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Textile Protectionism in the Trans-Pacific Partnership

July 23, 2013 in Economics

By Daniel J. Ikenson

Daniel J. Ikenson

One of the very first acts of the very first Congress of the United States was to impose tariffs on imported gloves, hats, and clothing. That temporary protection was bestowed in 1789, when the small U.S. economy was agrarian, and textile and clothing production represented America’s industrial future. Two and one quarter centuries later, textile protectionism is alive and well, and features prominently on the U.S. agenda in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations to forge —wait for it…wait for it —a “21st Century” trade agreement.

Rather than compete on quality and price with the world’s few textile producers for the business of the world’s multitude of apparel producers, the U.S. textile industry has convinced the U.S. government to do its bidding.”

In the 224 years since the first Congress, textile and apparel protectionism has been a continuous feature of U.S. trade policy. High tariffs, “voluntary” export restraints, safeguard restrictions to limit the effects of “market disruption,” 30 years of comprehensive import quotas under the Multifibre Arrangement, antidumping and countervailing duty restrictions, “special safeguard mechanisms” related to China’s entry into the WTO (which were used to effectively extend quotas for three years), carve outs, and convoluted “rules of origin” in trade agreements to ensure the contentedness of America’s textile magnates have defined U.S. policy since the founding of the republic.

This analysis (Threadbare Excuses: The Textile Industy’s Campaign to Preserve Import Restraints) gives much of the background, with this bulletin (Cutting the Cord: Textile Trade Policy Needs Tough Love) providing some additional detail. But following is a brief rundown of the elements essential to understanding textile protectionism in the context of the TPP negotiations.

Although people speak of the “textile and apparel industry,” as if it were one in the same thing, they are distinct industries. Textile production is capital-intensive, sophisticated in its applications, and concentrated in rich locales (e.g., U.S., Canada, EU, Hong Kong, Korea, Taiwan), with a few exceptions (e.g., China, India, Turkey, Pakistan). Textiles (yarns and fabrics) are the central inputs for apparel production, which is labor-intensive, involves, primarily, the cutting and sewing of fabric, and is dispersed in developing countries across the globe. Although there is still some apparel manufacturing in the United States —primarily companies producing uniforms for the military (protected by “Buy American” provisions of the Berry Amendment) and smaller-scale operations serving the high fashion markets in New York …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Sen. Rand Paul Speaks at Veterans of Foreign Wars 144th National Convention- July 22, 2013

July 23, 2013 in Politics & Elections

…read more

Source: RAND PAUL

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Courier Journal Op-Ed: Changes needed in military handling of sex assault

July 23, 2013 in Politics & Elections

If you are a victim of sexual assault, you shouldn’t have to fear work reprisal if you report it. You shouldn’t have to report it to your boss.
I think every elected official would agree that sexual assault has no place in our military. Since 1992, secretaries of defense have stated time and time again that the Department of Defense (DoD) has ‘zero tolerance’ when addressing sexual crimes.
Yet year after year, case after case, the status quo remains and complaints are brought before Congress.
The vast majority of our service members are honorable and upstanding individuals. In the instance when one is accused of a serious crime, especially one of assault in any form, the allegation needs to be taken seriously. It is also important that conflicts of interest never impact the proper prosecution of a crime.
Commanders play a decisive role in maintaining order and discipline throughout their ranks. Unfortunately, allowing commanding officers, many of whom are not legal experts, to have complete authority to decide which cases should proceed to trial limits the justice-seeking process for many members of our military.
Information provided by the DoD demonstrates that the current system for addressing these accusations is failing.
According to the DoD, 50 percent of victims admitted that they did not report crimes because they believed nothing would be done with their report. In the FY2012 Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office report, 74 percent of females and 60 percent of males encountered one or more barriers to reporting sexual assault. Sixty-two percent of victims who reported a sexual assault indicated they perceived some form of professional, social, and/or administrative retaliation for their reporting.
This represents a failure to defend the rights of alleged victims – many of whom we call upon to defend this nation.
The Pentagon estimates that 26,000 members of our military experienced unwanted sexual contact in 2012. It has also been reported that 23.6 percent of female veterans have a history of military sexual trauma. These statistics cannot be ignored, which is why I have joined Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) in supporting the Military Justice Improvement Act.
This act allows for the determination of prosecution of certain crimes which are not unique to the military to be transferred outside of the chain of command to military officers with significant trial or court martial experience.
Determining the prosecution of major criminal conduct should be decided by attorneys – legal experts working outside of the chain …read more

Source: RAND PAUL

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Ending a Dangerous Game

July 23, 2013 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

US should change its approach to territorial disputes in East Asia and make its conduct match its statements of neutrality

Washington must exercise great care or the United States could become entangled in an assortment of volatile territorial disputes in East Asia.

Recently, the most prominent and potentially dangerous dispute has been between China and Japan over the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea. But disagreements continue to simmer between China and Vietnam and the Philippines, regarding parts of the South China Sea.

US should change its approach to territorial disputes in East Asia and make its conduct match its statements of neutrality.”

The Barack Obama administration insists that the US is neutral regarding all of these disputes, but US actions, especially over the past three years, belie such professions of neutrality. Washington has increasingly become involved, and in every case, US policy has tilted toward any claimant other than China.

That is an unwise course, since it encourages some nations, especially US treaty allies such as Japan and the Philippines, to adopt uncompromising stances and reduces the prospects for compromise solutions. A policy so biased against China also has the potential to poison the US’ crucial economic, diplomatic, and strategic relationship with a re-emerging great power in the international system.

Washington needs to change its approach quickly and make US conduct match its statements of neutrality.

Washington’s interest in the South China Sea disputes has grown dramatically in recent years. In a July 2010 speech before a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton emphasized that Washington had important interests at stake in the South China Sea and proposed a “collective regional solution” that projected a mediation role for the US.

The visit of then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to Vietnam the following June further highlighted Washington’s escalating involvement, as well as a noticeable bias against China’s claims. Panetta’s underlying goal was to gain access to the harbor at Cam Ranh Bay for US warships. Referring to the so-called US strategic pivot to East Asia, Panetta told reporters that the US would “work with our partners like Vietnam to be able to use harbors like this”.

With the South China Sea as a visual backdrop, he added “it is very important that we be able to protect key maritime rights for all nations in the South China Sea”. It was probably no coincidence …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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How to Make the Government Behave

July 23, 2013 in Economics

By Richard W. Rahn

Richard W. Rahn

Most people who work in government have no problem giving their real names and telling you what they do, but there are exceptions. Those who are engaged in real undercover work for government intelligence agencies or certain law enforcement agencies have a legitimate need to keep their identities secret, but they are a tiny fraction of all the people who work for government. However, what we are seeing is that too many other people in government, notably at the IRS, use pseudonyms when dealing with the public. The claim is that they need to do this to protect themselves from irate taxpayers. In reality, IRS personnel are no more in danger than many others in both the public and private sectors who have to deliver bad news (including economic columnists). All too often, the main reason for not giving the taxpayer a real name is for IRS officials to avoid taking responsibility and to cover for a lack of knowledge about the case and/or the tax law and regulations.

In many parts of the country, the local property-tax official is very public and even sends the tax bills with his or her name on it. Property taxes are painful for many people, and assessments are always somewhat subjective; yet, it is rare for these tax officials to be maltreated. When a policeman stops a motorist for an alleged traffic violation, the motorist is often unhappy, but the policeman almost always gives his name, in part to defuse the situation by making it a discussion between real people rather than a nameless state functionary.

The way to stop government abuse is by refusing to submit to it.”

During the congressional hearings into the most recent IRS scandals, the acting commissioner repeatedly admitted that the IRS had given “terrible customer service.” (Note: In IRS-speak, the coerced taxpayer is a “customer.”) If the IRS employees really want to improve “customer service,” they could begin by regarding taxpayers as fellow citizens who want to be treated as something more than a number by those whose salary they pay.

As one example, the IRS sends out millions of “deficiency notices” each year to taxpayers who may or may not have made a mistake on their returns. The IRS notice starts out with “Dear Taxpayer” rather than using the taxpayer’s name in proper form. The letter is signed by the regional director of compliance rather than the person who actually wrote the letter and calculated the alleged deficiency. …read more

Source: OP-EDS