Beijing Fears COVID-19 Is Turning Point for China, Globalization | RealClearPolitics

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While the world fights the coronavirus pandemic, China is fighting a propaganda war. Beijing’s war aim is simple: shift away from China all blame for the outbreak, the botched initial response, and its early spread into the broader world. At stake is China’s global reputation, as well as the potential of a fundamental shift away from China for trade and manufacturing.

Source: Beijing Fears COVID-19 Is Turning Point for China, Globalization | RealClearPolitics

“More broadly, the pandemic of 2020 has brought doubts about globalization into the mainstream. Decades of open borders, unceasing intercontinental travel, study abroad, just-in-time inventory systems, and the like have created unexpected vulnerabilities in populations and economies thanks to unfettered openness. To worry about such weaknesses is not to adopt a Luddite reactionary stance, but to try and salvage the bases of the post-World War II global economic architecture.  

“Those who assumed that global markets were the optimal economic model and would always work, now have to consider whether globalization is the best system for dealing with pandemics like coronavirus, let alone old-fashioned state power plays like China imposed on Japan back in 2010, when it blocked the export of rare-earth minerals over territorial disputes in the East China Sea. Perhaps the biggest long-term economic effect of coronavirus will be on long-standing assumptions about global supply chains. 

“Because of the way the global economy has developed since 1980, to question globalization today is in large part to question the world’s relationship to China. As Sens. Marco Rubio and Tom Cotton have pointed out, America and the world have a prudential responsibility to reconsider their dependence on China.”

Thoughts on family, fatherhood, work, and home-life… in a post-global age

The Tradwife Movement Reminds Us of the Virtue of Service in Marriage

There seems to be what I see as the beginning of a substantial backlash against many things we have taken for granted in culture and society for the last five or six decades in the Western world, and particularly in America. One of these is the notion that motherhood and homemaking is an inferior, subordinate role that oppresses and demeans women, and that women should therefore eschew it, and join men in the workplace. The rise of the “TradWife” (traditional wife) movement is part of the kickback against this – and one with which, in large measure, I agree.

I was raised by a traditional wife and mother: Ma never worked outside the home during my lifetime, although she did work as an English teacher during the first few years of her marriage to Pa. But not long after my oldest brother was born, she left “outside” work, and returned to the home. And there is no question that I benefited – we all did – from her ability to devote her full time and attention to being a wife, mother, and homemaker. We had clean clothes, a clean house, healthy, delicious homemade meals, baked deserts, and much else, thanks to her not needing to squeeze such things around full-time (or even part-time) work.

I also have no doubt that I was saved from many opportunities to “sin and err” by the fact that I knew she (or if she had to be away, my grandmother) would be there waiting for me when I got home from school! And no matter how far I roamed, through the woods and fields near my house, I never seemed to be out of the range of her call (a resounding “Tooommmmmmmmmm!”), that echoed through the air, come supper time – to the awed amazement of my friends, who were shocked that such a small person (she was all of 5’3″ in height) could call so loudly.

I empathize with the nostalgia for the immediate post-WW II era. Although I was born in 1965, I was in many significant ways a “child of the 1950s”: Ma and Pa were married then, and both my brothers were born in the ’50s (I was a late-comer, and rather a surprise, at the time!). So I get it! My concern about the TradWife movement, however – despite my admiration for many of the women involved, and my agreement with the basic premise that both women and their families are benefited by them being at home with and for those families – is that many or most of them seem to take the 1950s as their template for what a “traditional” wife should be, and do.
Continue reading “Thoughts on family, fatherhood, work, and home-life… in a post-global age”

Empty shelves: a rant on coronavirus and globalism

In which the Anglophilic Anglican goes off on a rare political rant. Rare on video, anyway! I do often rant in writing… *wry smile* My apologies in advance for the length and rambling nature of this!

 

Coronavirus reveals the weakness and danger of the “global economy”

Image result for us reliant on china for drugs

I certainly hope and pray that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic does not end up having the kind of global impact – and especially, is not as damaging and deadly here in the US, and in other Western countries, where cases have so far been few in number – as some doomsayers seem to take perverse pleasure in predicting.

But if nothing else, I hope it does point out the weakness and danger of globalism: both open borders, and the off-shoring of major chunks of our economy, especially manufacturing. Cheap consumer goods (and cheap – not to say exploited – labor) are not the only things that can circulate freely, in such an environment.

Perhaps most sobering is the fact that we are reliant on China – China, the source of the outbreak, and the country hardest-hit by it – for many of our drugs!

As this article from last month points out,

“Everything from antibiotics to chemotherapy drugs, from antidepressants to Alzheimer’s medications to treatments for HIV/AIDS, are frequently produced by Chinese manufacturers. What’s more, the most effective breathing masks and the bulk of other personal protective equipment — key to containing the spread of coronavirus and protecting health care workers — and even the basic syringe are largely made in China.”

Another article notes that “the Food and Drug Administration estimates that at least 80 percent of the active ingredients found in all of America’s medicines come from abroad – primarily China,” and asks us to “imagine if China turned off that spigot.” Or if we are forced to turn it off ourselves, due to issues like coronavirus! A third article points out the hazards of contamination of generic drugs manufactured abroad:

“What’s responsible for the repeated drug safety lapses? The offshoring of the American drug supply to China and, to a lesser extent, India during the past couple of decades.”

It continues,

“China and India now manufacture about 80% of the drugs consumed in the U.S. This figure understates China’s dominance because many of the active ingredients in the Indian manufactured drugs come from China. The U.S. doesn’t even manufacture vital drugs like antibiotics anymore [emphasis added], with the last penicillin factory closing in 2004.”

That is chilling, or should be.

Particularly in the face of the current situation, in which reliable supplies of drugs are critical! But unfortunately, as USA Today notes,

“The coronavirus outbreak is sparking fears of drug shortages in the U.S., largely due to its disruption of pharmaceutical supplies from China and India.  The Food and Drug Administration has warned of shortages in one drug due to the coronavirus, while penicillin shipments to the U.S. from China have dried up [again, emphasis added]. The FDA said it expects the outbreak of COVID-19 to cause ‘potential disruptions to supply or shortages of critical medical products in the U.S.'”

And to make matters worse, as yet another article points out, “the U.S. is woefully unprepared to address even minor disruptions in the supply of these drugs.” This article continues,

“Medicines can be used as a weapon of war against the United States,” Rosemary Gibson, a senior adviser on health care issues at the bioethics-focused Hastings Center and co-author of China Rx: Exposing the Risks of America’s Dependence on China for Medicine, told lawmakers last month. “Supplies can be withheld. Medicines can be made with lethal contaminants or sold without any real medicine in them, rendering them ineffective.”

Then there is the whole issue of “just in time” logistics, a primary feature of the modern economy. This may have cost and efficiency advantages when everything’s working smoothly, but it leaves us highly vulnerable to disruptions in overseas sources of manufacture and supply, whether these originate in pandemics like coronavirus, international conflicts, other forms of social or political disruption, rising fuel prices, or other causes.

While the issue is obviously most vital in the fields of pharmaceuticals and medical technology, the reality is that we need to seriously rethink our entire approach to the so-called global economy, starting with a clear-eyed understanding that independence and sovereignty begin with being able to supply our own needs from our own resources and manufacturing capability, here at home.

Anything less leaves us dangerously vulnerable to disruptions abroad.

 

Low unemployment isn’t worth much if the jobs barely pay | The Brookings Institution

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Source: Low unemployment isn’t worth much if the jobs barely pay

I am still struggling, myself, to be honest; but back when I was really struggling, I used to (try to) make this point on a number of occasions, when well-meaning friends and relatives tried to tell me that “any job is better than no job.”

Well, no, it isn’t. If it doesn’t make ends meet, it may be worse than no job at all, b/c it may make you ineligible for public assistance… and you still can’t live on it.

People who have never been abjectly poor have no idea how horrible a position that is to be in, and it is often in many ways the “working poor” who have the worst of it, because they are overlooked by most assistance programs: “oh, they don’t need help, they have a job.” Not necessarily true!

This is also why I am not in complete agreement with Mike Rowe, although I respect what he’s trying to do. It is also why I am distrustful of many conservatives’ faith in “the market” to do the right thing: “the market” is made up of fallible, mortal – and often greedy and selfish – human beings, and these do not always do the right thing.

Yes, there are a good number of jobs out there, looking for workers. That is true. But many (most?) of them do not pay a living wage. In which case, what I wrote above kicks in…

[Note: Although many people do it, taking a second job – and sometimes a third – is not really a viable solution long-term, either. I am leaving aside short-term stints, to get extra money for holiday shopping, a vacation, or maybe to fund an unusual purchase; I am also leaving aside “hustling” to turn one’s sideline into one’s career.

I’m talking about working two or more jobs, consistently, to make ends meet. The more hours you’re working, the fewer you have to a) look for a better job, b) perform ordinary but necessary maintenance / domestic tasks, and c) get the rest and sleep you need in order to perform any job(s) at a high level of efficiency.]

As the linked article points out, two-thirds (64%) of low-wage workers are in their prime working years of 25 to 54; more than half (57%) work full-time year-round, the customary schedule for employment intended to provide financial security; and about half (51%) are primary earners or contribute substantially to family living expenses (FWIW, I am currently in all three of these categories).

We have a problem, here, as a society; and we need to work together, as a society, to find reasonable, workable, and effective solutions. The problem is, we’re largely talking past each other.

The Left wants to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour, which has the effect of increasing automation, and forcing smaller businesses to lay off workers or even close. The neoliberal/libertarian Right says “just get a job” – which as both the article and my comments point out, isn’t necessarily, by itself, a viable solution to poverty.

I’m not sure what the solution is; if I knew, I’d be making tons of money, myself, from appearing on early-morning talk-shows and giving presentations to well-known think-tanks! But I do know we need to find one. If we don’t, the future looks dire, for a lot of people: and therefore, for society as a whole. This is important!

 


N.B. Perhaps this Chesterton quote, and the concept it embodies, may have relevance for us as we struggle toward a solution…

 

Small Beer: Raising a Glass for Freedom | The Imaginative Conservative

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Distributism is the only practical solution to the problem of rampant corporatism and the globalism which is its inevitable consequence. Next time we raise a glass of craft-brewed ale, we should not merely enjoy its flavor, we should also raise a toast to the political and economic freedom that it represents. (essay by Joseph Pearce)

Source: Small Beer: Raising a Glass for Freedom ~ The Imaginative Conservative

It doesn’t take the proverbial rocket-scientist to perceive the perils and pitfalls of socialism. Tens of millions of dead, and untold misery among the living, over the last century provide more than ample reason to view socialism as what it is: a tried-and-failed vision of political economy, a utopian ideal in the worst sense of the word (“utopia” means, literally, “no place” – a vision that is by its very nature impossible to achieve), a shipwreck foundered upon the shoals of its own misunderstanding of human nature.

What is less obvious – especially among many on the conservative side of the political aisle – is that capitalism doesn’t exactly enjoy a shining historical record, either. As a useful ally to Western liberal democracies (back when “liberal” meant something close to its original definition) during the long struggle against totalitarian Communism, being seen as the antithesis to Marxism, capitalism acquired something of a luster that it may not entirely deserve.

While capitalism has not (so far, at least) sent anyone to the gulags, that does not mean its effects have been entirely benign, either.

Continue reading “Small Beer: Raising a Glass for Freedom | The Imaginative Conservative”

We Are Ruled By Mercenaries Who Feel No Long-Term Obligation To The People They Rule | Tucker Carlson

“The goal for America is both simpler and more elusive than mere prosperity. It’s happiness. There are a lot of ingredients in being happy: Dignity. Purpose. Self-control. Independence. Above all, deep relationships with other people. Those are the things that you want for your children.”

Source: Tucker Carlson: We Are Ruled By Mercenaries Who Feel No Long-Term Obligation To The People They Rule | Video | RealClearPolitics

Paleo-conservative commentator Tucker Carlson hits the nail squarely on the head! To his inestimable credit, he steers between the Scylla of socialism, and the Charybdis of mercantile plutocracy to place conservatism in its proper context: protection of family, culture, and society.

“Donald Trump rode a surge of popular discontent all the way to the White House. Does he understand the political revolution he harnessed? Can he reverse the economic and cultural trends that are destroying America? Those are open questions. But they’re less relevant than we think. At some point, Donald Trump will be gone. The rest of us will be too. The country will remain. What kind of country will be it be then? How do we want our grandchildren to live?

“These are the only questions that matter. The answer used to be obvious: the overriding goal for America is more prosperity, meaning cheaper consumer goods. But is that still true? Does anyone still believe that cheaper iPhones, or more Amazon deliveries of plastic garbage from China are going to make us happy? They haven’t so far. A lot of Americans are drowning in stuff. Yet drug addiction and suicide are depopulating large parts of the country. Anyone who thinks the health of a nation can be summed up in GDP is an idiot.”

Amen! There is a world of difference between mere economic standard of living – which has been slipping for decades, anyway – and quality of life. Far too many, on both sides of the political aisle, absolutely fail to realize or appreciate that fact! Economic solvency is essential to life and security. Until one is economically secure, one has difficulty focusing on the higher things, as I have reason to know from my own experience.

FDR, liberal progressive though he was, was absolutely correct when he asserted, in his so-called “economic bill of rights,” that “true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. Necessitous men are not free men,” and called for, among other things,

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation

The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living

The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad

The right of every family to a decent home

The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health

The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment.

These ought not, in my opinion, to be arguable. We may argue about how they may best be accomplished; but not, I believe, about the fundamental principles themselves.

Note that FDR starts, not with “entitlements,” but with “a useful and remunerative job,” and the rights to “earn enough,” to “raise and sell [one’s] products,” and “to trade.” Only then does he move on to what is sometimes called the “social safety net,” for those who, for reasons beyond their control, suffer from “old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment.” That is putting things in their proper order!

Note also that (despite the expression “second” or “economic bill of rights”) these were “proposed not to amend the Constitution, but rather as a political challenge, encouraging Congress to draft legislation to achieve these aspirations.”

At any rate, economic security, grounded in fair and equitable employment, and a fair and equitable return on one’s investment – whether capital or labour – is essential for a reasonable quality of life. But prosperity, for its own sake, or as an absolute goal, is not only an illusion, it is an idol. Here’s Tucker Carlson again:

“The goal for America is both simpler and more elusive than mere prosperity. It’s happiness. There are a lot of ingredients in being happy: Dignity. Purpose. Self-control. Independence. Above all, deep relationships with other people. Those are the things that you want for your children. They’re what our leaders should want for us, and would if they cared. But our leaders don’t care. We are ruled by mercenaries who feel no long-term obligation to the people they rule. They’re day traders. Substitute teachers. They’re just passing through. They have no skin in this game, and it shows. They can’t solve our problems. They don’t even bother to understand our problems.”

As a Christian and a traditionalist, I would add a proper relationship with God, and the pursuit of the Good, the True, and the Beautiful, to the list of ingredients required to be fully happy! But Carlson, of course, is speaking to a wider audience, and I cannot disagree with anything he says, here.

The problem is that our supposed “elites” are generally made up of neoliberals and neoconservatives who are basically two sides to the same coin. I strongly recommend that you read and/or listen to all of Carlson’s rather epic monologue! But as he accurately points out,

“Both [libertarians – which include many who claim to be either “liberal” or “conservative,” politically and socially – and social conservatives] miss the obvious point: culture and economics are inseparably intertwined. Certain economic systems allow families to thrive. Thriving families make market economies possible. You can’t separate the two…

“[Doing so] is negligence on a massive scale. Both parties ignore the crisis in marriage. Our mindless cultural leaders act like it’s still 1961, and the biggest problem American families face is that sexism is preventing millions of housewives from becoming investment bankers or Facebook executives.”

Yet (as Carlson points out) a culture which set up investment bankers or Facebook executives as the goal for which we ought to be striving is, itself, a big part of the problem! As I say, economic prosperity, pursued for its own sake, is not only an illusion, but idolatry. In contrast, Carlson asks us to consider:

“What kind of country do you want to live in? A fair country. A decent country. A cohesive country. A country whose leaders don’t accelerate the forces of change purely for their own profit and amusement. A country you might recognize when you’re old. A country that listens to young people who don’t live in Brooklyn. A country where you can make a solid living outside of the big cities. A country where Lewiston, Maine seems almost as important as the west side of Los Angeles. A country where environmentalism means getting outside and picking up the trash. A clean, orderly, stable country that respects itself. And above all, a country where normal people with an average education who grew up no place special can get married, and have happy kids, and repeat unto the generations. A country that actually cares about families, the building block of everything.

Amen!

“What will it take a get a country like that? Leaders who want it.”

Which means, of course, that we the people will have to elect them! And / or, pressure our existing leaders to behave more like the servants of the people they are supposed to be, and less the “mercenaries” of which Carlson speaks.

“For now, those leaders will have to be Republicans. There’s no option at this point. But first, Republican leaders will have to acknowledge that market capitalism is not a religion. [emphasis added] Market capitalism is a tool, like a staple gun or a toaster. You’d have to be a fool to worship it. Our system was created by human beings for the benefit of human beings. We do not exist to serve markets. Just the opposite. Any economic system that weakens and destroys families isn’t worth having. A system like that is the enemy of a healthy society.”

Again, amen. Amen and amen!

Read the essay, or listen to / watch the monologue. It’s worth it!

And then, let’s do what we can to work toward that sort of country. We had it once, and therefore we can again.