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[Letters] Corporate welfare disguised as ‘free trade’

Dec 10,2010
The governments of both the United States and South Korea have heralded the free trade agreement between the countries as a watershed event that benefits both sides.

But there’s more to this than meets the eye. Aside from just “winning” in some metaphorical sense, the corporate players that will come out on top in the game of state-capitalism scored a virtual coup.

The fulcrum of our economic system - a zero-sum game with winners and losers - lies in maneuvering the utensils of the state to sidestep true free trade, and the rules of the game make that a breeze for established participants.

The U.S. economy, assuming that we understand it to be more than just its corporate oligarchy, is the real loser in agreements like this one, which underpins what Murray Rothbard accurately branded a “cartelized economy.”

By implying that the success of, for example, “big agribusiness” and American car companies is the success of the U.S. economy at large, officials promote the idea that economic historian Robert Higgs’ book “Against Leviathan” traces to economic fascism, that “[corporate] interests, when properly organized and channeled, are the people.”

Parallel to Obama’s praise of the deal, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak called the development a “win-win” for the two countries.

Lee’s is an accurate enough appraisal, but the win-win extends only to the elite. In other words, it supports the continuing affiliation between corporate and state power.

The Export-Import Bank of the United States underwrites loans to struggling corporations at the expense of taxpayers. The bank dishes out enormous subsidies, amounting to billions of dollars, to corporate marauders that exist through a combination of government contracts and various methods of theft-sponsored life support.

The business ventures of all of us lowly commoners have to proceed - to either sink or swim - without the help of the risk-offsetting assurances of the federal government.

But the likes of General Motors and Boeing get the buffer of the bank and the government’s Overseas Private Investment Corporation.

Free trade agreements between states create a whole range of freedoms for the chosen peers of the realm - freedoms to steal and preclude competition.

The average American gains nothing through the U.S.-South Korea deal, not new jobs or greater opportunities.

Instead, he is forced to defray the cost of corporate advantages that surge his cost of living skyward and prevent the kinds of small-scale interactions that could truly ameliorate his workaday life.

Anyone who supports real free trade, not sheer corporate welfare and dominance, ought to have serious qualms where these agreements are concerned, recommending instead across-the-board free trade, the kind that might someday exist between all individuals.


David D’Amato, lawyer in the U.S.



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