Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Philanthropy of Financiers: excerpt 1

"workers will have to realize that they are now competing for jobs against people who ride to work every day on bicycles, own only one pair of shabby sandals, and are prepared to live with their families crammed into tiny apartments" (-Robert Brusca, chief economist, Nikko Securities (New York)).

Bill Clinton, prefers more uplifting language than Brusca - take for example a little talk the president gave upon his arrival in Seattle for the Pacific Rim summit on November 18 [1993] - Clinton had nothing to say about shabby sandals - instead, speaking at the Boeing airfield - a company made mighty in part by decades of Pentagon contracts, a nice irony given repeated US insistence that Europe cut its aircraft subsidies on free trade principles - the president urged the employees of the US's largest exporter, to work even harder - "I ask you here to continue your resolve in the face of adversity to be an example to the rest of our nation, that we can compete and win in this global economy."

unlike Reagan-Bush, who believed in naked "free trade," Clinton believes in a free trade dressed up with "supports" - like a few pennies thrown into retraining, a timid industrial policy, and a misbegotten health care program - these mighty supports will, Clinton boasted in Seattle, "enable our people to compete and win in the global economy, and find more markets for our products and services" - finding more markets is key in a world where "fewer people can produce more things," Clinton said - it's not the relentless discipline of the global market itself that's bearing down on US living standards - it's just that American workers need a better routine and better coaching.

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