“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Free trade is not free. The dark side of free trade.

US manufacturers, farmers and food producers are often weighted down with government rules and regulation. The Chinese are not as particular. China can roll over domestic US producers and the Chinese are not held to the same standards as US manufacturers. Clever idea.

In August 1996, residents in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn described odd tree damage to a forestry inspector. Showy beetles collected from the neighborhood trees stumped the experts until Richard Hoebeke, assistant curator of Cornell University's insect collection, recognized it as Anoplophora glabripennis, a well-known menace in China, Korea, and Japan.

During the past 20 years or so, he's spotted about three dozen insect species that were invading the United States. Most of them turned out to be relatively harmless.

"This is the worst," he says. "This could easily be on the same level with the gypsy moth and the medfly."

The Asian long-horned beetle spends most of its life as a grub inside wood. It probably hitchhiked from China to the United States hidden in the cheap, untreated wood often used for pallets or packing material. APHIS' roughly 1,300 inspectors manage to check only about 2 percent of the goods sweeping into U.S. ports, and Cavey has been worried that the recent trade boom would start an international boom of alarming pests.

"We don't usually jump in as hard as we did," he says. Hoebeke had called Cavey when he recognized the Asian long-horned beetle, and within days, a federal quarantine forbade moving wood or plants out of an irregular area that eventually stretched some 16 miles across Brooklyn.

Nevertheless, in September 1996, beetles turned up in nearby Amityville, N.Y. They might have hitchhiked there compliments of a tree-pruning company that did many Brooklyn jobs for the telephone company. A year later, beetles appeared in Lindenhurst, N.Y.

Two years later, a Chicago man surfing the Web to identify beetles crawling out of his firewood tipped off authorities that the pest had reached the Midwest. Investigators found infested trees in Chicago's Ravenswood neighborhood and the communities of Addison and Summit.

Beetle watchers discovered yet another hot spot, in the Bayside area of Queens. The USDA has estimated that it has the potential to cause more damage than Dutch elm disease, chestnut blight, and gypsy moths combined, destroying millions of acres of America’s treasured hardwoods, including national forests and backyard trees. The beetle has the potential to damage such industries as lumber, maple syrup, nursery, and tourism accumulating over $41 billion in losses.

Now we have this and there are many many more examples:

Additive that tainted U.S. pet food is commonly used in China

By David Barboza and Alexei Barrionuevo International Herald Tribune
Published: April 29, 2007

ZHANGQIU, China: American food safety regulators trying to figure out how an industrial chemical called melamine contaminated so much pet food in the United States might come to this heavily polluted city in Shandong Province in the northern part of the country.

Here at the Shandong Mingshui Great Chemical Group factory, huge boiler vats are turning coal into melamine, which is used to create plastics and fertilizer.

But the leftover melamine scrap, small acorn-sized chunks of white rock, is then being sold to local entrepreneurs, who say they secretly mix a powdered form of the scrap into animal feed to artificially enhance the protein level.

The melamine powder has been dubbed "fake protein" and is used to deceive those who raise animals into thinking they are buying feed that provides higher nutrition value.

"It just saves money," says a manager at an animal feed factory here. "Melamine scrap is added to animal feed to boost the protein level."

The practice is widespread in China. For years animal feed sellers have been able to cheat buyers by blending the powder into feed with little regulatory supervision, according to interviews with melamine scrap traders and agricultural workers here.

But now, melamine is at the center of a massive, multinational pet food recall after it was linked earlier this month to the deaths and injuries of thousands of cats and dogs in the United States and South Africa.

No one knows exactly how melamine - which had not been believed to be particularly toxic - became so fatal in pet food, but its presence in any form of American food is illegal.

U.S. regulators are now headed to China to figure out why pet food ingredients imported from here, including wheat gluten, were contaminated with high levels of the chemical.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has banned imports of wheat gluten from China and ordered the recall of over 60 million packages of pet food. And last week, the agency opened a criminal investigation in the case and searched the offices of at least one pet food supplier.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture also stepped in Thursday, ordering more than 6,000 hogs to be quarantined or slaughtered after some of the pet food ingredients laced with melamine were accidentally sent to hog farms in eight states, including California.


  1. A caller to Medved refered to a Mexican Concrete Company that bought out one in the USA, and proceeded to close all it's plants down.
    Medved laughed off the "unimportance" of "shutting down a few concrete plants"
    (and the truck drivers that hauled it, the small businesses supported by them, the productive capacity maintained in this country by them, and etc.)

  2. Bobal:
    Couldn't a Horse pull a bigger plow than a Deere?

  3. When we get Mexican trucks and the big new freeway, the
    "Highway of Death"
    will acquire a whole new meaning.

    Ever wonder if there's a Muzzie in that Tanker behind you?

  4. Henry Geronimo, 44, of West Oakland watched the cleanup operation from a fence along Mandela Parkway.
    "Coming home is going to be a big big problem," said Geronimo, who commutes to work in San Francisco as draftsman.

    "Do you know how many terrorists are looking at this?
    They're getting ideas."
    Rodriguez went outside with a co-worker and saw the lower level of the freeway -- the I-880 connector about 50 feet above -- engulfed in fire with flames leaping to the deck of the top layer of the freeway, the I-580 connector.
    "It was massive," Rodriguez said. "I saw movement and there was a man up there. I started talking to the guy. Are you the truck driver? "Yes." He said, "I'm burned. I got out as soon as I could.' ''
    The driver seemed disoriented.
    "It looked at one time he was walking toward the truck again. I believe he was in shock,'' Rodriguez said. Rodriguez said he regretted not thinking to send a vehicle up to get the injured man.
    "It looked like a big slab of plastic because it was melted. It's made of steel and concrete, and it was bent at both angles of the pillar. It really looked fake. ... It was an event last night that I'm not going to forget for a long time," Rodriguez said. "It was incredible because it was a roar.

    No recognizable sign of the truck remains at the scene. One Caltrans worker there early this morning held up his thumb and forefinger an inch apart to describe how big the tanker is now.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Takes One to Know One:

    Gore: Canada's Plan A 'Fraud'
    Former VP says country's emissions initiative fails to detail what the regulations will be. AP
    Chronicle special section: Green

  7. At least Allen is still monitoring the momentous events here, right up to the present!

  8. Sorry Doug, we seem to be getting more visitors and fewer comments.

  9. I watched the George Tenant interview on 60 minutes. Had I been tenant, I would have stopped the camera and told the little prick that was doing the interview to put down the pen. I would have went on to tell him the next time he rolled his eyes or made a face at me, I was going to grab him by the tie and simonize his face on the floor. Then I would have smiled and asked him if we should continue.

  10. It is kind of funny reading the US folk moaning about lack of regulation in trade partners. Up in Canada, which actually has a free trade agreement with the USA, the same arguments are advanced only in the Canadian case it is the US that has the lack of regulation, the lack of sufficient taxation, and the lack of protections (i.e. health care) for its workers thus rendering the playing field unlevel.

  11. The multipartite meeting, which started on Saturday night, reconfirmed Sunday support for the three-phase support plan agreed by the UN, the AU and the Sudanese government on the deployment of a hybrid AU-UN peacekeeping force in November last year, also known as the Annan plan as it was put forward by then UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

    The major players in the meeting also expressed "grave concern" over the situation in Darfur, urging all conflicting parties in the Darfur region to immediately cease hostilities and act upon their commitment to uphold a ceasefire.

    Sudan is under mounting international pressure to approve the deployment of UN peacekeepers in Darfur as the United States and Britain had threatened to propose new sanctions if Khartoum fails to accept a full joint UN-AU peacekeeping force.

    Darfur Issue

  12. My comment at Westhawk:

    Doug said...
    It was wrong for Clinton to ignore what the CIA knew about Al Queda and bin Laden, likewise for this administration, all the more so to deny these truths and cover them up for BOTH Administrations POST 9-11.

    I encourage everyone to look at Clarke's Memo to Rice Several times and think about all the implications.
    (similar to our open border policy for undocumented Felons, Narco Terrorists, and occasional Al Queda.)

  13. Ash can't *WAIT* for Canadian Healthcare, care of Hillary or Barrack Hussein.

  14. "Do you know the Way to San Jose?"
    Free Mass Transit Monday

    Gov. Schwarzenegger announced an incentive -- free rides on transit agencies such as BART -- to get more commuters off the roads on Monday. Traffic snarls are expected after part of the East Bay freeway interchange at I-580 melted, then collapsed after a fuel-laden tanker exploded today. More: Alternate routes BART map

  15. Barrack Hussein's response to the question about his reaction to a dual nuking of American Cities is not that different in distance from a sane reality than was Dukakis response to Bernard Shaw's question of his reaction to the rape of his wife.
    At least Dukakis only showed complete disregard for one person, his wife.

    Barrack will be calling 911 and making sure the system is up to snuff as the Muzzies are celebrating in the streets with their AK-47's blazing.

  16. It was fairly simple, Mark J. Penn said calmly to Vice President Al Gore, reporting the findings of an exhaustive survey he had conducted in the early stages of the 2000 presidential campaign. Voters liked Gore's policies.


    In their $5 million Georgetown mansion, Penn and his wife, Nancy Jacobson, a former staff member for Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) who is now a fundraiser with the Clinton campaign, run something of a salon for like-minded friends. They recently threw a book party for Jeffrey Goldberg, the New Yorker writer, to celebrate the release of his memoir on Israel.


    Today, from a sleek 12th-floor office just off Thomas Circle, Penn manages both the strategy of the Democratic presidential front-runner and a multimillion-dollar corporation as worldwide chief executive of Burson-Marsteller, a 2,000-employee public relations firm. The job is the latest iteration of the lucrative corporate work that Penn and Schoen began in the 1980s, at the same time they were making their names as political pollsters, and that put them in the company of a new generation of business-minded Democratic consultants.

    Power Pointer

  17. Shoot, I had my hopes up that it was Penn and TELLER onboard to add a bit of levity and realism to the discussion.

  18. Pat Lang:

    You Want to Leave Who Behind?

    I keep hearing civilian pundits say that a partial withdrawal from Iraq is an option. That is incorrect. It is not a viable option.

    There are several wars in progress in Iraq. In contrast to some of the wishful-thinkers I do not believe that the commencement or completion of American withdrawal will bring about the end of hostilities among the various parties to these wars. The wars are being waged for control of Iraq among ancient rivals and enemies. It is not true that all those folks lived in the "happy valley" before we came along. In fact, Iraq, (Mesopotamia) has always been held together (in various eras) by force and coercion. The enmity among the "Iraqis" is not a matter of misunderstanding, or a failure to communicate among themselves.

    The announcement of the beginning of our withdrawal will merely signal to all concerned that the "real" fight has begun.

    In that context it must be understood that US logistical teams, advisers, the embassy, etc will all be at terrible risk during and after (the embassy) our withdrawal.

    To withdraw our combat forces and leave these others in the country would be criminal. As Voltaire said, "pire qu'une crime, c'est stupide!" pl

    I've listened to and written same in the past.

    And Doug: Isn't ash Canadian?

  19. And then there's Chuck:

    Hagel on Iraq
    By Robert Novak

    WASHINGTON -- Sen. Chuck Hagel returned from his fifth visit to Iraq to join Senate Democrats last Thursday as one of two Republicans voting to begin withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. It was not an easy vote for a conservative party regular and faithful supporter of President George W. Bush's non-Iraq policies. A few days earlier, Hagel sat down with me to paint a bleak picture of the war and U.S. policy.

    Over a dozen years, I have had many such conversations with Hagel not for quotation. This time, I asked him to go on the record about his assessment of what the "surge" has accomplished. In language more blunt than his prepared speeches and articles, he described Iraq as "coming undone," with its regime "weaker by the day." He deplored the Bush administration's failure to craft a coherent Middle East policy, blaming the influence of Deputy National Security Adviser Elliott Abrams.

    Hagel faces a political paradox as he ponders a career decision -- to run for president, seek re-election next year or get out of elective politics. His harsh assessment resonates with many Republicans who believe Bush's war policy has led the party to disaster. Yet, this message faces rejection by GOP primary voters, and he is under attack from the Right at home in Nebraska (with 38-year-old state Atty. Gen. Jon Bruning threatening to run against him).

    After his latest visit to Baghdad, Fallujah, Ramadi and Anbar Province, Hagel told me: "This thing is really coming undone quickly, and [Prime Minister Nouri al-]Maliki's government is weaker by the day. The police are corrupt, top to bottom. The oil problem is a huge problem. They still can't get anything through the parliament -- no hydrocarbon law, no de-Baathification law, no provincial elections [needed to bring Sunnis into the governing process]."

    The regional problem, as described by Hagel, is a U.S. policy breakdown with a failure to engage Iran and Syria. "I do know that there are a number of Israelis who would like to engage Syria," said Hagel. "They have said that Elliott Abrams keeps pushing them back." He quoted foreign ministers, ambassadors and former U.S. officials as saying they believe Abrams "is making policy in the Middle East."

    Hagel certainly is no peace-now zealot. "We're not going to precipitously pull out," he told me. "We have [national] interests in Iraq." While he asserted "we can't get out by the end of the year," he called for "pulling some of our guys out -- not all of them, but you've got to get them out of [Baghdad] at least, get them out of the middle of civil war." If not, Hagel said, "then the prospects of the Republican Party are very dim next year."


  20. Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert humorously sums up much of the new wisdom in his book "Stumbling on Happiness." He says 24-hour television and the Internet have allowed us all to see more seemingly happy people than ever before.

    ...perhaps our intuitions about happiness should triumph over the fuzzy data, anyway. The economics of happiness has given us a couple of fairly hard and fast rules about well-being—being truly poor is bad, and time with friends and family are good (time with family involving something other than diaper changing, of course).

    Of course, there are as many ways to alleviate poverty, fuel growth and achieve a better work-life balance as there are governments to suggest them. The good news is that whatever choices we make individually and as societies in the pursuit of happiness, there's a good chance that they'll seem better in hindsight.

    Yet another truism of happiness is that "we all wear rose-colored glasses when it comes to our past decision-making," says Gilbert. Today's dreadful life choice will likely be tomorrow's happy accident.

    Joy of Economics

  21. Interesting blog. Free trade in my opinion is a very good thing for the economy. However, like many things in terms of ecnomics, there is always drawbacks with any policy, theory or decision. In a sense, it is a double-edged sword.

    I certainly don't have answers to address problems such as this and find these points intriguing.

  22. Kansas City has several key components that make it an excellent hub for all transportation and logistics operations:

    * The largest rail center in the United States by tonnage

    * More Foreign Trade Zone space than any other U.S. city (over 10,000 acres)

    * Located at the intersection of three of the nation’s major interstate highways (I-35, I-70, I-29) and soon to be 4th - I-49


  23. Trish,
    I've always assumed Ash was French, but it was only an assumption.

  24. Sam,
    Reno isn't too bad, with more room, flatter, drier, better weather, closer to Ports from Asia, on interstate 80 and the transcontinental tracks, gambling, prostitution, lower taxes, heck, I think I'll join my fellow Hawaiians and move to Nevada!

  25. "I proposed that we issue an ALBA bond. I hope that we can do it....

    And that we issue it here in Venezuela, like we did with Argentina, and bring in $1 billion," said Chavez, addressing leaders Sunday on final day of their talks. Chavez said the money acquired would be put in a fund to provide credit for ALBA nations.

    He said Venezuela will guarantee to supply 100 percent of the energy needs for ALBA members as well as Haiti. ALBA was created in 2004 by Cuba and Venezuela as a counterproposal to U.S. backed free-trade plans.

    Chavez Pledge

  26. allen over at BC, in re LTC Yengling's piece:


    re: Yingling is naive.

    If he thought for a moment he could get through to a thoroughly cynical and pretentiously callous American public, he was. By now, I am sure he has learning the error of his ways - poor boy.


    Somehow it's never cynical to suggest that that we would perpetuate just enough turmoil to keep our keep ourselves lodged in Iraq for the long term (as allen has), nor that we would endeavor to fight a war for oil without stating such (as rufus has), nor that things are said that are not meant (as habu has).

    Cynicism and naivete are two sides of the same coin.

  27. Col. Yingling writes that Congress must step in and break up the way administrations use promotions to acquire compliant generals as accomplices in deceiving the American people.

    The most frightening fact about the Bush administration is that not a single office is held by a competent or qualified person. Integrity is so rare among Bush appointees that integrity has been silenced.

    That should concern all Americans. Even Republicans.

    Iraq and America

  28. Lew Rockwell has the Pandas?

  29. Sam, I saw that article. I enjoyed reading it and forget why it did not get to be a post. Thanks for bring it up.

  30. Paul Craig Roberts sounds like a real BDS victim, a real left-winger. Let's see his far left credentials include:
    He wrote the Kemp-Roth bill. was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is author or coauthor of eight books, including The Supply-Side Revolution (Harvard University Press). He has held numerous academic appointments, including the William E. Simon Chair in Political Economy, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University and Senior Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He has contributed to numerous scholar journals and testified before Congress on 30 occasions. He has been awarded the U.S. Treasury's Meritorious Service Award and the French Legion of Honor. He was a reviewer for the Journal of Political Economy under editor Robert Mundell. He is the co-author of The Tyranny of Good Intentions

  31. Adman's Dream:
    "Viagra improves potency by a factor of 40."

    "The male panda can only mate for at most 30 seconds at a time and hence the chances of getting the female pregnant are very low.

    "With Viagra, the male could last for up to 20 minutes."

  32. I wonder if it gives the panda heartburn or remorse?

  33. Deuce,
    I notice the Dude never got a Medal of Freedom:
    What would he know compared to say, Norman Mineta?

  34. Deuce,
    For that, try Chinese Medicine:
    "We tried to give them Chinese medicine in the mid-1990s," he said.

    "As a result, the sex drive of the pandas did improve but they also became hot-tempered and attacked the females. That obviously wasn't so good and we had to end the experiment."

    Mr Zhang said: "The real problem is that many pandas do not know how to mate."

  35. Makes you wonder what they had in mind with the Chinese medicine. Was it melamine based or longhorny beetle juice?

  36. Today, there are nearly 4,000 Asian Americans serving in the U.S. military, and several Asian servicemembers have made great strides and sacrifices for this country.

    “Asian Americans are an important part of the American fabric and the military,” said Capt. Teresa Ovalle. “We are proud to have Asian Americans serving in our military and making a difference in the world.”

    Commanders are encouraged to recognize the achievements Asian Pacific Americans have made to our Corps and our nation. And, commanders are further encouraged to conduct programs and promote participation in observance events both on base and in the local community, and to develop local themes for use at their commands.

    Asian American Servicemembers

  37. You have to check out that video on the next post.

  38. allen also said...
    elijah,re: 1001 (unheralded) Arabian knights

    On this happy note:US aircrews show Taliban no mercy

    H/T Small Wars JournalDo watch the video provided by the telegraph.
    "‘When you are on top of the enemy you look, shoot and it's, 'You die, you die, you die.T
    he odds are on our side.
    I really enjoy it. I told my wife, if I could come home every night then this would be the perfect job.’"___Lt. Denton
    Would be nice to read a lot more of that kind of news.

  39. Video:
    Flying with Apaches in Afghanistan
    US forces in Afghanistan have ditched local ceasefire agreements brokered by their British counterparts in favour of an aggressive new campaign which they claim has forced the Taliban to change its tactics.
    Gethin Chamberlain looks at one of their key weapons.

  40. Didn't know the Brits were that far gone:
    They say breaking the Ceasefires have allowed the Taliban to re-arm!

    I sure they kept themselves busy playing bridge, before.

  41. We are typing on the current penultimate post.

  42. what are you drinking? do you need another?

  43. From the looks of that guy, I think I'll have double before watching the video.
    Cuevo and Grapefruit Barkeep!

  44. "‘When you are on top of the enemy you look, shoot and it's, 'You die, you die, you die.T
    he odds are on our side.
    I really enjoy it. I told my wife, if I could come home every night then this would be the perfect job.’"___Lt. Denton

    I will vouch for the LT.

    But as good as it gets at moments in SA, it is still not a winning strategy.

  45. trish wrote:

    "And Doug: Isn't ash Canadian?"

    Actually, I'm an American currently living in Canada.