve Wynne that slave labor is not a gold medal sport.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004


This one is too rich to pass up. VP Dick "The Tin Man" Cheney accuses John Kerry of fomenting high gasoline prices, from the AP:

Vice President Dick Cheney (news - web sites) said Tuesday that rising consumption and decreasing domestic production have led to high gasoline prices but also blamed his Democratic opponents and their opposition to the Bush administration's energy policies.

The Bush-Cheney campaign accuses Senate Democrats of blocking a Bush energy plan that would increase petroleum drilling and energy conservation and provide new tax breaks and other incentives to spur exploration and production.

"John Kerry and John Edwards voted no," Cheney said. "It's another area where I think there is a significant difference."

Cheney advocated increasing domestic oil production in wildlife areas in Alaska and other regions that are off-limits to development.

"We have put ourselves into a box. The only thing I can think of to do is to keep pushing for a comprehensive energy policy," he said.

If by "comprehensive energy policy" you mean comprehensively squeezing every last drop of oil from the ground no matter what the environmental or geopolitical costs, instead of investing in sustainable, peaceful energies for the future of the world, then I think Cheney has a point. There is a clear choice between Kerry and Bush.

And here's another Cheney gem:

"The bottom line [in Afghanistan and Iraq] is ... to leave behind the kind of government that will never again be a safe haven for terrorists."

Of course, that kind of government may not neccessarily be a popularly elected government reflecting the sovereign rights of the people of those nations.


The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic, by Chalmers Johnson, in re this post:

The distinction between the military and militarism is crucial. By military I mean all the activities, qualities, and institutions required by a nation to fight a war in its defense. A military should be concerned with ensuring national independence, a sine qua non for the maintenance of personal freedom. But having a military by no means has to lead to militarism, the phenomenon by which a nation's armed services come to put their institutional preservation ahead of acheiving national security or even a commitment to the integrity of the governmental structure of which they are a part...When a military is transformed into an institution of militarism, it naturally begins to displace all other institutions witin a government devoted to conducting reltions with other nations. One sign of the advent of militarism is the assumption by a nation's armed forces of numerous tasks that should be reserved for civilians.

Monday, August 02, 2004


Thanks to Maxspeak for the tip.


Yes, Doh is a bum deal for poor countries who must trade away much of their autonomy in all kinds of policymaking in order to get some crumbs from the rich countries. Nothing I haven't said before, but now I've said it in the Letters page of the Financial Times. I always thought it was a little cheeky to tout letters to the editor, but then I saw even some tenured economics professors include them on their CVs. So why not? You need a subscription to see it on FT.com, so I have reproduced it here (thank you, Nexis):

Financial Times (London, England)

July 30, 2004 Friday
USA Edition 2


LENGTH: 201 words

HEADLINE: Even with Doha deal poor nations may gain little



Sir, Martin Wolf frets over the possibility of another World Trade Organisation failure ("A failure in Geneva would be a disaster for the world", July 28), not least for its impact on the world's poor.

Fear not. Even the rosiest estimates show small gains from the Doha round for poor countries. One World Bank study, for example, predicts Sierra Leone's per capita income would rise to Dollars 592 a year by 2015 with Doha - compared with Dollars 583 without. Reality tends to be less fantastic than abstract economic models. In the real world, many proposed WTO rules on the rich countries' wish-list threaten to reduce incomes in poor countries: raising costs for critical medicines, retarding the dissemination of new technologies and eroding their special access to markets.

Mr Wolf himself notes that most of the anticipated gains stem from poor countries' unilateral trade liberalisation, a path that would allow developing countries to eschew rules that "intrude deeply" in their domestic politics. Doha or not, this path always remains open for countries to pursue through their own independent democratic processes.

Globalize This!, Washington, DC