Schumer proposes 20% tax on non US calling centers

May 31st, 2010 No comments

Schumers protectionist stance is regrettable. He is using a day of heightened nationalist sentiment (Memorial Day) in a very dangerous way. He isn’t reacting to increased use of overseas calling centers, which have been declining over the last three years, but instead is reacting to an increased nationalist public sentiment in the US at a time of hardship and to which he wishes to appeal. I hope these aren’t his real views. He should know better.

The reality despite the pandering we hear, is that we need to encourage free trade, and are members of the WTO. We would be brought before the WTO if we took government action designed to reduce free trade in products or services, and would then have to reverse the legislation. It isnt just policy, but a realization that we have far more to loose by isolating ourselves. There is no future in being a high cost economy just for the sake of nationalism.

Dont think that global companies dont read these comments and reduce their commitment to the US for fear of nationalist policies and unequal treatment. We no longer have such a strong local financial system, and need global companies to want to offer cost effective services and to invest heavily in the US, if we are to recover. It is a choice. But please don’t follow people like Schumer’s rhetoric. He isn’t thinking it through, or more likely is just talking unrealistically in order to win nationalist votes. Either way it is not helping us frame effective policies.

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More pointless killing in Iraq

April 6th, 2010 No comments

At least this finally made it through to the New York Times.

Of course it won’t get any air-play or coverage on the TV news as it’s not polite to mention it.

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Defense Spending

March 12th, 2010 No comments

It’s tax season again. A good time to think about the ridiculous amount that we spend on defense. The following table is the annual spending on defense for the most recent year available, largely from WIkipedia’s page on defense spending and then dividing that by the population figure given by the national page on the Wikipedia. The numbers could come from different years so don’t worry about a few dollars here or there. The disparities are so great that it is very easy to see the contrasts.

Country Budget Population Spending/Person
US $667b 308m $2100
Israel $8.9b+2.38b (US Grants) 7.5m $1507 (1190+317)
UK $57b 62m $919
Germany $38b 81.76m $464
Japan $42b 127m $330
Russia $39.4b 142m $277
China $32b 1.3b $25

Unfortunately the high defense bills are not due to any threat or by those who care about the interests of others. Comparing the above figures with development aid is illuminating. I don’t mean defense grants, financing of exports and military crisis aid but the minuscule development aid amounts from the highest defense spender. Over half of overseas aid from the US for example is military aid to two countries.

I suggest we reduce defense spending to below $500 / person over the next five years. We simply can’t afford to starve the federal budgets with defense spending at the current levels when we need to develop a true national government. Between 1991 and 1997 Russia’s defense spending fell to an eighth of their 1991 levels in US dollars and has since risen to the $39.4b in 2009.

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How to be a Host US Embassy Style

April 11th, 2009 No comments

Another example of how American thought doesn’t work in most of the world. A group of US representatives in Afghanastan fail to undertand the nature of being a host in a world where a guest is often reliant on a host for their safe passage. By following their own wish for safety at the expense of their guests they fail to connect with local leaders creating a vacuum, in this case filled by a BBC camera crew who become the honored guests! It’s important to understand that families live their lives with everyday risks and to connect with them you need to be willing to share those risks instead of expecting constant safety in a world with other priorities.

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Gaza Relief Funds

January 25th, 2009 No comments

From the UK DEC and the UN from the US and other locations.

In the US there are 501 (c)(3) organizations which have some involvement in Gaza but I haven’t been able to find any directly Gaza related funds. Most such funds that had existed were forced to close during the previous US administration.

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Categories: Global Governance Tags: , ,

Half price gas

January 3rd, 2009 No comments

Ukraine’s claim that Russia should be giving it gas at better than half the price being charged to Europe because their economy is weak has a ring of old outmoded unreality. The West may have been able to finance and advise the Orange Revolution but clearly the Ukraine has some way to go before it accepts market economics.

Another pointless confrontation with Russia and isn’t clear that anybody benefits other than the Ukraine in potentially winning continued concessions and maybe that is worth fighting for but not worth furthering diplomatic tensions for.

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Isreal is bombing again

December 31st, 2008 No comments

There is an election coming and governments want to appear strong, but that isn’t an acceptable reason for killing over 350 people in a neighbouring territory. We are told that this is due to rocket attacks. The actual rockets are largely home made mortars and have in total killed 20 people in the last 8 years. So we have to ask if 350 1000 dead and 1400 injured in a couple of days can really be a reaction to 20 people in 8 years. If the impact of the rocket and mortar attacks was really more than a talking point Israel would be seeking peace rather than bombing the police stations, government departments and university of Gaza. The majority of the 240 initial attacks were bombing all of the Gaza strip’s police stations.

We are told that the ceasefire didn’t work and that Israelis just want to live like anybody else in the world but this ignores the fact that Palestinians also want to live like anybody else in the world in a viable country. Looking after ones family and getting on with life is the universal driver it is just that for a small number of politicians their actions to maintain their status have a disproportionate effect on others.

The US maintenance of Israel’s strength by guaranteeing Israeli government debt and using the US legal system to make boycotts of Israeli products a crime even outside US borders give Israel too strong a defensive cloak where it doesn’t seem necessary to appeal to global goodwill for funding or sales. This is unhealthy for all because at some time this arrangement will be tested and broken.

The suicide bombers and home made mortars are symptoms of frustration at the way their lives are disregarded by their heavily armed and financed neighbors, including Egypt, and these repeated attacks on Palestine and Lebanon only perpetuate the radicalization of generations. If Israel needed peace it would have it. It’s need for a political pawn is far greater.

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