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Is referendum a good way to take decisions

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Karpel Tunnel
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Re: Is referendum a good way to take decisions

Post by Karpel Tunnel » August 14th, 2019, 4:42 am

Steve3007 wrote:
August 11th, 2019, 3:19 am
What kind of product have you ordered? From which non-EU country and to which EU country?
It was me not Felix. It was an essential oil. I ordered it from the US to Sweden. I presume it came through the general EU tariff.

The tariff was not huge, though the fee to decide on that tariff was pretty stiff percentagewise. Prohibitive. I saved money despite the long delivery distance by ordering from the US, but then lost, to some degree, due to the tariff process.

My issue is that when Trump introduced tariffs and tariffs talk, he was called, more or less, an idiot. Reading the way the issue was covered, both here in the local press and then in US press, one would have thought, as I did, that tariffs were a thing of the past. But they are not. And this is not a recent tariff or really set of tariffs in the EU. All sorts of products are protected via a complicated set of processes. Now perhaps the specifics of Trump's tariff suggestions were dumb. But reading the various media, one would have thought tariffs always do damage to both the host country and to other countries. Period. LIke we outgrew that. Like we outgrew slavery or indentured servants or colonies. We know that protective stuff is bad. But that does not seem remotely like consensus, even in the states where the media joined in the Trump bashing. (as always I feel the need to say, I don't like Trump. It's not about that. It's about the way the media acts in general and then on this specific issue)

I could put it this way. I suspect that Trump was going against the stream of the neo-con agenda which does not really want any states protecting any markets. And the neocons want it to seem dumb, period, that any protective measures are taken by anyone. They want to NAFTA the world. They want no third world country to try to protect any of their own industries. They want into China fully and Russia fully. They want to undercut, in the end, any protective or restrictive practices in the EU and in allies. What they call free markets, is to be everywhere. So when Trump went for tariffs, he was siding with nation states over corporate 'rights' and neocon plans. Since the Left hates Trump and to the neo-cons he is like some black sheep member of the family who never listens when they have family meetings, the media just stomped on Trump in an unnuanced way. Tariffs bad, Trump bad. Stomp.

I am not so worried, per se, about people being down on Trump. But my concern is, that this binary couching of the issue, will do real damage when India or some African nation wants to protect a fragile agricultural sector and the IMF or some trade organization says, this is old, outmoded evil economic policies and we don't care what your government/people chose to do, change it. For example. At some point the EU is going to be told that restricting gm products is illegal in some international trade tribunals opinion and that barrier will come down. Anything that puts democracy or policy against 'free' markets is to come down. Do I like Putin? Nah. But really his big importance to the neo cons has to do with markets and money and corporate freedom. They don't mind dictators who do exactly what corporations want.

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Re: Is referendum a good way to take decisions

Post by CSE » September 11th, 2019, 4:57 pm

Just thinking out loud:

I guess Tariffs are theoretically bad, because trade is good. Trade allows to have always the best/more efficient supplier supplying a broad range of customers, thus increasing the average efficiency. Tariffs, by artificially making those "best" supplier more expensive, actually steer local customers towards less efficient suppliers - thus lowering the average efficiency. Also by protecting the less efficient, they remove the incentive to improve, thus finally making the protected suppliers even comparatively less efficient on long term.

But now, in the real world, there is not a single way to measure "best". Cheap may mean not taking care correctly of the workers or of the environment, for instance. So if your local supplier is more expensive, it may be because he has to fulfil much more stringent regulations. Those regulations (in democracies) are theoretically the wish of the people. Therefore products that are made without fulfilling them should be "punished". In a perfect society, it should be enough to just communicate / make transparent that the "cheap" import has a bad ecological/social footprint and this should be enough to steer the customers away.
But we are not perfect - hard to resist to the cheaper alternative. So Tariffs may be a way to "correct" the differences in regulations by directly speaking to the purse of the customers. It may be also an incentive to steer the foreign suppliers to "better" practises if the tariffs are smartly linked to clear criteria.
An example is the import of cars in Switzerland, as far as I know: importers (there is no local car industry) must import year after year cars with an average carbon footprint that decreases. So importing one SUV means importing more and more compacts, or electric cars. If yon don't respect the trend, you get tariffs so get more expensive for your customers. This means that the importer will actually increase the price of inefficient cars and decrease their margin for more efficient ones in order to reach their target.

Another possible use of Tariffs could be to allow the development of the local economy. You may be less effective now, but if you don't get a chance to survive, you cannot learn to be more effective. So there is no chance for new players. So protecting the local economy like we protect children, to let them grow and learn, may be legitimate - mostly for developing countries that had no chance to develop earlier as they were under control of the present "efficient" exporters of the first world. But then it must be time-limited in order to have incentive to improve and not to stagnate within the confortable protection.

As usual - no simple answers. But I think with these examples, it should be clear that tariffs are basically bad as they protect the less effective; but they may be legitimate in special situation, so they should be used in well defined contexts.

Using tariffs is of course also a weapon. The aim is to punish another country, not to do something good. Well, it beats sending nukes, but confrontation is normally not the best option - it just shows that you were not capable to negotiate or to accept disagreements and find compensations.

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Re: Is referendum a good way to take decisions

Post by Greta » September 11th, 2019, 6:12 pm

Re: the OP. Speaking as regards the Anglosphere, due to the media dominance of the Murdoch media empire, the usefulness of referenda is rapidly reducing. They are now only helpful when a large percentage of the people are being denied by minority special interest groups in Parliament. For example, Australia recently passed a referendum to allow gay marriage. Most people here have no issue with gay marriage but a minority of well-networked religious zealots in government had held sway for a long time.

However, when decisions are close, a referendum in the Anglosphere is simply a gift for the Rupert Murdoch media empire, who was on record saying that he supported Brexit because the lords of London jump to his every command while Brussels ignored him.

Given that the world is lurching rapidly towards fascism, I doubt referenda have much of a future. I've give them a decade at best, less in the Anglosphere. Democracy has no future now that the US's democracy is now broken. Anyone who expects a peaceful transition of power in the US after this election or the next is an extreme optimist.

It's interesting how, after decades of sending their soldiers to their deaths in wars to protect freedom and democracy, a single administration can destroy it with impunity, maintaining loyal support from half of the American people. What were those young people sent to war supposed to be protecting?

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Re: Is referendum a good way to take decisions

Post by Belindi » September 12th, 2019, 3:54 am

Greta you should be writing for something with a larger circulation than an online philosophy group.

Is fascism inevitable now that natural resources are as depleted as they are?

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Re: Is referendum a good way to take decisions

Post by Greta » September 12th, 2019, 5:36 pm

Thanks Belinda, I'm trying, and currently about to spend a bomb to hire a writing mentor to help. It's hard to write without feedback.

I think fascism is inevitable. Throughout history, the wealthy have always pushed to gain greater dominance until they leave a critical mass of underlings behind. They the underlings rebel, the highest of the underlings become the new tyrants, and the circle turns. However, with today's technology, dominance can be entrenched.

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