Wednesday, March 30, 2011

When It Comes to Selling His Own Book, Ian Fletcher Must Believe Free Trade DOES Work

Nobody in recent months has expressed more public opposition to free trade than Ian Fletcher, see "Ten Problems With Free Trade"  and "The Social Snobbery of Free Trade" for some examples of his anti-free trade vitriol.  In the last link, he accuses President Obama of being a "free trader," and that accusation alone should give you a good idea how much an "anti free-trader" Fletcher really is.   

Given his stated opposition to free trade, I was surprised to receive the email invitation below from Ian Fletcher inviting me to engage in free trade and incur a household trade deficit by buying his book "Free Trade Doesn't Work."  
"Hi.

The 2011 edition of my book Free Trade Doesn’t Work is now available! Thiis edition has updated statistics, political analysis revised to include the events of 2010, and a few minor sharpenings of its economics.

The book is on Amazon, but you can get it at a 60 percent discount if you go to this page and enter discount code UU2N84E6. If you want to help without buying anything, please go to the book’s Amazon page and give it a favorable review, as the reviews from the original edition do not automatically carry over.

Best Regards,
Ian Fletcher
Senior Economist
Coalition for a Prosperous America
225 Bush St., 16th Fl.
San Francisco, CA 94104 USA
Well, now I'm really confused.  How could a guy who believes free trade doesn't work be asking me to engage in free trade and "import" his book from California into my household, and subject my household to a trade deficit with him? After all, the inevitable conclusion of the philosophy that free trade doesn't work is total self-sufficiency at the household level.  In a letter to Ian Fletcher in January Don Boudreaux pointed this out by reminding Fletcher that his anti-trade position would mean that "The path to riches is for each household to write and print its own books!" .... and NOT purchase or "import" Fletcher's book. 

And Fletcher is not just engaging in free trade by trying to sell his books, isn't he also engaging in the predatory, cutthroat and unfair trade practice of "dumping" his books on the American market by offering a 60% discount?

44 Comments:

At 3/30/2011 9:17 AM, Blogger Methinks said...

I refuse to subject myself to trade imbalances with Ian Fletcher. Until he buys something from me, I refuse to buy anything he produces.

 
At 3/30/2011 9:37 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

methinks-

if not sure that there is even and exchange rate favorable enough that i would buy his book from him.

i wouldn't trade a paper clip for it.

unlike his book, paper clips are useful.

 
At 3/30/2011 9:44 AM, Blogger juandos said...

Two properties of liberals are at play here that seem painfully obvious to me...

1) liberals tend to be totally ignorant of what they're speaking about either deliberately or due to some sort of congenital condition...

2) liberals are thorough going hypocrites due their inability to have more than a tenuous grip on reality and the hypocrisy gets them through the rough patches...

One needs to look no further than the editorial staff of the New York Times...

 
At 3/30/2011 12:33 PM, Blogger Sean said...

After all, the inevitable conclusion of the philosophy that free trade doesn't work is total self-sufficiency at the household level.

This is why you will never make inroads with people that don't already agree with you: they understand you better than you understand them. I agree that free trade ought to be the goal, but this extrapolation shows that you miss the point: that the terms and effects of trade matter. Externalities exist, bargaining power has scaling effects, etc.
That doesn't mean I agree with Fletcher, but statements like this are simply wrong.

 
At 3/30/2011 12:38 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"If you want to help without buying anything, please go to the book’s Amazon page and give it a favorable review"

Fletcher is also asking you to act as a shill for his book, by giving him a good review without having read it.

 
At 3/30/2011 12:45 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"Fletcher is also asking you to act as a shill for his book, by giving him a good review without having read it"...

Bingo Ron H!

 
At 3/30/2011 1:22 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Sean

"That doesn't mean I agree with Fletcher, but statements like this are simply wrong."

While the idea of self sufficiency at the household level is obviously silly, I believe that's the point. Everyone, no matter what their position on free trade, can agree that it's silly. Everyone agrees that trade with others is a benefit for all.

The discussion can then move to every widening political boundaries, to a point where disagreement occurs. At that point, a meaningful discussion of free trade is possible, with a mutual understanding of what is not in dispute.

Most often, this divergence of opinion seems to occur at national boundaries. Keeping in mind that it is individuals, and groups of individuals as companies, and not nations, who engage in trade, the question asked by those in favor of free trade, is why this imaginary line should make so much difference? Why, does trade cease being beneficial beyond this line?

 
At 3/30/2011 1:32 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

juandos

"Bingo Ron H!"

This seems to be fairly common with Amazon reviews. If there are comments on a review, the reviewer is sometimes forced to admit that they haven't actually READ the book. But, they just KNOW, based on the title, subject, or author, that they can express an opinion on it without actually taking the time to read it. Amazing stuff.

 
At 3/30/2011 3:57 PM, Blogger Evergreen Libertarian said...

People also need to quit being conned by freedom of speech. Too many ideas just confuse people. Same with freedom of religion. They get exposed to the wrong kind of god. And that freedom of association they'll just start mixing with the wrong people.

 
At 3/30/2011 4:25 PM, Blogger Sean said...

While the idea of self sufficiency at the household level is obviously silly, I believe that's the point.
I think MP actually believes there is an equivalence to be shown between restriction on trades among groups regardless of size. Then I'd have to equate pollution externalities with preventing my son from buying ant farms or something like that. But a household is not the same as a nation: there are qualitative differences.

Keeping in mind that it is individuals, and groups of individuals as companies, and not nations, who engage in trade, the question asked by those in favor of free trade, is why this imaginary line should make so much difference? Why, does trade cease being beneficial beyond this line?
That is an excellent question. I would imagine for some people the answer is that the government has sufficient force and authority to actually implement a trade restriction while other entities lack the capability. And because the government has a virtual monopoly on the application of force, there's no special need to fear an unresolvable conflict of interest with another powerful entity in those borders (except with the government itself). That leads to a "everyone in the country is on the same team" mentality with regards to these things.
But to really defend the difference, I'd have to take a position both against free trade and for government intervention, and I don't really want to do that. Even if I could successfully construct a defense limited the defense to narrow hypothetical terms I could actually believe in, I'd surely be mistaken for a much nastier position.

 
At 3/30/2011 7:43 PM, Blogger michele said...

If you read Ian's book like I have, you wouldn't speak so disparagingly of it. First of all, we don't have free trade; we have unfair trade where every "free trade" treaty gives more advantages to our trading partners than the U. S. Second, we are going against predatory mercantilism by China, India, and Korea just like Japan did previously to destroy industries such as our TV industry. I am not a liberal Democrat. I am a conservative, "tea party" Republican who has worked in the manufacturing industry nearly all of my career. I am the author of the book "Can American Manufacturing be Saved? Why we should and how we can." Once upon a time, our country was self sufficient and was the leading exporter in the world.
Michele Nash-Hoff, President, ElectroFab Sales

 
At 3/31/2011 3:16 AM, Blogger Ron H. said...

michelle

And, if you read Henry Hazlitt's book "Economics In One Lesson", especially chapter XI which discusses tariffs, or even better yet, Adam Smith's "The Wealth of Nations", you wouldn't take Fletcher's book so seriously.

Adam Smith had this to say:

"In every country it always is and must be the interest of the great body of the people to buy whatever they want of those who sell it cheapest. The proposition is so very manifest, that it seems ridiculous to take any pains to prove it; nor could it ever have been called in question, had not the interest sophistry of merchants and manufacturers confounded the common sense of mankind."

You are correct that trade treaties between countries are seldom in the best interest of all parties, but this should argue for the elimination of such treaties, and lifting of all restrictions on trade, so that individuals and groups of individuals,(sometimes called companies) can trade with whover they want, wherever they want.

At it's basis, free trade is a voluntary exchange between two parties of something they have, for something they want more. both parties are better off.

The fact that TVs are no longer made in the US is something to celebrate, not lament, as we no longer have thus low margin products tying up our valuable resources. We have TVs cheaper than we could possibly buy them if made in the US, and have more money to spend on other things. In other words , we are wealthier.

Here's what Milton Friedman had to say about free trade and the US steel industry.

Do you understand that the following statement is internally inconsistant?

"Once upon a time, our country was self sufficient and was the leading exporter in the world."

If a country is self sufficient, there can be no exports or imports. Exports must be paid for by imports, or the exporter is giving things away for free.

In other words, if there is exporting, there must be importing, in which case a country is not self sufficient.

 
At 3/31/2011 3:40 AM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Sean

"I think MP actually believes there is an equivalence to be shown between restriction on trades among groups regardless of size."

I also believe that's true at most levels. While not quite as silly as household self sufficiency, the same basic principles apply. How would you view restrictions between US cities or states?

Adam Smith said this:

"In every country it always is and must be the interest of the great body of the people to buy whatever they want of those who sell it cheapest. The proposition is so very manifest, that it seems ridiculous to take any pains to prove it; nor could it ever have been called in question, had not the interest sophistry of merchants and manufacturers confounded the common sense of mankind."

I used this quote in another response on this thread, but I like it so much I don't mind using it again.

"I would imagine for some people the answer is that the government has sufficient force and authority to actually implement a trade restriction while other entities lack the capability."

And just why is government interference in the form of a trade restriction a good thing?

"And because the government has a virtual monopoly on the application of force, there's no special need to fear an unresolvable conflict of interest with another powerful entity in those borders"

If I understand this correctly, it means that one need not fear trading with someone under the same political jurisdiction, as government will enforce contracts and punish fraud.

While this protection doesn't extend beyond the political boundary, trade with someone who fails to honor agreements or who commits fraud will not be able to continue in business due to bad reputation. This is probably as strong a protection as any government enforcement.

"Even if I could successfully construct a defense limited the defense to narrow hypothetical terms I could actually believe in, I'd surely be mistaken for a much nastier position."

Please don't spend any time on this if you think I'll misunderstand it. :-)

 
At 3/31/2011 7:49 AM, Blogger Sean said...

Please don't spend any time on this if you think I'll misunderstand it. :-)
Ouch! I'm not worried about you jumping down my throat over something I didn't say or mean, but you can't tell me that's never happened to me in this forum :) Anyway, I'll need some time to formulate my response.

 
At 3/31/2011 10:36 AM, Blogger Sean said...

How would you view restrictions between US cities or states?
Typically the arbitrage for jobs and investments is done through tax codes. I think they lack the authority and power to regulate trade. But mainly, mobility among states is very high compared to among nations, management of trade externalities through orthogonal means is easy, etc. etc. There are lots of reasons why it makes no sense.

For Adam Smith's quote, the problem is that people reduce costs *to them*. This is fine, as long as there are no externalities. Costs that you incur on others should be exposed to you, and courts are an extremely blunt tool for cases that impose externalities that are difficult to measure. That's the reason why we use pollution regulation instead of smog damage being handled in the courts.

And just why is government interference in the form of a trade restriction a good thing?
It is always carries a negative overhead. One could hypothesize cases where the ability to expose externalities through trade regulation might be worth the cost. If the global warming effects of carbon were proven and quantified, a carbon tax on imports (as well as domestic production) might make sense, for example.

This is probably as strong a protection as any government enforcement.
One of the great frustrations of companies that want to manufacture in China is that this doesn't work as well in practice as in theory. The cost of a reputation is hard to measure, and so many mistakes are made where too much trust is given.

 
At 3/31/2011 12:35 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

"But a household is not the same as a nation: there are qualitative differences."

not any that affect the argument of free trade.

if it is beneficial for my household to trade with yours, why would it not be beneficial for mine to trade with one in canada?

what qualitative difference does that make?

 
At 3/31/2011 12:53 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

If the global warming effects of carbon were proven and quantified, a carbon tax on imports (as well as domestic production) might make sense, for example.

that seems doubtful even if we make the assumption that AGW is true (which i view to be a wildly unfounded assumption, just for the record).

environment is a luxury good. it behaves in every way just like one. before a certain point, you consume almost none. after becoming sufficiently wealthy it is a bigger and bigger % of consumption.

thus, you see forestation and water and air quality improving in the US and EU for the last 3-4 decades.

thus you also see it deteriorating in places like china where they have not tipped over into being wealthy enough to forgo production for environment.

erecting tariffs on their exports just keeps them poorer and pushes them day when they are wealthy enough to desire to consume more environment out further into the future.

and even then, we are making assumptions about the cost of preventing AGW relative to the benefits from doing so. if it cost 20% of world GDP to cool the earth .3 degrees, is that really worth it? is warming even harmful? the medeival period, roman period, and minoan period were all much warmer that the present and were times of flourishing civilization. the dark ages and the little ice age were times of great hardship due to the cold. CO2 is plant food. it raises crop yields considerably. ask anyone who runs a commercial greenhouse. i suspect CO2 production is a positive externality, not a negative one.

also, nearly every kind of pollution is much more local in effect. why would be want to erect tariffs that would encourage polluting activity here when others are wiling to do it for us somewhere else?

the last thing we want is to import pollution.

 
At 3/31/2011 1:36 PM, Blogger Sean said...

morganovich,

that seems doubtful even if we make the assumption that AGW is true (which i view to be a wildly unfounded assumption, just for the record).
I am leaving the assertion a hypothetical so as not to be rat-holed on an issue for which valid debate exists that is outside of my range of personal knowledge. But I know very smart and well-informed people that only accept debate in terms of "how much", not "whether".


1. environment is a luxury good.
Slightly cleaner air or slightly cleaner water are luxury goods. Having your island nation sink underwater or having your rice paddies flooded with seawater with any frequency don't fit that category. Neither does having Chernobyl in your back yard (no, I'm not in the anti-nuclear fear club, but the example holds). The number of assumption behind this statement are staggering.

2. thus you also see it deteriorating in places like china where they have not tipped over into being wealthy enough to forgo production for environment.
China has made a choice to accept local pollution in the name of growth. It's a reasonable choice. Others are also reasonable.

if it cost 20% of world GDP to cool the earth .3 degrees, is that really worth it? is warming even harmful?
A valid question. Certainly, a cost-benefit analysis would be required. A recent special on npr focused mostly on the economic cost of dealing with climate change. The scientists basically admitted that in steady state, a warmer climate might be just fine, but the cost of adjustment would be large. If we could quantify that, we could compare it to the cost of curtailing pollution.


why would be want to erect tariffs that would encourage polluting activity here when others are wiling to do it for us somewhere else?
We wouldn't. And I never said we should. Read my actual words before you fly off the handle: I actually implied the reverse should be true. To make a decision, you'd have to weight jobs, pollution, etc. And yes, you should absolutely err on the side of no interference at all.
But what we'll be discovering is that pollution is less local that we thought, and will become even less so as human capacity increases. I'd bank a lot of money on that.

 
At 3/31/2011 1:42 PM, Blogger Sean said...

morganovich,

not any that affect the argument of free trade.

if it is beneficial for my household to trade with yours, why would it not be beneficial for mine to trade with one in canada?


Since I'm generally for free trade, my list of valid examples must be small. I gave the example of pollution: the ability of one family to affect pollution is negligible. The ability of every family in the nation to affect and be affected by pollution must be somewhat greater.
The nature of a government association is also different: you could imagine situation where trade might have national security concerns, although I admit they are likely rare. Generally, the externalities of a trade on a household level are likely to be negligible: on a national scale, that might not always be the case.

 
At 3/31/2011 2:43 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Sean

"China has made a choice to accept local pollution in the name of growth. It's a reasonable choice. Others are also reasonable."

Based on that, can I assume that you don't oppose free trade with China, considering that the environmental externalities are known and accepted?

That doesn't mean "balanced", or "fair" trade, just that you can voluntarily trade with anyone you wish to in China, without interference by government.

 
At 3/31/2011 3:11 PM, Blogger Sean said...

Ron H.,

Based on that, can I assume that you don't oppose free trade with China, considering that the environmental externalities are known and accepted?
I don't. But if we wanted to reduce *worldwide* carbon output based on solid evidence that it would do us harm (rather than just cause local pollution effects) and China had no interest in discussing the issue with us, then hypothetically a carbon tariff on Chinese goods might be a reasonable response (as long as we were willing to impose similar taxes/regulations on ourselves).

 
At 3/31/2011 3:26 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Sean

[cities and states] "I think they lack the authority and power to regulate trade."

That's correct. The one true purpose of the Commerce Clause is to "make regular" trade among among states, and prevent barriers or restrictions from being erected.

That the clause has been tortured and abused beyond all recognition, is a separate subject.

 
At 3/31/2011 4:15 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Sean

"Having your island nation sink underwater or having your rice paddies flooded with seawater with any frequency don't fit that category."

If you are using these as examples of harm from sea level rise due to climate change, you should be aware that the real causes may be something else, although still the result of human activity.

In the Maldives, for example, fishing with dynamite during the 1940s damaged many natural coral barriers, allowing the full force of ocean waves to reach the islands. Also, the removal of protective material for use as building material has allowed more rapid coastal erosion to occur. The effect of any sea level change in this area is miniscule in comparison.

The Maldivian people have basically used up their fragile coral island, and are now asking rich countries to bail them out (pun intended), by blaming actions by those countries for their plight.

If your example of rice field flooding is Bangladesh, you should be aware that rather than sea levels rising, the problem is that the Ganges river delta is sinking due to human interference with the flow of the river, mainly by buildings dams which trap sediment before it reaches the delta. Before the dams were built, annual flooding deposited sediment in the delta region, renewing land lost to natural erosion.

This is occuring world wide to river delta regions. Some are better prepared to mitigate the effects than a poor country like Bangladesh.

Another example often cited is the city of Venice, Italy, which is build on a marsh into which it is slowly sinking. Sea level change has little to do with it.

 
At 3/31/2011 4:38 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Sean

"A valid question. Certainly, a cost-benefit analysis would be required. A recent special on npr focused mostly on the economic cost of dealing with climate change. The scientists basically admitted that in steady state, a warmer climate might be just fine, but the cost of adjustment would be large. If we could quantify that, we could compare it to the cost of curtailing pollution."

May I recommend Bjorn Lomborg's excellent book Cool It, which addresses this very issue in depth, comparing and conttasting the various costs of adaptation and prevention.

If you use m's drastic example of 20% of gdp going to prevention, in only 3 1/2 years, the world would be only half a as wealthy as it would be without that 20% redirection. That's one hell of a lot of adaptation, as opposed to attempting to prevent something that may not be affected by the methods used.

 
At 3/31/2011 6:45 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Sean

"I don't. But if we wanted to reduce *worldwide* carbon output based on solid evidence that it would do us harm (rather than just cause local pollution effects)..."

There are real pollutants, and then there's CO2. I can't lump them together. China seems to be willing to accept the consequences of real pollutants for now. I believe, as morganovich does, that at some level of well being, people are able to raise their noses from the grindstone, so to speak, and look around at their environment. At that point, they begin to work to protect or improve it. The less one has to spend staying alive, the more they can spend on "luxuries", like clean air, water, etc. Before that level, people are too busy merely scratching out a living to worry about such things.

"...and China had no interest in discussing the issue with us..."

Which is, in fact, the case.

"then hypothetically a carbon tariff on Chinese goods might be a reasonable response (as long as we were willing to impose similar taxes/regulations on ourselves)"

Whether a tariff for any reason has any effect on the target country is debatable: What's not, is that it ALWAYS harms the country that imposes it. In the case of China, I suspect that any reduced exports to the US would be made up for by increased exports to other countries.

You should be aware that I'm not interested in reducing CO2 emissions.

 
At 3/31/2011 9:12 PM, Blogger Sean said...

Ron H.,

I find it interesting that you recognize examples of people destroying their local environment in ways that are quite harmful in the long run, in ways that range from hard to predict to simply shortsighted, and yet the basis of your argument is that group A could never destroy the environment of group B?

As I said, the argument for tariffs would have to be based on a solid analysis that they would avoid more harm than they would cause. I accept that you are not interested in reducing carbon emissions based on the belief that they are not a threat, but if someone else's emissions (of any kind) damaged us, would we not have cause to respond?

 
At 4/01/2011 11:52 AM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"...and yet the basis of your argument is that group A could never destroy the environment of group B?<"

I don't believe I made that argument. What did I write that gave you that impression? I pointed to examples of purported harm from sea level rise caused by AGW, that in reality are something else entirely.

In other words, claims that rich contries burning fossil fuel, now owe compensation to others for damage caused by that action, are without merit.

"As I said, the argument for tariffs would have to be based on a solid analysis that they would avoid more harm than they would cause."

I agree, but without any further analisys, I can tell you that any tariff always harms the country that imposes it, and in the case we are discussing, the benefit from attempting to modifying someone else's behavior is far from clear.

"I accept that you are not interested in reducing carbon emissions based on the belief that they are not a threat, but if someone else's emissions (of any kind) damaged us, would we not have cause to respond?"

Yes, but a tariff isn't likely the most effective method. We always, as individuals and as groups, have a right to defend ourselves from harmful action by others. This harm, however, must either be demonstrable, or clearly understandable as an immediate threat so the proper remedy or compensation can be determined.

My shooting someone who breaks into my house would be an example of an immediate threat, followed by the appropriate remedy.

 
At 4/01/2011 1:42 PM, Blogger Sean said...

Ron H.,

"...and yet the basis of your argument is that group A could never destroy the environment of group B?<"

I don't believe I made that argument

No, but you seemed to be heading swiftly in that direction. For me, the important logical chain is:
1. Environmental damage can be real
2. Environmental damage can be inflicted by others. For example, Mexico might have a river running into it from the US that carries pollutants into Mexico from factories north of the border.
3. If pollution is a by-product of (perhaps inefficient) production, reducing consumption from the offender directly reduces pollution and may also serve as pressure to induce cleaner production, but is not necessary to have some effect. The lost local consumption might be a reasonable cost for this effect: that's what must be weighed.

I found it interesting that you were so ready with arguments that pollution damage was self-inflicted. I certainly can't argue: these examples of environmental issues were relayed to me as examples of climate change: I don't have deep knowledge there.


I can tell you that any tariff always harms the country that imposes it, and in the case we are discussing, the benefit from attempting to modifying someone else's behavior is far from clear.
Generally you ca't count on changing another party's behavior unless you are the customer funding the behavior in the first place.


Yes, but a tariff isn't likely the most effective method.
Pretend a cluster of factories in a neighboring country were spewing toxic chemicals into a river that fed your small country's water source (filterable, but at a cost). Now assume they are a major trading partner for you country. What's your preferred recourse?

 
At 4/01/2011 11:48 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Sean

"I found it interesting that you were so ready with arguments that pollution damage was self-inflicted."

What pollution damage are you talking about? are you sure you're responding to MY comments? If you mean the examples of alarm over sea level rise that weren't due to sea level rise, then pollution had nothing to do with them.

"I certainly can't argue: these examples of environmental issues were relayed to me as examples of climate change: I don't have deep knowledge there."

Why don't you acquire your own knowledge on the subject instead of relying on what someone else has told you to believe? If you are going to express an opinion, I should think you would want to discuss it from a position of knowledge, rather than just repeating what others have said.

I have read a great deal, and studied the subject of climate change extensively in an effort to understand it as best I can, as I have felt it is extremely important. While I certainly don't claim any expertise, I recognize the commonly repeated claims of catastrophic sea level rise you offered, as the thoroughly debunked propaganda it is.

If you are really interest, I can recommend some excellent reading on the subject.

"1. Environmental damage can be real"

Correct.

"2. Environmental damage can be inflicted by others. For example, Mexico might have a river running into it from the US that carries pollutants into Mexico from factories north of the border."

Correct.

"3. If pollution is a by-product of (perhaps inefficient) production, reducing consumption from the offender directly reduces pollution and may also serve as pressure to induce cleaner production..."

Correct in principle, but as a practical matter, it's not clear how this can be achieved effectively.

The tariff you recommend means asking every consumer of a product to pay more for it, in hopes of reducing the amount demanded, and thereby reducing production and its attendent undesirable externality.

This is an uncertain method at best. the producer may just increase efforts in other markets, leaving the tariff enforcers with all pain & no gain.

"Pretend a cluster of factories in a neighboring country were spewing toxic chemicals into a river that fed your small country's water source (filterable, but at a cost). Now assume they are a major trading partner for you country. What's your preferred recourse?"

First of all, I just have to ask: Why is it that factories so often choose to "spew" toxins? It doesn't matter if it's into water, the air, or onto the ground. There are no other material they deal with in this way, and no other process in which they use this method. It is only the elimination of toxins.

What if they were to just "discharge" or "discard" toxins?

You have used this word for its effect, so that sensible people can't help but wrinkle up their noses in disgust at the image it evokes.

Sean, water rights and riparian law have been established for centuries from earliest common law. There is nothing new about it these days except the type of undesireable substances in question. There international agreements to cover almost any imaginable disagreement, and I don't argue against them. There are also the courts, which can hear international claims.

In other words, this problem already has solutions.

 
At 4/02/2011 9:02 AM, Blogger Sean said...

Ron H.,

If you mean the examples of alarm over sea level rise that weren't due to sea level rise, then pollution had nothing to do with them.
Yep, sorry.

If you are really interest, I can recommend some excellent reading on the subject.
I am constantly surprised at how well read some members of this forum are on those types of issues. The truth is, as far as reading material goes (outside of software, computer engineering, and fiction), I wouldn't have an idea where to start, except google. And in many cases, that's only one step better than the hearsay I've been using, as I've been exposed to some truly horrible material pretending to be scholarly. But yes, I am curious what you read on the subject.


This is an uncertain method at best. the producer may just increase efforts in other markets, leaving the tariff enforcers with all pain & no gain.
Absolutely.

First of all, I just have to ask: Why is it that factories so often choose to "spew" toxins?
I picked a word to fit my mood. Yes, spew is a more emotionally-laden word, mostly because it's anthropomorphic. "Discharge" is less personal, and I would typically use the word to sterilize the description of weapon fire. "Discard" usually refers to refuse you will never hear from again, not the connotation I wanted.

In other words, this problem already has solutions.
The solution is that people make an agreement? Otherwise they go to an international court? I'm a little confused because I had gathered (again, from offhand statements) that getting such agreements was anything but trivial, that wars have been fought over such things.

I'm irritated at my ignorance here, but I'm hesitant to just go out and read a bunch of garbage. Of the dozen or so people I converse with regularly at work, none of them seem really interested in talking about any of these topics, so I tend to be short on references.

 
At 4/02/2011 1:54 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Sean

"The solution is that people make an agreement? Otherwise they go to an international court? I'm a little confused because I had gathered (again, from offhand statements) that getting such agreements was anything but trivial, that wars have been fought over such things."

You are correct that wars have been fought over such disagreements for all of recorded history. Over centuries, the idea of avoiding bloodshed through the use of agreements and treaties has arisen.

Here are some links. I will just paste them here so you can copy & paste them yourself. If I create too many links, I'm afraid Dr. Perry's spam filter will devour my comment.

This is just a general discussion of international agreements, and covers mostly navigation. Note the bullet point about the Danube river.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_waters

This should provide some good info on international agreements.

http://www.transboundarywaters.orst.edu/database/interfreshtreatdata.html

Note in particular that there are a number of such treaties covering the example you provided of a US factory sending toxins to Mexico.

http://ocid.nacse.org/tfdd/treaties.php

This is not a subject of which I have any great knowledge, in fact none. I just know that the concept of A damaging the environment of B is not new, and that solutions had been found over the centuries. I found the above links by starting with a Google search of the phrase "international agreements on water rights".

Here's something general on international litigation:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_litigation

 
At 4/02/2011 1:55 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

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At 4/02/2011 2:01 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 4/02/2011 5:04 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Sean

"I am constantly surprised at how well read some members of this forum are on those types of issues."

My excuse is that I'm retired. I have more time than you poor working stiffs. :-)

"...I've been exposed to some truly horrible material pretending to be scholarly."

There seems to be a never-ending supply of it, as alarm sells, and careful analysis doesn't.

"But yes, I am curious what you read on the subject."

OK, first let me say that you are one of very few commentators I have encountered anywhere, who will admit to not having all the answers.

The material I will recommend, you understand, presents a skeptical view of the concept of Catastrophic AGW. Not a total rejection of the possibility of AGW, just the notion that it is catastropohic, and that we must do something drastic immediately to counter it.

Nowhere is the physics of CO2 warming from exposure to IR energy questioned, only the overall importance of this effect in the real world.

First I would recommend Andrew Montford's "The Hockey Stick Illusion" For a thorough, well written and, in my opinion, fair minded treatment of the history of the "Hockey Stick" and the controversy surrounding it.

Next I would recommend "Taken By Storm" by Essex and McKitrick. A fairly technical discussion of climate and science, and a somewhat irreverent treatment of the popular pronouncements on the subject.

Next, for a totally irreverent, but not innaccurate treatment of the subject of CAGW and its proponents,especially Al Gore, I recommend "the Politically Incorrect guide to Global Warming and the Enviroment" By Christopher Horner.

As you read these, addition scources of information will present themselves, that you may find of interest

For a better understanding of why it seems ridiculous to seriously discuss global temperature and changes to it of 10ths or even 100ths of a degree, as is often done with a straight face, see the following on the accuracy of US weather stations, which for the most part, don't meet the standards required. Keep in mind that 1/2 of all the world's weather stations are in the US, which covers 2% of the Earth's surface, and that stations in other parts of the world are likely even less reliable, and you can begin to appreciate the problem..

In other words, it's possible that the margin of error is greater than the measured trend.

See: www.surfacestations.org/ a project started Anthony Watts, a former weatherman, who became concerned when he found that a weather station in his area was obviously not cited correctly and couldn't possibly be accurate.

www.wattsupwiththat.com

I can't remember to who, but I have previously recommended Bjorn Lomborg's "Cool It". He believes that AGW is a real concern, but perhaps not as catastrophic as some claim. He suggests that adaptation may be a more reasonable approach than reduction in CO2 emissions. He points out that wealthy, developed countries can likely adapt easily to any adverse effects of climate change, so the solution is to encourage world prosperity, rather than making everyone poorer by turning off the lights.

All these books are available from Amazon, some you can 'look inside', some are available used. Some or all may be available from your local public library.

 
At 4/02/2011 5:25 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Sean

Speaking of fiction, I would highly recommend Michael Crichton's "State of Fear". As are all of his books, in my opinion, this one is a great story with enough science thrown in to make it sound plausible.

The story is basically one of intrigue involving science, the environment, and a sinister group of villains. It could even be interpreted as a story about a climate change conspiracy.

You may recall what an uproar it caused among the ranks of CAGW alarmists. They accused Crichton of playing fast and loose with the truth, and creating a work of...fiction. Imagine that. Talk about thin skins. One argument was that readers are apparently too stupid to recognize fiction even when it is presented as such.

 
At 4/02/2011 5:42 PM, Blogger Sean said...

Ron H.,
Thanks, I'll keep that in mind: my dad may actually have the book, because I think I remember him talking about it. I've read the Andromeda Strain and a few others by him. Generally interesting and creative stuff. :)

 
At 4/03/2011 1:52 AM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Sean

That should read:

"...he found that a weather station in his area was obviously not sited correctly and couldn't possibly be accurate.

 
At 4/03/2011 11:42 AM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Sean

"I've read the Andromeda Strain and a few others by him. Generally interesting and creative stuff. :)"

One of my favorites is "Eaters of the Dead", later retitled "The Thirteenth Warrior", from which the movie of that name was made.

 
At 4/04/2011 8:54 AM, Blogger Sean said...

One of my favorites is "Eaters of the Dead", later retitled "The Thirteenth Warrior", from which the movie of that name was made.
Interesting. I kind of liked "The Thirteenth Warrior", although it was certainly a bit strange and somewhat hard to follow. I didn't know it came from a Michael Crichton book. I might have to check that out.
If you're looking for something more in the fantasy side but still intelligent, though, check out someone like Robin Hobb, Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, or George RR Martin. I'd recommend Brandon Sanderson, as well, but he doesn't quite have the military or history background to make some of his settings feel quite real, even if his plots and characters are excellent.

 
At 4/04/2011 2:47 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Sean

"I kind of liked "The Thirteenth Warrior", although it was certainly a bit strange and somewhat hard to follow."

This seems to happen a lot with movies made from books. The book is much better. Perhaps knowing the story helped me follow the movie. But still, I thought it left a lot out.

Jurassic Park was a much better treatment of a Crichton book.

I see that both "State of Fear" and "Eaters of the Dead / The 13th Warrior" are available at my local library. Perhaps they are at yours also.

Thanks for recommendations. I will check them out.

By the way, in case you missed them, my comments that were held up are now on this thread.

 
At 4/04/2011 9:46 PM, Blogger Sean said...

Certainly, the book tends to be better than the movie whenever both are available. If you do check out the recommendation, I'd start with Ender's Game: it's a classic. George RR Martin's writing is brilliant, but his series isn't finished, so that would be a frustration. :) From Robin Hobb, Assassin's Apprentice and the associated trilogy are what I'd recommend: it's a trifle maudlin but amazingly poignant.

By the way, in case you missed them, my comments that were held up are now on this thread.
I saw that, and I've bookmarked the web pages and the Amazon listings. My local library has a pretty poor selection except for children under 12, but I have some gift cards from work I was planning to use.

 
At 4/04/2011 9:48 PM, Blogger Sean said...

Ron H.,

Oh, and thanks. :)

 
At 4/04/2011 10:43 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Sean

"I'd start with Ender's Game: it's a classic."

OK, I will. I see it's available at my local library. I'm about due for some fiction. Everything has been economics & history lately.

Please let me know what you think when you have read the books.

 
At 4/06/2011 8:48 AM, Blogger Sean said...

Ron H.,

Will do. Thanks. :)

 

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