Open up the border

scan0001The AP reports that our comfortable shoed neighbors to the north are a little worried that our great big stimulus bill will end up hurting them.  They’re “optimistic” that Canada will get exempted from the “buy American” clauses written into the legislation.  If we’re legislating bumper sticker slogans now, then i have a list of other suggestions.  But the real worry is that when Canada threatens a trade war over America re-adopting protectionism there will be a backlash from the American public over the money that we’re borrowing going to foreign firms…

“Hey, watch it, that straitjacket pinches.”

I’ll admit to having read The Lexus and the Olive Tree sometime after it came out in paperback and made its way via the wonders of globalization to a rickety book rack outside a tourist necessity shack on the Greek island of Zankynthos.  I laid on the beach and listened to his argument, happy that i was in a place that hadn’t started listening to that jackass yet.  Or at least not mostly.  I blamed him for the smell of stewed tomatoes, baked beans and sausages in the heat of a Greek late morning. (Breakfast comes late when you spend every night getting shit-faced in an English pub amongst nothing but Brits in a foreign country.)

Look, there’s nothing inherently wrong with globalization.  It might, in fact, be a tremendous force for good.  But if it’s nothing but a system for privileged corporations from powerful countries to feed off the misery of the less fortunate then i’d prefer the olive tree to the Lexus.  And if i have to sacrifice the olive tree to get the Lexus then no thank you, mister corporate mogul.  I’ll sit in the shade of my olive tree.

America hasn’t given other nations any choice to date.  We called it a “consensus” and told everyone to agree.  Ethiopia’s best farm land gets used to grow cut flowers for Europeans and they get to buy their food from the proponents of “free trade” who subsidize their agriculture.  Mexico has to open up their agricultural sector for the benefit of American agriculture concerns, and Mexicans end up having to jump a fence to take a shitty job in America because they can’t make a living growing corn anymore.

It was all fun and games when we every situation was win-win for us.  Those backwards olive tree people had better shape up and accept the facts or they’d be left behind to rot in their squalor…or worse, they’d get the electro-shock therapy instead of the straitjacket.  Open up the border to rivers running green.  Now not so much.  Funny that it isn’t even our money and yet we feel like we have some sort of say in the matter. (Whatever, we’re never going to pay it all back and everybody knows it.)

Nobody was bitching about everyday low prices on foreign goods when “buy American” was just a bumper sticker and the seed of stupid email forwards.  And we pontificated on the golden splendor that the world would find itself in once it consented to being immobilized.  “You’ll get a Lexus too if you do what you’re told.  Don’t you want to be just like us.”  But now that our financial alchemists have managed to transmute gold back into lead we’re not so hip on the straitjacket.  Don’t worry, it will fit a little better once we’ve lost some weight.

Photo credit: Me, i took a break from reading that damned book long enough to take a picture of the British family that thundered down the beach chasing a dude selling glazed doughnuts.  Yeah, they wanted to eat glazed doughnuts in 100+ degree heat under the Greek sun.  If that’s globalization then it sucks.

~ by Lex on February 1, 2009.

6 Responses to “Open up the border”

  1. As much as I loathe the stimulus, or any bailout for that matter, Canada will end up better off than most as they are rich in natural resources, have a sound infrastructure, and a healthy respect for property rights. The loonie might have taken a huge hit causing alarm in some circles, but then again, I’ve never been a proponent of strong currencies.

    I can’t wait to see what Castro’s cut of the bailout will be…..Cuba will be a recipient, on that you can bet your life.


  2. Jeff: when you say that you’re not a proponent of strong currencies, do you mean currency strength in relation to other currencies? That is, all currencies being exchangeable at basically one to one. What would that do to pricing of goods/commodities in different economic circumstances?

    I’m curious because i’ve never really thought about that idea, i’ve just accepted the varying rates of exchange (and at times tried to play those rates to my benefit).

    Or do you mean something different altogether?

  3. Lex,

    Perhaps I misstated. I’m not a proponent of a strong dollar. A slightly biased weakness in the US dollar is good for exports, and the general domestic business climate, among other things.

    The recent behavior of the dollar vs the euro has been interesting, but the British Pound has been the story of the year. It’s downward move is so pronounced that even the margin clerks are shorting the pound. Despite all that’s bad in the US economy, it’s worse elsewhere as the currencies, deficits, markets, unemployment figures, and general business conditions indicate.



  4. Understood, and i fully understand your reasons. Thanks for the clarification.

  5. All the olive trees in the world could never be bought with all of the Lexuses in the world. As “noice” as the Corinthian leater my feel, the ultimate utility is in the olive tree. As a tree, it is not only the fruit it bears but also a lasting testament to the land, and other resources that sustain it. I want to get into the futures game, but no one is buying time these days. Then again, time is too expensive in the first place and makes for narrow margins. Get some…

  6. Aaron

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