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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.

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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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.

Australia in the World

August 17th, 2008 No comments

Lord May of Oxford gave a very interesting lecture on why co-operative associations exist in the way that they do. He discusses Darwin’s understanding of how generically related groups benefit and theories on how the governance of common assets is managed by groups. It has implications for international governance of the management of resources. Why genetic, visual or dogmatic reasons are often used to motivate groups in inter group battles of resoources.

Clearly we have many global assets which are not currently being equitably plundered such as oil, fish, water and the atmosphere. A problem for one and all in the long term and only for the weak for now.

He also touches upon the battles between dogmatic faith and enlightenment that several people have pointed out form the basis of European battles over the last thousand years, recent US politics and some of the discussions in the Islamic world.

The lecture is clear, well referenced and very listenable. The mp3 can be found here.

The US says Russia must withdraw its troops from Georgia “at once”

August 15th, 2008 1 comment

You have to wonder who Condoleeza Rice thinks appointed the US as ruler of the universe. This is for the security council to say and otherwise we had better hold our peace and argue any case rather than diving into the usual mindless rhetoric to stir up the pundits.

The reason the security council can’t say it is that Russia is militarily significant and as a result has a veto. This reality is reflected in the governance model because it is better in the long run to argue any real case than to play games of reckless bravado with major powers.

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The misled and the unprepared

August 14th, 2008 No comments
  • War is not a battle between good and evil;
  • War is a battle between the misled and the unprepared.

The conflicts around South Ossetia this week began within one war between Georgia and the independent South Ossetia. Firstly Georgia blockaded the regional capital of Tskhinvali and then began to shell it. This was an unnecessary escalation against the under prepared South Ossetia. However the second and more serious conflict arose when Russia moved significant armored divisions into South Ossetia to support the ethnic Russian town. This resulted in a battle between Russia and Georgia for which Goergia was unprepared. The failing on the part of the Russian leadership to communicate their willingness to support South Ossetia is something for which Russia can be blamed if in deed they had not made this clear to Georgia. If Georgia had understood this then insanity is the only explanation and Georgia will have received the outcome which such leadership tends to ultimately result in: Abject defeat.

The rights and wrongs of this debate are not simple. Since the Second World War the consensus among nations has been to allow autonomy. South Ossetia had been independant for over ten years but had not been widely recognized as a sovereign nation so it would appear not to have been able to have had the benefits of UN membership and been able to claim recognition of a mutual defense pact with Russia that would have automatically permitted action by Russia under Article 51. The defense or Russian citizens outside of Russia’s borders is a much less clear issue.

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