American Hypocrisy Over China

I’m not an expert on world trade disputes, but it seems to be that the U.S.A.’s current whining about Chinese manufacturing is pathetic and hypocritical. American manufacturers, with the full support of the U.S. Government, has spent 40 years outsourcing their manufacturing to China in order to benefit from lower Chinese wages and TCO, so they could sell their cheap products to the world. Those same policies that benefited U.S. companies in the past now pose an economic threat, as Chinese companies make and sell their own goods to the world. There’s a stunning level of hypocrisy criticising China while having benefited from these manufacturing dynamics, but try to find that perspective articulated in the mainstream U.S. media. Instead they just continue to act as the P.R. arm of the U.S. government and its corporate owners.

And surely we want the world for have as much cheap, high quality green energy products as possible, don’t we? On one hand, the U.S. government says that climate change is a top global priority – on the other hand, they don’t want China to produce too many products to solve the problem.

Me:

The U.S. government is complaining that China is “creating an oversupply of clean energy products”. They are also complaining that China is “overproducing” products and “dumping” them on global markets. This seems churlish to me. I thought the US believed in “open markets” and capitalism? Don’t the US also use tariffs and government funding to make their manufacturers more competitive?

ChatGPT:

You’re picking up on the contradictions that often emerge in international trade rhetoric. The U.S. has long championed open markets and free trade, but that support is sometimes tempered by national interests and the desire to protect domestic industries.

Let’s break down the criticisms you’re mentioning:

     

      1. Oversupply of Clean Energy Products: China has heavily invested in clean energy manufacturing, like solar panels and batteries. The oversupply issue is essentially that China can produce more than the global market demands. This drives down prices, benefiting consumers and countries looking to transition to renewable energy but also putting pressure on non-Chinese manufacturers who struggle to compete with lower-priced imports.

      1. Dumping Allegations: Dumping refers to selling products abroad at prices below their normal value (often below production costs) to capture market share. Critics in the U.S. argue that China’s subsidies and state support lead to artificially low prices that damage U.S. manufacturers.

      1. U.S. Use of Tariffs and Subsidies: Yes, the U.S. has its own protectionist policies, such as tariffs and subsidies. The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, for instance, incentivizes U.S. clean energy manufacturing, while tariffs imposed during the Trump administration continue to impact trade with China.

    In essence, while the U.S. preaches free markets, it’s not above using government interventions to protect its industries. The complaints about China are often rooted in the notion of maintaining a “level playing field,” where countries are expected to follow a similar set of market rules. However, these rules are often defined through political and economic lenses that favor the rule-maker’s interests.

    These dynamics reflect broader tensions in global trade, where the line between fair competition and protectionism becomes blurry, especially with strategic sectors like clean energy.

    Me:

    Can you give me examples of where the US used its economic and military power to make sure its manufacturers didn’t have to worry about a “level playing field”?

    ChatGPT:

    The U.S. has often wielded its economic and military power to protect and advance its manufacturers’ interests, sometimes at the expense of the concept of a “level playing field.” Here are a few notable examples:

       

        1. Marshall Plan (1948-1952): After World War II, the U.S. implemented the Marshall Plan to aid Western European reconstruction. While it provided crucial support for European economies, it also tied many of the aid recipients to American products and markets. The plan ensured European countries remained aligned with U.S. interests and created a favorable trading environment for American manufacturers.

        1. Operation Ajax (1953): The CIA-backed coup in Iran removed Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh and reinstated the Shah. The overthrow protected U.S. oil interests and their control over Iran’s oil resources, ensuring that American and British oil companies retained profitable operations in the region.

        1. Intervention in Latin America: Throughout the 20th century, the U.S. supported coups and regimes in Latin America to ensure stability favorable to American businesses. In Guatemala (1954), the U.S. supported a coup to protect United Fruit Company’s interests after land reform threatened its dominance.

        1. Trade Agreements and WTO Disputes: The U.S. has leveraged its negotiating power in international trade agreements like NAFTA and the WTO to secure preferential treatment for its manufacturers. At the same time, it has challenged other countries at the WTO for practices that disadvantage U.S. companies, winning cases like the one against China for rare earth export restrictions.

        1. Tariffs on Japanese Electronics and Cars (1980s): As Japan became a significant competitor to the U.S. in cars and electronics, the U.S. used tariffs and quotas to restrict Japanese imports and protect its own manufacturers.

        1. Recent Trade Wars with China: The U.S. imposed tariffs on a wide array of Chinese goods to counter what it claimed was unfair competition due to Chinese government subsidies, currency manipulation, and intellectual property theft. The tariffs effectively protected certain U.S. industries, even as they strained global supply chains.

      These actions demonstrate how the U.S. has historically prioritized its national and economic interests, often invoking the language of free markets but frequently resorting to state intervention, military action, or diplomatic leverage to secure advantages for its industries.

      Using ChatGPT to Analyse The News

      One of my hobbies at the moment is to use ChatGPT to help me analyse the news. I imagine this will be come pretty standard in the near future, and there will be better tools to use. At the moment it seems the ABC has blocked ChatGPT from reading its articles, so I have to copy and paste the article into GPT. But then I run a couple of prompts to get it to breakdown the story for me. My basic objective is to get GPT to act as a second brain, helping me uncover the biases in news stories and highlight the gaps in the coverage.

      Here’s GPT’s analysis of a recent ABC article about the US and Israel. It gave the original article a rating of 6 our of 10 for journalistic quality.

      Media Is Politics

      I’ve been saying it for 20 years. If you want political influence in a democracy, you need to control the media. That’s why I started TPN. That’s why Murdoch is king. Don’t blame the voters. They get their opinions from the media. Don’t blame the politicians. They were chosen by the media to do a particular job. It’s the media. If we want change, we need to control the media. We need to invest in independent media. Not the ABC. Truly independent media. That’s why you don’t want advertising to find your podcasts. That’s why you don’t want VC firms to invest in New Media. That’s why you don’t want Facebook to be the new publishing platform. Those things just subvert the opportunity to wrest control of the future from the rich white psychopaths.

      What can you do? You can make the media. Make podcasts. Write blog posts. Write books. Make documentaries. Make comics.

      TAKE CONTROL.

      My Thoughts On Mueller and Russiagate

      The tl;dr version:

      1. My basic policy is that most people in power are possibly psychopaths (see my new book The Psychopath Economy) and therefore we should investigate them as often as we can. Trump especially falls into this category, as do many of the people around him.

      2. I had no problem with the Mueller investigation. Ever.

      3. My main issue with it has always been that some people on the left seemed to treating collusion as a fact, despite there being no (or not enough, if you prefer) evidence to conclude that. As I’ve always maintained – meeting with Russians, in and of itself, was neither illegal nor evidence of collusion. Neither was hoping Russians would release hacked emails.

      4. The media hype around collusion for the last two years, in my opinion, was not justified by the evidence.

      5. The Mueller Report, rightly or wrongly, declared there (and I quote): The investigation did not establish that the contacts described in Volume I, Section IV, supra, amounted to an agreement to commit any substantive violation of federal criminal law-including foreign-influence and campaign-finance laws, both of which are discussed further below.”

      6. Therefore Mueller seems to agree that there wasn’t enough evidence to conclude a conspiracy / collusion – and so why all of the hype about it for the last two years? Why were people so convinced it was a fact?

      7. As for Russian interference, the FBI already investigates that, so there’s no need for a separate investigation, as far as I can tell. That does seem like a waste of money, but hey, the US has money to burn, so why not.

      8. As for who hacked the DNC, I acknowledge that Mueller concurs with the intelligence agencies – which isn’t surprising, seeing as he’s a former Director of the FBI. I, of course, don’t trust the FBI or the CIA, because they have been caught out lying continually in the past. That doesn’t mean they are wrong in this instance, but they have a shitty track record at telling the truth, especially when it involves Russia. Does that mean you should or shouldn’t trust his findings on collusion? I don’t care. Trust or don’t trust. Up to you.

      9. Assange, on the other hand, has an excellent track record of exposing lies and telling the truth, at least as far as we know. That said, he might be lying in this instance, or just plain wrong. I have no evidence either way. So I’m neutral on the issue.

      10. If Russia *did* hack the DNC and leak it to Assange, I don’t really care. Good on them both. The leak exposed the Clinton / DNC corruption, and a lot more, including France’s motivations for destroying Libya, so the leak was in the public interest and I applaud whoever was behind it.

      11. Was all of the hype around collusion justified? Apparently not, if Mueller couldn’t find enough evidence to charge anyone with conspiracy. So why did the hype exist? Maybe the media, supposedly made up of professional and highly trained journalists and editors who are good at being objective, just got carried away? Like they did when they told us Saddam had WMD. But Cicero told us to always ask “cui bono” (who benefits)? Who benefited from two years of collusion delusion? The media sold a ton of papers and tv advertising, which boosted their revenues. The DNC got to distract people away from their own corruption (as revealed by the leaks) and how they screwed the Sanders campaign during the primaries – and eventually lost the election to a buffoon who didn’t even want, or expect, to win. Did these parties deliberately distract the American population with the collusion delusion? I don’t know. I have no evidence to support those theories. But I would love to know.

      The LONG version:

      To avoid having to repeat myself over and over: my point over the last could of years has never been that Trump isn’t dirty or guilty of all sorts of crimes. On the contrary – I assume he is dirty. What I’ve been going on about for the last couple of years has been that the COLLUSION narrative that everyone has been obsessed with was based on zero evidence. Having meetings with Russians was not illegal or evidence of collusion – it was evidence of having meetings with Russians.

      As for people saying there was evidence but just “not enough for indictment”, I think that’s heavy spin doctoring. Conspiring is like being pregnant. It’s a binary situation. Saying “but they french kissed” does not mean there is evidence they are pregnant. An agreement to conspire on something is black and white. Either they agreed to conspire or they didn’t. There isn’t any way to have a partial agreement.

      Over the last couple of years, a lot of people told me I was insane / naïve / a dupe because I wouldn’t agree with the collusion narrative. They assumed Trump (or his campaign’s) guilt, I gather, because it’s what they wanted to believe. But, of course, it turns out I was right (at least according to the Mueller Report).

      And I’m highly amused that those same people are now either: a) denying they ever claimed there was / believed in collusion, b) trying to spin it into “but but but what about cover ups?” or c) saying “but but but he’s a criminal.” Instead of being honest and saying “yeah we sure did jump the gun on that one and maybe we should learn to think before we buy into media narratives.”

      I think the questions we should be asking now are:

      Who created the narrative?

      What did they hope to gain?

      Why did the media push it for two years when it was obviously bullshit from the get-go?

      And why did you buy into it?

      And before you say something about “Russian interference in the democratic process”, a) that isn’t new, b) we didn’t need this investigation to tell us that and c) there’s already ongoing investigations into that, has been constantly for 100 years.

      Investigations are fine, have as many as you want. But investigating the foreign interference in domestic politics is something the FBI gets paid to do and has been doing for nearly a century. Russians attempting to interfere in American elections has been going on since 1930. Nothing surprising about it. FBI files are full of it. Pretty much all J. Edgar Hoover ever thought about.

      It should be pretty clear to everyone by now that the whole COLLUSION!!! narrative we’ve had for two years was overblown and that *someone* had an agenda behind it. Was it the Obama administration trying to deflect attention from their failure to stop the Russians? Was it the DNC trying to deflect attention from how they fucked Sanders and lost the election? Was it the media just profiting from the chaos? Was it Wall Street who continued to bleed America dry and run their foreign wars while everyone was distracted by nonsense? Was it a little of all of those things? I don’t know the answer – BUT I think those are the right questions to be asking about now because THAT is what is destroying America’s democracy. Not the Russians. Not Trump. It’s the forces that allowed Trump to get elected in the first place.

      Amy Goodman interviewed Noam Chomsky recently and asked him to explain the Trump presidency. At the 48 minute mark he nails the move of both major parties to the right since the 1970s, and how the GOP managed to balance their primary constituency – big business and the wealthy – whilst also targeting small but passionate niches – the religious right and gun owners. He also explains why Russiagate was such a bunch of nonsense.

      I would have hoped that after the whole “Saddam has WMD!” furor 18 years ago, Americans – especially those on the “left” – would have developed a better bullshit filter when it came to interpreting the US media. Apparently they aren’t ready yet. Here’s a handy guide for what to do the next time you hear something in the news which maps into your confirmation bias.

      The way people are doubling down on their commitment to the Russiagate narrative reminds me of how members of a doomsday cult act then the big day doesn’t happen. They don’t acknowledge they were wrong. They are too invested in their beliefs. So they often become more fervent than ever before. American politics has become, more than ever before, a matter of religious fervour – even for the atheists.

      One other thing I’ve suspected over the last year or so is that Trump (and his father before him) actually has real connections to Russian mafia via Semion Mogilevich, Bayrock, Felix Sater, etc. We talked about those on BFTN 4 and BFTN 18. I’m quite surprised Mueller didn’t report on that or Trump’s reported tax fraud (as discussed that on BFTN 21).