Quick Roundup 170

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Abandon Caution: Abandon Diplomacy

Michael Caution very nicely sums up the Iranian hostage situation.

[T]he worst part of the story is the U.K.'s response to its aggressors. Instead of showing the full support for its citizens lives and issuing a direct ultimatum backed by the threat of force, the British government thinks it can better resolve the situation with diplomacy. Since this demonstration of force is more a test of British conviction, is diplomacy really going to better London in the long term? How long before it's too late will Iran be allowed to fester?

In the mean time Cox & Forkum offers a therapeutic alternative.
Oh, and last night, I argued at length that "doublethink" isn't the answer for Britain, either.

The Shrimp Racket

In "anti-dumping" laws that American shrimpers support, Galileo finds an excellent example of our government acting like an organized crime syndicate.
[T]he Bush Administration, raised shrimp tariffs by $100 million. Today, that process has become much more efficient and direct. The foreign producers now make cash payments directly to an association of U.S. shrimpers who, in turn, pass much of that money around to the domestic players that support the racket. The money is paid under threat that the U.S. shrimpers will call their political buddies to slap another punitive tariff on them. It was an offer the foreign shrimpers could not refuse.
The similarities are quite remarkable, but even more remarkable is the missing one: When the government itself acts as a mob, there is no recourse.

Why School Vouchers Are Worthless

Once upon a time, school vouchers were touted by some as a means of moving towards the privatization of education. Over at The Wall of Separation, we see that this issue has been completely overshadowed by the machinations of the religious right, who do not oppose public education: Just secular public education.
Beyond taking on the faith-based office, [Ohio Governor Ted] Strickland has also called for curtailing state funding of religious education. In his first State of the State speech, Strickland said the statewide private school voucher program should be done away with and trumpeted a major state increase in public school funding.
This attempt to stem the tide of the social conservative welfare state is good news overall, but look what being in the conservative coalition has cost "secular conservatives" who wanted to privatize schools: The vouchers themselves and the very debate over state funding of education!

Not Your Mother's Harlequin

These spoof romance novel covers are hilarious. (HT: Adrian Hester)

-- CAV


Jim May said...

Regarding the shrimping protection racket, I expect that this sort of thing goes on all the time over all industries.

I am a wine aficionado, and also happened to grow up in the Niagara Region in Canada, where ice wine is made. For a long time, I heard that Niagara wineries were trying to expand their market into the United States, but except for the occasional direct importation of small quantities by individual U.S. wine shops, my main supply chain was myself; every time I flew home to see family, I'd grab what I could afford.

Lately, over the last few years, icewine has suddenly started to show up in volume (in California), in chain stores like Beverages & More, and even Costco. I thought that perhaps Vincor, the largest Canadian wine concern, had finally made some breakthroughs.

It turns out that Vincor was recently purchased by an American concern.

When I heard that, I had an epiphany: I now understood the grain of truth underlying why it is that successful Canadian businesses that seek to expand outside of Canada frequently sell out to do so -- a phenomenon long lamented by Canadian nationalists. I can easily imagine that the purchase offer to Vincor came along with the veiled threat that if they didn't play along -- if they tried to "stay Canadian" -- they would find themselves inexplicably but permanently unable to access the U.S. market in any volume.

Counter-threats of the same sort don't work when you ponder the numbers. Canada is ten percent of an American corp's home market, but America is ten times the size of a Canadian corp's market.

It says something about the value of hundred-page "free" trade agreements.

Gus Van Horn said...

Thank you for the morbidly interesting tale, Jim.

I was always less-than-convinced that NAFTA was all it was supposed to be WRT free trade, but am a have been a little surprised over time at how widespread such fiangling apparently is.

On top of all this, due to vestiges of Prohibition and the influence of Baptists in the Southeast, alcohol is very heavily regulated in the US, as I once blogged way back. (I have to admit having no idea whether California is as bad as Texas in so far as regulation of alcohol is.) See that post. You would be surprised at how many merchants, at least in Red Texas, think state regulation serves their interests.

David, The Machine said...

The days of Diplomacy is the art of saying “nice doggy” until you can find a rock (from the classic Unix fortune command) are long gone.

I remember the approach to using economic sanctions as a means to diplomacy is attributed to Jefferson, who is also the President who ordered the Marines to do one of the things that they sing about in their anthem (“…to the shores of Tripoli”).

The economic sanctions in his case were directed against the English, for interfering with American trading ships. The economic sanctions went unnoticed by the English, annoyed the Americans who relied upon English goods, and it ended up with the War of 1812.

In the contemporary case, again, history is repeating itself with respect to the benign effect of ecnomic sanctions against militant regimes.

Gus Van Horn said...

Economic sanctions can work only if you are (a) in a position to do actual damage to the opponent's economy and (b) are ruthless about them, which means basically being willing to blockade your enemy.

Oops! But that's really a military option, too!