Rakesh Bhandari on the anti-WTO protests (posted on LBO-Talk)

Louis Proyect lnp3 at SPAMpanix.com
Sat Dec 18 06:44:52 MST 1999

1. What was the consequence of Harkin Bill, the Child Deterrance Act of
1993? Shouldn't we know that if we are going to press for bans on imports
produced by children of <15 yrs old? According to Peter Custers in Capital
Accumulation and Women's Labour in Asian Economies, there were no
provisions to guard against the negative consequences of the ban for all
those families in urban slums areas who, for their survival, are dependent
on income contributed by children. In her Critique of Postcolonial Reason,
Spivak reports on the 1995 agreement entered into by a Bangladesh mfg
group, NGOs and the US Ambassador to Bangladesh to financially compensate
the parents of the released children and provide primary education to the
children. It seems to me that Spivak is indicating the 'severance pay'
amounted to $7.50 while the education provided tended to be useless and
actually unavailable. She concludes: "The righteous anger of a Harkin Bill
or the benevolence of a long term benefactor lose all plausibility when
confronted with the actual indifference and deception that follow the
dismissal of these children." p. 420

2. Where was all the righteous anger by protestors and brilliant criticism
by AFL-CIO post keynesian theorists over the continuing exclusion of
commodity price stabilization mechanisms? We all know that the US Congress
failed to ratify the 1947 ITO with such mechanism proposed by Keynes.
Neither GATT nor the newly established WTO has any of the commodity
functions envisaged for the ITO.

3. While protestors were further threatening disruption of foreign exchange
for third world countries by supporting sanctions which can only be
arbitrarily applied (since as Barkley has pointed out, they can be applied
to any and all--or at least most--WTO members), what provisions were they
proposing to counteract the $500 billion per resource outflow from the
developing countries, the four principle causes of which are

a. terms of trade losses, this factor alone amounting to a tax of 20-25
percent on the export earnings of developing countries b. debt servicing,
another 20-25 percent tax on export earnings c. repatriation of profits and
transfer pricing d. capital flight from developing countries. Source Hans
Singer in JM Keynes, ed. Soumitra Sharma, 1998

Or should so much of profitability difficulties continued to be put on the
not too broad shoulders of the third world.

4. Don't the protestors have an inflated conception of themselves? The US
ruling class is manifestly using this threat of protectionism in order to
get more concessions (re: services, insurance, telecommunication,
repatriation rights, freedom from local suppliers and investors, etc) from
China before codifying its access to the US market. If successful, then the
US ruling class will shove trade agreements through to the displeasure of
the pathetic Hoffa who, along with the AFL-CIO, seems no more than pawns in
this game.

5. Aren't we leftists here this least bit concerned with the effects of the
Seattle protests on the nationalism of the US working class? Didn't many of
the union rank and file walk away a uniquely opproprious estimation of
*foreign* ruling classes? Now in Doug's case, I am surprised he is not
uncomfortable to be in the same bed with Vandana Shiva, but that's another

6. If Hoffa, AFL-CIO theorists are going to continue to bellyache about how
globalization is going to take away 'our' jobs, wouldn't it be appropriate
at some point to explain why plunging US unemployment has coincided with
mounting current account and trade deficits?

Yours, Rakesh

Louis Proyect
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