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Invisiblez@z.com
Libertarian
Registered: 10/13/02
Posts: 2,876
Loc: ATL
Protecting free trade not about protecting big business.
    #3575818 - 01/03/05 07:18 PM (11 years, 10 months ago)


Critics often accuse free trade proponents of carrying water for big business. But maybe unrestricted trade isn't always in the best interest of all business. Manufacturers who use steel (car and appliance makers, for example) oppose tariffs on imported steel. However, steel producers of course support them, as they keep competitive foreign steel off the market. While the car maker might opposed steel tariffs, they might support tariffs on foreign-made cars - to protect their share of the domestic market. And steel manufacturers would likely oppose them, as they make it more difficult to sell U.S. steel overseas. Protectionist policies often become quite convoluted.

Recent shenanigans from the U.S. shrimp industry present an excellent opportunity to examine how big business' support for free trade isn't as firm as conventional wisdom might suggest.

American shrimpers recently petitioned the U.S. government to expand its H-2B visa program. These visas allow foreign laborers and their families to enter the U.S. for temporary work. The job must last less than a year, and be a one-time occurrence. Southern shrimping outfits have used the program to bring in foreign workers during the peak of the shrimp harvest.

The problem is that the government limits the program to 66,000 visas per year, a quota already full by March of this year. That meant a significant increase in employment costs, who can pay migrant workers less than what they pay American workers, and who can employ them without benefits.

Given that free traders believe national borders shouldn't prevent employment opportunities, the free trade position might side with the shrimpers here. The government should raise the H-2B cap, or better yet, get rid of it altogether. Here at least, Big Shrimp's interests lie with free trade. But go back to summer of 2004 and the shrimping industry loses its free trade bona-fides.

Last July, the industry won an anti-dumping petition with the U.S. Commerce Department. The U.S. government slapped a 93% tariff on imported shrimp from Vietnam, and a 113% tariff on shrimp from China (though both were later slightly lowered). The shrimping industry claims that those countries produce shrimp from subsidized farms, enabling them to sell shrimp at deflated prices. Opponents counter that tropical climates and "aquaculture" shrimp farms enable foreign producers to harvest more shrimp more efficiently, enabling them to sell at a lower price. Whatever the case, the import taxes are expected to raise shrimp prices for U.S consumers by as much as 44%. The Commerce Department later added India, Thailand, Ecuador and Brazil to the list of shrimp-producers covered by the tariff.

Even that wasn't enough for the shrimping industry. Though they praised the tariffs, they also said these were merely "a step in the right direction," and asked for additional tariffs of up to 200%.

What's worse, the anti-dumping suit the shrimp industry filed against Vietnam and China was financed by U.S. taxpayers - it was part of a $1.2 million federal disaster relief grant to Louisiana shrimpers. In short, the shrimping industry was given U.S. tax dollars to file a petition that resulted in U.S. consumers paying higher prices for shrimp. Consumers got mugged twice. And the domestic shrimping industry benefited both times.

There's more. Normally, proceeds from tariffs on imported goods go to the U.S. treasury. Not this time. A law passed in 2000 allows U.S. industries that win anti-dumping suits to keep the profits from tariffs imposed on foreign competitors. It's a called "double compensation," and it has been prohibited by the World Trade Organization. No matter, Congress has decided to ignore the WTO and reward domestic producers, anyway. Which means that the domestic shrimping industry (a) was permitted to pay for an anti-dumping lawsuit with U.S. tax dollars, (b) won a huge tariff on foreign shrimp which will result in higher shrimp prices for U.S. consumers, and (c) will get all of the revenue generated by those tariffs.

As if this weren't enough, as it turns out, many of those shrimp farms in China and Vietnam primarily feed their shrimp soybean meal. And almost all of that soybean meal is imported from U.S. soybean farmers. Both China and Vietnam are now threatening retaliatory measures against the U.S. soybean industry. The other countries hit by the US tariffs may follow suit. China alone imported about $2.2 billion in soybeans from the U.S. last year, twice what it imported the year before. And a group representing nine trade groups in Thailand has threatened to ban all U.S. soybean imports in retaliation for the shrimp tariffs. Just this month, the American Soybean Association wrote a letter to Commerce Secretary Don Evans outlining the disastrous impact the shrimp tariffs could have on soybean farmers.

The Southern Shrimp Alliance boasts on its website that U.S. shrimp employs some 70,000 workers whose jobs would have fallen into jeopardy had the Commerce Department not forced U.S. consumers to subsidize the industry. But when that same industry asks the federal government to expand the immigrant visa program so that it can hire cheaper foreign labor, it becomes clear that the US shrimping industry's commitment to the American worker is about as reliable as its commitment to free trade - more opportunistic, really, than principled.

The shrimping industry is a great example of how the fight for free trade isn't about protecting big business at all. Rather, it's about protecting free markets, promoting commerce and generating prosperity. It's about consumers having access to the best goods at the best prices, and employees and employers finding one another where they may - and doing both without deference to or interference from artificial borders, protective special interests or messy, overarching governing bodies.

http://www.cato.org/dailys/01-03-05.html


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"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." - C.S. Lewis

"I would rather be exposed to the inconveniencies attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it." - Thomas Jefferson


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Invisibleafoaf
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Re: Protecting free trade not about protecting big business. [Re: z@z.com]
    #3576023 - 01/03/05 08:07 PM (11 years, 10 months ago)

tariffs, quotas and subsidies are the work of the devil.


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Offlinezappaisgod
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Re: Protecting free trade not about protecting big business. [Re: afoaf]
    #3576171 - 01/03/05 08:37 PM (11 years, 10 months ago)

I would like to see a whale finger it's blowhole. As long as it's a female whale, of course. (Where do they keep the fingers, anyway?)


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Invisibleafoaf
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Re: Protecting free trade not about protecting big business. [Re: zappaisgod]
    #3576202 - 01/03/05 08:46 PM (11 years, 10 months ago)

tucked neatly into the fins, of course.

aint you never seen a whale arm wrestle?


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All I know is The Growery is a place where losers who get banned here go.


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Offlinekadakuda
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Re: Protecting free trade not about protecting big business. [Re: z@z.com]
    #3576313 - 01/03/05 09:11 PM (11 years, 10 months ago)

softwood lumber (among others).....freetrade aint free. apperently world court dont have much say in whether the states is right or wrong.

whole thing is a joke, clearly the whole thing is total BS. Free Trade= hypocracy & curuption.


--------------------
The seeds you won't sow are the plants you dont grow.


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Invisibleafoaf
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Re: Protecting free trade not about protecting big business. [Re: kadakuda]
    #3576699 - 01/03/05 10:44 PM (11 years, 10 months ago)

yeah, that made a ton of sense.


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All I know is The Growery is a place where losers who get banned here go.


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Invisiblez@z.com
Libertarian
Registered: 10/13/02
Posts: 2,876
Loc: ATL
Re: Protecting free trade not about protecting big business. [Re: kadakuda]
    #3576856 - 01/03/05 11:15 PM (11 years, 10 months ago)

Quote:

kadakuda said:
whole thing is a joke, clearly the whole thing is total BS. Free Trade= hypocracy & curuption.



Are you referring to free trade or what the government seems to consider free trade?


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"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." - C.S. Lewis

"I would rather be exposed to the inconveniencies attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it." - Thomas Jefferson


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OfflineGazzBut
Refraction

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Re: Protecting free trade not about protecting big business. [Re: afoaf]
    #3578362 - 01/04/05 07:57 AM (11 years, 10 months ago)

Quote:

tariffs, quotas and subsidies are the work of the devil.




Surely they can be applied in a good way...say to help a struggling economy compete with more powerful economies?


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Always Smi2le


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OfflineAlan Stone
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Re: Protecting free trade not about protecting big business. [Re: GazzBut]
    #3578412 - 01/04/05 08:42 AM (11 years, 10 months ago)

Then you're not talking about free trade, are you? Free trade is just that: no limitations on goods (including narcotics, guns, slaves, etc) and no limitations on labour or wages.

Given human instincts, I think a free market is just as much a Utopia as is, say, a monocultural society, a communist society or a conservative society.


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It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.

- Aristotle


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OfflineGazzBut
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Re: Protecting free trade not about protecting big business. [Re: Alan Stone]
    #3578778 - 01/04/05 11:05 AM (11 years, 10 months ago)

Didnt say I was did I Al? Im talking about fair trade.


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Always Smi2le


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Anonymous

Re: Protecting free trade not about protecting big business. [Re: GazzBut]
    #3579144 - 01/04/05 01:28 PM (11 years, 10 months ago)

Surely they can be applied in a good way...say to help a struggling economy compete with more powerful economies?

tariffs help one industry at a time. by preventing americans from buying japanese steel for example, you certainly help the US steel industry compete (or more accurately, save it the effort of having to do so). you also force everyone else to pay a greater price for steel, and consequently, everything made out of it.

tariffs help some at the expense of others. they help a small percentage of the people a lot, and they screw everyone else a little. it looks like they're helping, but they aren't. they're unfair and inefficient.


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Anonymous

Re: Protecting free trade not about protecting big business. [Re: Alan Stone]
    #3579164 - 01/04/05 01:32 PM (11 years, 10 months ago)

Free trade is just that: no limitations on goods (including narcotics, guns, slaves, etc) and no limitations on labour or wages.

actually it is not. free trade means free trade; exchanges made with informed, voluntarily consent. slavery is not an aspect of free trade. contract killings are not an aspect of free trade. snuff films are not an aspect of free trade. exchange of stolen goods is not an aspect of free trade. fraud is not an aspect of free trade.


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OfflineGazzBut
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Re: Protecting free trade not about protecting big business. [Re: ]
    #3579171 - 01/04/05 01:34 PM (11 years, 10 months ago)

Quote:

tariffs help some at the expense of others. they help a small percentage of the people a lot, and they screw everyone else a little. it looks like they're helping, but they aren't. they're unfair and inefficient.




What a convincing arguement.

So you can see no merit in allowing struggling economies to use tariffs and subsidies to help and support their homegrown industries when they compete internationally with economic behemoths.


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Always Smi2le


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Anonymous

Re: Protecting free trade not about protecting big business. [Re: GazzBut]
    #3579178 - 01/04/05 01:36 PM (11 years, 10 months ago)

So you can see no merit in allowing struggling economies to use tariffs and subsidies to help and support their homegrown industries when they compete internationally with economic behemoths.

being that they are helping some of their industries at the expense of others, with a net result that is negative, not positive, no, i cannot see the merit in that.


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OfflineGazzBut
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Re: Protecting free trade not about protecting big business. [Re: ]
    #3579199 - 01/04/05 01:47 PM (11 years, 10 months ago)

Ahh poor little dogma bunny. It is fairly obvious that in certain situations tariffs/subsidies could indeed help a nations economy, yes it may mean a minority suffer but if it means the majority prosper then surely that minority would find it easier in the future to move into another area of the economy.

I am not supporting the wholesale application of these measures but to support the wholesale removal of them is equally shortsighted.


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Invisiblez@z.com
Libertarian
Registered: 10/13/02
Posts: 2,876
Loc: ATL
Re: Protecting free trade not about protecting big business. [Re: GazzBut]
    #3579300 - 01/04/05 02:10 PM (11 years, 10 months ago)

Quote:

GazzBut said:
Ahh poor little dogma bunny. It is fairly obvious that in certain situations tariffs/subsidies could indeed help a nations economy, yes it may mean a minority suffer but if it means the majority prosper then surely that minority would find it easier in the future to move into another area of the economy.




You have that backwards. The majority suffer from tariffs, subsidies, and quotas. Consider steel. The steelworkers and steel companies are helped there is no doubt about that, but just about all other American manufacturing jobs are hurt and it causes a disadvantage for the companies competing with oversees operations. Plus Americans are stuck with higher prices. Hardly sounds like the minority of people getting hurt.

Give me an example of a tariff or subsidy that only makes a minority suffer. I would love to hear it.


--------------------
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." - C.S. Lewis

"I would rather be exposed to the inconveniencies attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it." - Thomas Jefferson


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Anonymous

Re: Protecting free trade not about protecting big business. [Re: GazzBut]
    #3579402 - 01/04/05 02:40 PM (11 years, 10 months ago)

Ahh poor little dogma bunny.

there's no need for personal attacks here. i think i'm being pretty good about explaining myself. with what principles or arguments do you disagree and why?

It is fairly obvious that in certain situations tariffs/subsidies could indeed help a nations economy

fairly obvious? i think not. can you explain why?

tariffs can allow certain people to perform certain jobs which they otherwise would not. they can allow certain industries to prosper which otherwise would not. with this i am not disagreeing with you. i only want you to consider the fact that this is done at the expense of everyone else.

let's say that there is a tariff put in place in america agaist the importation of foreign cars. the idea is to aid US car manufacturers. will it aid US car manufacturers? of course it will. will it help americans in the automotive business keep their jobs? yes. will it make the people as a whole better off? not in the least.

what if there was no tariff? US car manufacturers would be put out of work. certainly, i acknowledge that. another way to look at this is that a sector of the workforce is freed up to do other things. they will produce other things, and americans will still get the cars they need. on account of being able to buy cheaper cars, americans will have more money to spend elsewhere. on account of having exported goods to the US, other nations will have an impetus to import US goods. all of this serves to increase US employment and production.

yes it may mean a minority suffer but if it means the majority prosper then surely that minority would find it easier in the future to move into another area of the economy.

this is precisely the argument for removing tariffs, not maintaining them.

there is an argument for establishing some tariffs. it is not to create jobs or increase production. in fact, both suffer. that argument is self-sufficiency. it makes very good sense, from a simply strategic standpoint, that nations be self-sufficient at some critical tasks (much as you and i choose to be self-sufficient in certain things but not others). perhaps a german firm can make better small arms cheaper than any american firm. it may still make sense for the US government to buy american arms to support its military because it is wise to be self-sufficient in critical military hardware. another one is oil. we pay a very dear price on the importation of foreign oil. a tariff on middle-eastern oil might help reflect its true cost and foster more self-sufficient energy resources. the point of this however is not to increase jobs or foster economic growth. it does neither. the inefficiency it generates is tolerated for the benefit of self-sufficiency. it would be less costly for me to buy all of my food at the grocery store rather than grow and hunt it myself, but i sacrifice that for a small level of self-sufficiency. i don't do it because it makes me economically better off.


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Offlinekadakuda
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Re: Protecting free trade not about protecting big business. [Re: z@z.com]
    #3580959 - 01/04/05 08:25 PM (11 years, 10 months ago)

Quote:

z@z.com said:
Quote:

kadakuda said:
whole thing is a joke, clearly the whole thing is total BS. Free Trade= hypocracy & curuption.



Are you referring to free trade or what the government seems to consider free trade?



yes, the governments interpretation of it* i like the idea of free trade...but as it stands right now they are fucking it up pretty decent.


--------------------
The seeds you won't sow are the plants you dont grow.


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Offlinelonestar2004
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Re: Protecting free trade not about protecting big business. [Re: z@z.com]
    #3581537 - 01/04/05 10:25 PM (11 years, 10 months ago)

Tariffs protect uncompetitive businesses at the expense of jobs in other businesses that would be competitive.

Hong Kong flourished. Albania withered.


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America's debt problem is a "sign of leadership failure"

We have "reckless fiscal policies"

America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership.

Americans deserve better

Barack Obama


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Invisiblez@z.com
Libertarian
Registered: 10/13/02
Posts: 2,876
Loc: ATL
Re: Protecting free trade not about protecting big business. [Re: lonestar2004]
    #3581662 - 01/04/05 10:57 PM (11 years, 10 months ago)

Quote:

lonestar2004 said:
Tariffs protect uncompetitive businesses at the expense of jobs in other businesses that would be competitive.



Exactly. If we suck at something someone else should do it.

Quote:

Hong Kong flourished. Albania withered.



Funny thing is that Albania was brought to its knees with pyramid schemes.


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"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." - C.S. Lewis

"I would rather be exposed to the inconveniencies attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it." - Thomas Jefferson


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