Friday, 10 August 2018

The risky interdependent world

Mike Robinson speaks on UK Column News, 26 July 2018.

"We`re starting with trade today," he says. "International trade, because that`s something that Theresa May`s been talking about a lot. Well, Liam Fox was talking about it yesterday at the Heritage Foundation in Washington. He was making the case for free trade."

"And he said, `In my first speech as the secretary of state for international trade I set out the case for an open and liberal trading environment, and the speech was in Manchester, home of the Industrial revolution and a city with iconic associations with free trade. That was nearly two years ago when trade barely registered on the radar of most of our media. Now of course it`s right at the top of NAFTA and all the rest of it, but he said: `It`s therefore a good time for us to examine our attitudes to trade from first principles and to measure them against our domestic priorities and international obligations`. And he started talking about Adam Smith and David Ricardo and he said, `Now of course since those days, since 1817, the world has changed beyond all recognition yet the experiences of globalisation and of technological advances, unimaginable in Ricardo`s time, have only served to validate his theory. The principles of free and open trade underpinned the multilateral institutions, rules and alliances, and helped rebuild post war Europe and the world beyond. It helped usher the fall of communism and tear down the iron curtain facilitating seventy years of global prosperity and have raised the living standards of hundreds of millions of ... human beings across the world`. `Indeed,`  he said, `free trade has allowed us to take one billion of our fellow human beings out of poverty in just one generation, one of the great achievements of history`. " 

"Well, what a liar ! Because let`s look at the Guardian. Here, this is some time ago. `UK government warned over sharp rise in child and pensioner poverty`."

"So Britain the bastion of free trade is experiencing the benefits of free trade, and poverty is rising as a result."

Brian Gerrish. "And that`s precisely what we`re exporting to the rest of the world... as resources are hoovered out of these countries."

"Absolutely. Well any parts of the world that we have any influence over, but if we contrast that with China, `China has almost wiped out urban poverty`...They haven`t done that through free trade ....mainly through having a development agenda."

"So let`s go back to Liam Fox again. `But effect of protectionism is as close to settled science as anything in economics will ever be: it means reduced productivity gains and lost economic growth`."

"So of course Britain being the bastion of free trade is not into protectionism but unfortunately Britain has falling productivity. So not quite sure where he`s going with that one either."

"So let`s get back to Liam. He said: `The global economy continues to rebound from the dark days of the financial crash and ensuing recession experienced by many large economies`."

Mike Robinson then points to another article in the Financial Times: `Nomura profits tumble 91% on fixed income, equities slump`, and then to the Wall Street Journal: `Prolonged Slump in Bond Liquidity Rattles Markets`.

"I don`t think you`re too right about that one either, Liam, but anyway we go on. He said: `In areas such as steel production we have seen new technologies enable us to produce the same output with far fewer employees`. That`s really good stuff there. Yes fantastic`."

"And in a separate part of the speech he said: `And worse, in a world of globalisaton where interdependence is increasing and where disruptions in one part of the world can quickly ricochet around the rest, our ability to act unilaterally with impunity is diminishing by the day`. "

"So this is supposed to be a speech about promoting free trade and here is the key point:  because globalisation and the British model of free trade, as is currently perceived, is one where we are absolutely interdependent on everybody else in an equally collapsing western world... because it`s the first world countries that we`re interdependent upon. So I wanted to highlight this in particular because, of course, as Brian mentioned yesterday Dominic Raab has been talking about the government stockpiling food and the excuse for the requirement to stockpile food was Brexit and the potential for No Deal and the issue of: `would we be able to import food any more from the European Union?`  And so I thought I`d have a little bit of a look at this in the context of Liam Fox`s comment about us being `increasingly in an interdependent world, and there being risks in that`."  

"So the quote on screen there: `It would be wrong to describe it as the government doing the stockpiling. And, of course, the idea that we only get food imports into this country from one continent is not appropriate`."

"Well, is that true? Well it turns out that Britain imports 50% of its fruit and vegetables, but on top of that, we are only able to produce 25% of the fruit and vegetables we consume in this country. So only 25% of what we eat is produced in the United Kingdom. Thirty percent of the fruit comes from Europe. Eighty percent of our vegetables comes from Europe. So I`m not quite sure how that ties in with Dominic`s idea that `we only get... imports ...from one continent is not appropriate`... Because of course the point here is that thirty percent and that eighty percent is all seasonal. So supermarkets import fruit and vegetables from Europe when it`s appropriate to do so and they import fruit and vegetables actually from other parts of the world, but south America in particular, during the winter months when it`s not being produced in Europe."

"So 50% of our fruit and vedge imported and we only produce 25% of what we consume in this country but Theresa May has a big plan, Brian. We don`t need to worry about it because she`s going to deal with farming and she`s going to deliver a farming policy which supports agriculture and improves the environment. So this is what she had to say:..."

"Scrapping the Common Agricultural Policy ... provides funds in return for public goods, like improving water quality, reducing emissions and planting wild flower meadows ... are fundamental to our new approach."

"So the fundamentals to Theresa May`s approach, bearing in mind that what has been highlighted by this is the issue of the potential of a No Deal Brexit, is the issue of food imports and the lack of independence in our capability of food production. We`re not going to produce more food because she`s going to scrap the Agricultural Policy and then she`s going to divert the funds into what has been described as public goods which is about turning farmland, productive farmland, into wild meadows."

Brian Gerrish: "Which of course is all Millenium Goals and Agenda 21..."

"Absolutely. So my question then comes down to this: why would we not want to be producing our own food? Is it that we`re not going to need food in the coming decades? I`m just going to remind everybody of the outstanding debt graph that we show from time to time and the key aspect of this on the right hand side of the doughnut there is ...[the] black hole ... in the ability to pay state pensions. Again, is the British government not expecting there to be too many old people left to pay pensions to in the coming decades?"

Brian Gerrish: "I think that`s exactly where they`re going, Mike, and I know at the moment we have a vast amount of information coming into the UK Column which is back on the subject of the deaths of particularly elderly people in the NHS. Of course an increasing number of people worried about the death statistics, Sir Brian Jarman being one of those people. Euthanasia is coming in which, unfortunately, we will be moving on to in a moment. So yeah I think the government`s agenda is there will be less people. David Cameron was talking about two million people diagnosed with dementia in 2050 I think the deadline for that. It could have been 2040 ... And the inference is we need to get rid of those people."

Mike Robinson: "So if we take everything that Liam Fox is saying and we put it with what Dominic Raab was saying and also with the realities of food production in this country, and pension provision in this country, the picture`s not looking too good and well maybe we should be having more serious conversations about this because this is a result of government policy and not something which is unavoidable. It`s absolutely avoidable and if we were looking at productivity and developing our farming industry in this country and our food production in this country we`d be in a much better position."

Brian Gerrish. "Absolutely. Well as we move through the news today I think we`ll be looking at some of those policy areas. But let`s come in with just this statement. We decide who lives and dies and only we. Now I took this headline because I was going to talk about Boris Johnson in a minute. But somebody else flagged up a headline which we really have to cover and it`s this one. Dutch doctor reprimanded for `asking family to hold down euthanasia patient` This is truly truly disgusting. And it gives us a glimpse of where we`ll be going in this country because there`s many people pushing to follow Holland on this. But the story is a doctor has been formally reprimanded by the Dutch medical complaints board for carrying out euthanasia on a 74-year-old woman with dementia, despite her resistance."

"The woman refused a cup of coffee containing a sedative and when she struggled, the doctor asked her husband and daughter to hold her down so she could insert a drip containing the lethal injection."

"The case is the first time since the Dutch euthanasia law was passed in 2002 that a practitioner has been formally censured. According to the Dutch NOS broadcaster, the public prosecutor will announce after the summer if the doctor will face criminal prosecution."

"So we`re now into the heart of it. We have euthanasia whether you like it or not. It`s coming into western European policy and, of course, the Dutch lead on this has already been pushed and pushed to come in through the UK system. MM, the lady had dementia; she`s held down and she`s effectively, in my terms, murdered. For whose benefit? Well presumably the state, because the state, ultimately, didn`t have to pay for her care."

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