Friday, July 27, 2007

Where is the free market when we need it?

Brazil Issues Warning to U.S. Over WTO Cotton Ruling - New York Times:

"According to a report from aid and advocacy group Oxfam, eliminating all cotton subsidies in the United States -- which accounts for 40 percent of world exports -- would increase income for some African families by up to $114 a year, a 6 percent increase."

And who do you think is paying for those subsidies and how? You and me, sisters and brothers. With our taxes.

What does any of this have to do with free trade? I thought free trade was where everyone is on a level playing field and the business that can offer the best product at the lowest price wins.

But because we are paying money to agribusiness, they don't have to work hard to become the best. No matter how inefficient they might be, they still have the edge. They can flood poor countries with artificially cheap cotton, corn or other commodities that local farms cannot possibly compete with. Our tax dollars are going into the pockets of agribusiness and are being used unethically to destroy the livelihoods of people in poor countries.

Then when local economies are destroyed (such as Mexico's corn crop), we get vicious because starving Mexicans attempt to enter our country to become dishwashers and fruitpickers.

Where is our morality?
Why is there no protest against this type of tax?

Furthermore, have you noticed that the taxes we get exercised about don't even apply to most of us? For instance the estate tax (called the "death tax" in our leaders' Orwellian newspeak) doesn't apply to you or me or Uncle Fred's farm. It applies to that 2% of our population whose estates are actually worth over a million dollars after the various deductions they get as mortgage holders or farmers.

There is a famous quote from Hermann Goering about going to war:

Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger.

The domestic corollary to this is that the people can always be brought to the bidding of the corporations and fat cats. Just tell them there is a tax involved, and they will give up their right to participate fairly in our economy in order to prevent some rich guy from having to pay a tax that would ultimately benefit the rest of us. Somehow we fail to see that every subsidy for agribusiness, every tax cut for the wealthy, is a hidden tax on the rest of us.

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