Two Ts and an M

Parochialism is not a new phenomenon in politics. Neither is hypocrisy. Therefore, when Raj Thackeray is criticized for his “sons of the soil” position on employment, and nothing is said when such discrimination is practiced at the national level, one shouldn’t be surprised. I am referring to this statement by Tharoor-

“As far as our basic policy is concerned, we would certainly be hesitant to offer employment to a foreigner for a job which could be done by an Indian in India.”

He sounds as if its he who’s doing the hiring, and even paying the wages out of his own pocket. If he has a problem with the Chinese (and Chidambaram with migrants from Bangladesh), a diplomatic problem, a “national security” problem, he should be open about it and not talk in terms of who has the first right to a job. Unfortunately though, such small-mindedness is hardly limited to India. Even the bastion of free market capitalism (I am joking), the United States of America, suffers from this mentality—the protectionist one.

Don Boudreaux made a nice point in an open letter regarding the same, to someone who asked what he would do if someone “stole” his job-

My answer to it is this: I’ll find a way to feed my family. I’ll get another job (or jobs). I’ll cut back on less-essential expenses. If I must, I’ll rely on my family and close friends as I hope they would rely on me if they were in dire straits.

But I will not, under any circumstances, use my economic misfortune as an excuse to violate the freedoms of others.

A protectionist is a person who believes that being born in a particular family/ community/ nation gives him an automatic first claim on the property and services of his fellows, and that if they bypass him, he has the right to beat them up, physically and financially, through the use of goons, or the government. He is, in fact, no better than a thug.

Wired has an article on the man behind Minerva (via K). The US mission of spreading democracy worldwide has been a great success when it comes to South Korea-

Today anonymous dissenters are unlikely to be punished in democratic countries. But the law in South Korea makes it easy for the government to unmask troublesome writers. Every account on Daum and other major sites is associated with a national ID number. In Minerva’s case, Daum promptly handed over his IP address, which led the police directly to Park’s door.

[…]

For 103 days, the South Korean government held Park in a 50-square-foot cell at a Seoul detention center. Interrogators asked about his family, whether he had a girlfriend, whether he was a spy. He tried to keep calm, meeting with his volunteer legal team and studying the writings of the early-20th-century Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci. “I felt so isolated,” he says. “They accused me of selling out my country. No! I’m not a spy. I wanted to help through my criticism. I had thought that South Korea was a democratic country. I felt as though my nation betrayed me.”

[…]

It is very difficult to find anyone in the South Korean government willing to talk about Minerva. The prosecutors say they can’t discuss the case until the appeal is over. Two spokespeople for the Korea Communication Standards Commission explain that they weren’t directly involved with the case, though they do have as many as 50 employees watching Daum and other sites at any given time. “We have to protect our children and our public,” one of them explains. “That’s the government’s job, to maintain a nice, clean Internet.” A spokesperson for the Ministry of Strategy and Finance says Park was beneath their notice. “If his theories were made by a publicly recognized institute, we might have some comment. And it is not appropriate for the government to comment on forecasts published by citizens on the Internet.” Months before, the head of the same ministry had argued that Minerva’s influence over exchange rates had cost billions. Now, however, the government had nothing to fear. Once again, as it had been during his whole previous life, Park could be treated like any other nobody.

Stay on the right side of people who are in a position to cause grave harm, especially those in government, and you will be okay. Otherwise you will be persecuted. That’s the lesson one learns from all this. If this is the situation in one democracy, this is what happens (via Reason) in, again, the freest country on the planet-

In a case that raises questions about online journalism and privacy rights, the U.S. Department of Justice sent a formal request to an independent news site ordering it to provide details of all reader visits on a certain day.

The grand jury subpoena also required the Philadelphia-based Indymedia.us Web site “not to disclose the existence of this request” unless authorized by the Justice Department, a gag order that presents an unusual quandary for any news organization.

[…]

Morrison replied in a one-sentence letter saying the subpoena had been withdrawn. Around the same time, according to the EFF, the group had a series of discussions with assistant U.S. attorneys in Morrison’s office who threatened Clair with possible prosecution for obstruction of justice if she disclosed the existence of the already-withdrawn subpoena — claiming it “may endanger someone’s health” and would have a “human cost.”

[…]

Bankston has written a longer description of the exchange of letters with the Justice Department, which he hopes will raise awareness of how others should respond to similar legal demands for Web logs, customer records, and compulsory silence. “Our fear is that this kind of bogus gag order is much more common than one would hope, considering they’re legally baseless,” Bankston says. “We’re telling this story in hopes that more providers will press back and go public when the government demands their silence.”

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Comments

  • yet_another_hindu_infidel  On November 14, 2009 at 11:22 am

    If he has a problem… he should be open about it and not talk in terms of who has the first right to a job.
    lol how can a diplomat be “open about it”? he will try his best not to cause war of mouths with the other country and certainly not name the problem as “security/diplomatic” problem.

    your dreaming of an india that isn’t selfish. how can a person not feel a belly ache with so poverty around him?

    • Aristotle The Geek  On November 15, 2009 at 4:17 am

      # “lol how can a diplomat be “open about it”?”
      He would probably say the same thing even if he were not into diplomacy. This is a disease, protectionism.

      # “your dreaming of an india that isn’t selfish.”
      I’m dreaming of a world where predation is at its lowest, and enlightened selfishness at its highest. A predator is selfish, but in a twisted sort of way.

      # “how can a person not feel a belly ache with so poverty around him?”
      This

      House: You like this guy?

      Foreman: You always tell us our opinion of the patient is irrelevant.

      House: Medically, it’s irrelevant. That says something about you.

      Foreman: You figure that anybody that gives a crap about people in Africa must be full of it?

      House: Yes. There’s an evolutionary imperative why we give a crap about our family and friends. And there’s an evolutionary imperative why we don’t give a crap about anybody else. If we loved all people indiscriminately, we couldn’t function.

      Foreman: Hmmm. So, the great humanitarian’s as selfish as the rest of us.

      House: Just not as honest about it.

      Never met an unselfish person in my life. Only people who pretend they aren’t (selfish), and they turn out to be the worst of the lot.

      As for the belly ache, I can only empathize with actual cases, of injustice, not with a nameless crowd.

  • yet_another_hindu_infidel  On November 15, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    He would probably say the same thing even if he were not into diplomacy. This is a disease, protectionism.
    labels are simply labels. it’s “me first and the rest later” attitude with everyone. how is that different from the people who don’t risk there lives to save a hostage because he has gotten himself in that predicament? you said that in a previous editorial. the hostage thinks for himself, that people should come and save him while the people think for themselves by not risking there lives in an effort to save that man. it this is not discrimination then why is protectionism discriminatory?

    I’m dreaming of a world where predation is at its lowest, and enlightened selfishness at its highest.
    Wants are unlimited and rich businessmen will continue to prop up there net worth as much as they can. im not a pessimist, i just cannot put forth the example of a cat who stopped catching mice and turned into a vegetarian.

    A predator is selfish, but in a twisted sort of way.
    Animals are the only creature on earth that kill other animals for food. Humans kill for fun, to hang trophies on there walls. Even the “freest” country on planet earth, the usa, has states were hunting is legal.

    • Aristotle The Geek  On November 16, 2009 at 4:37 am

      # “labels are simply labels…how is that different from the people who don’t risk there lives to save a hostage because he has gotten himself in that predicament?
      The difference lies in the action. One is active, the other passive.

      A hostage cannot demand that people risk their lives to save him. He cannot make it a question of morality. Further, if the hostage is being used as a shield, he cannot demand that those being shot at not shoot him while trying to protect themselves.

      This ideas has nothing to do with protectionism. Its not “discrimination.” If protectionism is that good, everyone should adopt it at the lowest level—work for himself, stitch his own clothes, grow his own vegetables, build his own house and so on without paying others to do these jobs. All purchases, sales and voluntary give-and-take should be banned.

      If this seems absurd, that’s because the very idea of protectionism, banning “outsiders” from working for people willing to hire them, banning imports because goods are being “dumped,” or imposing punitive taxes on them to “protect” domestic industry, is absurd. The only reasons behind such nonsense are parochialism and nationalism, or worse, sabotage by people who don’t have the capability to produce what people want to buy.

  • yet_another_hindu_infidel  On November 16, 2009 at 11:47 am

    people who don’t have the capability to produce what people want to buy
    can’t argue with you here. this is probably the best explanation of protectionism. more sales equals more jobs. this is the basic purchasing power cycle theory they teach you in economics. so i have to ask, how does the cycle complete itself according to your assessment?

    • Aristotle The Geek  On November 19, 2009 at 1:32 am

      # “more sales equals more jobs.”
      Consumption drives production. Protectionism, as I said, is resorted to by people who can’t produce as per demand. They want people to shun “foreign” goods and adopt “swadeshi” or local ones. And goods that are not available in the locality, they will either ban the import, or tax it heavily by calling it “luxury” items.

      What’s forgotten in all this is that a person who is refused “permission” to purchase something he likes may not necessarily spend the money on local goods, thereby creating more “local” jobs. Further, if you “protect” your jobs, others will protect theirs. Both sides will stop trading. No outsourcing, no nothing. The whole idea is so stupid that I don’t believe that the (economic) logic of it all can make someone adopt it. The only reasons are political. Always.

      From Chodorov-

      The first objective of a general staff is to destroy the market-place mechanisms of the enemy; the destruction of his army is only incidental to that purpose. The army could well enough be left intact if his internal means of communication were destroyed, his ports of entry immobilized, so that specialized production, which depends on trade, could no longer be carried on; the people, reduced to primitive existence, thus lose the will to war and sue for peace. That is the general pattern of all wars. The more highly integrated the economy the stronger will be the nation in war, simply because of its ability to produce an abundance of both military implements and economic goods; on the other hand, if its ability to produce is destroyed, if the flow of goods is interrupted, the more susceptible to defeat it is, because its people, unaccustomed as they are to primitive conditions, are the more easily discouraged. There is no point to the argument as to whether “guns” or “butter” is more important in the prosecution of war.

      It follows that any interference with the operation of the market place, however done, is analogous to an act of war. A tariff is such an act. When we are “protected” against Argentine beef, the effect (as intended) is to make beef harder to get, and that is exactly what an invading army would do. Since the duty does not diminish our desire for beef, we are compelled by the diminished supply to put out more labor to satisfy that desire; our range of possibilities is foreshortened, for we are faced with the choice of getting along with less beef or abstaining from the enjoyment of some other “good.” The absence of a plenitude of meat from the market place lowers the purchasing power of our labor. We are poorer, even as is a nation whose ports have been blockaded.

      Moreover, since every buyer is a seller, and vice versa, the prohibition against their beef makes it difficult for Argentineans to buy our automobiles, and this expression of our skills is constricted. The effect of a tariff is to drive a potential buyer out of the market place. The argument that “protection” provides jobs is patently fallacious. It is the consumer who gives the worker a job, and the consumer who is prevented from consuming might as well be dead, as far as providing productive employment is concerned.

      […]

      Just as trade brings people together, tending to minimize cultural differences, and makes for mutual understanding, so do impediments to trade have the opposite effect. If the customer is always “right,” it is easy to assume that there is something wrong with the nonbuyer. The faults of those who refuse to do business with us are accentuated not only by our loss but also by the sting of personal affront. Should the boy with the tops refuse to trade with the boy who has marbles, they can no longer play together; and this desocialization can easily stir up an argument over the relative demerits of their dogs or parents. Just so, for all our protestations of good neighborliness, the Argentinean has his doubts about our intentions when we bolt our commercial doors against him; compelled to look elsewhere for more substantial friendship, he is inclined to think less of our national character and culture.

      The by-product of trade isolationism is the feeling that the “outsider” is a “different kind” of person, and therefore inferior, with whom social contact is at least undesirable if not dangerous. To what extent this segregation of people by trade restrictions is the cause of war is a moot question, but there can be no doubt that such restrictions are irritants that can give other causes for war more plausibility; it makes no sense to attack a good customer, one who buys as much of our products as he can use and pays his bills regularly. Perhaps the removal of trade restrictions throughout the world would do more for the cause of universal peace than can any political union of peoples separated by trade barriers; indeed, can there be a viable political union while these barriers exist? And, if freedom of trade were the universal practice, would a political union be necessary?

      • yet_another_hindu_infidel  On November 19, 2009 at 4:47 pm

        They want people to shun “foreign” goods and adopt “swadeshi” or local ones.
        absolutely, but i was asking how does the circle complete itself? i mean money is going out and with a country like china, there’ll always be a disequilibrium – 5x imports and 1x exports. im not expecting ulhasnagar to make counterfeit motherboards, rams, cell phones anytime soon. I think there abilities were limited to stereo systems and TV’s. We have nothing to offer. Are you thinking that the existence of chinese sh!t in indian markets will encourage indians to innovate and produce indigenous sh!t and gradually take over the chinese sh!t in the near future? Because that’ll be like taking a risk, success or not, our market will actually be funding the chinese.

        a person who is refused “permission” to purchase something may not necessarily spend the money on local goods
        yes, agreed.

        Further, if you “protect” your jobs, others will protect theirs.
        right, so protectionism is always two sided. a policy change by one country alone doesn’t do much. countries need to come together and agree as a whole. but countries have came together in the past more than once and condemned protectionism but done nothing. why do you think that is?

        • Aristotle The Geek  On November 20, 2009 at 2:29 am

          # “absolutely, but i was asking how does the circle complete itself?”
          Forget money for a moment and think about goods and services – consumption, for money is merely a means to an end. Can’t eat it, wear it, drive it…And forget countries too…arbitrary boundaries… and look at transactions between those willing to buy and those willing to sell.

          Trade is exchanging one good or service for another.
          If an Indian wants cheap electronic items and a Chinese fellow is willing to sell it to him at a lower cost than what another Indian would charge him, this transaction is to his benefit and he should go for it. The resources he saves can be used for some other purpose. The same would apply in the opposite direction, though the traffic may not necessarily be equal. Let’s take your figure of assorted Indians buying 5 times the goods they are exporting. Now, the Chinese are not supplying goods for free, and the Indians are obviously getting the resources from somewhere. Part of it is through exports to people in other countries, of both goods and services, and the remaining are “invisibles”—remittances from people working abroad being a big part of it. Note that money, here, represents a value. Something (at a very basic level, everything is labor) has been given up in exchange for money, and someone else will give something up in exchange for this money. This is how the cycle works. If someone doesn’t have saved labor, he cannot purchase anything. So, if all the Indians ever did was eat, sleep and tax like the maharajas of yore, they would not have anything to offer. And they would not be able to trade.

          Except when governments enter the picture. With governments come national currencies, central banks, reserves and magic money — money created out of thin air (which results in the silent transfer of value from one part of the population to another). And our thinking is diverted from goods and services to pieces of paper—”conserving” foreign exchange etc. If there were no government currencies, money based on a commodity would be in circulation worldwide, probably based on gold or silver. And since this money would represent value (you could call it crystallized labor), anyone who has such money would be able to spend it.

          Regarding “nothing to offer,” yes, if a person has absolutely nothing to offer, then naturally he can’t buy anything. But that hardly ever happens. Even if a person is second (or third or fourth) best at everything, he can still benefit from trade. He might not be able to buy a private jet and a mansion but he can at least afford a bicycle and a hut. That’s because of the economics of comparative advantage. I could be the best software engineer, the best cook, the best pilot, the best writer and the best actor in the whole wide world, all at the same time, and someone else might only be tenth best at a couple of those jobs. But it might still be beneficial for me to hire such a person because I don’t have the time to do everything. The opportunity cost is simply too much.

          Try reading Callahan’s book – economics for real people – http://mises.org/books/econforrealpeople.pdf

          # “why do you think that is?”
          Again, politics. There are people who benefit from protectionism. And they always manage to get their way.

  • you12  On November 16, 2009 at 10:50 pm

    enlightened selfishness at its highest.

    I doubt if there is such a thing. There is self interest and there is self interest with force. Enlightenment has nothing to do with it.

    • Aristotle The Geek  On November 19, 2009 at 1:41 am

      Enlightenment, like wisdom, is the knowledge and ability to think long term, considering all the facts at hand. Sure there are two kinds of self interest, one wherein I sacrifice everyone to myself and the other wherein I look after my own interest without causing physical harm to others or their property, but these are legalistic definitions based on force.

      If you have to define self interest in the moral sense, say ethical egoism, rational selfishness and so on, you can’t do that without considering the long range.

  • yet_another_hindu_infidel  On November 20, 2009 at 11:04 am

    i see your talking about free trade and it’s benefits but we are not at equal footing with the chinese as yet. fiat money, though it doesn’t have any intrinsic value, it does make ends meet. imagine if we had applied barter system with the chinese, would they continue to do business with us? there resources are self sustaining to them. they scout out africa for profits, diplomatic and influential reach. they sell to us for fiat money and use that fiat money to score with the third country. one could say the remittances try’s to complete the cycle but we too are constrained by fiat money. doesn’t matter if we dig deep and call it paper money in times of peril for calmness.

    i cannot help but to maintain a rigid posture on this. our economy is, after all, a “late bloomer”. but i have no problem with free trade as long as there is equilibrium in our balance of payments. even if it imposes ridiculous duties on imports. there cannot be just an economic angle to the equation. defense and strategic goals matter too.

    This is how the cycle works.
    aamdani athani kharcha rupiah is not the working cycle i know. c’mon man, that’s a basic.

    • Aristotle The Geek  On November 20, 2009 at 4:40 pm

      # “it does make ends meet.”
      I am not questioning that fiat money is useful, but then I never said that a prisoner goes hungry, only that he has no choice regarding the food he gets, unless he’s a VIP.

      # “but i have no problem with free trade as long as…”
      And I have no problem with free speech unless people say something that i don’t like?

      # “equilibrium in our balance of payments.”
      India’s balance of payments. Meaning some Indians are buying more from outside than they are selling and if they continue at it, because we are dealing in the ultimate fiat currency, the reserve currency called the USD, we’ll have ’91 all over again. BTW, did you read this?

      # “that’s a basic.”
      That’s how the consumption based cycle works. Once you introduce governments into the picture, things get complicated. In that case I have no idea how it works. Who sells what to whom and how, and how are they being paid for the same. No wonder people are still debating how is it that the US is indebted to China.

      # “…maintain a rigid posture…”
      As long as you know that it is not based on sound economics, that is a different problem, a political one.

      • yet_another_hindu_infidel  On November 20, 2009 at 9:11 pm

        And I have no problem with free speech unless
        yes, conditions. one cannot say he’s all for free speech and then say oh but “except hate speeches” but you did that. you did reaffirm you stand on free speech by including the “hate speech” factor in one of your previous posts.

        That’s how the consumption based cycle works.
        ?? in our case, remittances are what fills the void of the cycle? we let china dump sh!t in because NRI’s are regularly sending money? let us see:

        china exports to india = 1 point for china
        india doesn’t export to china = no points for india
        india exports labour (braindrain) = -1 for india
        remittances to india = +1 for india

        final score india 0 china 1

        that is a different problem, a political one.
        oh wow, talk about broken window fallacy. so your entire outlook on things is based on the economic angle and that one angle alone? i think that’s a super philosophy dear aristotle. that way you can go through your entire life writing blogs that has a solution for virtually every fuc@king problem on this miserable planet. you definitely got all the answers.

        • Aristotle The Geek  On November 22, 2009 at 1:25 am

          # “we let china dump sh!t in because NRI’s are regularly sending money?”
          China is not “dumping” anything. There are people here who “want” to buy those things. You can continue to talk in terms of foreign exchange and balance of payments, but that doesn’t change the fact that its people who buy and people who sell and that its they who are paying for the same. The government of India can’t produce a single dollar to pay China. Its the exporters who bring in dollars, its the importers who buy it on the open market. As long as the state has control over the economy, politics and education, all future generations will keep learning nonsense under the guise of economics and civics.

          # “braindrain”
          A good thing for those people who are suffocated by the system. Why should they stay here when their work is unappreciated?

          # “so your entire outlook on things is based on the economic angle and that one angle alone?”
          Did I say that? I said that protectionism is immoral and based on economic logic that doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. If you don’t trust the Chinese, don’t buy from them. Don’t tell others that you will prevent them from trading with the Chinese. If India suffers a BoP crisis, it means the government should give up on its stupid Soviet era policies and adopt laissez faire, not adopting mercantilism which only keeps uncompetitive local industries alive at the cost of the consumer.

          # “you definitely got all the answers.”
          Oh yes I do, absolutely.

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