Category Archives: Trade

The ‘imminent’ Taiwan conflagration: two questions to ponder, by Peter Van Buren

Is it really so “obvious,” even with the inept Biden administration in power, that China will invade Taiwan? From Peter Van Buren at responsiblestatecraft.org:

Before you read another article claiming that U.S.-China relations are entering dangerous territory, or that Beijing is closer to invading Taiwan, leaving the United States on the precipice of war in its defense, ponder these two critical questions:

Why Would China Attack Taiwan?

Over the last decade Taiwan invested $188.5 billion in China, more than China’s investment in the United States. In 2019 the value of cross-strait trade was $149.2 billion. China applied in September to join the new Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. A week later, with no opposition voiced by Beijing, Taiwan also applied to join. China is Taiwan’s largest trading partner. “One country, two systems” has not only kept the peace for decades, it has proven damn profitable. Why bomb one of your best customers?

Why would China consider a war that would provoke the U.S.? Total Chinese investment in the U.S. is $145 billion. U.S. investment in China passed $1 trillion. The Chinese are literally betting the house on America’s success.

A failed invasion of Taiwan would topple Xi if not the whole power structure. An invasion is impractical. Chinese amphibious forces would be under fire from Taiwan’s F-16s armed with Harpoon missiles practically as they left harbor. Taiwan will soon field a land-based anti-ship missile with a 200-mile range. China would need to land a million soldiers on day one (on D-Day the Allies put ashore 156,000.) China’s primary amphibious assault ship carries about only 1,000 men, and China currently has only three such ships. Its conscript troops are unbloodied in combat.

Meanwhile American and allied forces patrol the waters. Aircraft from Guam, Okinawa, and Korea could shut down the skies, and decimate Chinese aircraft on the ground. This is not another of the counterinsurgency struggles which defeated America. It is a Big Power conflict, a war the U.S. has been preparing to fight against someone since the 1960s. (Though analysts like to point to a classified war game last year that saw the American forces “failing miserably” in a battle over Taiwan; and another by the Air Force, which succeeded in repelling China, but with significant losses.)

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Biden Targets Another US Pipeline For Shutdown After ‘Begging’ Saudis For More Oil, by Tyler Durden

You can’t make this stuff up. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Despite approval ratings in the toilet, President Biden and his administration are reportedly exploring the closure of yet another pipeline in a bid to shift the US away from fossil fuels and appease environmental activists.

The move – shutting down the Line 5 pipeline which links Superior, WI to Sarnia, Ontario, would cost tens of thousands of US jobs, billions of dollars in economic activity, and further exacerbate energy shortages and price increases hitting lower-income Americans the hardest, according to a Thursday letter from 13 House Republicans led by Rep. Bob Latta

Via the Daily Mail

According to the letter, the closure would affect workers across “Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and the region,” and would place the environment at greater risk “due to additional trucks operating on roadways carrying hazardous materials.”

Line 5 is part of a network of oil pipes which move approximately 540,000 barrels per day from western Canada to Escanaba, Michigan.

“Furthermore, as we enter the winter months and temperatures drop across the Midwest, the termination of Line 5 will undoubtedly further exacerbate shortages and price increases in home heating fuels like natural gas and propane at a time when Americans are already facing rapidly rising energy prices, steep home heating costs, global supply shortages, and skyrocketing gas prices.”

This comes less than two weeks after the White House begged OPEC to increase oil production amid ‘supply issues’ and soaring energy prices.

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The Kinship of Producers, by Paul Rosenberg

There is indeed a kinship of producers, a kinship of people who create, recognize, and trade value. From Paul Rosenberg at freemansperspective.com:

There is a kinship between productive human beings; one that spreads all across this planet. It may be invisible to power and hierarchy, but we productive people recognize it. When we drive into a new town, we know, almost by instinct, that we can trust the hard-working carpenter further than someone permanently on the dole. It’s possible that the guy on the dole is a saint, but the hardworking man shares our specific ethics, and we are tuned to them. Even if this carpenter is a negative exception, we’ll be able to tell.

I’ve felt this kinship on multiple continents and among people of many flavors; not just on construction sites, but in truck stops, offices, grocery stores and trains. Productive people bear a specific ethic, and it’s consistent not only over distance, but over time. If you were somehow dropped into ancient Rome, the people you’d want to join wouldn’t be the Senators or the people in bread lines, but the people who build and maintain the aqueducts.

Even the old man, recounting his days of building, repairing and creating… He’s not just saying, “I was once strong,” he’s saying, “I am a producer. And even if I’m too old to work, I remain what I was.”

Ethics Born of Work

The ethics I’m referring to are those which are spawned by work… by productive, dedicated, creative work. And yes, even sweeping a floor becomes creative if you take it seriously and do it well. A shop floor is complex, and complexity must be overcome with on-the-fly creativity.

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China and the Monroe Doctrine: What’s Good for the Goose Is Good for the Gander? By Doug Bandow

Notwithstanding the Monroe Doctrine, the Chinese are making themselves at home in Latin and South America. From Doug Bandow at antiwar.com:

Nearly two centuries ago President James Monroe ordered the world’s powers to stay out of the Western Hemisphere. The still young American republic, which lacked a serious navy or army, thereby compounded the hubris of its earlier claim to be creating a novus ordo seclorum, or new order for the ages.

Although among the states targeted by Monroe, the United Kingdom turned out to be America’s greatest ally in deterring intervention by other powers. London had the world’s finest navy and wasn’t inclined to encourage competing powers’ imperial ambitions. Moreover, Latin America never was an arena of great power conflict. The European wars after Napoleon’s defeat focused on Europe, not more distant colonial territories.

In its naked form the Monroe Doctrine was shamelessly self-interested. Said Monroe: “We owe it, therefore, to candor and to the amicable relations existing between the United States and those powers to declare that we should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety.” Notably, the U.S. was little concerned about the “peace and safety” of other residents of the region.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt claimed to change direction with the Good Neighbor policy, which emphasized nonintervention and noninterference. However, that pretense did not long survive. During the Cold War the US was active, militarily as well as economically and politically, throughout Latin America. Officially, little has changed since.

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Sanctioning Yourself in the Foot, by Ted Snider

Like so many political gestures, sanctions generally make the situation worse. From Ted Snider at antiwar.com:

“Sanctions,” Iran’s new president, Ebrahim Raisi, told the UN General Assembly, “are the US’s new way of war with the nations of the world.” At least nineteen countries are currently besieged by the economic warfare of US sanctions.

As when they wage military war, the US is willing to accept the high civilian cost of sanctions. In their book Why Civil Resistance Works, Erica Chenoweth and Maria Stephan cite studies showing that sanctions “often harm the civilian population more than the targeted regimes.” Being interviewed about US sanctions on Iraq, Madeleine Albright, then US ambassador to the UN was asked, “We have heard that half a million children have died. I mean, that is more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?” Albright infamously replied, “I think that is a very hard choice, but the price, we think, the price is worth it.” More recently, US sanctions on Venezuela have killed an estimated 40,000 people.

And like military war, sanctions often don’t work. Years of sanctions have not brought about the desired effects of regime change or bringing nations under US leadership in Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, Iran, Syria or Russia. Though sanctions may historically have contributed to some successes, Chenoweth and Stephan argue that “there is no general pattern indicating that they are necessary for successful campaign outcomes.”

Though sanctions do not produce the desired effects, they do, ironically, produce four undesired effects.

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Down With Fraudulent ‘Fair’ Trade, by Jim Bovard

A fair trade is a voluntary exchange between parties. Government destroys such fair trades in the name of their own conception of “fair” trade, which is anything but fair. From Jim Bovard at libertarianinstitute.org:

The Biden administration is embracing the same flawed “fair trade” mantra that previous administrations used to sanctify protectionist policies. Biden’s team has “largely dispensed with the idea of free trade as a goal in and of itself,” the New York Times reported. U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai recently touted the Biden administration’s plans to “shape the rules for fair trade in the 21st century.” What could possibly go wrong from such a lofty aspiration?

Thirty years ago, my book The Fair Trade Fraud was published by St. Martin’s Press. That book was translated into Japanese and Korean, and adapted as a textbook at the University of Chicago, Duke University, American University, University of Texas, and many other colleges. That book exposed fair trade as one of the great intellectual frauds of modern times. It is also a moral delusion that could lead to endless conflicts and an economic catastrophe.

When politicians call for fair trade with foreigners, they use a concept of fairness diametrically opposed to the word’s normal usage. In exchanges between individuals – in contract law – the test of fairness is the voluntary consent of each party to the bargain: “the free will which constitutes fair exchanges,” as Sen. John Taylor wrote in 1822. When politicians speak of unfair trade, they do not mean that buyers and sellers did not voluntarily agree, but that federal officials disapprove of bargains American citizens made. Fair trade means government intervention to direct, control, or restrict trade.

Fair trade often consists of some politician or bureaucrat picking a number out of thin air and forcibly imposing it on foreign businesses and American consumers. Fair trade meant that Jamaica was allowed to sell the U.S. only 970 gallons of ice cream a year, that Mexico could sell Americans only 35,292 bras a year, and that Poland could ship us only 51,752 pounds of barbed wire. Fair trade meant permitting each American citizen to consume the equivalent of only one teaspoon of foreign ice cream per year, two foreign peanuts per year, and one pound of imported cheese per year.

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A tale of two civilisations, by Alasdair Macleod

China is trying to rediscover its old-time religion while Americans have abandoned theirs. From Alasdair Macleod at goldmoney.com:

In recent years, America’s unsuccessful attempts at containing China as a rival hegemon has only served to promote Chinese antipathy against American capitalism. China is now retreating into the comfort of her long-established moral values, best described as a mixture of Confucianism and Marxism, while despising American individualism, its careless regard for family values, and encouragement of get-rich-quick financial speculation.

After America’s defeat in Afghanistan, the geopolitical issue is now Taiwan, where things are hotting up in the wake of the AUKUS agreement. Taiwan is important because it produces two-thirds of the world’s computer chips. Meanwhile, the large US banks are complacent concerning Taiwan, preferring to salivate at the money-making prospects of China’s $45 trillion financial services market.

The outcome of the Taiwan issue is likely to be decided by the evolution of economic factors. China is protecting herself against a global credit crisis by restraining its creation, while America is going full MMT. The outcome is likely to be a combined financial market and dollar crisis for America, taking down its Western epigones as well. China has protected herself by cornering the market for physical gold and secretly accumulating as much as 20,000-30,000 tonnes in national reserves.

If the dollar fails, which without a radical change in monetary policy it is set to do, with its gold-backing China expects to not only survive but be able to consolidate Taiwan into its territory with little or no opposition.

Introduction

On the one hand we have America and on the other we have China. As civilisations, America is discarding its moral values and social structures while China is determined to stick with its Confucian and Marxist roots. America is inclined to recognise no other civilisations as being civilised, while China’s leadership has seen America’s version and is rejecting it. Both forms of civilisation are being insular with respect to the other, and their need to peacefully cooperate in a multipolar world is increasingly hampered.

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Pure Excrement, by Robert Gore

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Let’s call a turd a turd.

America’s largest corporations are run by unprincipled, gutless cowards. They are publicly embracing an ideology that holds that they and everything they do are evil and which would turn them into, at best, state functionaries whose work and existence are at the sufferance of arbitrary masters. After decades of compromise to creeping, now galloping collectivism, they have nothing left to compromise. They’ve become willing accomplices to mindless malice that will obliterate them and their businesses. Full partners in their own destruction, they’ll deserve it.

There are three ways to obtain goods and services: production, trade, or theft (including theft by fraud). The first two are the domain of capitalism, the last is the province of various ideologies asserting a collective’s right to the lives and everything else of the individual. Yes, political philosophy is that simple. It serves the interests of intellectual con artists to make it more complex, the diversion while they steal your money and your life. Humanity’s steps forward have been the fruits of production and trade; its steps backward the toxic weeds of its rulers’ theft and violence.

Businesses produce and trade. Consequently, it’s in the long-term interest of business people to defend the principles necessary for production and exchange: freedom and its economic expression—capitalism—and a political system that fully protects individual rights and strictly limits the power and scope of government. Unfortunately, that ship sailed long ago in this country, the occasional protest from a business person drowned out by the chorus cheering the latest accretion of government power and diminution of liberty, hoping to profit or at least shelter from it.

We’ve reached the point where approval of government polices, no matter how insane, has become a condition for doing business. Any executive who publicly disapproves risks incurring the wrath of the government and could be dismissed by the board of directors as acting contrary to the best interests of the corporation.

That’s strictly in the short-term, though. What government compels is usually contrary to logic and opposed to sound and ethical business. It was clear before and it’s even clearer with the Covid response: business must challenge government if it’s to be anything but the subservient junior partner in a fascist, totalitarian regime.

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No executive of a major corporation has challenged the assumption of emergency powers, the suspension of federal and state constitutions, and the president’s, bureaucrats’ and governors’ rule by decree. They have supported power grabs that make those constitutions—the only legal documents purporting to limit the power of governments—dead letters.

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Empty Christmas stockings? Don’t blame COVID; blame California, by Andrea Widburg

Behind every shortage worthy of the name lurks government. From Andrea Widburg at americanthinker.com:

The conventional wisdom from the left is that COVID is the reason that shipping containers are in the waters off California with no stevedores or truckers available to take care of them.  The implication is that if people would stop being selfish and take the vaccines, the whole problem would magically vanish.  That’s nonsense.  As a couple of astute articles explain, the problem is that California has passed two laws — one for “climate change” and the other as a sop to the unions — that destroyed much of California’s trucking industry.  Add in woes unique to the industry and COVID payments that discourage people from working and…voilà!…empty Christmas stockings.

Stephen Green, at PJ Media, explains some of what’s going on.  As a preliminary matter, truckers are aging out of the job, and new ones aren’t coming along.  Because federal law requires that truckers be at least 21, kids who leave school at 17 or 18 get involved in other careers, leaving trucker shortfalls.  Women don’t offset this problem because, as is typical for most physically difficult jobs, it’s not their thing.  Those are long-term problems.

The short-term problem, though, is that California has passed laws taking trucks off the road:

Twitter user Jerry Oakley reminds us that “Carriers domiciled in California with trucks older than 2011 model, or using engines manufactured before 2010, will need to meet the Board’s new Truck and Bus Regulation beginning in 2020.” Otherwise, “Their vehicles will be blocked from registration with the state’s DMV,” according to California law.

“The requirement is to purchase electric trucks which do not exist.”

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China is not Yesterday’s Enemies, by Peter Van Buren

To put China into the template of Cold War 1 ignores huge differences between that country and the old Soviet Union. Such ignorance could prove very costly. From Peter Van Buren at theamericanconservative.com:

The Biden Administration and the U.S. military are sticking to old playbooks instead of understanding a new situation.

Joe Biden’s China policy is unnecessarily adversarial. It is impractical and dangerous. It plays out as if it is being run by WWII reenactors.

China was artificially reimagined as an enemy-in-a-box as the wars of terror sputtered out and America needed a new villain. Biden envisions China as an autocratic foil for democracy to wage a global struggle against. “On my watch,” Joe said, “China will not achieve its goal to become the leading country in the world, the wealthiest country in the world, and the most powerful country in the world.” Biden went on to claim the world was at an inflection point to determine “whether or not democracy can function in the 21st century.” In Biden’s neo-Churchillian view, the U.S. and, what the hell, the whole free world he believes he is president of, are in a death match with China.

But there is unbelievable hypocrisy in America’s claimed role. Biden seems oblivious as the U.S. mowed down Muslims by drone even while self-righteously tsk tsk-ing China for abusing its Uighur minority. After our two-decade hissy fit of invasions and nation building brought kleptocracies to lead countries, we dare bark that China is not democratic. We seem not to notice our imperial lack of clothing when we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with tyrants and dictators strewn around Africa and the Middle East. We see no issues demanding democracy in Hong Kong while not having had much to say about it when the place was a British colony stolen by war from Chinese sovereignty.

Apart from sheer hypocrisy, there are other reasons to wonder how China ended up America’s sworn enemy for Cold War 2.0. The relationship otherwise does not look much like that of our old nemesis, the Soviet Union. The Russkies had a nasty habit of rolling tanks across borders, as of course did the U.S. Sometimes it was even in the same country—how’d that Afghanistan thing work out?

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