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Re: Utopistics and Democratic Global Commonwealth
by Bruce McFarling
17 March 2003 03:28 UTC
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>>> g kohler <kohlerg@3web.net> 03/17/03 10:10am
>>>Utopistics and Democratic Global Commonwealth

"For example, how would a democratic global commonwealth bring about a 
massive transition to sustainable development?"

There is a level before "bring about" ... which is "allow".

Two rudimentary points:

(1) A commitment to sustainable development at any level ... local, 
regional, national, international, global ... requires the right to refuse 
to participate in any production process as a consumer based on the 
secondary impacts of that production process.

Placing trade expansion at a higher level of emphasis than viability of 
current societies and much of their population has resulted in a loss 
of this right under the WTO system.  In some way or form, the 
utopian democratic global commonwealth would overturn this.  
Under the principle of subsidiarity, one could foresee a system 
where any nation or grouping of nations has the right by default, 
and if the other nation believes that the right is being abused to 
restrain trade, the burden of proof lies with the exporting country 
that the side effects of their production is benign.

(2) I would not necessarily join those ecological economics who argue 
that ALL trade in commodity inputs should be banned, and countries 
should only trade finished goods.  However, if there is going to be 
a bias, it should be to trade in finished goods rather than bulk 
commodity inputs.  If every country or close association of countries 
must remain viable based on the commodity inputs produced within 
that country (group), then that is a fundamental shift in the balance 
of power that makes sustainable production a strategic resource.

And after all, most of the most persuasive arguments for free trade 
are on closer analysis only STRICTLY applicable to trade in finished 
goods between countries with the option of declining the trade and 
relying on domestic production.  The gulf between that picture and 
the bulk of world trade today is obvious.

An institution to encourage trade in finished goods could be developed 
as a form of counter trade clearing house.  Producers would list 
products in a catalog at their local currency prices.  Buyers would bid 
for products at their local currency prices.  A shadow exchange 
rate would be struck to generate a many trades as possible, and 
the funds from the buyers of one country would in fact be 
reticulated to complete the purchases from the sellers of that 
same country.

The guaranteed balanced trade component would come with the 
quid pro quo that all imports would be treated as if they were 
local production -- of course (see 1 above) including any restrictions 
on selling things produced by disallowed techniques of production.

A value added threshold would be added, for the country of origin 
or, if they are a member of a regional integration arrangement, 
the RIA of origin, and only finished goods would be accepted into 
the master catalogue.

One reason for mentioning the second is that it is a system that can 
operate in parallel to the current globalised-financial-assets system, 
without being dependent upon it.

Dr. Bruce R. McFarling
Lecturer in Economics & International Business
Newcastle Graduate School of Business
University of Newcastle
Callaghan NSW 2308
(02) 4921 7962 (W, voicemail)
(02) 4921 7398 (FAX)

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