Global Free Trade

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Global Free Trade

  Global Free Trade

Global Free Trade, the way of the future or a passing phenomenon? Barry Green

Isn’t it strange?  The same people who laugh at gypsy fortune tellers take economists seriously.                                                                                                             Cincinnati Enquirer

If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold , it would be a merrier world. (JRR Tolkien)   

Into, a collection of thoughts started in  2006.   Global Free Trade, the way of the future or a passing phenomenon? Only time will tell. It seems to me that global free trade, as it exists today, is a product of cheap oil, virtual slave labour and environmental exploitation  in developing countries. I believe that it is neither economically nor environmentally sustainable.  The current "success" of global free trade could well bring about its downfall as rapid economic development is pushing demand for oil and hence prices to a level at which transport costs will make trade over long distances uneconomic, even if we can ignore the environmental consequences of releasing increases quantities of CO2?. (2013) Joseph E Stiglitz's book The Price of Inequality provides an explanation of what has been happening, will the internet through sites like weloveindependents.com help restore the free market and a return to local control in a global economy? The Price of Inequality
Free trade in unprocessed agricultural products might make sense to university qualified economic rationalists (economic fundamentalists) in highly paid government and big business jobs in the city, but they make no sense to me, a small scale organic farmer in regional WA. Horticultural industry associations are wasting resources in fighting off the importation of diseased foreign produce that has the potential to devastate our capacity to produce quality food, for the Australian consumer. Once a new disease arrives and becomes established, (as happens frequently) the only people to benefit are the shareholders of the foreign multinational companies that produce the sprays to control these new diseases.
All Australians should be concerned that under the free trade agenda, Australia is losing its ability to feed its population while concentrating on a Quarry Australia mentality. Farmers are getting older and young people are not going into farming because it doesn't pay. We run the risk of becoming the Twenty First century Nauru. If we keep going the way we are, in 30 years time there could be 30 million of us standing around a bloody great hole saying now what?  Sure we are unlikely to run out of iron ore but are unlikely to have the energy to extract it.
Small is Beautiful, a study of economics as if people matteres
Can anyone explain why our government is allowing foreign companies to dig up Australia faster than we have the population to do it? We are bringing people into the country to meet the demands of the boom. What are all these people going to do at the end of the boom? I would have thought the more economically rational thing would be to leave some minerals in the ground for our kids to dig up. The minerals are sure to be more valuable then that they are now anyway.  Despite the boom our national debt is higher than ever. Could it be that the Paul Keating / John Howard "modern economy" is not all it's cracked up to be? The price we pay for allowing lawyers, suburban accountants and other miscellaneous spin doctors to run the country. Perhaps we need more farmers, engineers, scientists and social workers involved, people who work in a world governed by the laws of nature and human behaviour rather than by man made laws. Harmony
The economic fundamentalists have a fanatical belief in the ability of "The Market" to come up with a replacement for oil as an energy source to drive trade. Obviously renewable energy sources will evolve for stationary purposes, but is is hard to imagine such a compact energy source as oil for transport, especially aviation. What will become of international tourism? As oil supplies dry up, much of Australia's grain production is likely to be diverted into bio-diesel so will not be available for export. 
The Western economic model relies on continually increasing GDP to sustain itself. GDP has become a function of oil consumption. To increase GDP by x% requires an (x+y)% increase in oil consumption. We have used 50% of world oil reserves in the last 50 years, I wouldn't have thought it would take a Rhodes Scholar to figure that this can't continue. That is, even if you ignore the environmental damage being done by consuming all this oil  and coal and releasing to our atmosphere in little over 100 hundred years,  carbon that has been tied up for billions of years. We are not going to suddenly run our of oil but as demand exceeds supply the price will become unstable.
Conscious Capatilism
The sceptics will say that we have heard this before, to me that is like the bloke who jumped off the 30 story building, saying as he passed the tenth floor, I don't know what all the fuss is about, it doesn't hurt a bit! The implications of all this to our food supply are discussed by Paul Roberts in his interesting and informed books, The End of Food and The End of Oil.

Change is starting to happen driven by thinking people who see that there is more to life than money. This is happening through things like Farmers Markets , Organic Farming, Permaculture the Slow Food movement are all part of a process of people taking back control of their food supply and economic destiny, that in recent years has been hijacked in the western world by multinational corporations. The funny thing is that these activities are becoming more profitable than the money driven big business approach.

The Global Economy  is like the Titanic heading for an iceberg of global warming, energy shortage, toxic food, over population and pollution.  The leaders of the developed world are all in the ward room congratulation themselves on the speed of the ship and are all getting drunk on their success. Until recently, they hadn't seen the iceberg, but things have started to change and there is renewed hope that by the people of the world working together and individually taking responsibility for their actions, a disaster can be avoided. Australian of the Year Tim Flannery is helping raise awareness with his book the The Weather Makers.  Like the Titanic, some believe the the global economy is to big to sink, they are wrong.  The ship can't be stopped but if enough of us take action we might be able to change the course enough to miss the first iceberg. 

If our political parties have lost the plot, it is up to all of us to point them in the right direction.

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March 2009, the global economy is in a mess brought about by, among other things, the greed of the banks. We have the bizarre situation of governments baling out big businesses around the world. The great Capitalist countries are taking on the characteristics of the Communist economic model with businesses now owned by the government. Unfortunately the small businesses that drive these economies are being allowed to go to the wall. Six months ago our economic experts were saying the the mining boom in WA had 5 years to run, now the state is in debt but we are still turning to these people to provide the solution. This is a form of communal madness, like a drug addict looking for another fix to solve their problem. The Citizens Electoral Council of Australia which promotes the beliefs of Lyndon LaRouche has an interesting explanation for the current situation. Providing this link is in no way an endorsement of some of the more extreme views of this organisation which seems to believe that it is possible for future human survival on this planet even if we totally destroy the natural environment.

May 2010. Its on again. WA is back into a mining boom, sucking people in from around the world to dig holes and send iron ore to an overheated Chinese economy. Has anyone in government done a long term cost benefit analysis to the people of Australia of this rapid industrialisation?  There seems to be a new McCarthyism directed at anyone who questions the rate of this industrialisation, even though it is being driven by the "evil communists" that the last McCarthyism was directed against! I'm not generally a supporter of increased tax, but if the so called mining super tax slows mining expansion to a more moderate level we could well be better of. The argument that the mining super tax affects us all because superannuation funds are major investors in mining companies, does raise the question, has superannuation turned Australian Capitalism into a virtual communist economic model? At last the question of what population Australia can sustain is on the agenda with Dick Smith joining others to force the government to take the question seriously. 

October 2010 This year has been the driest on record in the South West of WA and we are having to sell off half of our livestock. Scientists have been predicting this for over 30 years that I know of, as a consequence of CO2 emissions , yet Australian governments continue to allow foreign and Australian companies to open new Iron Ore and Coal mines that emit tones of CO2 per job created. We continue to bring in workers from overseas who work FIFO from Perth that has major water problems. The WA government released GM canola into the environment on the basis of scientific advice yet ignore Scientific advice in relation to CO2 emissions. The clever country?

June 2011 text of an email sent to politicians who I thought might be interested, they weren't !

September 2011 The mining boom continues destroying many other Australian industries in its wake. I don't understand how the government can say that we need a mining tax but there is a great future for coal mining in Australia? Mostly foreign owned mining have undue influence over our government and opposition.  At least the Liberal party is open to suggestions, have your say on the following issues:  Food security Tourism and Population.

April 2012 I was invited to speak on Agritourism at the New Rural Industries Australia Conference in Ballarat. Following this I had several interviews on ABC radio, read what I had to say from http://touristradio.com.au/agritourismwa/agritourism_and_the_internet/agritourism_and_the_internet.html .

March 2013  Jeremy Grantham, Co-founder and Chief Investment Strategist of Grantham Mayo Van Otterloo on why GDP will not keep going up and is not a relevant number anyway.      http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/12812

June 2013     Question to our local MP Terry Redman at Donnybrook Balingup Chamber of Commerce dinner meeting

I’m concerned about the future for my children and grandchildren under the quarry Australia policy of all major parties that want to sell of Australian resources to China as fast as possible. We are growing the economy on the back of an unsustainable high CO2 emitting industry that is increasing the population and getting the government into deeper debt to cater for a growing population.

Science has been warning for 30 years that I know of that CO2 emissions were going to cause the SW to dry, this is happening having a devastation effect on agriculture, the only truly sustainable industry.

The largely foreign owned mining industry has been pushing up the dollar with a devastating effect on Australian owned businesses in agriculture , tourism and manufacturing.

Why are governments so keen to bring on new mines that will eventually force down the price of iron ore? Why is the government ignoring the science of climate change and growing the economy with high CO2 emitting jobs?

Answer: Our government is a pro mining government . Sound like the classic there no reason for  it, it's just policy reply.

 

June 2013  The mining boom is winding down as demand for iron ore declines yet our Premier still wants the Chinese to invest in a Oakajee Port and Rail . Doesn't he understand economics 101, if you increase supply price will decline? We are being warned of the need to reduce CO2 emissions yet governments are still trying to grow our economy of high CO2 emitting jobs. At the same time the WA government is getting into debt catering for the rising population. Dick Smith is a voice of reason on this subject, he has  provided copies of HRH Prince Charles's book Harmony to libraries across Australia with the following printed inside the front cover.  

Donated by Dick Smith for our world’s children and future generations.

“Once basic needs for food and shelter are secured, our happiness is fulfilled through five factors. One is our connection with other people – friends and family and the people we work with, Another is activity and exercise. Then there is an appreciating beautiful surroundings and reflecting on such experiences. Another is continued learning, novelty and meeting new challenges and finally, we gain well-being from giving and from being a member of a community” His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales in his book, “
Harmony ” – A New Way of Looking at Our World” Page 281

August 2013 Interview on ABC Radio on the subject of Global Free Trade click to listen

August 2013  I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so, see my comments on May 2010.   The WA state government is billions of dollars in  debt providing infrastructure to cater for the population increase brought about by the mining boom and is now cutting down of basic services. Charlie Court would be turning in his grave at how this boom has been managed. He was responsible for stating Iron Ore mining on the basis that companies who wanted to mine had to create communities. The current government has allowed the states resources to be plundered and got itself into debt in the process. You'd expect that of a Labor government not a Liberal government!

May 2015 The Iron Ore price that the experts didn't predict to crash is still causing problems  to WA .  Carl Marx said that a capitalist is a man who will sell you the rope you are going to hang him with. That is exactly what the capitalist countries of the world have done in relation to iron ore with China. China has poured B$ into developing mines and crashed the price. Our system had no ability to resist that so now the resources of our country are being stolen from us. Now the South West Developments Commission has commissioned a report on the future of   SW Food production using the same flawed logic as the growth in iron ore production.

September 2016  WTR's partner station in East Perth, Radio WA 87.6 FM  is now on air, telling the stories of the People and Places of Western Australia

October 2016 WTR has become an Early Adaptor member of Conscious Capitalism Australia    .

December 2016  I used to think the ideas I expressed in this page were out of touch with mainstream thinking, Brexit and the Trump election suggest perhaps not. Not that I think Trump has the answers, trashing the environment to create jobs isn't smart.

 
Barry Green, Managing Director, Western Tourist Radio.

Relavent Websites
Free Trade & Globalization .  visit this site for a great analysis of global issues
Global Trade Watch  Local alternatives to the global economy are sprouting all over the world. In Australia, one of the most popular alternatives is the Farmers Market where local farmers sell their produce direct to consumers. About 75 farmers' markets have emerged in the last few years.
Corporate Watch Australia is a project of Global Trade Watch. Corporate Watch Australia monitors the social and environmental impacts of Australian corporations operating here and abroad, as well as international corporations operating in Australia
Fairshare International  

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