Archive for the ‘boycott’ Category

Boycott China and India?

October 12th, 2007 No comments

“Advanced democracies export their problems to emerging economies, thus shoving the whole problem neatly under the carpet. If the west really believed in being good global citizens we would (just for starters) refuse to trade with China and India. Then there is the small matter of cleaning up our own act.”

I posted the following (with minor tweaks) on a recent thread ( in response to the above assertion: 

The “small matter” of cleaning up our own act (misgovernment in the US) is actually a huge matter and the one that poses the greatest present threat to us, which is why it is hard to get people’s attention for a crusade to run off and save the rest of the world.

Of course, our domestic resource issues are largely under control (though regulation is too rigid and attracts eternal rent-seeking, politicking and division) and we are not literally exporting any problems – other than through our bumbling wars, of course!

However, as I previosuly noted, I fully agree that our market demands are providing incentives for much of the environmental devastation that we are seeing, even while it also creates opoportunities for wealth-generation in the developing world. I think we need to think much harder about these problems, but they are not problems that are so much being deliberately swept under the rug as they are problems that stem from institutional failures elsewhere that do not stare us in the face, even as they are important and though we may be complicit in and share some responsibility for them.

Largely, our relations with China and India are heading in the right directions, though I do think we (using our governments for support – in this others here are likely to disagree with me) should be doing more to help them combat their own environmental and institutional problems, as well as to work to create meaningful property rights in tropical forests (in other countries) and oceans.

On the climate change front, of course we have trade levers to use in getting them to sign onto measures that will help us all to rein in our impacts on climate, and help them to control their destruction of their own environments.

The use of trade levers must be coordinated with others, but clearly we have NO legal claims to prevent them from developing their economies, even were we to consider it moral – for the sake of the planet – to restrain them.

I am in favor of much greater and proactive efforts to deal with our various tragedy of the commons problems, but as they require international cooperation clearly we are not going to make much headway if we make China, India and development generally our enemy. We have to remain focussed on the problems, and under an Austrian framework, that means engagement.