Friday, July 22, 2016

Globalization and its Discontents Part 2/1

We will start the long-delayed second part of the “Globalization Review” here on Global Wahrman. These posts will dribble out over the next month or two.  I am not in a hurry and you should not be either. The whole issue is so far over my head (and presumably your head) that it isn't funny.

The point of these posts is to bring to your attention what a layperson can figure out about our government's globalization policies, what the results have been, what the future holds. Unfortunately there is a lot to these different issues of trade policy, taxation, employment, retraining, economic security and so forth. I will make every effort to be brief and to make suggestions for partial solutions or remedies. I think it will become very clear very quickly that our government has not done even a minimally acceptable job on these issues and is at best incompetent but probably worse.

I have no credibility in this area. There is no reason why anyone should listen to a word I say about this. I am not an economist, my degree in Economics is undergraduate and from UCLA. The world of international finance and trade policy is very, very complex. Anything I come up with is likely to be as silly as a layman trying to tell a physicist where really to look for dark matter. It will become clear that I think that there are some politically plausible, sometimes expensive, remedies which will alleviate some of the misery that many Americans are experiencing. But of course it is extremely doubtful that anyone who matters will care what I think, or what you think for that matter.

So why bother? Is this a good use of our time? Your time and my time? If it is, it is only because we are expected in a democracy to be informed citizens.Furthermore, the economic policies of this country have apparently caused a lot of misery and it is incumbent on us to understand where this misery came from, whether it was avoidable or at least predictable, and what might be done about it. In a sense, this is a form of what we used to call "civics".

I have another motivation here as well. There is every reason to think that the American visual effects community was mostly destroyed by foreign subsidies and that our Government did nothing. Is this story true, is it partially true? What was the role of the studios, the production companies, our representatives in Washington, our State Department?

When I started this investigation, I had not been paying much attention to this country's trade policy, or its tax policy, or the issues of labor organization, or to unemployment, or to so many of the issues that I have had to educate myself on.  I knew that unemployment existed and that I was a victim of it, in some sense of that word 'victim', but I did not believe that this was because of structural reasons that our government had put in place, either accidentally or deliberately.  The process of learning about the situation has changed my mind.

There is nothing subtle about what I am going to review for you. It was also a surprise to me how little of it was even new as most of these issues were discussed in great detail in the 19th century. These policies have winners and losers and the results of these types of policies are very well known.

Furthermore, it will be clear that there are straightforward remedies that could certainly alleviate some of the misery experienced in this country. Now, I admit, these remedies will probably not solve all the issues of wealth and other inequality, or restore the lives destroyed by our government's incompetence or greed (whichever you think it is), but these suggestions would certainly make things better. There are those who think that a remedy has to solve all problems or not be tried. I dont agree. I think we can chip away at problems and make a difference now. Realistically of course there is no chance for these suggestions to be implemented, nor am I convinced that these are the best ideas out there, they are merely intended to be examples of the kind of remedies that do exist.

At one point, I had a list of topics that I was going to discuss, but the list was too long and too dreary. I did not want to scare you off.  I wish I could make this more fun. All I can do is make it as brief as possible, and even that wont be easy.

I do have one request. I am a little sensitive because of my station in life and I do not like to be called stupid. If I say something here that you disagree with, fine. Feel free to make a comment that lets me know why you disagree and give me a counterexample. Or just stop reading. That is just fine with me, nobody gives a fuck what I think anyway.

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