Friday, March 24, 2006

The Cancer of Free Trade is Killing the West

Commentary by Martin Kelly
November 10, 2004

When a cancer threatens the body, there are only two options; kill or cure.

The remedy is the same when a cancer threatens the body politic. Unrestricted international free trade is such a cancer. It is advocated by small corporate and political elites, whose concerns do not lie with the welfare of families and communities but instead with profits and the tax take. It is a destroyer of resources; it brings both personal and national debt; it weakens the independence of nations; and it has no respect for human life, either within the womb or without. It treats people like things, either consumers or productive assets; it is a form of pornography.

At least Larry Flynt has enough courage in his own convictions to be
an honest pornographer.

The international free trade mindset was prominently on display on the front page of the November 8 Daily Telegraph. That day Digby Jones, the leader of the Confederation of British Industry, was reported as claiming that the UK will have no jobs for unskilled workers in 10 years’ time, and that

“I have formed the view that that if ever there was a country made for globalisation, it is Britain. It is in our DNA…Protectionist voices who think they can stop this – that’s cloud cuckoo land”.

According to Jones, the middle class can go to hell. Like those pesky foetuses who muck up your business plan and for whose existence you have to fork out maternity pay for unproductive time, it is better for the interests of the elite that they do not exist. I think his time scale is too short. I would give it at most eight years before all the UK’s unskilled white-collar jobs are gone. It is often reported here that the Brits don’t like the idea of off-shoring. Like so many things, the European Union, the Iraq war, abortion, capital punishment, gun ownership, they are not going to get a voice because the vested interests of the elite have spoken, and if any don’t like it, they, too can go to hell. Like George W. Bush, Tony Blair is a guy who has enjoyed the very best of what his country has had to offer all his life. Jones was to be addressing an audience that would include two of Blair’s socialist high priests; Gordon Brown, a spoiled product of the Scottish elite, and Peter Mandelson, the grandson of a Labour politician whose personal and political failings have been rewarded with appointment to the European Commission as Trade Commissioner. The only productive work outside politics that the two of them have ever undertaken between them have been brief spells as TV journalists many, many years ago.

If the UK’s non-skilled white-collar jobs are gone in eight years, I would give the USA maybe 12 to 15. As Jones says, one is living in cloud-cuckoo land if one thinks that this process will ever change unless radical action is taken. In other words, kill or cure.

Inside the same edition of the Daily Telegraph, a columnist called Jim White described the work of telesales people as ‘odious’. It may be odious to him – it’s somebody else’s livelihood, one many would rather not have to do if international free trade had not destroyed the manufacturing base, and the politicians had not so thoroughly corrupted the value of qualifications by constant political interference in the schools.

One of the better examples of international free trade’s baleful effects was found in the November 7 Sunday Times. It’s apparently good business practice for the UK’s online retailers to charge Brits up to double the price for the same goods and services that they charge to Continentals. For example, British Airways (motto, ‘The World’s Favourite Airline’) charges Brits £2,353 for a business class seat on a flight from Paris to New York via Heathrow – the same seat costs a French resident £1,071. After 25 years of an unbridled free market, it’s now the right of the Brit to pay top-dollar for everything.

But there’s nothing else to be expected from a country where the only ideology now is the right of big business to screw people into the ground. As previously reported, the passage of the Gambling Bill is causing considerable controversy. Just how badly Blair has sold us down the river was exposed in the November 7 Mail on Sunday. According to that newspaper, a public servant called William Perrin went on a week-long beano to Vegas in November 2003, and returned ranting about the socialist virtues of unregulated blackjack. Downing Street apparently put the strong arm on the rest of Whitehall to keep mum on the whole affair. Perrin’s magnificent obsession became the notion that a mega-casino could regenerate a depressed post-industrial area. As anyone who lives in a former industrial town can tell you, the one thing that will regenerate a depressed post-industrial area is industry – New Labour has given new meaning to the expression, putting it all on red.

But the same paper reports that Gideon Hoffman, a civil servant at the Department of Culture who is helping to manage this fiasco, has sent a speculative resume to another gaming group! He is reported to have said, ‘When this is over, I will be getting a job in industry, and it doesn’t take a genius to work out which one’. Such confidence is only possible from a committed elitist.

It does not take a prophet to see that any expansion of the gaming industry is just the type of commercial activity that would appeal to the Russian mafia.

Whatever Hoffman’s aspirations, he is a public servant, with duties to the people. Civil servants angling for good private work are nothing new either here or in the States. Some even attend very strange conferences. Take, for example, the number three civilian at The Pentagon, Director of the Office of Special Plans and arch-neoconservative Douglas Feith.

It has been reported the Feith was a delegate to the 2004 meeting of the Bilderberg Group. Named after the hotel in the Netherlands where it first met in 1954, Bilderberg is a favourite of conspiracy theorists, although there are very legitimate questions as to its operations. Its delegates never reveal what is discussed. What business does a man whose wages you pay have attending the conference of a private body whose discussions he will not reveal to you? Why is Kenneth Clarke MP still an MP on the public dime while apparently the number two guy in the whole thing? Why was Ed Balls, a civil servant and economic adviser to Gordon Brown and now a prospective Labour candidate, reported to be a delegate to Bilderberg in 2001, 2002 and 2003? Was the journalist Mark Steyn really a delegate to Bilderberg 2003? Why is The Economist magazine always reported to have journalists on site, who never report what was said? Why do other journalists who try to report on it always end up having their collars felt by the local cops? The era of Bilderberg has been the era of free trade. Communism has been defeated – in 1954, political Islam was not a threat. The only issue that spans both these eras, id free trade, so it can be the only thing they are talking about. The power held by its delegates in the world’s commercial and political life means it must open its doors to public scrutiny, and its members justify what they do and talk about in the national interests of their countries of origin.

Given that the effects of international free trade are always the same wherever it’s practiced, it’s sometimes hard not to think that there is some guiding hand following a blueprint for the destruction of the nation state. Take, for example, the Republic of Ireland.

The past 15 years has been a period of historic economic growth in that country – however, as usual, it has had its costs. The Sunday Independent recently reported that the ‘Celtic Tiger’ economy was built not on an increase in productivity, but in an unparalleled expansion of the workforce. Mum got a job. Mum getting a job means she spends less time at home. Families become dislocated and rudderless. The divorce rate increases. Drug and alcohol abuse increases. Families buckle under the sometimes irresistible pressure to consume. Basic goods do not drop in price – mysteriously, they become more expensive, as the commercial need shifts from having to satisfy customers to satisfying shareholders. The bulk of shareholders are institutions, massive financial webs investing money in each other. The managers of the institutions become narrower in their outlook, themselves becoming an elite, appointing each other to their executive remuneration committees, writing each others’ pay checks with other people’s money, leading to the inevitable consequence of a free trade economy, now rearing its head on the Emerald Isle as it has done on the UK and most certainly in the USA – a growing gap between the rich and poor.

Free trade has produced an economic environment where the fate of the dollar is no longer in American hands. If there is any kind of economic slowdown in the coastal zone of China, America is going to suffer. The UK is a basket case – the kind of free trade advocated by people like Digby Jones is going to kill my country stone dead. There is still hope for America. The folks whose ancestors wrote ‘We, the People’ spoke last week, letting the Democrat elites know how they feel about their crackpot social opinions. Instead, they gave their vote to a Republican elite intent on waging wars of aggression, and which values consumption as the standard of peace. Let your Congressman know – if you want to withdraw from the WTO, write them. If you want a tax on outsourced goods, write them. If you want to see the IRS abolished and replaced with a tariff, write them. If you hear the argument made that Americans will lose jobs insourced from abroad if a tariff is introduced, then write them to tell them that those insourced jobs will be replaced with American generated jobs in a matter of weeks. If you hear the argument that outsourcing leads to job creation, write your Congressman to tell them that it also diminishes the tax base, removes resources for programs like the Marines, and diminishes the country’s capital base by making it harder to save money and pay mortgages.
Like I said, this is kill or cure. The cure would be tough, sure, but the alternative is too dreadful to contemplate – do the Republicans really want to turn the United States into a continent sized replica of the City of Glasgow?