The 2016 US Presidential Election is distracting Americans and the rest of the world from serious issues that need confronted. Where the election of new leadership is supposed to sharpen the focus on the most important issues in the eyes of the Peoples, the caricatures that are Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have turned the political system into a drama. After years of crippling political dysfunction at the hands of Republicans under the leadership of Democrat Barack Obama, already neglected issues, such as tenuous state of the job market, have been increasing overshadowed by ruinous theatrics.
As part of a disingenuous, counterproductive effort to make herself more likable, Hillary is playing the gender card and deploying far more popular female surrogates, many of whom would be preferred as candidates. Although Clinton is at the center of the most scandalous news, which includes criminal wrongdoing and efforts to suppress Democratic revivals, Donald’s attention-seeking impulse compels him to sabotage his own credibility, which is made evident by his calls on Russia to interfere in US elections, i.e. illegally hack and leak information on Clinton. That said, dividing and distracting the voters might help candidates win in November, but it also draws attention away from the lack of ideas and solutions.
In the political world, the ability to withstand the psychologically crushing theatrics of the campaign trail has become the number one qualification for candidates. The ability to uncover, develop, and implement solutions is an afterthought. This is why politicians, instead of properly assessing problems and developing effective solutions, more and more often recycle whatever policy is suggested by advisers and least unpopular at the moment. Unfortunately, this usually means politicians will take-up fundamentally flawed policies that are more likely to cause problems instead of solving them.
Too worried about the gossip US politics has become, the world has overlooked the escalating tensions between China and its neighbors. Although the South China Sea Crisis is often framed as a conflict between the US and China, it is actually about shielding China’s neighbors from Chinese dominance. It is also about bolstering the Chinese economy as it struggles to overcome debt and the perpetual need to grow. The decision of an international tribunal in early July against Chinese claims in the South China Sea halted China’s use of international maritime law to rationalize its dominance over the South China Sea, but the unwillingness to support Chinese claims placed the International Community at odds with China.
With that in mind, the nations of Asia need China to fulfill their growing economic needs. The same is true for the rest of the global economy, including the US. What the Peoples of the world do not need, or want, is the communist government of China to gain the power to dominant the International Community. For this reason, TPP is being framed and promoted as a means to balance Chinese influence, even though it is an economic policy. Framing TPP in terms of national security distorts the benefits of this massive free trade agreement and pushes people to embrace a policy that can only be successful if it is economically beneficial to the US and its trade partners.
Although both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have distanced themselves from TPP, which was negotiated under the Obama Administration, numerous economic policy analyst and advisers view TPP as the best means to bolster US and Asian economies. For that reason alone, the next US President will be under enormous pressure to adopt and implement TPP. Critics of TPP, of course, see it as an economically detrimental to the US. It is, however, also counterproductive in the power struggle against China and the effort to prevent Chinese dominance of Asia. More importantly, it empowers the Communist Party of China in its pursuit of global rule.
Supporters of free trade believe a lack of tariffs leads to lower prices for consumers and tax revenue for governments due to increased economic growth from increased trade, yet even they would have to agree the most direct, most substantial benefits go to corporations that export their goods and invest in foreign markets. China is run more like a business than a country. From its state-owned businesses to its massive subsidies to its military’s corporate espionage to its heavy-handed regulatory infrastructure designed to favor Chinese businesses over foreign competitors, instead of providing for safety, pollution, and labor rights, China is a business like no other.
Unlike the political leadership in capitalist countries, Beijing is willing to lose on tariff revenue and open its economy to more foreign goods, because it can make significantly more through overseas investments due to expanded sales and access to cheaper labor for its industries, which is not true for other governments. Unfortunately, this is only the start to the benefits for the Communist Party of China.
1. Free trade spreads, because the immediate economic benefits are often more obvious than the broader costs. It also spread, because government officials fear their countries will become “uncompetitive,” if they do not engage in free trade. Because the US, as the world’s largest economy, engages in free trade, it is far more difficult for poorer countries to say no to lower taxes and less regulation.
Where the US and other countries should recalibrate their trade agreements to better reflect the interests of their countries on a constant basis, free trade makes it very hard to impose any boundaries on industries. Adding China to the list will only it make it that much more difficult to reduce the negative impact of free trade. China’s version of TPP, the Free-Trade Area of the Asia Pacific initiative (FTAAP), pressures the United States to compete by disadvantaging its businesses and workers. In turn, the passage of TPP would feed into degenerative competition.
2. Looking at the United States and most of the West, expanded income inequality driven by growing poverty and ballooning national debt demonstrates what happens when workers of rich countries “compete” against low-wage workers and governments “compete” against low tax rates/a lack of regulation. Since China is poorer than the United States, particularly on a per capita basis, Westerners must lower its standard of living and government expenses to those of China in order to compete in a free trade system.
3. Because the Chinese economy offers its workers significant income inequality as well, even though it is supposed to be a communist country, the elites of China, both in government and industry, have a great amount of discretionary funds that they can use to invest in other countries. In buying out other countries, China gains greater leverage over those countries and makes it far more difficult for the governments of those countries to dissent from Chinese policies. At the same time, it helps concentrate the wealth of the global economy into the hands of the Chinese elite.
4. Increased imports into China is actually a necessity that is only going to grow over the next few decades as national resources struggle to keep up with the demands of 1.3 plus billion people. By turning to free trade now, the Chinese government can reduce the cost of goods, which China cannot readily produce, and shift the Chinese economy toward products and services, including financial services, which it can provide in the future.
5. Just as in the West, increased imports from countries where workers are paid less means Chinese workers can expect greater competition for jobs. This will, in turn, add downward pressure on wages. Given the size of the Chinese population and their growing demands for a global “middle class lifestyle,” it would be far easier for the Chinese government to suppress their incomes than to help 1.3 billion people achieve their version of “the American Dream” by building a stable economy that can fulfill those demands and keep prices in check.
Stable societies are built on balancing the interests of all populations within a nation. The interests of the poor, especially in capitalist countries, are often neglected, because few have respect for their views due to their lack of financial success. Although this mentality is likely shared among the Chinese elite, the failure to address the interests of the poor/non-rich will lead to failure for all.
6. A lack of wealth makes it easier to control people. Consequently, few jobs and stagnant pay is not necessarily an issue for the oppressive Chinese government. Only when the Chinese economy can no longer provide enough to satiate the needs of the Chinese People will outsourcing become an issue.
Forcing people to become increasingly reliant on socialist programs for their basic necessities helps enslave them to the affluent. Because the top concern of the Chinese government top is ensuring its survival and dominance over the Chinese People, free trade provides another benefit when it stifles growing standards of living. For the People of China and the Peoples of the world, however, this is a very big negative.
7. Because the Chinese can derive income from state-owned industries and investments, it does not need tax revenue. As such, it does not need to concern itself with revenues like income taxes. Conversely, Western democracies, particularly the US, are becoming increasing dependent upon income personal tax revenue as they cut corporate taxes in the name of competition.
As the Chinese government is not answerable to its People and its People need jobs, China can also undercut its competition will continued weak regulation. At the same time, foreign labor can be imported as needed, thus free trade would give China the expert and low-wage human capital it cannot find at home. Moreover, free trade helps make China more competitive as a country, i.e. it empowers the Community Party.
8. China can also use the international need to combat global climate change, coupled with free trade, to its advantage. Although the Obama Administration does not have the authority to honor any pledge to cut carbon emissions to this or that target, which means it can only develop a plan to do so or invest in alternate energy sources, policies that might disadvantage the US would be beneficial to China.
Pollution in China encourages social unrest, so China does need to curb its pollution somewhat as it has agreed to do so; however, the government’s leadership on climate change is also a great way of encouraging other polluting nations to disadvantage themselves with few to no environmental benefits.
Moreover, the US and China are both world powers that find themselves in a situation where they must both cooperate and compete at the same time. For China, this means managing the decline of the United States. For the United States, this means managing the rise of China. In order to address these competing interests, both countries can only be expected to pursue strategies that are to their benefit. Unfettered free trade throughout Asia is more in the interest of the Chinese government, but it is not in the broader interests of the US, the rest of Asia, or the Chinese People.
Read old posts