If you’re poor… Bernie Sanders may not sound so progressive

6th May 2016

– By George Kendall –

If you’re poor and live in the developing world, Bernie Sanders may not sound so progressive

World-Poverty-Since-1820-full.png

Maybe you’ve been as amazed as I have at Bernie Sanders’ success, when he proposes such a leftwing manifesto. However, now I’ve studied his policies in a little more detail, I’m in two minds. Perhaps you are too.

He wants to fight child poverty, get big money out of politics, and take action to tackle climate change. He wants to give medical care to everyone and break up banks that are too big to fail.

I love that. It sounds like making the USA more like a European social democracy.

I’m worried about some things. He is criticised for lack of detailed expertise, and he makes promises which I can’t see him delivering. If he were the Democratic nominee there may be a greater risk of a President Trump. But these aren’t show-stoppers, and I’ve been excited at how he has brought progressive values into the mainstream.

However, there’s one enormous issue that really worries me.

I know some ordinary Americans are hurting. Wages are stagnant and there’s worry about the future. Sanders seems to understand that.

Sanders says: “If corporate America wants us to buy their products they need to manufacture those products in this country, not in China or other low-wage countries.”

I’ve no great sympathy for corporate America. But what of a Vietnamese worker who is longing for a chance to escape absolute poverty? What of the hundreds of millions who’ve already escaped and don’t want to return to the desperate situation their parents lived with?

When we read reports of the developing world we see stories of children starving, living in squalor, without hope. Those stories are true. What the newspapers don’t tell us is the good news, that in the last thirty years absolute poverty has plummeted.

What’s brought this about?

Globalisation has.

Globalisation has a bad press. It’s blamed for a loss of jobs in many industries, but it has also created many more jobs, both in developed economies and across the developing world.

It must be devastating if you work in a factory that’s about to be moved overseas. But shouldn’t we also think about those in that foreign country, who have far fewer options? Shouldn’t we look for ways to tackle both issues?

Some people talk as if industrialism is a bad thing, that we should leave the developing world undeveloped. But I can’t agree to that. I’d not want to live in a pre-industrial society, so how can I condemn others to?

Bernie Sanders doesn’t want to reverse industrialisation either. But, isn’t that exactly what protectionism would do to the developing world? What’s progressive about that?

It’s easy for us British to criticise Bernie Sanders, but we face exactly the same political challenges. We must try to make Britain a better place, but we mustn’t do so by cutting off the life chances of the rest of the world.

In politics, it isn’t easy to make the right choices. Let’s commit ourselves to facing up to hard realities, so that the good we do is not outweighed by the unintended harm.

By George Kendall (Twitter)


Please note: articles and posts on ‘Middle Vision’ reflect the views of the individual authors and not of all involved in ‘Middle Vision’

        Sign up to Middle Vision

Advertisements

17 thoughts on “If you’re poor… Bernie Sanders may not sound so progressive

  1. Hi,

    Firstly, merely stating that absolute poverty has plummeted as a result of globalisation is meaningless. What is globalisation? The ‘international interchange of ideas and culture’ does not require a bogus “free” trade agreement, and arguably is actually hindered by it. For example, a trade agreement that forced UK regulation (such as Health & Safety legislation) on any Chinese business wishing to export goods to the UK would (albeit as a matter of contention) foster a greater exchange of ideas – and lead to far greater ‘competition’ among various parties.

    In fact, it is hard to forsee how the international interchange of ideas and culture has been fostered by free-trade, especially when compared to the democratising effect of internet – or the continually increasing internationalist nature of left-wing politics. Globalisation dictates that people in the UK will be even more aware of the plight of third-world workers than they were in 1930, even if they do nothing to attain such an awareness. It implies absolutely nothing with regards to free trade. Indeed, I am pretty sure my business comprised of slave-like Chinese children can clean chimneys cheaper and more efficiently than any group of UK workers with pension rights and minimum wages. This isn’t anything more elementary than common sense. It has nothing to do with globalisation, and even less to do with Bernie Sanders.

    It is indeed easy for us British to criticise Bernie Sanders, but it is even easier when we vaguely misconstrue the meaning of globalisation, connect it to an almost psilocybic concept of free trade, before quickly switching to talk about how some people want to reverse industrialism, then finally admit Sanders doesn’t even want to do that anyway. In this case, our criticism of Sanders becomes almost as worthy as it is easy. Such criticism does not carry it’s weight in gold, regardless of whether the price of gold is fixed by JP Morgan or dictated entirely on some sort of fantastical free-market Hayekian dirt track.

    Somehow, this is considered to convincing enough to lead us to the conclusion that any protectionism supported by Sanders somehow would lead the world’s poor into further destitution. Unfortunately, we do not find you very eager to labour on this final point about Sanders’ proposed protectionism, and its necessarily detrimental effects on the world’s poor.

    If protectionism is so bad, why do we persist in still having it various forms – whether that be patent protections on medicines, copyright on music/entertainment or in other various guises such as farming subsidies/or various regulations dictating the acceptability of imports. We do not, for example, freely take asbestos-riddled children’s toys from Ethiopia. .

    It doesn’t take more than half a Ha-Joon Chang argument to understand that protectionism in other countries can be good for both them, and us. I.e. We get subsidised goods from a growing industry (say cars from Korea) – an industry which would be incapable of growing to its current size and competitiveness without government support (say cars from Korea). Or, to put it the other way round, people are not forced to “compete” with a business in another country which are not bound to regulations that are considered the elementary level of morality. No one should ever be forced to “compete” with slave labour, for example. Do you concur, and do you appreciate that your concurrence means that you are also a protectionist? Would you accept that anyone demanding the end of ‘protectionism’ in order to allow free competition with slave labour was in effect demanding a return to slave labour? And finally, do you accept that this farcical position is virtually synonymous with the position you espouse in the article above?

    Please do accept my apologies for my grating tone, but as your opinions on globalisation suggest, all’s well that ends well when it comes to any negative consequences concerning the free interchange of ideas.

    Like

  2. The last three links are to three great articles, which give a bit of background to the arguments in this article.

    Sadly, they seem to have been mangled. They should be:

    “absolute poverty has plummeted”
    http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2012/02/daily-chart-20

    “across the developing world”
    http://www.keepeek.com/Digital-Asset-Management/oecd/economics/economic-globalisation/does-globalisation-promote-employment_9789264111905-7-en#page4

    “What’s progressive about that?”
    http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2016/04/05/bernie_sanders_is_the_developing_world_s_worst_nightmare.html

    Like

  3. Good article George. That graph is an absolute cracker – it shows in absolute clarity the real facts that underlie the world’s economic progress.

    Right now it’s very trendy to be anti-globalisation, and to idolise un-developed cultures even though those cultures usually desire very strongly to be developed, live longer, and not die of preventable diseases. You’ll often hear the word “neoliberalism” thrown in for good measure, which now seems to be a catch-all word for almost all free trade.

    There are many things that need to be reformed in order to reverse the growing gap between rich and poor, but protectionism is not one of them; and putting up trade barriers is a case of throwing baby out with bathwater in the goal of improving people’s lives.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Alan,

    Thanks for the reply. It gives me a prompt to expand on what I was saying. You make lots of points. I’ll reply in several messages.

    When I said “absolute poverty has plummeted”, I was refering to the graph, and the related slide show at https://ourworldindata.org/VisualHistoryOf/Poverty.html#/title-slide

    I was also referring to the Economist’s short article, about how absolute poverty has fallen across the world, even through the recession.
    http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2012/02/daily-chart-20

    When I said “globalisation”, I mostly meant the growth of world-wide trade, and particularly the opportunity it has given to people living in under-developed countries to participate in the world economy. It seems to me obvious that the OECD is right, that the fall in absolute poverty worldwide is closely related to the jobs that have become available to those who used to be in poverty. If you’ve a different explanation, I’d be interested to hear it.

    Like

    • I don’t think the OECD is putting it quite so simply, or at least not relying so heavily on the meaning of ‘absolute poverty’ dropping. For example, they state (on p104) that although globalisation increases the number of jobs it is “not a cause for celebration”.

      They admit that even in developing countries, “positive repercussions may mostly benefit skilled workers, as opposed to manual workers performing minor or routine tasks” (p101)

      They state that experts agree “increased trade with low-wage countries leads to a compression of wages in industrialised countries” while touching on a perceived race to the bottom. (p106). They also state that the “global share of wages and workers’ compensation has been dropping in relation to GDP since the late 1980s”.

      It is obvious that a drop in absolute poverty is caused by some people having jobs that they didn’t have before. Whether that is a result of so-called free-trade, or whether it is a result of unionisation, the great information exchange facilitated by the internet, or indeed the astonishing efficiency gains made by technology getting cheaper and better exponentially (Moore’s law).

      The following CEPR report quite clearly shows that skilled workers have not been subject to the same ‘competition’ as unskilled workers. Is this perchance the reason their wages have not stagnated by comparison? http://cepr.net/documents/publications/protectionists.PDF

      Your article attacks Sanders trade policies as regressive (or not progressive) due to the fact that you claim free-trade has facilitated a fall in absolute poverty. As I have shown, the OECD is not entirely sure of the worth of this fall in absolute poverty. They are however sure that the gap between rich and poor (globally) has increased, and in this sense it is quite clear to see who the biggest winners are out of so-called free-trade (a few). Similarly, your championing of free-trade can be written off as regressive (pro business / anti union). Hopefully this shows why I found your initial article to be nothing other than a cheap dig at Sanders.

      Like

  5. Alan, there has indeed been a globalisation of ideas and culture, as well as simply trade, but I think it’s unlikely this has had any significant effect on the fall in absolute poverty.

    You raise the issue of slave-like labour in places like China. This is certainly a concern. Environmental standards and health and safety are also important. If we make trade agreements with these countries, part of those agreements can be about raising standards, and so improving the lives of the people in these countries. My only concern is that we do not use demands for higher standards for developing world markets as a devious way of shutting them off from being able to export to our country. I’m afraid this sort of protectionist argument is used all the time, sometimes by the cynical, who selfishly want to protect their particular business at the expense of the world’s poor. What we need are a series of realistic steps, so it is still possible for the work to be done in these countries, but also steadily improves the situation for local workers.

    As President Obama has argued, without trade agreements, it’s very unlikely that these improved standards will happen. In my opinion, he is right, and Bernie Sanders and Trump are wrong in opposing these agreements, and even more wrong in demanding that US companies give the jobs to Americans instead. See:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/01/magazine/president-obama-weighs-his-economic-legacy.html?_r=0 (Warning, it’s a long read, though fascinating)

    Sanders and Trump have raised expectations among their supporters that stopping low wage economies from making goods for Americans will improve the situation for American workers. I fear they are 100% wrong. While stopping imports may protect some American jobs, experience from history is that it will cost many more jobs in other sectors, and will make everyone poorer. This is what happened in the disaster of the 1930s.

    Like

    • I think your concerns are misplaced. You should be concerned that arguments will be made in favour of free-trade in order to demand lower standards for the developed world.

      I am afraid this sort of free-market argument is made all the time, usually by the cynical multinational businesses with expensive lawyers and lobbyists, many of whom actually sit in on trade agreement negotiations.
      Even the FT think that trade deals should not be conducted in secret. Members of US congress can only access draft TPP proposals in locked rooms while members of multi-nationals sit in on the negotiations. https://next.ft.com/content/28432090-03b3-11e5-a70f-00144feabdc0

      President Obama would do well to weigh his economic policy. He certainly spent lots of money bombing people and deserts which I am sure left many people and deserts more absolutely impoverished.

      Are you really sending me a link to an NYT article where Obama weighs up his economic policy record, which consists of bailing out an over-leveraged banking sector, providing a government stimulus for the economy, and government aid for SAFT (a French business invested in producing unprofitable lithium batteries) as some sort of defence of free-market trade? I find this quite staggering really, especially as the article seems to insist the biggest economic policy of Obama’s reign is Obamacare. I am really quite amazed to see this as an argument in favour of free-market economics. I suppose you could argue the 1.4tn in tax breaks detailed in the article were free-market although if they were funded (as I suspect they were)

      The only reference to Sanders in the article (by Obama) is to say that his critique of Obama’s banking reform is correct.

      Like

  6. Alan, I think we mean different things by the term “protectionism”. I mean preventing foreign countries from making goods for sale to us, and so protecting some industries in this country, at the expense of greater unemployment elsewhere, and higher cost to anyone buying these goods in this country.

    Patent protections, copyright, standards to prevent the sale of dangerous goods, these do “protect” us, but I don’t regard them as “protectionism”. However, if the standards are consistent and clear, and the copyright only demands a fair price paid to whoever was the original author, these things do not prevent developing world countries from exporting to us.

    In fact, they are a necessary part of the rule of law that underpins a healthy free market. They are also all areas that are addressed by trade agreements.

    If foreign subsidies mean cheap imports which devastate a particular industry in the UK, that becomes a major political problem. So I think it’s a good idea for trade agreements to try to stop the dumping of exports at a loss.

    You seem to be arguing, like President Obama, in favour of trade agreements, to raise the standards overseas, while still allowing foreign countries to export to us. If so, I agree with you. And, if so, you disagree with Bernie Sanders, who has stated: “If corporate America wants us to buy their products they need to manufacture those products in this country, not in China or other low-wage countries.”

    Like

    • This is where we reach fundamental disagreement. We do indeed mean different things by protectionism. I believe you use the word to refer to economic protectionism that you don’t like. In fact, you go on to conclude that the protectionism you like is actually a necessary part of the rule of law for the free-market to function.

      And yet, it doesn’t stand up to your own definition. You define protectionism as “preventing foreign countries from making goods for sale to us”. I am afraid that is quite a poor definition. But even if we use it, we can see that copyright protection prevents the free distribution of music and massively distorts market forces. Anyone who thinks a CD is worth 10 GBP on a free-market needs to check out the costs of blank CDs and CD-R drives.

      Of course these are areas that are covered by the trade agreements. Part of the reason for these trade agreements is to cement US business protectionism globally and subject workers to ‘competition’. For some reason US businesses do not see the need to compete with generic Indian-made drugs as much as the theoreticians believe the steel workers should.

      I believe your confusion over my point (perhaps aside from my poor communication skills) is due to the fact you believe things that are entirely protectionist to be fundamental components of free-market economics. Dean Baker puts it best here – http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/aug/27/pacific-free-trade-deal

      Or here “The second point is political leaders are constantly working to make patents and copyrights stronger and longer. This raises the price that ordinary workers have to pay for everything from drugs to computer games. The result is lower real wages for ordinary workers and higher incomes for the beneficiaries of these rents. It also slows economic growth since markets are not smart enough to distinguish between a 10,000 percent price increase due to a tariff and a 10,000 percent price increase due to a patent monopoly. (In other words, all the bad things that “free trade” economists say about tariffs also apply to patents and copyrights, except the impact is far larger in the later case.)”
      http://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/the-question-is-not-free-trade-and-globalization-it-is-free-trade-and-globalization-designed-to-screw-workers

      Do you disagree with Baker’s argument regarding the difference between a tariff and a patent monopoly? Because in economic terms, there isn’t one is there? Both are a distortion of the free-market. In fact, the patent protections (as they currently exist) are actually a far greater distortion than a mere tariff as they allow for a monopoly, and therefore – allow for the worst possible distortion of the free-market known to (Fried)man.

      Perhaps I am misreading your comments, but are you suggesting that copyright merely allows the creator to ask for a “fair price” for his invention. It doesn’t do this at all I am afraid. The definition of copyright is “the exclusive legal right, given to an originator or an assignee to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material, and to authorize others to do the same.”

      This is absolutely no different (economically) to the idea of coalminers receiving the exclusive right to sell their product (coal) within a confined area. I am well aware that GlaxoSmithKline may deserve the exclusive right to sell cancer drugs (all over the world) as they have made specialist research, whereas the coalminer may just be a brute or an idiot. This may, or may not be the case. But from an economic point of view, it is absolutely the same.

      For what it’s worth – I am well aware of the reasons patents were invented, or at least – the idea to allow people to share ideas while making a profit from their idea. Etymology – “to make available for public inspection”. This is however as irrelevant as the reasons for steel tariffs.

      Like

  7. Pingback: World poverty is falling. Bernie Sanders would reverse that
  8. Hi Alan,

    You’re right, of course, that the OECD article is nuanced. It doesn’t just look at the benefits of free trade, but points out that there are people who lose out. And it makes a some recommendations for how we should help them. I particular like its emphasis on the importance of life-long learning.

    This is similar to what I say in my original article: “It must be devastating if you work in a factory that’s about to be moved overseas. But shouldn’t we also think about those in that foreign country, who have far fewer options? Shouldn’t we look for ways to tackle both issues?”

    I don’t think that poverty reduction in the developing world is being caused by unionisation and technology. In some cases, it’s more the opposite. Automation has started to mean manufacturing returning to advanced economies, as low wage employees are less of a competitive advantage when the work is most automated.

    It’s true that unskilled workers are going to face increasing problems. But that’s not just due to globalisation. Automation and Expert Systems are going to increasingly reduce the number of unskilled jobs available.

    I didn’t interpret the OECD as dismissing the value of a fall in poverty. They were just being careful to point out that there are losers as well as winners as a result of free trade, and they don’t want to dismiss the problems of those who are losing out.

    The OECD report was a response to the effect on employment, not the reduction in absolute poverty. That poverty reduction isn’t just my opinion. It’s covered in enormous detail by the site I linked to: https://ourworldindata.org

    I provided the link to Obama’s article partly because of the following passage in it: “we better be out there shaping the rules in ways that allow for higher labor standards overseas, or try to export our environmental standards overseas so that we have more of a level playing field”. He’s right. But also because it’s an absolutely fascinating article, which gives a lot of insights into the economic policy he has been adopting, and I think Middle Vision readers might be interested to read it.

    Clearly we have very different views about intellectual property. Personally, I think authors, musicians, writers of software, scientists, and others who put enormous effort into creating intellectual property, should be recompensed for their work. If they aren’t, then people and companies will stop creating that new intellectual property, and we’ll be all the poorer for that.

    The reason for that seems to me to be self-evident. If you think this is the same as steel tariffs, I’m afraid I think we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

    There is, of course, a serious debate to be had about what patents should be applied to, and whether they are being abused. But that’s a separate, and complex issue. For example, I know a lot of software professionals are very worried that patents are being used to stifle innovation, rather than reward it, and I suspect they are right.

    The vigorous discussion we’ve been having over on LDV also touches on the issue of imperfections in trade agreements. Do feel free to add in comments in that debate too.
    http://www.libdemvoice.org/world-poverty-is-falling-bernie-sanders-would-reverse-that-50469.html

    I deliberately steered away from the details of TPP and other trade agreements, because that’s an area of enormous controversy and dispute. There may be good reasons for opposing TPP. I’m not sufficiently expert to know, which is why I didn’t quote from Sanders’ policy on that. I wanted to tackle the issue of Sanders calling for people in low-wage countries to be denied the chance to trade their way out of poverty.

    Like

    • It’s not about us having different views about intellectual property. I am not against the notion of intellectual property, or forms of protectionism. The problem is that you don’t want to accept what the vast majority of economists accept – that patent protections are forms of economic protectionism. Whether they are necessary in order for the market to function is another matter. The simplistic ‘free trade brings prosperity’ is in my opinion absolutely false, but becomes almost Kafkaesque when uttered by those (like yourself) who simultaneously hold the contradictory belief that without copyright no one would make any music or medicine.

      Do you not recognise the contradiction in saying “all the evidence is with us. Free trade makes everyone richer. Protectionism brings disaster.”
      While also stating: “I think authors, musicians, writers of software, scientists, and others who put enormous effort into creating intellectual property, should be recompensed for their work. If they aren’t, then people and companies will stop creating that new intellectual property, and we’ll be all the poorer for that.”

      Not to sound like a generic Richard Ashcroft lyric but…..come on now.

      If you really believe free trade makes everyone richer, then this should apply to musicians as well as steel workers. I find it staggering you are willing to defend patent protections on the basis that people who toiled to create popular music are somehow more valuable and deserving than a steel-worker who has dedicated 20 years of his life to a dying British industry, or that no one would choose to make music. And you seem to be unaware that your defence of patent protections is basically that without protectionism the musician would not get properly (deservedly) paid. In this latter sense, you are almost definitely correct. And hence your comments are an attack on the natural functioning of the free-market.

      I suspect music would last a lot longer than coalmining without the apt monetary compensation. I play the guitar purely as a hobby, as do several of my school-friends, colleagues, etc. I have never heard of anyone coalmining as a hobby. I appreciate all patents do not fall into this category.

      I note with great interest how you feel it is necessary to point out the “enormous” effort made by creators of intellectual property, as if that is relevant to any discussion about free trade or protectionism. Have you ever met a coal miner and do you know anything about what they do? In any case, you seem to accept that the free market (without any patent protections) will NOT compensate IP creators for their enormous effort.

      It seems you see things as follows: the creator of intellectual property should be compensated for his enormous effort; the coalminer should be made to compete with Chinese workers and laughed at when they mention effort, or try and use logic. The left-wing US Presidential candidate shall be considered the developing world’s worst nightmare when he makes a comment about trade, and the mainstream pro-business status quo candidate will be considered progressive even though she supports massively regressive anti-free trade agreements that cement US patent protections in third-world countries “because that’s an area of enormous controversy and dispute”.

      I think there are many areas of enormous controversy and dispute. Although quick frankly, I am not sure the protectionist nature of patents and copyright is really one of them.

      Like

  9. Hi Alan,

    If you want to understand what I mean by my posts above, then the following is what I mean by the word “protectionism”. There may be other, perfectly valid interpretations of the word, but they aren’t the ones I use.

    “Trade protection is the deliberate attempt to limit imports or promote exports by putting up barriers to trade.”
    http://www.economicsonline.co.uk/Global_economics/Trade_protectionism.html

    Key in the above is the phrase ” deliberate attempt”. If the primary intent of patents is to deliberately limit imports or promote exports then it is protectionism. If the primary intent is to ensure the authors of intellectual property are recompensed, then I don’t regard it as protectionism.

    I’m not sure why, but from your response, I fear that I’ve failed badly in my communication. What you describe as my belief is nothing like what I believe.

    All too often, arguments about the meanings of words get a little bad-tempered, and I fear that may be happening here.

    Thanks for the discussion, but shall we leave it there?

    Like

    • Hi George,

      I was trying to point out that the consequences (economically) from patent protectionism are exactly the same as the economic consequences of a steel tariff. Indeed, from a free-market point of view they could be much worse as the former usually allows the creator a monopoly over their product and the latter is usually merely a tariff on imports. And monopolies aren’t good for competition.

      I understand that you don’t consider patents to be protectionism, under your definition, but really that is all semantics. The primary intent of patents is not relevant to the economic consequences they have. This is the important point. If you believe free-markets make everyone richer and protectionism is bad, then it doesn’t really matter if the primary intent is to protect an industry or to protect the concept of “intellectual property”. The primary consequence of both is to distort prices, support an inefficient industry and increase the overall cost to the consumer. Based on the article we are discussing, it appears they are also making developing countries poorer. It is the same for copyright. If copyright on music was removed, lots of companies in China would start competing to sell Elvis CDs, cutting their cost and reducing absolute poverty. Whether the intention of the law is to stop this competition, or protect IP, does not really matter much.

      The page you have sent me states that “the implicit aim of the EUs Common Agricultural Policy is to create food security for Europe by protecting its agricultural sector.” Presumably, you are against such protectionism and believe everyone would be better off without this “food security”?

      Apologies for rubbish off-putting tone (and possibly even worse) jokes about Richard Ashcroft.

      Like

  10. I don’t believe for a second that the real intent of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy is to create food security for Europe. It’s to protect their farmers.

    If it were food security, it would be carefully targeted at subsidizing a small number of staple foods which we would need in order to survive in the case of a disaster. Another valid measure might be subsidies based on the protection of the beauty of the countryside, but again, these should be designed for that purpose, not for preventing developing world farmers from exporting to us.

    Instead, the CAP just shuts out poor farmers in the developing world to protect European farmers.

    The USA can be just as bad.

    As for copyright infringements on music in China, for a long time the West has turned a blind eye to this, and that’s probably a good thing, as long as they don’t export the pirates CDs to the West. Of course, if they could sell pirated CDs to the West, it would wipe out our music industry, and being a musician would cease to be a viable career. This is already a bad enough problem for singers and others in creative industries, due to piracy on the internet and within the West.

    Now China is becoming richer, paying for intellectual property used within China is becoming more of an issue. And that’s a good thing.

    But while countries have vast poverty, my feeling is we should be much more relaxed about local copyright infringements.

    Like

    • Hi George,

      Thank you for responding.

      I agree on what CAP actually does, but I am not sure it is a “deliberate attempt” to subsidise farmers, any more than copyright protections are a deliberate attempt to subsidise EMI and Warner Brothers (they do). As such, it could be argued that CAP is not protectionist (based on your own definition) if it could be proven that it was not a deliberate attempt to protect EU farmers. This is exactly why I prefer to define protectionism based on the economic consequence of the action, rather than the intended consequence, or whether it was a matter of national security, etc.

      Indeed the US can be much worse. It becomes absurd when developing countries such as Jamaica (in the 80s at least) are receiving subsidised bananas produced and sent all the way from Miami cheaper than they can produce themselves. We should bear in mind these issues often result from an absolute refusal (by bodies such as the IMF/WTO) to support any protectionist measures for developing markets, often under the guise of ‘free trade’ agreements, while simultaneously representing countries that subsidise their farming industry/etc.

      I’d be interested to know if you’d be in favour of CAP if it were protecting an intellectual property of the farmers I.e. if the exact same consequences arose from the protection of the idea of irrigation (imagine irrigated farming was invented in the last 20 or so years)

      I am rather bewildered by your continual contention than the music business would be wiped out without patents, or with Chinese competition. CDs certainly would not be sold for 10 GBP, which is one of the outrageous side effects of copyright. But no one would go to see some Chinese guys perform Radiohead songs, even at 1/100 of the price. One of the interesting things about the live performance of music is that it already suffers from a lack of natural competition. You’d have to pay me to see some music and yet I will pay over 100 EUR to see a performance of Beethoven’s 5th – a piece of music so old that it predates copyright protections and refutes the idea that music wouldn’t exist without copyright.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s