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Topic: The Awesomesauce of Globalism (Read 11790 times)

Re: The Awesomesauce of Globalism

Reply #50
Seeing a graph cut off like that always makes me wonder it they're trying to make a temporary blip look really important. :P

Re: The Awesomesauce of Globalism

Reply #52
About 30 victims from about 30 countries? Impressive. (Oh wait, I realized victims != deceased.)

Re: The Awesomesauce of Globalism

Reply #53
Tricky to pick the right thread, Finding the best system of economy or
Today's Good News, but here we are.

Janet Yellen calls for a global minimum tax on companies. Could it happen?

CORPORATE TAXATION is one of the thorniest issues in international economic policy. Janet Yellen, President Joe Biden’s treasury secretary, and a former head of the Federal Reserve, is duly weighing in. On April 5th she grabbed the attention of the occupants of corner offices worldwide with a speech to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. The headline was a call for countries to agree on a global minimum tax rate for large companies.

Such a levy, Ms Yellen said, would help “make sure the global economy thrives based on a more level playing field”, and would help end a “30-year race to the bottom”. Though the idea of a minimum tax raises hackles in tax havens in the Caribbean, parts of Europe and farther afield, many other big economies will welcome America’s renewed commitment to multilateralism on tax after the prickly unilateralism of the Trump years.

Over the past decade, growing corporate-tax avoidance has met with a growing backlash. Breakneck globalisation allowed multinationals to replace fears of double taxation with the joys of double non-taxation, using havens to game the system. By exploiting mismatches between countries’ tax laws, taxable profits could be cut or even made to disappear. The game became easier with the rise of intangible assets, which can be shifted between jurisdictions more easily than buildings or machinery. Big tech has been a big beneficiary: the five largest Silicon Valley giants paid $220bn in cash taxes over the past decade, just 16% of their cumulative pre-tax profits.


Re: The Awesomesauce of Globalism

Reply #54
Ah! Thank you again, jax: You bring up the most interesting (far reaching) topics but too you present them with your thoughtful viewpoint.
First, I'd answer the question you pose (I've not followed your links yet...): No. Not only will it not happen, it would be calamitous if it did. A regime of global taxation presumes a world of homogeneous circumstances, economies each on a par with the others. Without an overarching administration of some pretense at world government, such a monolithic conception of political economy will suffer the same fate the United Nations has: It will be perverted to the various ends -ends which preceded it and which it was presumed to frustrate- and become not just useless but a home for the more sinister motives, natural and normal though they be, of men. Human nature is what it is; imperfect, of course -but also im-perfectable. Motives run the gamut, and none will be denied some power. And even the best of motives guiding the most practiced and faultless endeavor will sometimes fail: Stuff happens, will or no.
The first War the U.N. sanctioned remains still today in a state of truce... The created state of Israel, although the only democratic state in its area and arguably the most successful and prosperous and precocious bit of civilization to be found there, is hated by many -it's demise or dissolution actually plotted by some of its neighbors. Attempts to help as often as not hinder: DDT is banned and perhaps millions die of malaria needlessly; tent netting replaces mosquito abatement, which -the netting- provides employment for the idle poor of some very poor nations and profit for those who rule in splendorous aloofness from the squalor of these... Golden corn, offered free, as a cure for vitamin deficiency-caused debilitating malady is rejected -because entrenched power structures inculcate mistrust in technology; a case of Better the Devil You Know? Or a case of Keep, Protect and Preserve those you can control?
From the IPCC to the WHO, politics at its most viciously inept sneaks into crucial positions and twarts the most good these organizations could do.

And this -our United Nations, an enduring "edifice" to our better nature- is to be enhanced by the taxation powers of the many varied and sundry nations do what, exactly?
Eliminate greed or -at least- its successes; its excesses? To mollify the planners' guilt at their failures -to create equity and equality? To curb the eternal tendency of avarice to win the spoils? (Even when those winnings usually enrich everything they touch? Abutting unusual success is become the habit of widespread and mostly harmonious advance, no?)

Yellin'Jellen be tellin' fables whose morals are Puritanical in fervor and tyrannical in effect, I say. Noone has the knowledge to try such an ambitious remaking of economic reality, let alone effect the changes predicted from such. Pride goeth before the fall; hubris precedes the most precipitous of sprawls!
dej ღ

Have I made my objections clear? :)
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"Humor is emotional chaos remembered in tranquility." - James Thurber
"Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts!" - Richard Feynman
 (iBook G4 - Panther | Mac mini i5 - El Capitan)

Re: The Awesomesauce of Globalism

Reply #55
In my opinion, the far more important measure would be to agree on that, whatever the local tax system, companies must NOT be able to negotiate to evade the system. Negotiating exemptions is on a par with bribery.

Re: The Awesomesauce of Globalism

Reply #56
And: Freedom is Slavery! (Where have we heard this before? :)
进行 ...
"Humor is emotional chaos remembered in tranquility." - James Thurber
"Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts!" - Richard Feynman
 (iBook G4 - Panther | Mac mini i5 - El Capitan)

Re: The Awesomesauce of Globalism

Reply #57
Tricky to pick the right thread, Finding the best system of economy or
Today's Good News, but here we are.

Janet Yellen calls for a global minimum tax on companies. Could it happen?

G7: Rich nations confident on reaching tech tax deal
Finance ministers from the G7 group of leading economies are confident of striking a deal on taxing multinational companies at their meeting in London.

The agreement is expected to include a global minimum rate of corporation tax. It would target tech giants such as Amazon and Microsoft.

German finance minister Olaf Scholz said the deal would "change the world". He said a 15% rate would help pay back debts that have built up during the pandemic - and that he was "absolutely confident" there would be an agreement. "If we agree on the minimum taxation for corporates, this will help to go out of this race to the bottom we see with taxes today," he told the BBC.

Who is Peter Zeihan?

Reply #59
According to himself, Peter Zeihan does geopolitics. However, after reading two of his books, Disunited Nations and The End of the World is Just the Beginning (in this order, which is also the order of publishing), I'd say that the politics part is rather weak in his geopolitics. Not that it's wrong, but the politics part is essentially missing in his geopolitical discussions.

Still, his foundation, the geo part (i.e. geography) is very strong. You see, in real-life matters, the material considerations precede abstract considerations. Materialism beats idealism in this world. Accordingly, ecology is prior to economy, and geography (and geology, i.e. the resource base for industrial and agricultural technology, which is the area where Zeihan's knowledge is particularly strong) is prior to policies or political ideology when it comes to geopolitics. Appropriately, Zeihan's website is all about maps supported with statistics.

To start with the good, the books are 100% informative content, intended to convey information. The main case that Zeihan is making is that USA is (about to) give up its dominating role that had secured the world order since the end of World War II, therefore the world would descend to a disorder. Most of the discussion involves elaborating on what the approaching disorder may look like for different parts of the world and some specific important countries, based on their geography, geology, development status, economic and demographic trends, and intercontinental supply chain logistics. In other words, full-blown prophetic alternative history for near future.

The topic is extremely intetesting in its own terms, particularly given the solid basis of arguments grounded in Zeihan's expertise in geology, geography, and economic and demographic statistics, so I am mostly thankful for having the opportunity to read the two books. But let's talk about what was not rosy in Zeihan's treatment of the topic.

First, the future is not rosy, according to him. The disorder would bring economic and political instability. Regional bullies would activate and extort their neighbours, the general level of civilisation and civility would decline, while USA would no longer be there to save the day. I do not have any counterarguments to Zeihan's points based on fundamental aspects like geography, technology and statistics, but there are things to say about his spin or attitude. For example, it is not a given that the general level of civilisation and civility is such that some shakeup would necessarily worsen it instead of improve it. I happen to have personal experience with a period of anarchy, namely the transition of regime from end of USSR to independence of Estonia and on to Estonia's accession to the EU and Nato. The anarchy entailed loss of jobs in the countryside and quite bloody mafia wars in the cities, but also the rise of self-entrepreneurship which was rather liberating after USSR. Self-entrepreneurship meant finding one's own outlet based on the inputs available, and the available inputs were necessarily local or regional given the circumstances. In my case, agriculture was available for me, which is the ultimate basic or fundamental resource for human survival according to the last chapter of The End of the World is Just the Beginning which I happen to agree with. The thing is, this resource or value was removed from the equation when the period of anarchy ended and Estonia established its independence properly (in a few years after 1994).[1] By means of taxation and economic conjuncture, growing one's own food was made impossible for people. Based on this experience, it does not seem to me that that the Order (this is exactly how Zeihan names it: "the Order" as instituted after the Allied victory in World War II) is something that secures and guarantees the basic fundamental and most important civilisational and civil values.

It also does not seem to me that USA's activity has been saving the day a lot - after the Allied victory in World War II, which was admittedly a very important and necessary moment that indeed saved the day for more than half of Europe. According to Zeihan, USA's conscious decision and aim with the Order was sincerely altruistic and self-sacrificial:

Quote from: The End of the World is Just the Beginning
Most people think of the Bretton Woods system as a sort of Pax Americana. The American Century, if you will. But that's simply not the case. The entire concept of the Order is that the United States disadvantages itself economically in order to purchase the loyalty of a global alliance. This is what globalization is. The past several decades haven't been an American Century. They've been an American sacrifice.

Zeihan rejects the idea that USA has been in any way colonial or imperial in its aims and behaviour. Rather, the USA-driven globalisation post-WWII led to the liberation of former colonies from the colonial powers, namely the well-known European now-ex colonial powers. However, I'd say that to the extent that the decision in establishing this kind of order was conscious, there was certainly a calculation involved in the decision-making process whether this kind of order was affordable, e.g. whether the Marshall plan was affordable for the USA. If affordable and the clients of the order would not rise to threaten USA's hegemony in the end of the plan, then the order was not self-sacrificial. Moreover, insofar as the purpose of the global alliance was to contain and counteract the power of USSR (which Zeihan explicitly admits), i.e. there was an enemy, and the alliance was secured and the rules of the order enforced by the global network of American military bases, the order was colonial. Military presence - this is colonialism 101. Moreover still, if the underlying background purpose was mostly peaceful and self-sacrificial, then many wars and military conflicts initiated by the USA should have been unnecessary, particularly after USSR fell apart, i.e. the enemy vanished. Yet, after USSR fell apart, USA/Nato military activity seemed to intensify rather.

Some of the more egregious problems indicating the weakness of the politics part of Zeihan's analysis of geopolitics is the political terminology. For example, he calls (post-Mao) China a neofascist country and Western European countries socialist, while examples of capitalism are USA, Australia, Switzerland and Baltic countries. Zeihan plays fast and loose with plenty of terminology, often forgivable because in e.g. economics and technology he explains carefully enough where he is coming from, but in politics and ideology he does not explain where he is coming from neither where he is going to, plus politics and ideology are touchy topics in and of themselves, so it is not forgivable.

Anyway, these are some of my quibbles mostly about what Zeihan would perhaps consider the less relevant issues about the slant or spin of the discussion, instead of the more relevant substance of the discussion. The substance is geography, how technology, geological and agricultural resources and supply lines work, and statistics on economic and demographic trends. There are nice illustrative maps and graphs in the books, so the substance is worthy of appreciation.

However, I ultimately cannot recommend the books due to their lack of academic rigour, such as playing fast and loose with the terminology, and due to frankly immature style. Zeihan's writing style may be appropriate on internet forums with its haste to drive a point home at the cost of some exaggeration and simplification, but it is not appropriate for a book.

Regarding overall composition, Disunited Nations is the better of the two: A clear layout of chapters, logical progression of topics, hardly any repetition. The End of the World is Just the Beginning, while covering more aspects of the main topic, is also the much more scattered, without a logical progression, and resorting to evidently inadvertent repetition. The repetition involves even subheadings. The latter book feels more like a collection of notes (jotted down from reading and other observations) with an attempt at arriving some organisation which ultimately does not amount to a book as a focused treatise on a given topic. The quality of proofreading is subpar in both books, perhaps slightly better in the former. I refuse to believe there was an editor for these texts. There was only a publisher. All this said, in purely informative terms everything is solidly grounded, just the presentation is rather unpolished, and I disagree with the overall case that USA seems to willingly receding from the world arena, abandoning other countries to a disorder of their own.
1994 = exit of USSR/Russian army from Estonia. There was no meaningful de facto independence prior to this.

What is going on in Argentina?

Reply #60
Cristina Fernández de Kirchner: arrest after attempted shooting of Argentina vice-president
Fernández de Kirchner was greeting supporters outside her home when a Brazilian man approached her and raised a handgun to her face

A man has been detained after he aimed a handgun at point-blank range at Argentina’s vice-president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, in what the
president said was an attempt on her life.

Fernández de Kirchner survived only because the gun – which was loaded with five bullets – did not fire, president Alberto Fernández said.
To continue my last post in this thread, Zeihan sees positive outlooks for Argentina. Because geography/geology: Nice pastures, huge navigable river, okay local resource base, okay demographic trends etc. Zeihan is a strong geographic determinist: If the geography looks good, all is good. It can be ignored how atrocious the country's economic policies have turned out.

Disunited Nations is essentially analysing some select countries, dedicating a chapter to each country. Here's the spoiler:
- Japan: Poor resource-wise and in a bad demographic predicament, but with a navy and capital base that may be able to pull it off.
- Russia: Russia's rivers run the wrong way, poor roads and its coastlines do not provide a good access to the oceans. Aging, insecure former world power that only knows how to sell oil and gas without adding any value to anything.
- Germany: One of the fastest-aging populations in the world, best manufacturing and production systems in the world, but out of the game once the current global supply and export opportunities fall away.
- France: The sole country in Europe with meaningful geographic boundaries, excellent agriculture, generally healthy demographics - "almost always in the top five" under any world order or disorder.
- Iran: Iran's geography is good to keep the country as it is, but not good to expand its borders, even though Iran has the military might and capital potential to win regional leadership.
- Saudi Arabia: "In the rare position of having the money, military equipment, and the will to position itself as a legitimate counterweight to Iran in a region long defined by American (mis)management."
- Turkey: Militarily and economically "plenty of pep to deal with any immediate neighbors."
- Brazil: "Without the foreign capital to fuel its infrastructure and agricultural sector, without safe transport to send its beef and soy to customers around the world, Brazil will struggle to maintain its economy on its own."
- Argentina: I gave this one away above.
- The United States: Sovereign and supreme.

China does not have its own chapter in the book, but there are enough comments about it. All negative comments, some outright derogatory.

Re: The Awesomesauce of Globalism

Reply #61
For one who has declared that geography matters, I have found Zeihan to be less than useful.

Re: The Awesomesauce of Globalism

Reply #62
For one who has declared that geography matters, I have found Zeihan to be less than useful.
I think it's because you like mostly world maps. You're a globalist. He is not. And I am not either.