Monday, 21 May 2012

Mulcair's Dutch Disease Warnings: Nothing New

There's been a lot of hay made recently over Thomas Mulcair's concerns about Dutch Disease. While I'm currently over midway through a substantive post on the merits of his arguments, I would like to remind all those folks in the media of something: THIS IS NOTHING NEW!!!!

The left and centre-left has been concerned about the hollowing of the manufacturing base in Canada, the lack of any competent (green) industrial policy, the uneven playing field trade deals that prohibit environmentally based fines as "tariffs" create1, and a whole host of other domestic manufacturing related concerns. Mulcair even spoke at the Winnipeg Free Press cafe about "Dutch Disease" and how crucial the concept is to his campaign, a development this blog analyzed over a month before Canada's chattering class got up in arms over Mulcair's comments.

As Erin Weir - an economist with the Progressive Economics Forum - has pointed out, some of this is deliberate amnesia on the part of rightwing pundits. I wish most people had long enough memories to see the repeated, almost Orwellian, flips in the RAG Machine's narratives.  

1 The whole point of federal environmental regulations is to prevent a "race to the bottom" within the borders of a country. In the context of an open market, it makes sense to either apply existing federal environmental regulations - including their penalties - to both domestically produced and imported goods or to delegate regulatory power to a supranational organization that can enforce standardized regulations over many countries. Since supranationalism is in its infancy, there have been many cases of countries applying fines or extra costs to products made under conditions that fail to meet domestic environmental and safety regulations, but trade organizations have stricken a few of these down under the guise that they're "protectionist tariffs". Examples of this are illustrated in Peter Singer's One World: The Ethics of Globalization. Needless to say, selectively applying environmental regulations to certain countries creates an uneven playing field. It's also important to note that Peter Singer is no protectionist nationalist.

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