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3176  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: UK General Discussion: Cameron 2.0 on: May 13, 2015, 04:16:09 pm
THE GRAUNIAD BRAVELY EXPOSES ROYAL MEDDLING

OUT OF CONTROL PRINCE OF WALES DISCOVERED TO HAVE USED INFLUENCE TO BADGER BLAIR ABOUT BADGERS, HELICOPTER DEFECTS, CONDITIONS OF THE TROOPS, SCHOOLCHILDRENS' NUTRITION, AND SPREAD OF TUBERCULOSIS.

PRINCE SURE TO FALL BACK INTO LINE WITH CONVENTION OF GIVING ADVICE AND WARNINGS AFTER INAPPROPRIATE AND MALICIOUS INTERVENTION REVEALED BY PLUCKY JOUNALISM.

...
3177  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: NBC News: ISI knew where bin Laden was hiding on: May 13, 2015, 11:33:17 am
Indeed. As we speak, the ISI Rangers has essentially taken over Karachi.
3178  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: UK General Discussion: Cameron 2.0 on: May 11, 2015, 08:20:32 pm
I hope Kwesi Kwarteng gets some sort of job- supposed he's amongst those tipped for Pensions. Supposedly he is related to an "uncle" of mine, although sometimes I feel like half of Ghana is related to his family one way or another.

Either way, there are still three Ghanaian Tory MPs, while a woman named Priti Patel is in a position where she can gain Maddy's disgust. This is why I like the Tories (or one reason why).
3179  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: UK General Discussion: Cameron 2.0 on: May 11, 2015, 04:02:39 pm
* hold a free vote on repealing the fox hunting ban.

This is still on the agenda? I appreciate this.
3180  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: What should Labour do to win back Scotland? on: May 11, 2015, 03:52:57 pm
Merge with LD and Conservatives into the Scottish Unionist Party. Or, at least, agree with the other two to run only one Unionist candidate in each constituency.

I was thinking about this, and even with my ignorance I admit this may prove a daft idea, but I was thinking that something like this might be a plausible idea. The SNP strikes me as a party that uses progressive rhetoric but is in practice essentially catch-all nationalist, while making all sorts of populist pledges that appeal to people regardless of their views on independence.

A Scottish-based rival to the SNP (let's call it the "Federalist Party") might then attack the SNP on two fronts- they would espouse a "unionist nationalism" along the lines of the former Unionists (there are all sorts of sectarian issues I am glossing over completely here, I know), mixing that with assertions of being the true representative of the "Scottish liberal (maybe that word is tainted nowadays) tradition". As the name suggests, they'd advocate federal constitutional reform. The other approach would be to accuse the SNP of making empty promises and leading Scotland down the path to fiscal ruin, etc; that while they rail against austerity, their bid for full fiscal autonomy would necessitate far more severe austerity or complete insolvency. This they could do with the credibility of a "Scottish voice" that the SNP's critics have not enjoyed.

It would be a centrist catch-all party, yes, and while would initially draw the bulk of its base from the Lib Dems and the Tories, yes. They would probably need entirely new faces, but they would need to take (back) 1/3 of the SNP's support- this would the "traditionalists" who might have once voted for the Unionists and former Lib Dem voters. A "non-aggression pact" with Labour in their old safe seats in the central Lowlands might be a good idea.

Again, I don't know if this is even a good idea, much less its plausibility. But if they were able to simply get a share equal to what the Lib Dems and Tories did in 2010 they'd have 35%. This could be a terrible idea, yes, but I'd like to know why. Also, I'd like to know why the Lib Dems did so well in the northwest Highlands.
3181  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Obama blasts Warren on TPP on: May 11, 2015, 01:08:41 pm
Are you calling me a "new Cold Warrior"? Because I support improving our relations with countries in Southeast Asia? Anyway...

The worst effects of the deal will be felt outside of the United States. But I'm not about to deny non-US citizens standing; I think it's self-evident that their well-being deserves consideration. Moreover, the deal's distributional effects within the United States remain murky at best. I'm not interested in economic growth if it makes people who are already doing poorly even worse off.

It would appear, as mentioned before, those who stand to make the greatest gains are the poorest nations participating in the treaty, meaning it would have an equalising effect on the global income distribution. Again I have to assume you are deriving your concerns about the welfare of people overseas for reasons different from what I’ve seen given to justify such thought.

A particularly inane article I read in the Grauniad (they’re really quite bad, actually- the amount of sheer nonsense in it, as a proportion of its content, is far greater than in any other “respectable publication”, which it supposedly is) told a sad story of underpaid and overworked workers in a Nike factory in Indonesia, and how these sorts of conditions would spread rapidly under the TPP. At no point was it asked why people were willing to voluntarily submit to such exploitation. I won’t even mention the article about NAFTA that blamed it for both illegal immigration and job losses in the United States while completely glossing over the maquiladoras.

As for its effects on income distribution, it has to be said that, assuming that its overall impact on the American economy is, as you say, minimal, then whatever adverse effect it would have on people would likewise be minimal. It would also be countered by, yes, an appreciable positive gain for a few at the top, but a modest gain in net welfare for the population at large. Whatever effect it has on income distribution in the United States, it would be marginal relative to its overall impact.

Also, as someone who cares about the political prospects of the Democratic Party, I'm not happy about having a lame-duck president pushing a proposal that's clearly divisive for the Democratic coalition and unpopular among voters whom the party should be doing its best to win over. Even if I were entirely confident in the TPP's economic benefits, I would be concerned about the political effects of the agreement.

As someone who does not care in the least about the political prospects of the Democratic Party, I must say that I am pleased that the President is pursuing a policy that is overwhelmingly in the strategic interest of the United States and most likely in its immediate economic interests as well. To sound like a Lib Dem apologist, leadership demands putting the national interest ahead of political expediency.
3182  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Opinion of David Cameron on: May 11, 2015, 09:47:20 am
Massive Freedom Fighter!

Opposes Equal Rights for Breeders = FF

...what?
3183  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Erdogan once again in Germany for illegal campaign visit on: May 11, 2015, 09:42:06 am
Sure, but the president not being able to campaign in an election seems, to me, to be a profoundly silly law, so who cares?

When you're supposed to be one of those ceremonial figurehead independent presidents, it doesn't seem quite as silly.
3184  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Lincoln Chafee=David Lynch? on: May 11, 2015, 09:25:32 am
One is a former Governor and Senator. The other is a literal rando. I see nothing similar with them.
3185  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Clinton-Powell? on: May 11, 2015, 09:23:50 am
Common misconception: hardcore conservatives hate moderate Republicans because "RINOs" seem liberal in comparison, so they'd have a better home in the Democratic Party/might consider switching parties.

Powell became a Republican for a reason.  Despite revisionist history myths, the parties' BASIC ideologies have been similar from the onset.  IMO, the GOP has kept moving further right (at the very least culturally), and this has made life for moderates a lot rougher in the party ... but is there any evidence to suggest that a party switch helps you out in the slightest??  Powell might seem liberal for a Republican, but he'd seem conservative for a Democrat, and he'd be in the exact same situation he is in now except in an unfamiliar party.  There's no point.

People who switch parties (e.g., Chaffe, Spector, etc.) do it for one reason only: to save their a*ses, usually motivated by a primary challenger (see Crist in Florida).  Can't see this scenario happening.

Bingo.
3186  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: baltimore pd also mistreating trans people on: May 11, 2015, 09:21:00 am
"Assigned (male/female) at birth" is the new politically correct way of saying born with man parts or woman parts. I had a transgender person (technically "non-binary gender queer" person) on my work team for a few months who insisted on politically-correct trans language.

Does the ENDA extend to such cases?
3187  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Boston University professor: White Males a "problem population" on: May 11, 2015, 09:18:05 am
What is this thread?
3188  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Obama blasts Warren on TPP on: May 11, 2015, 01:50:05 am
One of the most compelling pro-TPP points that I've heard is that it will probably to have an appreciable positive effect on wages in Vietnam. Otherwise, and particularly in the United States, the effects seem more likely to be minor.

In every empirical appraisal I’ve read (note: this is a figure of around three reports), the effect in the United States, on both GDP and net exports, was invariably positive. First, then, this suggests that (as said before) fears of mass job losses and an explosion in the trade deficit are without basis. Second, yes, while we’d have the largest gains of any country in dollar terms, proportionally the gains would not be all that large. Still, a 4.5% increase in exports and a 0.5% increase in GDP is certainly not bad news. I’m getting these figures from this table, which shows projected changes in GDP resulting from various configurations of the TPP.

But yes. As the data shows, the greatest gains would be made by other countries. Which is obviously good for them. Importantly, however, it’s also good for us; indeed I would say that the primary benefit of the TPP is not the direct economic gains we’d see, but the political benefits it would have for our position in the region and by extension in overall terms.

Obviously, Obama cannot go around saying that the TPP is good because it will help the US maintain global hegemony, although to his credit he did try to promote the deal by framing it as a national security issue, which predictably did nothing to win over protectionists. (Apparently he said it was “because the unions on principle, regardless of what the provisions are, are opposed to trade”, which earns him massive respect from me!)

It might shave off 0.5% of China’s GDP, yes, but the more consequential impact is that it would raise the GDP of all of the Asian participants by more than 1%, and particularly those in Southeast Asia (if the deal is the TPP-16, which would include several major economies in that region- something that should be considered a top priority). Vietnam (with a 14.3% increase in GDP) would lead the pack, yes, but the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia would all see sizable gains (with increases in GDP of 6.9%, 7.6%, 7.0%, and 4.0%, respectively).

This would have a number of positive effects for us. It would prevent the region’s states from being drawn closer into Beijing's orbit by way of trade dependency, and instead draw them closer to us and each other. It would increase their capacity to counter Chinese designs in the region, particularly in Southeast Asia and with regards to the South China Sea, due to the greater defence expenditure a larger economy allows combined with again, closer ties with the other participants. It would not so much be containment of China as it would be strategic expansionism of our own.

Indeed, I’d say, while Vietnam would make the greatest gains economically, it is with Vietnam that the US would likely make the greatest strategic gains; the economic gains Vietnam would make from trade would likely weaken the position of the pro-Beijing faction within the Communist Party to the benefit of its anti-Chinese and reformist faction, which would mean the diminution of their policy of “hedging their bets” diplomatically (while pursuing closer ties with the US, they recently agreed to allow Russia to re-open a former Soviet naval base) in favor of a firmly pro-American stance. This would help counter Chinese designs in the South China Sea. Indeed, it might just even lead to a democratic transition taking root in the country.*

Now, you might be someone who sees no value in the United States retaining its status as the global hyperpower, and indeed might even see it a bad thing. If you are one of those people, I would simply refer you to a point TheDeadFlagBlues’ made recently about American fiscal policy, which was that “America is uniquely positioned to run fairly high budget deficits ad infinitum” since, I assume, people will always consider US sovereign debt and the US Dollar as the safest of assets (which they do). Now while I believe that perpetually increasing our proportional debt burden is neither advisable nor actually feasible, the primacy of the dollar and the Treasury is beyond dispute... because of our status as the world’s hyperpower. If that were to no longer be the case, so would our ability to run large deficits in perpetuity, which would probably lead to a fiscal tightening whose severity the word “super-mega-austerity” could not fully convey. So that alone makes it in our interest to retain our place on top of the pole. (As do myriad other less snappy reasons).

As to why Obama is so invested in this, let's face it, without this agreement, what had his much vaunted "pivot to Asia" really amounted to? He has a climate agreement with China consisting of measures they would likely have taken anyway. Besides that, from where I'm sitting, it has been pretty much a bust.

No one in the left has noticed, perhaps because they, too hate China. But American troops have been deployed to Australia and the Philippines, the U.S.-India anti-China alliance has advanced another step, and the Pentagon had drawn up "AirSea Battle", a complex offensive strategy whose main innovation seems to be bombing mainland China. Meanwhile, North Korea has more nukes and hostility than ever, and the incipient Cold War with China marches forward. He needs TPP to draw together his string of pearls on the Pacific Rim, and has been heavily dog whistling to that effect.

You would be correct. So far, the “pivot” has more or less been a flop. The TPP would pave the way for a transformation of the US’s role in Asia which would, potentially, frustrate completely Chinese efforts to attain regional hegemony and establish some pseudo-revival of the tributary system. If its potential is realised in full, President Obama’s will have left a legacy whose impact on global balance would be truly immense.


*Vietnam’s political system is already surprisingly open, if by the standards of one-party socialist states, particularly when compared to China. In short, it is possible for an official to be publically criticised without it meaning he is about to be purged. The Prime Minister and the General Secretary have openly criticised each other in public.There are already competitive elections (between pre-approved members of the Communist Party) for the National Assembly, which is not completely the rubber-stamp body that legislatures in such countries tend to be- they actually can reject government proposals or appointees, subject ministers to fierce criticism at hearings, and have begun holding regular “confidence votes” on government officials, who must resign if they fail (none have, so far, but they’re far, far from unanimous approvals). The Central Committee likewise has on occasion actually reversed appointments made by the Politburo, and their plenary sessions are accompanied by a flurry of critical if ritualised public commentary. When debating a new constitution in 2013, it was even publically debated whether or not to change the official name of the country back to the “Democratic Republic of Vietnam”, as it was named by the first North Vietnamese constitution of 1946- which had set up a multiparty system- in order to emphasise the republican and democratic nature of the state.  It was declared a few years ago that the government intended to privatise all SOEs- they haven’t actually found buyers but still intend to do so. In summary, they make the Chinese look like orthodox hardliners in comparison, and seem to only profess Marxism-Leninism due to sheer inertia. And that might change.

This was a useless aside.
3189  Forum Community / Forum Community / Re: My Leave of Absence on: May 10, 2015, 08:14:42 pm
This makes me rather upset.
3190  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Obama blasts Warren on TPP on: May 10, 2015, 08:01:31 pm
You might suspect, Averroes, that I would respond to all of your points. You would be correct. I've broken up my would-be post for the sake of preventing it from getting to a length where people would just not bother reading it. I'll intersperse it between other posts as they come along.

Fair enough, but I'm not sure what the response to those talking points is meant to achieve. If the goal is to make a substantively correct argument, the response should address the deal's most coherent critics rather than the most hysterical anti-TPP applause lines. If the goal is to make a politically appealing argument, lamenting the ignorance and illiteracy of the masses is unlikely to win sympathy except by flattering those who already agree. None of this is unusual: Most popular arguments on any policy topic are thinly-veiled appeals to bias and identity under the guise of common sense.

To respond to your other post, the most compelling points of criticism that I've seen come from policy writers like Jared Bernstein, Paul Krugman, and Matthew Yglesias.

That being said, one cannot simply downplay the prevalence of such “hysterical anti-TPP applause lines” in the discussions about the TPP. Cogent or not, such rhetoric on how the TPP shall let loose unbridled corporate greed, leading to mass job losses, exploitation of workers abroad, increases in global inequality, and so forth, are what is driving most of the debate. Most claims of these sort are at best ill-founded and frequently downright inane, and as a result easily disproven (without resorting to insulting the general public, I imagine). It should be understandable why TPP defenders might come across as condescending or overly dismissive of criticism when most of the anti-TPP arguments one encounters are of that sort.

I'll try to read what Krugman, Yglesias, and the others you mentioned have written once I have more time after finals. I look forwards to it. I did come across some other articles (maybe the same ones you're thinking of) via Marginal Revolution that I haven't had time to read either.

I have actually come across some critiques that do make arguments requiring meaningful consideration, but not many; concerns with overly generous intellectual property rights- particularly in regards to pharmaceuticals (I did read a piece that pertinently argued that stricter patent laws would lead, counter-productively, to China expanding its market share with generic drugs that TTP members were forbidden from producing- although I don’t see why this couldn't simply be solved with a tariff) were one.

Another was with the potential diversion of trade away from other low-income countries in the region (e.g. Bangladesh, Cambodia, or Sri Lanka) to Vietnam. Aside from the inherent (and incorrect) assumption that trade deals only result in the diversion, rather than creation, of trade, the obvious solution is to bring them into the TTP and allow them to share its benefits. The Chinese are themselves seeking out outsource low-cost manufacturing so I suspect the pie will be large enough for everyone (including Africa, mind you!).


(An aside- the apparent inability of export-oriented manufacturing in Bangladesh to raise incomes and produce economic growth as vigorously as was able to in other countries in the region, in my opinion, could present worrying challenges our understanding of the positive impact  “sweatshop labor” has on both the macroeconomy and standards of living. I don’t know the particulars of the Bangladeshi case, but I am tempted to attribute insufficient gains to a high population growth rate and more importantly political reasons- but I couldn't say much more without veering off onto things like debating the merits of Partition or a United Bengal or other largely irrelevant ruminations that would only serve as embarrassments. But the effects of politics on growth can be clearly observed elsewhere in the region, namely in Thailand, where it is estimated that GDP would be 50% larger today had it avoided its recurring political crises.)
3191  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Obama blasts Warren on TPP on: May 10, 2015, 01:58:27 pm
I realise that what I wrote might sound overly dismissive, but one should easily be able to see that much if not most of what has been written opposing the TPP is genuinely pure, unmitigated nonsense. To claim that most of what is out there is neither "economically nor as politically ignorant" as it comes across simply runs counter to the myriad articles I've read that were devoid of any kind of logic or sense.

Sure, there may be more incisive critiques, but to write-off those less substantive arguments as mere strawmen used by defenders ignores the fact that they probably comprise most of what's being said against the TPP.
3192  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Obama blasts Warren on TPP on: May 10, 2015, 01:34:27 pm
On the other hand, most criticism of the TPP I've encountered deals with unsubstantiated fears of job losses and claims of economic benefits going unrealised, topped off with anti-corporate fearmongering. Caricature or not, it's what what most of the criticism is founded on. Meanwhile, the economic and political benefits are clear and appreciable.

Aside from currency manipulation I am not sure whether the United States would be negatively impacted by the things you mention. Nor I have read anything to suggest they'd be particularly consequential in the grand scheme of things. But I'm open to new information.
3193  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Erdogan once again in Germany for illegal campaign visit on: May 10, 2015, 11:58:15 am
I wouldn't call him either of those things, no. Although Lief criticising someone for loosely throwing around "fascist" as a derogatory epithet is the height of irony.
3194  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Erdogan once again in Germany for illegal campaign visit on: May 10, 2015, 11:37:01 am
Oh. Didn't realise those were coming up. Did he at least call on Merkel or someone? Would have been bad form if otherwise.
3195  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Erdogan once again in Germany for illegal campaign visit on: May 10, 2015, 11:31:57 am
What is he campaigning for?
3196  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Obama blasts Warren on TPP on: May 10, 2015, 10:48:16 am
I had also meant to post this illustrative chart:

3197  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Obama blasts Warren on TPP on: May 10, 2015, 10:09:51 am
The worst thing about the TPP is bad for other countries, not us, so it makes sense that most of the American opposition to it would be sort of nonsensical compared to opposition in, say, Japan.

The only people it'll impact adversely (in economic terms at least) are the Chinese. Which I'm not sure we can really call a bad thing. Yes, it honestly won't benefit us all that much, but it will make a substantial impact on other regional economies, which is very much a good thing in both economic and political terms. I'd argue that the main benefit of the TPP is not the direct impact it would have on the American economy but the political consequences of the economic gains made by the other participating countries.

Anyway, good on the President for talking some sense.
3198  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Opinion of Bill De Blasio on: May 10, 2015, 09:52:13 am
Not as terrible as I had expected... but what has he actually done so far besides clashing with the police? He hasn't gone around wrecking things, no, but there's not I can think of to his credit either. This is perfectly fine for the time being but at some point we will need new policies.

So HP he remains until proven otherwise.

FF. He hasn't been fantastic, but at least he's been better than the last two mayors.

You thought Bloomberg was great... so how does this work out?

Sure, except for workers not being able to afford to live where they always have because some stupid yuppie movies into the neighborhood and drives rents through the roof.

Yes... but new development is that accursed gentrification! Not much one can do, really, short of placing restrictions on where people can live, isn't there?
3199  General Politics / Individual Politics / Re: Should the UK keep its nuclear missiles? on: May 10, 2015, 09:48:20 am
Ideally no country should

But barring that...
3200  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: South Africa General Discussion on: May 10, 2015, 09:11:13 am
Mmusi Maimane elected as the new DA leader.
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