When it comes to weak countries opening up their markets, they are straightforward free marketeers. But when it comes to strong countries doing the same, they are a subservient bureaucracy.
You're right... up to a point. The WTO tends to have power over poor countries because they need the trade, while rich countries do not need the WTO. However, I would suggest that the fault does not lay with the WTO, but rather with the individual governments and their various protectionist policies. We've already seen some signalling from Prime Minister Blair that England would remove at least some of its subsidies if Africa commits to reform... we've seen Bush suggest cancelling the IMF debt... I hear rumors that the Vermont Dairy Compact will be wiped out... with the exception of Steel, most of the new legislation I'm hearing about has been very positive.
And therein lies the joke: it is absurd to ask if Bush has the politcal capital to end US farm subsidies. He doesn't have the mandate, or the leadership, to tilt the status quo one bit, and he never will. But he doesn't need to: has Bush ever for one single second even entertained the thought of touching farm subsidies? Hell no. He isn't that dumb.
That's why I sure as hell didn't vote for him. Still, I think he was better than clinton in regard to trade, and much better than gore would have been. As for touching farm subsidies... as I said, he's pushing congress to end the Vermont Dairy Compact... which is a good start.
The really sick part is that the main beneficiaries of our farm policy are not the poster-child family farmers, but Monstanto and ADM.
I'm still not so sure about that; I haven't seen you, or anyone, refute the statistic that hundreds of millions of Asians rose up from poverty in 10 years. Clearly Monsanto and ADM are doing well, however it's not really their fault; of course they're going to seek to maximize profits. It seems to me that fault lies with the protectionist governments, and the best way to remedy those faults is to vote the offending members out of office.
You can wish and wish all you want, but in the US, socialism for farmers and welfare for agribusiness is as sacrosanct as mom and apple pie. And this is an example of the reason why all this wishful thinking and all these pretty theories about the beauty of free trade are not only irrelavent, they are a cruel joke.
You're right about socialism for farmers and corporate welfare... however again, the best way to remedy the situation is by voting the laws down, and encouraging others to do so. The wishful thinking is not irrelavent, it is a roadmap to prosperity for all. It does work. We know it, we've seen it, we did it, we had it for years. Latin America also had it and prospered... when it went protectionist, it faultered. Now Latin America is removing its barriers once again. My guess is that in four years, we will have fewer social policies than we currently do... though the democratic senate may change that.
And even if you think you have some magic means of convincing the Western governments to give up all those subsidies and the protectionism hidden in the (secret) fine print of NAFTA or the WTO, is the West willing to make the transition painless for the world's poor?
You mentioned in the Libertarian-meets-green article that you felt a market-oriented approach to environmental policy would work, however we would have to show people that it is in their interests to follow the market. It seems to me that our global policies must do the same thing. If we can convince enough Americans that by ending subsidies we will allow developing countries to flourish and result in them purchasing more of our goods, by letting them get more wealthy we will benefit as well, then we may be able to remove some protectionist legislation.
By reducing the size and scope of the federal government in the US, we can move ourselves in the right direction. Bush's tax cut should be a huge help, as it will prevent the democrats from passing a great deal more protectionst legislation. Now if we can just stop the republicans from protecting things like steel, we'll be in good shape. Assuming our economy grows faster than Europe's, due to their (seemingly) faulty move on Kyoto and their protectionist policies, chances are there will be demand in Europe to change to a more American-style economy (as there already is). Hopefully that will push them further towards ending their protections.
Sure, your neat and tidy free market economic models look nice, but they don't exist in the real world, and believing Dubya's hype will not make them any more real.
I don't necessarily believe W's hype, however I will be curious to see what he has done in 4 years. Maybe he'll do nothing, but it seems to me that he does at least have some clue how markets work. He's not perfect, and the fact is that we probably never will have perfect, but he's not awful either.
The problem is not in the economic models... it's in getting leaders to follow them. That comes from educating citizens to how they work, from following the rules and promoting their successes, and from voting the proper candidates into office.
Protests are not the way to solve the issues. By writing, not yelling, we accomplish much. By forming economic models, we accomplish much. By getting into government, we accomplish much.
The most powerful man in the world, Alan Greenspan, is a libertarian free-trader. I've been hearing rumors of Larry Kudlow, an even more libertarian free-trader (and not a Bush lapdog -- at least he ripped apart Bush's energy policy as extremely faulty) as a choice for replacing Greenspan should he step down. These are powerful posts, and the more we can add, the better.
From what I just read from you, our views on the ultimate goal are not necessarily different, we simply differ on the degree of malleability of the G8 governments. I think they're on the road to changes for the better, and soon.
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