Category Archives: Labor

Independence and its consequences, by Alasdair Macleod

Alasdair Macleod sees Britain’s future post-Brexit as bright, but there’s one huge danger. From Macleod at goldmoney.com:

Britain left the EU on the last day of January and is an independent nation once more. The new Johnson government is confident that Britain will do well outside the EU. Free trade will be embraced, and a no-deal outcome, now dubbed an Australian trade relationship, holds no fears for the British government.

This article summarises the political and economic consequences of this historic moment. The fly in the ointment is there is no sign that Britain’s government understands the importance of sound money, which will be crucial in the event a global economic and financial credit crisis materialises.

Independence and trade negotiations

Having given independence to all its colonies, now it’s Britain’s turn. On 1 February the UK became politically independent and entered an eleven-month transition period while trade terms with the EU and other trading nations are negotiated, with the objective of entering 2021 with freedom to trade without tariffs with as many nations as possible. If Britain succeeds in its initial objectives these trade agreements will include not only the EU but also America, Japan, South Korea, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the other trans-Pacific Partnership nations and a host of sub-Saharan African nations in the Commonwealth. It amounts to about two-thirds of the world measured by nominal GDP, of which only 21% is with the EU.

Additionally, an analyst looking at market substitution must allow for the relative dynamism of economies. Britain’s trade in goods with the EU has been declining, and today represents about 45% of Britain’s exports, having slipped from 55% in 2006. Despite the penalty of WTO terms with nearly all of Britain’s other trading partners, British exports are gaining more traction in trade outside Fortress EU. The future is brighter elsewhere.

Furthermore, the EU’s trade covers physical goods affecting only 8% of Britain’s GDP, with services a separate issue negotiated on a case-by-case basis.[i]] Being predominantly wholesale, most trade in financial services is excluded (though the EU is trying to claim it is not), and those at the retail level are delivered through British-owned subsidiaries based in Luxembourg and Dublin. Attempts to force EU standards on British financial services have a long history of failure, and the most recent suggestion, that the EU will seek to maintain access to British fishing waters in exchange for continued access for financial services to the EU, is an empty bargain.

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“Shit-Life Syndrome,” Trump Voters, and Clueless Dems, by Bruce E. Levine

The Democrats could greatly help their own cause if they seriously considered why people vote for Trump, instead of just casting aspersion at those voters. From Bruce E. Levine at counterpunch.org:

Photograph Source: Frank Boston – CC BY 2.0

Getting rid of Trump means taking seriously “shit-life syndrome”—and its resulting misery, which includes suicide, drug overdose death, and trauma for surviving communities.

My state of Ohio is home to many shit-life syndrome sufferers. In the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton lost Ohio’s 18 electoral votes to Trump. She got clobbered by over 400,000 votes (more than 8%). She lost 80 of Ohio’s 88 counties. Trump won rural poorer counties, several by whopping margins. Trump got the shit-life syndrome vote.

Will Hutton in his 2018 Guardian piece, “The Bad News is We’re Dying Early in Britain – and It’s All Down to ‘Shit-Life Syndrome’” describes shit-life syndrome in both Britain and the United States: “Poor working-age Americans of all races are locked in a cycle of poverty and neglect, amid wider affluence. They are ill educated and ill trained. The jobs available are drudge work paying the minimum wage, with minimal or no job security.”

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The Human Cost Of The EV Revolution, by Irina Slav

People might not be quite as jazzed about electric cars if they knew the cobalt in the battery had been mined by children. From Anes Alic at oilprice.com:

Mining

There’s a chance that the iPhone you’re about to get for Christmas contains cobalt mined by a six-year-old. There’s also a chance that that six-year-old has been killed or maimed in the processes of mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the lion’s share of the world’s cobalt comes from.

Or, maybe, for those whose Christmas lists are more upscale, you’ll be driving around in a new Tesla next week, with a battery containing cobalt from that same mine.

The EV and electronics revolutions have come at a steep human cost: a boom in child labor in the DRC as child cobalt miners offer battery makers and Big Tech cheap labor.

That’s the focus of the first-ever lawsuit targeting giant tech firms as end-users of cobalt from mines in which young children have died.

Having failed to bring down giant miners of cobalt in DRC, such as Glencore, this time lawyers are going after the end users themselves.

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Skyrocketing Costs Will Pop All the Bubbles, by Charles Hugh Smith

The rising costs that never seem to register in the CPI are for the biggest items in many Americans’ budgets, and their incomes keep falling further behind. From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds.com:

The reckoning is coming, and everyone who counted on “eternal growth of borrowing” to stave off the reckoning is in for a big surprise.

We’ve used a simple trick to keep the status quo from imploding for the past 11 years: borrow whatever it takes to keep paying the skyrocketing costs for housing, healthcare, college, childcare, government, permanent wars and so on.

The trick has worked because central banks pushed interest rates to zero,lowering the costs of borrowing more as costs continued spiraling higher.

But that trick has been used up. The next step–negative interest rates–has failed to spark the “growth” required to pay for insanely overpriced housing, healthcare, college, childcare, government, etc.

We’ve reached the end of the line on lowering interest rates as a way of borrowing more to keep our heads above water. We’ve reached the point where households and enterprises can’t even afford the principle payments, i.e. no interest at all.

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The Post-War ‘Consensus’ is Over – ‘Either We Reinvent Bretton Woods, or It Risks Losing Relevance’, by Alastair Crooke

The US orchestrated global order is being questioned on many fronts. From Alastair Crooke at strategic-culture.org:

Kevin Baron, editor of Defense One (a leading US defence publication, funded by the defence industry) explains his anxieties about NATO’s future:

“NATO’s external threats, and internal leaders’ divisions are not what worries me the most … I expected panelists I spoke with over the past month to raise familiar issues … but I was surprised by their serious concern about the very fabric of the alliance: ‘This time it’s different’, many insist: “The philosophy on which this whole institution is built is profoundly challenged,” opined journalist Bobby Ghosh of Bloomberg Opinion (“in our pre-summit conversation at IISS”). [Emphasis added].

“His point was – that if leaders such as Trump and Erdogan continue to cosy-up to Russia – then what’s the purpose of this Cold War-era alliance? That’s a fair point. But I believe NATO’s biggest threat [comes from] its own inward-turning electorates. To global security leaders, from think tanks to the secure ‘tank’ inside the Pentagon, NATO is an essential organization and tool for the West’s ‘way of life’. It’s not even a question … Those leaders believe: How could anyone want to harm that?”.

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Six Months at an Amazon Fulfillment Center, by Christopher Knight

Amazon Fulfillment Centers have been portrayed as just this side of sweatshop, but someone who worked there says it was a valuable experience and nowhere near as bad as portrayed. From Christopher Knight at americanthinker.com:

Having spent half of a year experiencing firsthand the labyrinthine bowels of an Amazon Fulfillment Center, I must ask:

“What are all the complaints about?”

Employment at Amazon was not perfect.  Then again, no job will be.  But for those wanting to establish themselves with a job history or get back into the routine of full-time employment, being at Amazon isn’t the torturous ordeal some have described.  Coming off a year’s sabbatical and being a technical writer before that, work at an Amazon facility was a shining opportunity to regain some lost footing.

In retrospect, I can’t but be thankful for that.  It wasn’t just the financial boon, but also the chance to persevere that elicited and encouraged growth and strength in both physical and mental senses.

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Germany: All EU Members Must Take in Migrants, by Soeren Kern

Germany wants its immigration policies in force throughout the EU, no exceptions. Several Eastern Europe states are resisting. From Soeren Kern at gatestoneinstitute.org:

  • The continuing debate over migration is, at its core, about European federalism and the degree to which the European Union will be allowed to usurp decision-making powers from its 28 member states.
  • If everything goes according to plan, the draft legislation would be adopted by the European Parliament in the second half of 2020 when Germany holds the presidency of the EU. It would then be ratified by the European Council, made up of the leaders of the EU member states.
  • “We fundamentally reject illegal migration. We also reject allowing smuggling gangs to decide who will live in Europe.” — Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš.
  • “The V4’s [Visegrád group: Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia] position is clear. We are not willing to admit any illegal migrants into central Europe. The success and security of central Europe is thanks to our pursuit of a firm anti-migration policy, and this will endure…. Hungarians insist on our right to decide whom to allow into our country and with whom we wish to live.” — Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó.
German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has unveiled a new plan to reform the European asylum system. A leaked draft of the proposal shows that all member states of the EU would be required to take in illegal migrants. (Photo by Michele Tantussi/Getty Images)

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has unveiled a new plan to reform the European asylum system. A draft of the proposal leaked to the media shows that all member states of the European Union would be required to take in illegal migrants.

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