Category Archives: Trade

Ordinary Iranians Deserve Relief

Foreign Policy, Iran, Israel, Trade

Isreali Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a patriot. About that there can be no doubt. Unlike American pols, whose policies vis-a-vis the American people border on treason, Netanyahu generally acts in the interests of his countrymen. As the patriot he is, one expects Netanyahu to disapprove of the deal Western powers are hammering out with Iran.

“I told them that according to the information reaching Israel, the deal that appears to be in the offing is bad and dangerous,” said Netanyahu. “Not just for us but also for them. I suggested that they wait and give it serious consideration, and it’s good that that is indeed what was decided. We will do everything we can to convince the leaders not to reach a bad agreement.”

The truth, of course, is that the “deal” is not dangerous to the U.S.

Israel’s concerns notwithstanding, pursuing negotiations that ease sanctions on Iran are good for the U.S. and indubitably fair to the Iranian people. Detailed in “The Warmongers: Not Looking Out For Us” are the costs to Americans—as opposed to their overseers in Washington—of sanctions:

Not to be overlooked are the costs to Americans of sanction enforcement, avers Harmer. In addition to the opportunity costs—the missed business aforementioned—there are “direct costs.” The Office of Foreign Asset Control in the U.S. Treasury Department squanders around $1 billion a year in developing lists of “financial institutions that are subject to sanctions,” and then infringing on the rights of individuals and companies to freely exchange privately owned property.

“Indirect costs” are incurred in the course of cultivating a massive U.S. intelligent infrastructure—a veritable alphabet soup of agencies—upon which the Treasury draws in enforcing a regimen of sanctions.

So, too, are the “deterrent costs” borne by the American taxpayer who pays for patrolling the Persian Gulf, the Northern Arabian Sea and the Strait of Hormuz. …

The toll on ordinary Iranians is orders of magnitude greater. Especially pressing: “the disbursement to Iran in installments of up to about $50 billion of Iranian funds blocked in foreign accounts for years.”

Ultimately, trade, not democracy, is the best antidote to war with Iran. The more economically intertwined countries become, the less likely they are to go to war. More than boycotts, barter with Iran is bound to promote good will and reduce belligerence on both sides. As a general rule, state-enforced boycotts harm honest, hard-working Americans who use the economic means to earn their keep. They benefit servants of Uncle Sam—the political class and its media and think-tank hangers-on. For they deploy the political means to advance their ends and grow their sphere of influence. As libertarian economist Murray Rothbard once observed, these “are two mutually exclusive ways of acquiring wealth”—the economic means is honest and productive, the political means is dishonest and predatory.


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UPDATED: Multiculturalism & ‘The 18th-Century Levantine Mindset’

Family, Free Markets, IMMIGRATION, Liberty, Middle East, Multiculturalism, Trade

As hard as it is to believe, the “18th-century cities of the Levant” were liberal, libertine and prosperous. The secret to the successful, vibrant life in the Levant is detailed in a book by Philip Mansel, which traces “the story of how first Smyrna (modern Izmir), then Alexandria and then Beirut emerged to prominence, and how they waxed in wealth, power, beauty and influence over the 19th and 20th centuries.”

The Levant then was without the top-down, punitive, forced integration which is the hallmark of the 19th-century nation-state. Enforced across the Anglo-American and European spheres, this integration compels the founding peoples to prostrate themselves before minorities, each and every one of whom is said to suffer from historical wounds and claims to match their eternally suppurating wounds:

The reviewer reveals a thing or two about multiculturalism in these cities.

“The cities of the Levant were never a melting pot of peoples, rather a grid of self-governing communities, enforced by separate schools, places of worship, hospitals, burial grounds, clubs, charities, newspapers and libraries. Internal schisms – between Catholic and Orthodox, between Nestorian and Monophysite, between Sunni and Shia, between Ashkenazi and Sephardim further subdivided the urban tribes of Greeks, Jews, Syrians, Armenians, Turks, Franks and Egyptians. Trade, fame and the pursuit of pleasure alone brought the citizens together, and with it came a natural multi lingualism, so that it was not uncommon for a Levantine family to be fluent in half a dozen languages and scripts, or to use ‘farabish’ a slang-like fusion of Arabic, Italian, English and French. And because the divisions between the communities were so absolute there was a remarkable spirit of tolerance within a Levantine city. Noone felt that their children were in danger of being submerged by another culture and so there was a propensity for sharing, knowing and acknowledging the various festivals and rituals of the different faiths. This arose not out of any interest in a multi-faith fusion, but as neighbours with a taste for being amused by different dishes, street processions, dances and tunes.”

Levantine loyalty structures started with family, then progressed out to ethnic community with a light gilding of urban pride before drifting on outwards via thin personal connections (however faint or imaginary) to other trading cities and the court of the ruling dynasty. Nationalism was startling absent from the 18th-century Levantine mindset, as was any concern, kinship or sense of responsibility for the parochial hinterland. The laboriously constructed contract of 19th-century nationalism – duty, obedience and sacrifice (duty to pay tax, obedience to the heirachy of state servants and readiness to fight for the fatherland) was in almost comic opposition to the Levantine mindset. For the Levantine was a natural free-trader, if not a smuggler, a deal-maker, a tipper of minor officials and a hoarder – who would migrate rather than fight for a distant state, but also perish rather than witness the break-up of family. Mansel creates a mantra to help us translate the smiles of welcome, the immaculate tailoring, the charm and the intoxicating scents of the Levantine: Deals before Ideals, City before State, Trade before Politics.

UPDATE: “Deals before Ideals, City before State, Trade before Politics”: This quote from the review above is especially germane for those of us who champion the locality as the proper repository of conservative loyalties.


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UPDATED: Iran, Susan Rice And The Tit-For-Tat Gangs

Democrats, Iran, Middle East, Republicans, Trade, UN

The Stupid Party and its followers have been maligning “United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice for an investment portfolio that “includes investments of hundreds of thousands of dollars in several energy companies known for doing business with Iran, according to financial disclosure forms.”

The Evil Party and its devotees have responded by pointing “to ]John] McCain’s financial disclosures, which reveal $1,000 to $15,000 in the JP Morgan International Value Fund. What’s the second-biggest holding in that fund? Why, Royal Dutch Shell, of course. McCain has another $1,000 to $15,000 stake in the JPMorgan Emerging Markets Equity Fund, which invests in China’s CNOOC, which has contracts to ‘develop some of Iran’s biggest oil and gas fields.'”

Two observations: The arguments the Democratic and Republican factions advance exist on a continuum of cretinism. There is no qualitative difference between them. Both Republicans and Democrats agree that Iranians should be crippled economically, when the truth is that Iran should be bartered with, not boycotted. Trade, not democracy, is the best antidote to Iran’s belligerence. The more economically intertwined countries become, the less likely they are to go to war.

The second and secondary point is that the woman (Susan Rice) probably has no idea how all her money is invested. Most people do not examine each and every investment fund they have in their portfolio.

UPDATED (Dec. 2): Rice may, however, be accused of hypocrisy and worse for enforcing sanctions, yet investing in Iran.


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The Perils of Presidential ‘Yellow Peril’ Fever

BAB's A List, Business, Capitalism, China, Democrats, Republicans, Trade

The quote is from the current column, “The Perils of Presidential ‘Yellow Peril’ Fever,” now on WND:

“In the course of the second presidential debate, Mitt Romney was asked to differentiate himself from the justifiably despised George Bush. The Republican presidential contender, who has surrounded himself with neoconservative heavy hitters—and has called Dick Cheney a ‘person of wisdom and judgment’—listed a number of inconsequential distinctions.

Left off was a distinction that reflects favorably on Bush. Like Mr. Obama, George W. Bush did not ‘label China a currency manipulator,’ something Romney has promised to do on his first day in office. This dubious distinction, if anything, belongs to ‘the Clinton administration,’ also the only administration to ever so do.

Labeling China a currency manipulator, to quote Mr. Romney, ‘would allow me as president to be able to put in place, if necessary, tariffs where I believe that they are taking unfair advantage of our manufacturers.’

The same executive-branch omnipotence allowed Barack Obama to go all-out on matters menstrual. Judging by the questions culled by moderator Candy Crawly, America’s female lobby wants a sugar daddy in the White House. Such sentiments, with their attendant wish lists, are easily gratified, given the plenary powers of the presidency.

Yes, feelings are Barack Obama’s forte; facts not so much. The president, poor man, is up a stream without a paddle. Obama is working with all he’s got. It’s hard to blame him for his inability to explain the inexplicable.

And it is this. On the topic of the imagined perils of the ‘Yellow Peril,’ here’s what escaped Obama, who was as eager to impress voters with his me-too Sinophobia …

… Ultimately … Both the president and the incumbent flout freedom and flirt with fascism when they threaten to come between Americans and their cheap, Chinese, consumer goods. …”

The complete column, now on WND, is “The Perils of Presidential ‘Yellow Peril’ Fever.” Read it.

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Protectionist USA

Business, China, Foreign Policy, Free Markets, Labor, Paleolibertarianism, Private Property, Trade

If you’re in the market for “cheap rooftop solar panels,” you might have to reconsider. The Commerce Department has slapped “tariffs ranging from about 34 to nearly 47 percent on most solar panels imported from” China.

Tariffs, quotas, anti-dumping penalties, or any other trade barrier, force the American consumer to subsidize less efficient local industries, making him the poorer for it. Hundreds of industries—“the burgeoning business of installing cheap rooftop solar panels,” for example—are destined to shrink or go under in order to keep local, politically efficient industries in the lap of luxury.

This is not in the interest of the American consumer and it violates his freedom of contract and association.

The meddlers in Commerce had “determined that Chinese companies were benefiting from unfair government subsidies and were selling their products in the United States below the cost of production, a practice known as dumping.”

Dumping is good for American consumers. Antidumping penalties are typically imposed by the West on poorer nations to stop them from selling their wares bellow market prices. Such protectionist policies are detrimental to less- developed and Third-World countries, which gain advantage through the use of one of the only resources they have, their labor.

The US flouts freedom when it meddles in the affairs of the Chinese and the US consumer. The latter loves cheap Chinese products.


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Romney: So Nice, So Wrong

Business, China, Democrats, Foreign Policy, Iran, Neoconservatism, Republicans, Trade

MSNBC was my first port of call, right after Mitt Romney completed his address to the 2012 Republican Convention. Romney’s sworn enemies would be the best gauges as to how well the speech resonated.

The cobra head at MSNBC—Rachel Maddow, Al Sharpton, Lawrence O’Donnell, Ed Schultz—all were remarkably mild in their reactions. Other than the hissing Chris Matthews, these people were partial to the man and his message.

O’Donnell: ‘It was an effective presentation’
Chuck Todd: ‘optimistic nostalgia’
Ed Schultz: a ‘pitch to women’
HuffPo: “Solid.” “Competent.” “Workmanlike.”
Chris Matthews, aka The Snake, was the only one to rightly condemn Romney’s “jingoistic language about war,” as “bad for the country.”

AND FOR THE WORLD!

Tomorrow these pundits will have returned to their default position. But, for now, they seemed to have finally seen that, while Romney’s political positions are horrid, he’s a lovely man. As incongruous as this may seem, it is nevertheless true.

I’ve seen enough of life to know a lovely man when I see one. Ann Romney, herself a delightful lady, is a lucky woman. Romney is a great provider, fabulously devoted to family and church, consistently generous and charitable to all those around him, and brilliant in all endeavors, academic and other.

Unlike those of Obama, Romney’s university transcripts will stand scrutiny.

Sadly, Romney is wrong on almost all issues of policy.

WRONG on China.
WRONG on Foreign policy.
WRONG on Iran.
WRONG on Russia.

So wrong about so much, yet such a lovely man. (And I did cheer, “Bain, Baby,” when he talked up free enterprise.)

Repeal-and-replace statism” is what the Ryan-Romney ticket is about.


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