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Safety last August 20, 2019

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Mentioned the Observer earlier in the week and another piece from it at the weekend was particularly stark in terms of outlining what a future UK/US trade deal would look like post-Brexit. Phillip Inman pointed out that rightwing governments have long sought a cheap food/cheap energy policy approach in order to allow for tax cuts for the rich and deregulation – the idea being that when people are in work and if they have access to low cost food and energy then even quite stagnant wage increases are more ‘bearable’. And this is telling:

Free-trade ministers like Liz Truss, Dominic Raab and even the prime minister understand this too. Give the people low-cost food and lightly taxed energy and they won’t complain much when employers say the wage bill must be kept under control to maintain shareholder dividends and bosses’ bonuses. To a great extent, this urge to lower costs through tax cuts and deregulation was the motivation for the rich elite (on both sides of the Atlantic) to promote a clean break with the high-tax, regulation-heavy EU.

That should be no surprise, but the relevance to a UK/US trade deal is that:

Locked into the EU’s common agricultural policy, UK producers had some protection from foreign competition and prices were kept relatively high.

A trade deal with the US provides the opportunity to marry cheap energy to cheap food. However, the shift to cheap food involves a philosophical gear change, one that has been clear since the US started negotiations with the EU over trade under the Obama administration….The difference between the two sides centres on safety. US regulators believe the only test of food is whether it is safe or not. Beyond this, the state abdicates responsibility. If the consumer wants livestock to be treated decently, they can choose to pay the producer more.

And consequently any deal will “protect US corporations from consumer boycotts, and – in a nod to Benjamin Netanyahu – prevent boycotts of Israeli companies too. Along the same lines, big tech firms must be allowed to bundle products in the name of efficiency, giving them the room to build the monopolies that the EU has denied them.

Of course free marketeers like Truss, Raab and even Eustice, even if they can reconcile themselves to the destruction of much UK farming, will find this export of US protectionism hard to swallow (along with American chicken, which has rates of campylobacter infection 10 times higher than in the UK, despite the chlorine wash). But to achieve the goal of cheap food and cheap tech, swallow them they must.

There’s no way around that, and that is the unspoken compact. There are, needless to say spokes that can be thrust in the wheel. For example Inman notes that despite John Bolton’s proposing sector/industry specific deals domestic US lobbies such as the farm industry will not allow that sort of approach and they ‘put him right’ after his comments. Which is interesting if only because it suggests Bolton knows not that which he speaks of. But Inman seems pessimistic that UK consumers will feel exercised sufficiently to stymie any such deals.

Comments»

1. EWI - August 20, 2019

Of course free marketeers like Truss, Raab and even Eustice, even if they can reconcile themselves to the destruction of much UK farming, will find this export of US protectionism hard to swallow

I suspect that the supposed ‘free marketeers’ will find any corporate interest demands just fine, as this is the constituency on whose behalf they pretend to believe that particular bit of fiction in the first place.

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2. tafkaGW - August 20, 2019

This crowd (assuming it’s not bluffing) means to use a no-deal Brexit to reconfigure the British state into an Orbánist neo-liberal-nationalist authoritarian state with an even stronger identification with the US power block.

The implicit private-public online surveillance, disinformation and propaganda partnerships that already exist between the US-headquartered transnationals and the US-British deep state will be strengthened.

Unfortunately practically all the RoI’s data runs through the UK. If they chose to pull the plug then you could kiss goodbye to much of the RoI tech sector.

New cable between the RoI and the rest of the EU bypassing the UK is urgently needed. IFC-1 (due Q2 2020) for some reason runs through UK territorial waters. And even has a branch through Cornwall. Doubtless to hook up with GCHQ’s data slurpers.

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EWI - August 20, 2019

Unfortunately practically all the RoI’s data runs through the UK. If they chose to pull the plug then you could kiss goodbye to much of the RoI tech sector.

As you surmise, this is no coincidence but very likely by design so that the decades-long British tapping of all Irish comms can continue.

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yourcousin - August 20, 2019

I’m not sure if Orbanist and Neo liberal go together quite that easily. Orbanomics in my mind would run counter to the traditional Neo liberal order.

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