Tina K. Russell

September 27, 2008

Where in the world is harmin’ Santiago?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Tina Russell @ 3:52 am

Op-Ed Contributors – Foreign Policy Questions by Foreigners to the Candidates – Op-Ed – NYTimes.com
Many developing countries — mine included — have made sacrifices to carry out tough economic reforms and have sought “trade and not aid.” To succeed, we need to compete on a level playing field with more developed economies. Is the United States ready to shoulder some of the burden by advocating the elimination or tempering of protectionism and subsidies? The United Nations by itself, with its faults and many achievements, does not lead. Nation-states do. American commitment and leadership is a must for effective multilateral cooperation. Will you demonstrate a renewed commitment to multilateralism and the rule of international law? Will you negotiate actively to agree on a post-Kyoto treaty on global warming and seek to join the United Nations Human Rights Council? Lastly, what would you do to regain the trust of your allies who would like to see the United States engaging in respectful dialogue and leading the way in the fight not merely against terrorism — which must be done — but also against world hunger, poverty, inequality and disease?

— MICHELLE BACHELET, the president of Chile

I guess that’s my big problem with protectionism, from both sides of the aisle; in America’s case, it’s massive hypocrisy. There’s a liberal fantasy that poor countries can be self-sufficient if they work hard and get back to the land; they’re doing that. We need to let them play by the same rules we do.

Of course, if you read the article, the entry after it has something else very important to say of American global financial hypocrisy.

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June 24, 2008

This isn’t just because Tina is very fond of Brazil, promise

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Tina Russell @ 9:27 pm

Obama Camp Closely Linked With Ethanol – NYTimes.com
Ethanol is one area in which Mr. Obama strongly disagrees with his Republican opponent, Senator John McCain of Arizona. While both presidential candidates emphasize the need for the United States to achieve “energy security” while also slowing down the carbon emissions that are believed to contribute to global warming, they offer sharply different visions of the role that ethanol, which can be made from a variety of organic materials, should play in those efforts.

Mr. McCain advocates eliminating the multibillion-dollar annual government subsidies that domestic ethanol has long enjoyed. As a free trade advocate, he also opposes the 54-cent-a-gallon tariff that the United States slaps on imports of ethanol made from sugar cane, which packs more of an energy punch than corn-based ethanol and is cheaper to produce.

Here’s another thing: you don’t eat sugar cane. Much as I strongly feel that the country needs the healing balm of an Obama presidency and needs a McCain presidency like it needs an outbreak of the plague, I do have to call this issue for McCain. I’m sick of free-trade hypocrisy in America, where we tell other countries to drop all their tariffs and subsidies, and then binge on them ourselves when no one is looking. (Both parties engage in this, certainly, and it’s a disaster for developing economies overseas.)

April 25, 2008

The Right Tools for the Job

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — Tina Russell @ 4:35 pm

allAfrica.com: Africa: UN Secretary-General Calls for Free Trade On Global Market (Page 1 of 1)

The Secretary-General of United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki-moon has stressed the need for more free trade in the global economy to boost the economies of poor countries.

He believes this has the tendency of lifting those countries from poverty.

Mr. Ki-moon made this statement at the opening ceremony of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTADXII) summit in Accra, in connection with soaring food prices, climate change and the lag in achieving development goals, which was marring the efforts of poor countries to grow.

He therefore stressed the need for governments to device methods to ensure that there were no food shortages in their economies.

“International grain markets must remain open and functioning normally. Beggar-thy-neighbour food wars cannot, in the long run, help anyone”, he stressed.

So there.

No, seriously, international trade and globalization doesn’t have to be a scourge; done right, it can help lift the poor countries from poverty. Foreign aid won’t, on its own, allow countries to build the kind of local economies needed for long-term growth and sustainability. No amount of Bono-style “awareness” will create a vibrant, resurgent Africa able to stand on its own two feet.

We can be privileged, middle-class liberals and idealize the simple life of the impoverished sustenance farmer, or we can help them get a fair shake in the globalized world by giving them direct access to global markets. We can sneer at the evils of a fluctuating world economy, or we can rightly recognize that the services of the world’s farmers are greatly needed during a food shortage crisis, and that the free flow of food should not be hampered by petty tussles of protectionism. We can browbeat endlessly over multinational corporations attempting to gobble up the world’s labor, or we can help the individual farmer compete fairly on the world market by giving them access to previously closed-off channels of trade.

“Nowhere is the global challenge of economic disenfranchisement more acute than in Africa”, he noted.

To this effect, he noted that the deal with the food crisis in the long-term agricultural production must be increased; emphasizing that there was no reason why Africa could not experience a “green revolution” if assistance and markets were shaped towards that end.

We may even have to recognize the real necessity of another “green revolution” of genetically modified foods. Instead of fighting the concept itself, we may have to gird for battle to prevent corrupt corporations from extorting poor farmers through draconian IP restrictions or biological sleights of hand, and to keep GM crops from being homogenized or contaminating the local ecosystem. We may have to be realists, and know that we need to use the right tools for the job. We may have to choose between our ideology and the lives of poor people the world over.

April 18, 2008

Rebuttals

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Tina Russell @ 11:14 pm

Colombia Trade Accord – New York Times

You may recall, dear readers, that I leaned towards the position of ratifying the Colombian trade deal in an earlier post. Here are two letters against the deal in The New York Times, and actually, I think they’re pretty solid.

Make up your own mind, I guess.

April 10, 2008

Block the Vote

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — Tina Russell @ 10:32 pm

House Puts Off Vote on Trade Agreement – New York Times

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Democratic-led House, in an election-year showdown with the White House, on Thursday effectively denied President Bush a vote any time soon on a free trade agreement with Colombia, a key South American ally.

Oh, come on. If we’re going to get all uppity–and remain on our moral high ground–when Bush and Co. use the good old cloakroom hold to block a vote on a crucial issue, we need to save our blocks for when it’s very important… we need to save our political capital for pressing issues of freedom and security, not penny-ante trade deals that, secretly, nobody cares about.

But I care, because I like the US having an ally in Latin America. Does that make me a free-market fundamentalist? No! But, I don’t think that the Democrats ought to fall into the same xenophobic, protectionist patterns we always (rightly) criticize the Republicans for. You think we have it bad here? Check out Columbia, where they could really use freer trade with the United States.

Sure, sure, we could add stipulations making sure human rights and such–and the country’s sovreignty, which must not be for sale–are looked after. But now, the issue has been junked, and Pelosi has decided to return to partisan gridlock. Newt Gingrich taught us all that, if you’re going to bring the government to a halt, you’d better have a damn good reason because people will percieve it as a cynical ploy that’s preventing things from being done. Now, with an important civil liberties fight (telecom immunity… which is utter, complete crap and the Democrats ought to join a bike-chain human barrier against it if they know what’s good for them… and the Republicans, too, who ought to be against big government snooping) coming up, the Democrats will have much less energy and capital if they want to push their slim majority for the side of good.

Arrrgh. This is our first big political scuttling in the Senate? Usually, I’m a fairly big defender of the two-party system (basically: if you don’t like it, try one party, which is what we’ll get if you don’t vote). But for some reason, our own legislators are stuck in the trap that if you’re a liberal, you must not like trade. I’m in favor of free trade and human rights. Quelle shock! Clearly, I don’t exist.

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