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This from the Washington Post, reporting on Secretary Tim Geithner’s appearance before the Senate Finance Committee on Feb 10, 2009.
Geithner just stood up to further government intrusion into corporate boardrooms, a move that will hearten and perhaps surprise economic conservatives.
Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) was upset to learn that some companies receiving bailout money are offshoring jobs to save money. He wondered if the government shouldn’t require that such companies employ Americans, in addition to the limits on executive compensation they’re now facing.
“I do not believe we can put ourselves in position of raising the prospect where government comes in and directly manages at great detail the choices [companies] make,” Geithner said. “Ultimately, we will end up costing the economy and taxpayers much more.”
Geithner said that he is “deeply offended” by “many of the judgments” top executives have made, clearly referring to big bonuses and other perks. “But the important offsetting obligation we have is to not create the prospect that the government is going to come in and make decisions for institutions that want to remain in private hands,” he said.
Brown replied that it is “not very reassuring to hear” that a company is offshoring.
“I don’t think your answer is cavalier, but I do think it implies something I don’t like to hear,” said Brown, who clearly wanted to hear that more government conditions will be placed on companies getting bailout money. “I hope you will revisit that, and we will do all we can to make sure you revisit it.”
The bottom line is, companies can take money from the Federal government, then go out and hire cheap labor abroad so as to make the maximum profit. The American worker, it would appear, is once again left in the cold in this nifty piece of bypass surgery. Why is this any different than the Liar’s Loans made famous by the subprime scandal?
That an American Secretary of the Treasury could be so unconcerned by this — ‘cavalier’ is indeed the correct word — should set aside any doubt that the Obama administration is a worthy follower to the Clinton and Bush administration in its unconcern towards the draining of the nation’s wealth.
It is funny that people like Clinton and Obama who speak about recycling and its role in the environment don’t get it when it comes to money. Capital is just as much a resource as any other, more difficult to make than to conserve. Geithner’s insouciance (I also caught the exchange on C-SPAN) was breathtaking. But he is hardly alone.
So devoted is the political class to free trade. one is frequently reminded of Lenin’s words about capitalists selling their executioners the very rope with which they would be hanged. Still, economic nationalism (see American Swadeshi) is on the comeback, and not all of Barack Obama’s caution will hold it back. Here’s Pat Buchanan, long a opponent of Free Trade, has to say in a recent article titled, “Buy American — or Bye-Bye, America” (Once a Kucinich slogan):
For the stimulus bills of both Houses have a “Buy American” provision mandating that in “public works” only U.S. iron, steel and manufactures be used. The provision came out of the appropriations committee of the House on a 55-to-0 vote.
The Senate watered it down by declaring the Buy American provision must be consistent with all U.S. trade commitments. But Congress is sending a message: The rebuilding of America is to be a project of, by and for Americans, not outsourced. Sen. McCain’s free-trade amendment, to strip all Buy American provisions from the bill, was routed 65 to 31
The reaction of Barack Obama, a NAFTA skeptic in 2008 with bumper stickers that read, “Buy American, Vote Obama,” was to genuflect to the gods of globalism and recant his economic patriotism.
“I think it would be a mistake … at a time when worldwide trade is declining, for the United States to start sending a message that somehow we’re just looking out after ourselves,” he told Fox News. We don’t want to “trigger a trade war,” he told ABC.
And since when has “looking out for ourselves” become unbecoming of an American president? They still don’t get it. Where did all the loose credit lead if not right where we are? If we simple provide more credit without assuring jobs, how can people repay? To paraphrase Huckleberry Finn, “[we] been there before”.
A friend of mine who now lives in Dubai said this about the Dubai ruler’s philosophy. People from all over the world flock have been flocking to Dubai for jobs and good living. The ruler’s philosophy is, “I want you to make good money, but I want you to spend it all in Dubai”. The ruler is an internationalist for inflowing capital, but nationalist in the matter of outflows. Barack Obama and Tim Geithner are the latest to star in the decades-long “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” economic burlesque that has left the country in a financial anemia.
The old saw is that those who do not study history are destined to relive it. But what of those whom history has just punched in the nose, getting set to do the same thing all over again? That species is named Globalistus Americanus. As adaptive as the household cockroach, and evidently, just as corrosive to its host.
NIRANJAN RAMAKRISHNAN is a writer living on the West Coast. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. American Swadeshi, by NIRANJAN RAMAKRISHNAN, June 26, 2004, Counterpunch