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Old 06-29-2003, 07:59 PM   #16
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Fizzing, you are on the right track there.

Thing is, I am not against subsidies. In my opinion, if europeans basically agree they pay high taxes to suupport their farmers, thatīs good.

The problem is free trade. It is very unfair to force countries to open their markets for the heavily subsidized products from the U.S. or Europe.

Like I posted in another reply, this Jamaican example may illustrate the problem a little:

Jamaican agricultural products are more expensive than American ones. How come? Because in Jamaica, farmers wonīt get billions of $ of subsidies. Now, originally Jamaican farmers were protected, because there were trade barriers, like importing foreign agricultural products would have been very expensive.

But since Jamaica was in debt, the politicians were forced to sign an IMF document which forbid future trade barriers.

That means that agricultural products from the U.S. can be imported without taxes or any other barriers. In the U.S., the production of agricultural products is supported by high subsidies - so American citizens finance the well being of their farmers by paying high taxes - because they can afford to do so, and then sell their products on foreign markets cheaper - whether Jamaicans canīt afford that. What happens when American products are cheaper then Jamaican products on Jamaican markets? People will buy the cheaper products.

Now, this would be bad, but reversable, if there werenīt natural
farming rules.

For example, a milk farmer told that his cows have to be milked every day - no way around that. He had hundreds of cows. But his milk did not sell because U.S. milk powder was cheaper. His milk got bad after three days, and there was nothing to do except to let hundreds of gallons of precious milk go into the ground.

A farmer can "afford" to do that for some months, but hundreds of cows cost a lot. So he had to sell a big part of his cows and was left only with a few. From now on, he produced less milk and lost his income, whereas the American milk powder continued to sell.

As soon as many farmers had sold their cows, and that part of economy was destroyed - nonreversably, in a kind of way - the milk powder from the U.S. got more expensive. Now that there was no other dealer on the market, the product could be more expensive, because people would buy it anyway.

This is just one hands-on experience of what effects measures of the IMF can have.
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Old 06-30-2003, 03:58 AM   #17
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I agree with you, hiphop.

I think what I've been trying to say is that it's the inequality which is unfair in this situation. It's unfair that the West imposes tarrifs on imports from poorer countries, while using the WTO or IMF to prevent poorer countries doing the same.

It seems like it's very easy for people to blame Africa for every problem people there experience, but people will rarely acknowledge the role the West plays in the situation.

*Fizz.
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Old 06-30-2003, 05:01 AM   #18
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subsidies are bad in 99% of the time for the whole economy. It's ok if the government spends money so that a certain region who looses its single big employe dosn't have a unemployment rate >20% but this should only be short timed.

We can't protect our people from capitalism and globalism and punish other 3rd world countries who do the same.

We have to accept the fact that they can grow food much cheaper than we can - like we can produce computers and cars better than they can.

So if you want capitalsimyou have to accept it that it can hurt sometimes - and not only in countries far far away.

Klaus
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Old 07-07-2003, 12:23 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally posted by Klaus

We can't protect our people from capitalism and globalism and punish other 3rd world countries who do the same.

We have to accept the fact that they can grow food much cheaper than we can - like we can produce computers and cars better than they can.

So if you want capitalsimyou have to accept it that it can hurt sometimes - and not only in countries far far away.

Klaus
It's not just production of food and clothing that is being outsourced to other countries -- jobs like computer programming are also being exported to places like India.
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Old 07-07-2003, 05:49 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally posted by speedracer


It's not just production of food and clothing that is being outsourced to other countries -- jobs like computer programming are also being exported to places like India.
Sure. What did you expect? That neo conservative capitalists give a damn about American workers, jobs, unemployment?
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Old 07-11-2003, 12:38 PM   #21
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a related story....

Quote:
Bush in Africa: Compassionate Protectionism?
by Mark Weisbrot

President Bush's five-day, five-country tour of Africa has had political observers wondering: is this just another photo-op, crafted to show that the President is not just a "bring them on," unilateralist gun-slinger but a "compassionate conservative?" Or does he intend -- for whatever political reasons -- to actually deliver something of substance?

It should be known, first of all, how far the United States and the rich countries as a group are from actually helping the people of Africa more than they are hurting them. If we look at the balance of payments for Sub-Saharan Africa, there is an annual net drain of more than $12 billion dollars out of the region. This is about 4.4 percent of the region's income, one of the highest such transfers from South to North in the world. It is mostly debt service.

In other words, some of the world's poorest countries are transferring a large amount of their income -- even after taking into account the new loans and grants that they get for development assistance -- to the vastly richer North. This includes their biggest creditors, the IMF and World Bank. The transfer is more than these countries spend for health care or education.

This debt should be cancelled, as the most knowledgeable non-governmental organizations have argued.

Even more urgently, Africa is suffering from a horrible plague -- 29 million Africans have AIDS or are HIV-positive. With only about 12 percent of the world's population, the continent has 90 percent (11 million) of the world's AIDS orphans. And about 1.5 million Africans die each year from tuberculosis and malaria.

On the public health front, President Bush has gotten credit for pledging $15 billion over five years to help treat and prevent AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean. But there are doubts about how much of this money is going to materialize, and when. One year ago the Administration promised $500 million for prevention of HIV transmission from mothers to newborn children, but no money has yet been appropriated.

The United States has joined the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, and -- in accordance with our income -- could be expected to contribute at least $3.5 billion. But the administration has budgeted only $200 million for next year, less than 6 percent of our share, and $150 million less than the current year.

The Bush Administration's efforts are also corrupted by the influence of the pharmaceutical industry. The big drug companies, backed by our government, have fought tenaciously for years to prevent people in poor countries from having access to more affordable, generic drugs. This is a life-and- death issue for millions of people: the drugs that keep people with HIV/AIDS alive here cost $10,000 per year, but the Indian pharmaceutical industry produces the generic equivalent for less than $250. And it is not just AIDS that afflicts people in poor countries: they also get heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and many other ailments that are common to human beings.

The rich country governments have recently made some compromises at the World Trade Organization on these issues. But the Bush team is trying to split Africa off from the hundreds of millions of people in other developing countries who have similar needs, and they are pressuring other developing countries -- Brazil, the Philippines, the Dominican Republic, and others -- for more concessions to the drug companies.

This costly protectionism -- the opposite of free trade -- is bad for everyone. Africa's interest in this matter is tied to those of other developing countries in a number of ways: for example, the generic drug producers sometimes need the latter's markets for economies of scale, if they are going to provide affordable drugs for the poorest countries.

Americans also have a direct interest in the outcome of this conflict. The same companies that are blocking access to generic, life-saving medicines for people in developing countries are doing similar things on the home front. They have fought for years to keep Medicare from including a prescription drug benefit.

They may have lost that battle, but their monopoly pricing policies are making prescription medicines increasingly unaffordable here. And so are the enormous costs associated with "copycat drug" research and development, advertising and promoting drugs for inappropriate uses, legal costs and other waste involved in the present patent system.

What the Bush Administration decides to do about the health crisis in Africa will therefore affect all of us -- much more than most people know.

Mark Weisbrot is co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, in Washington, DC.
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Old 07-12-2003, 04:33 AM   #22
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Thanks for posting that article. It really highlights the fact that the US (and of course other Western countries) could be doing much more to help countries in Africa. I always find it shocking that countries as poor as those in sub-Saharan Africa are still forced to turn over such a large proportion of their GDP to the IMF. People often criticise Africa as "wanting money from the US" etc, but they often forget how much the West could help Africa simply by forgiving debts that have already been paid back over and over again plus interest. And as for drug companies who take the attitude that their CEO's $2m a year wage packet is more important than the lives of millions of people in Africa...I'm not even going to get started on that. [/rant]
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