I Don’t Believe Your so-called “Reality”

Regarding free-trade “counter-examples”

The reasons I tend to discount historical data (usually without even seeing it) is that
A) I know that data mining is possible
B) There are always historical contingencies, that can’t be accounted for. Wars in far away places, drought, technological advances, and seemingly unrelated legal changes can change outcomes in ways that can be difficult to measure, and certainly impossible to separate completely.
C) There aren’t pure experiments that can be done. For example, Taiwan is supposed to be very high on the neo-liberal scale (low taxes, free trade), but I read this today. That’s not free trade.
Also
D) No one other than me knows what my preferences are. How can anyone claim that a better allocation is achieved by restricting my choices when they can’t (externally) know my utility preference?
E) That Individuals allocate their resources best is so simple a solipsists can understand it.
When discussing trade deals that tend are being pushed today, they tend to involve intellectual property rights. This subject is more complex, and it is debatable whether they are helpful in any case, but as they are negotiated they seem to allocate the majority of property rights to technologically advanced countries to the detriment of the less advanced countries. This doesn’t seem to be a good place to start if you are not advanced, but unilaterally removing trade barriers to all physical goods, in my view can’t help but improve the lives of people in technologically backward countries.

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2 Responses to “I Don’t Believe Your so-called “Reality””

  1. Jon Says:

    The populations of the suffering countries that have forcefully had trade barriers removed don’t agree that removal of trade barriers has been entirely helpful. It would seem to me that having the boot on your throat has a way of bringing in to focus the causes of suffering.

    You and I are here in the states benefiting from cheap Hatian labor. Haiti, a country of staggering poverty, is subjected to policies that demand it become a net exporter. They really should be feeding their own populations, but instead they are sending their goods to the States. This kind of a condition, which produces cheap products in the States and large profits for the various US based corporations, frequently is regarded as beneficial to Hatians by the portly beneficiaries. The starving workers would like to try something else, but this is prevented of course by US military intervention.

    Hegemony has been going on for decades. The results are misery for Hatians and benefits for Americans and US corporations. What do you think of giving democracy a try? It would mean non-neo liberal policies, but it would also mean self determination. Would you support that even if it went against what you think is best for Hatians?

  2. darfferrara Says:

    I’m sure that the boot has been heavy on your own throat. So heavy, in fact, that you were barely able to write this response from your droid.

    My point is that there are a priori reasons to believe that individuals can allocate their own resources and that tariffs (taxes in general, really) create a deadweight loss. There are more complicated public choice arguments to believe that governments waste resources. On the other hand, you’ve given stories about corporate interests and hedgemony. You know what may also contribute to the suffering in Haiti? There was a huricane not long ago. Of course the huricane caused suffering, you say. But was most of the suffering was due to the fact that they didn’t tax American beets? Historical contigencies are difficult to separate in data.

    Let me ask you directly: Raising what tariffs in Haiti would have benefited Haitians, and by what mechanism would that benefit have accrued?

    I don’t know the history of Haiti well, but I know a little more about the history of trade in the US. Generally tariffs are exercises in rent seeking. Sometimes there are obviously negative consequences but more often there less pronounced negative effects.

    And I think you know that I’m not a huge fan of democracy, especially when it is used to suppress individual rights. What kind of newspeak is it to claim that subjugation to a majority means self determination? Democracy brought the Nazis to power in Germany. Would you have supported Nazi policies?

    I just threw that last one in so that Godwin’s law could be invoked as soon as possible. That way the rest of the conversation is free to evolve without the pressure to move in that direction.

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