Sunday, May 06, 2007

Dobbs, Hobbes and snobs

Don't try to make too much sense of that - I just can't resist a rhyme.

But speaking of nonsense, ever notice that Lou Dobbs never mentions the world's most populous country without the epithet Communist? I suppose one might, if one were of the right political persuasion, call the island of Taiwan by the name Republic of China, but when we talk about China, we usually think of the big one, the one that owns enough of our debt that we're afraid to do much more than make useless gestures of disapproval, like Lou Dobbs does.

At this point in our history, it really isn't necessary or necessarily accurate to call it Red China or Communist china any more than it's useful to say Socialist Sweden, Capitalist Mexico, Royalist Saudi Arabia, Dictatorial Pakistan or Theocratic Vatican City. It's a gratuitous pejorative when used to describe a still totalitarian country tripping over it's own shoelaces in its haste to get rid of government ownership of the means of production and become capitalist.

Lou seems happy to find an external scapegoat, as indeed many are, now that we don't have the Soviet union to kick around any more. China bashing is a popular sport with left and right and with Dobbs and since the label Communist still has a lot of punch to it and isn't going to be around forever, he's happy to use it while he can. To be sure, there have been enough recent incidents with tainted cat food and plastics that contain enough lead to make us worry about our children, coming from China and now with ethylene glycol being sold as pharmaceutical grade glycerin and poisoning people, we can't ignore the safety of our imports. It's hard to see however that Communism has anything to do with greedy, unscrupulous capitalists and unregulated free markets in China. It seems to me, in fact, that what we are seeing are the results of massive deregulation of a magnitude that would make Ronald Reagan weep with joy. What we are seeing is a need for regulation and inspection in our country whether or not it annoys big corporations like Wal-Mart.

The notion that free markets are self regulating and that unregulated industry will automatically, as if by an invisible hand, steer toward the public good has done a lot of damage in the US and the lack of adequate inspection of imported food and pharmaceutical substances is an example. China is expanding its free market economy so rapidly that the ability to control corruption and greed has not caught up. The US is not experiencing the growth, yet is still under the sway of the Great Deregulator's voodoo; still being led by people who think inspecting food is kind of pinko and inspecting incoming freight will cut into profits.

And while I'm picking on Lou, I have to mention his tirade about the Martin Luther King Memorial using a Chinese sculptor to supply a statue of Dr. King. It's a bit amusing to watch people like Tucker Carlson and Dobbs howling about how it should be made by a "Black" artist so that the world could see what King stood for. No amount of reminding that he seems to have stood for the idea that race shouldn't be a factor in judging a man or employing him, seems to sway the opinions of these wealthy white men about what black people should do. 90% of the hundred million it will take to build the memorial is private money, and it will be built of American stone by American workers. The statue is one small part of the whole. Using interviews of people on the street, CNN launched into a crusade to make it seem as though there was public outrage. What the effort revealed is that the public either doesn't care - and in some instances thought the monument was to be built in China - or lacks the background to have a worthwhile opinion. Seems to me that Tucker and Lou who don't see the irony in their lecturing the "colored folk" about how to memorialize Dr. King, aren't far behind.

As to whether American monuments need to be constructed 100% of American materials, designed by Americans and built by Americans for the benefit of Americans, I have one answer: The Statue of Liberty. And regarding the nativist crappola about building anything in Washington DC, don't forget the Frenchman, Pierre L'Enfant, who designed it.


d.K. said...

I saw Gov. Tommy Thompson, former Secretary of HHS, on Bill Maher Friday night. When Maher asked him about U.S. inspection of imported food being around 1 percent (since Thompson oversaw the FDA as HHS Secretary and is hence, in theory an expert on the problem.) Thompson was on the case. He said, without missing a beat, that we need to double that! (So, inspecting 2 percent of imported food will apparently fix the problem...) Glad to know our potential future president has ideas on how lead this country.

Capt. Fogg said...

I saw that too (thank God for Tivo, it's way past my bed time)

I may be wrong, but I seem to remember that Wal-Mart has enough of an interest in preventing any impediment to importing Chinese goods to have bought protection against it by making some judicious contributions. I don't think we're not inspecting cargo and food and pharmaceutical chemicals because we can't afford it, we're doing it because the government has been paid off and because we've had a ruling party that buys into the Reaganite idea that safety and security measures are an unwarranted intrusion into the God-given rights of corporations to maximize profits.

Jim Martin said...

It's like OSHA, the guy who made a living showing businesses how to get around the regulations now runs OSHA for Bush. He also happened to be the chairman of the S.C. republican party and the states top fund raiser for shithead candidates. To beat the government all you have to do is buy a chunk of it. Bastards.

Intellectual Insurgent said...

It seems like tainted food and the like are an inevitable consequence of our voracious consumerism. It was simply a matter of time. This incident will be a blip on the radar and Americans will go back to consuming whatever the Chinese make for them.

Capt. Fogg said...

The government and the people who as Jim says, bought a piece of it, need to keep us ignorant of what we're getting. Any kind of regulation, such as inspecting food and inspecting cargo are not acceptable because it erodes profits.

The only other alternative to importing and outsourcing everything is an increase in cost and the resultant decrease in spending and that, since our economy survives through that orgy of consumerism, would be a disaster.

If we stop buying from China and Japan, who together own a huge amount of our debt, they have less reason to keep lending us the money and interest rates will rise reducing spending further until we go swirling down the tubes.