Posts tagged ‘free trade’

Let my people go

In recent years, however, the Southern labor system has begun to move north. As Wal-Mart has evolved from an Ozark discount chain to the nation’s largest private-sector employer, it has brought its everyday low wages and ferocious anti-unionism to every one of its outlets. Meanwhile, the transformation of the Republican Party into an organization based in and dominated by the white South has turned Northern Republicans more anti-union. Since right-wing Republicans took control of Indiana and Michigan in the 2010 elections, for example, both have passed right-to-work laws.

Start the border fence in Norfolk, Va. By Harold Meyerson

Even by the standards of the craven, screed-vending WaPo, this [Harold Myerson screed] is amazing.

Look, y’all: we tried to leave. You wouldn’t let us. We tried and TRIED to leave. ‘Til Stoneman’s cavalry* came, and tore up the tracks again… Now I don’t mind choppin’ wood, and I don’t care if the money’s no good. Take what you need and leave the rest, But they should never have taken the very best. You had your chance, ya Yankee S.O.B. Now you are stuck with us.

Amazing Op-Ed in WAPO (emphasis added)

See also: Detroit

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Detroit – And this, too, shall pass away.

A longtime friend who worked in regional planning remarked on the propensity of Detroit to try gimmicks: the historic trolley, the People Mover, the Poletown Cadillac works, the push for casinos. It’s probably too harsh to suggest the civil rights establishment said and did nothing in that era; it may be more accurate to say that people who had ambitions, no matter their ancestry or their politics, opted to exit rather than stay and attempt to change the established ways.


What happened to one of the most prosperous areas on earth?

If you listen to the interwebs, the answer is “terrible, Democratic-run urban politics.” Or “union-busting anti-labor policies” in Southern states that transformed solid middle-class jobs in the Midwest into near-minimum-wage jobs in states such as Alabama and Tennessee. Or maybe “racism.” Or “the urban underclass.”

All of these answers are impossibly reductive. The city of Detroit has no one problem; it has a constellation of them. Here, in no particular order, are some of the most important factors.

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Everyone knows how we build automobiles. Trade

Everyone knows how we build automobiles. To grow automobiles, we first grow the raw material from which they are made – wheat. We put the wheat on ships and send the ships out into the Pacific. They come back with Hondas on them.

Quotation of the Day

You didn’t build that!


The Rational Optimist, by Matt Ridley

[T]here was a dramatic change in the obsidian objects at Urkesh around the time of the collapse. Before, the objects came from six different sources in Anatolia, implying that Urkesh was a cosmopolitan city visited by traders from different places. Afterward, the objects came from just two of the nearer sites.

Moreover, using a new magnetic technique, Drs. Frahm and Feinberg can identify which quarries at the two sites were used, and they find that, after the collapse, different quarries were being used from before. The obsidian thus confirms the suggestion from pottery evidence that there was some sudden disruption at this time and that trade atrophied.

Why? For many years the Akkadian collapse has been explained according to the academic fashion of the time. The first culprit was thought to be unsustainable agricultural practices, leading to the exhaustion of the soil and the displacement of farmers by shepherds. More recently, climate change has been blamed. A megadrought supposedly resulted from global cooling, caused by either a large volcanic eruption or a big meteorite strike elsewhere on the planet. But the evidence for a global climate event around this time is shaky.

A regional rainfall failure does seem to have happened, as evidenced near Tell Mozan by changes in crops, river flow and the disappearance of forests. Yet Karl Butzer of the University of Texas at Austin argues in a new paper that pollen records and an increase in contemporary canal building further downstream in the lower Euphrates valley (implying an increase in available water) mean “it is implausible that the Akkadian heartland collapsed because of a megadrought.”

Instead, Dr. Butzer argues that Sargon’s conquest itself caused the collapse of trade by destroying cities and disrupting what had till then been “an inter-networked world-economy, once extending from the Aegean to the Indus Valley.” In other words, as with the end of the Roman empire, the collapse of trade caused the collapse of civilization more than the other way around.

The collapse of the Akkadian empire laid bare by isotopes



Unfortunately, it seems that the future Aldous Huxley predicted in 1932, in Brave New World, is arriving early. Mockery, truculence, and minimalist living are best, then enjoy the decline. However, we do need a Revolving Door Tax (RDT), learn what Members of Congress pay in taxes, and prosecute politicians and staff and their “family and friends” who profit from insider trading.

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