Last century, before the Internet, if I wanted to buy a foreign language book, I would have to get it through a 'foreign bookstore'. It would cost a fortune and the titles would be limited to what they had on display or on a limited number of catalogues they could access. The only way round this was to have someone overseas send you the book, or go overseas yourself.
"Australia's GDP per capita went backwards in the June quarter, sliding by 0.2 per cent. Reports that it increased depend on the use of "population creep". GDP increased by 0.2 per cent, but that was only due to population growth, and GDP per capita, which is a far more accurate guide to living standards than GDP, declined.
Not surprisingly, then, real net national disposable income per head, which is the best measure of living standards, slid by 1.2 per cent in the three months to June. The Fairfax economist Peter Martin says this is the fifth consecutive slide in real net disposable income per head, which is now 5 per cent below its peak in 2011." (The Hon. Kelvin Thomson, Federal Member for Wills, 3rd September 2015).
Our economic growth rate is lower than the US, the European Union, Britain and Greece.
But the geniuses who have dug us into this hole want us to keep digging. They say that flat growth means we should ratify the China Free Trade Agreement. The fact is that we have recently entered into the Korea and Japan Free Trade Agreements, and yet our real income per capita is declining. The fact is that in the past decade we have entered into Free Trade Agreements with the US, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, New Zealand, Chile, Japan and Korea. If Free Trade Agreements are good for us, why are we going backwards?
For the past thirty years Australia has been undergoing an experiment. Free market liberalism. Its hallmarks have been globalisation, privatisation, deregulation, free movement of goods and free movement of people. Its advocates said it would strengthen the Australian economy, and make us resilient to external shocks.
But far from making our economy more diverse and resilient, we have become narrow and vulnerable. The economist Saul Eslake has expressly described our economy as vulnerable to external shocks.
We have much higher levels of unemployment than we did thirty years ago. We have much higher levels of youth unemployment, much worse long-term unemployment, and serious problems of underemployment. We have much larger foreign debt and much larger budget deficits. The distribution of wealth between rich and poor is becoming less equal. And the social problems generated by frustrated ambition - drugs, crime, mental health problems, homelessness - are on the rise too.
If Bilateral Trade Agreements were the way to go, this would not be happening. But it is. Much of our manufacturing has disappeared offshore, and much of our research and development with it. The hi-tech industries have largely passed Australia by. We put our eggs in the mining basket, and are now paying the price.
The flat GDP also shows the folly of rapid population growth. In the past decade we have trebled our net annual migration and claimed that this would drive economic growth, but it is a con job. "Population creep" is used to make the figures look better, but GDP per capita doesn't improve at all. In fact we have higher unemployment, skills shortages and infrastructure backlogs. Population growth reduces productivity per person, the very thing that economists claim to be desperate to increase.
And the third thing the flat GDP does is show what nonsense Joe Hockey has been talking about the economy for the last two years. When they were in Opposition the Liberal Party said there would be no excuses. Now there is a list of excuses as long as your arm. Then at the G20 Conference in Australia last year he trumpeted that there would be an extra 2 per cent global growth! And this year he ridiculed as "clowns" commentators who expressed concern about the direction of Australia's GDP.
Who is wearing the red nose now?
Source of article: Press Release from Kelvin Thomson, Federal MP for Wills
The agreement signed by the Australian Government and other Pacific Powers at the recent Trans Pacific Partnership, largely held in secret in Kuala Lumpur takes away from people in the Pacific, much of what democratic rights they previously had to make decisions on matters that what would effect their livelihoods and environment.
See also: Flush the TPP! -- Stop the Global Corporate Coup! at http://www.flushthetpp.org/; Marles vows not to cave to US pressure by Peter Martin in the Age of 15 July 2013; Public health at risk in trade talks by Deborah Gleeson and David Legge in the Age of 14 July 2013. Broadcasts of interviews embedded in this article.
from Global Research TV of 15 July 2013
from the Baltimore Post-Examiner of 16 July 2013
Activist Margaret Flowers shared her views with respect to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The TPP is a proposed free trade agreement. Flowers labeled it “a gift to the oil and gas industry.”
She added that the ex-U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, who negotiated the agreement in secret, said that if the people knew what was in it, “that it would never be able to be signed.” To learn more click at the Popular Resistance webpage.
Nick Davenport also shared his views with respect to the highly controversial Keystone XL Pipeline. He opposes it. If completed, it will carry “toxic tar sands from under Canada’s Boreal forest 2000 miles [south] to the Gulf of Mexico,” he says. Davenport is associated with the Baltimore Ecosocilalist Alliance. To learn more about the issue check out this webpage.
Japan Times warns how Trans Pacific Partnership threatens local farmers, fishermen, IP consumers ..
From an editorial of the Japan Times
Jul 18 July 2013
Whether Japan should join the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade scheme is one of the main issues in the coming Upper House election. If Japan becomes a member of the TPP, it will greatly impact agriculture and other industries, and people’s lives. Deplorably, political parties are talking about the TPP only in the general terms of whether they support or oppose it. They should present the TPP’s merits and demerits in a clear-cut and detailed manner so that voters can be fully informed before passing judgment on it.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced in March that Japan will start a procedure to take part in negotiations for the TPP. But both the Liberal Democratic Party and its junior partner Komeito have neglected to show how the TPP will help promote Japan’s national interests.
The opposition forces are divided over the issue. ... the DPJ (Democratic Party of Japan) does not clearly say whether it supports or opposes the TPP. The Japan Communist Party, the People’s Life Party, the Social Democratic Party and the Green Wind oppose the TPP mainly because they think it will destroy Japan’s agriculture and local economies.
Many parties call for exempting tariffs on rice, wheat, pork and beef, dairy products and sugar from abolition, the principle tenet of the TPP. But they also should emphasize the importance of food security as well as the noneconomic values of Japanese agriculture, such as its role in protecting the environment as well as preserving traditional cultures and ways of living.
Political parties also should pay attention to the fact the TPP scheme covers trade rules in 21 fields including intellectual property, government procurement and the environment. Japan should not forget that the United States has a clear strategy on how to expand its interests in the finance and insurance sectors in the Japanese economy through the TPP arrangement Political parties should specifically address fears that the TPP may undermine Japan’s public health insurance system.
There is a possibility that environment-related rules may ban Japan from providing subsidies to help reconstruct devastated fishing ports in the Tohoku region and that government procurement-related rules may force Japan to allow overseas firms greater access to its market for public works projects.
It is odd that political parties talk very little about the TPP’s investor-state dispute settlement mechanism, which could enable global business enterprises to supersede decisions taken by Japanese central and local governments regarding environmental protection and social policy.
Political parties should make it clear to people that the TPP is not just a traditional free trade agreement but could very well topple Japanese business practices and social policy arrangements that they have long taken for granted.
Here is a very topical, historical account by E.J. Hobsbawm of the rise of Islam in the so-called undeveloped world which occurred in reaction to the disruption caused by colonialism. People who are interested in why there is still apparent opposition between Western “democracy” and capitalism and Islam, might find it interesting.
Great revival of Islam in the period of 1789-1848 
“In purely numerical terms it is evident that all religions, unless actually contracting, were likely to expand with the rise in population. Yet two types showed a particular aptitude for expansion [over the period of the massive colonisation during the British Industrial Revolution]: Islam and sectarian Protestantism. This expansionism was all the more striking as it contrasted with the marked failure of other Christian religions – both Catholic and Protestant – to expand, in spite of a sharp increase in missionary activity outside Europe, increasingly backed by the military, political, and economic force of European penetration. […]
Islamic expansion among peoples disorganized by colonialism and slavery
As against this, Islam was continuing that silent, piecemeal and irreversible expansion unbacked by organized missionary endeavour or forcible conversion which is so characteristic of that religion. It expanded both eastwards, in Indonesia and North-western China, and westwards from the Sudan towards Senegal and, to a much smaller extent, from the shores of the Indian Ocean inland. When traditional societies change something so fundamental as their religion, it is clear that they must be facing major new problems. The Moslem traders, who virtually monopolized the commerce of inner Africa with the outside world and multiplied with it, helped to bring Islam to the notice of new peoples. The slave trade, which broke down communal life, made it attractive, for Islam is a powerful means of reintegrating social structures.  At the same time the Mohammedan religion appealed to the semi-feudal and military societies of the Sudan, and its sense of independence, militancy, and superiority made it a useful counterweight to slavery. Moslem Negros made bad slaves: the Haussa (and other Sudanese) who had been imported into Bahia (Brazil) revolted nine times between 1807 and the great rising of 1835 until, in effect, they were mostly killed or deported back to Africa. The slavers learned to avoid imports from these areas, which had only recently been opened to the trade.
Islamic resistance to colonialism in South East Asia
While the element of resistance to the whites was clearly very small in African Islam (where there were as yet hardly any), it was by tradition crucial in South-east Asia. There Islam – once again pioneered by traders – had long advanced against local cults and the declining Hinduism of the Spice Islands, largely as a means of more effective resistance against the Portuguese and the Dutch, as ‘a kind of pre-nationalism,’ though also as a popular counterweight to the Hinduized princes. As these princes increasingly turned into narrowly circumscribed dependents or agents of the Dutch, Islam sunk its root more deeply into the population. In turn, the Dutch learned that the Indonesian princes could, by allying with the religious teachers, unleash a general popular rising, as in the Java War of the Prince of Djokjakarta (1825-1830). They were consequently time and again driven back to a policy of close alliance with the local rulers, or indirect rule. Meanwhile the growth of the trade and shipping forged closer links between south-east Asian Muslim and Mecca, served to increase the number of pilgrims, to make Indonesian Islam more orthodox, and even to open it to the militant and revivalist influence of Arabian Wahhabism.
Within Islam the movements of reform and revival, which in this period gave the religion much of its penetrative power, can also be seen as reflecting the impact of European expansion and the crisis of the old Mohammedan societies (notably of the Turkish and Persian empires) and perhaps also of the growing crisis of the Chinese empire. The puritanical Wahhabites had arisen in Arabia in the mid-eighteenth century. By 1814 they had conquered Arabia and were ready to conquer Syria, until halted by the combined force of the Westernizing Mohammed Ali of Egypt and Western arms, though their teachings spread eastwards into Persia, Afghanistan and India. Inspired by Wahhabism an Algerian holy man, Sidi Mohammed ben Ali el Senussi, developed a similar movement which from the 1840s spread from Tripoli into the Sahara desert. In Algeria Abd-el-Kader, in the Caucasus Shamyl, developed religio-political movements of resistance to the French and Russians respectively (see chapter 7) and anticipated a pan-Islamism which sought not merely a return to the original purity of the Prophet but also to absorb Western innovations. In Persia, an even more obviously nationalist and revolutionary heterodoxy, the Bab movement of Ali Mohammed, arose in the 1840s. It tended, among other things, to return to certain ancient practices of Persian Zoroastrianism and demanded the unveiling of women.
Expansion of Protestantism
The ferment and expansion of Islam was such that, in terms of purely religious history, we can perhaps best describe the period form 1789 to 1848 as that of world Islamic revival. …The expansionist movement of Protestant sectarianism differs from that of Islam in that it was almost entirely confined to the countries of developed capitalist civilization. […]
New Protestant sects in Anglo-countries mirrored rise of Atheism in Catholic Europe
[… ] The reasons for the geographical and social limits of Protestant sectarianism are evident. Roman Catholic countries provided no scope for and tradition of public sects. There the equivalent break with the established church or the dominant religion was more likely to take the form of mass dechristianisation (especially among the men) than of schism. (Conversely, the Protestant anti-clericalism of the Anglo-Saxon countries was often the exact counterpart of the atheist anti-clericalism of continental ones.)”
Egypt and revolutions
“Nationalism in the East was thus the eventual product of Western influence and Western conquest. This link is perhaps most evident in the one plainly Oriental country in which the foundations of what was to become the first modern colonial nationalist movement [other than the Irish] were laid: in Egypt. Napoleon’s conquest introduced Western ideas, methods, and techniques, whose value an able and ambitious local soldier, Mohammed Ali (Mehemet Ali), soon recognized. Having seized power and virtual independence from Turkey in the confused period which followed the withdrawal of the French, and with French support, Mohammed Ali set out to establish an efficient and Westernizing despotism with foreign (mainly French) technical aid. European left-wingers in the 1820s and 30s hailed this enlightened autocrat, and put their services at his disposal, when reaction in their own countries looked too dispiriting. The extraordinary sect of the Sain-Simonians, equally suspended between the advocacy of socialism and of industrial development by investment bankers and engineers, temporarily gave him their collective aid and prepared his plans of economic development. […] They thus also laid the foundation for the Suez Canal (built by the Saint-Simonian de Lesseps) and the fatal dependence of Egyptian rulers on vast loans negotiated by competing groups of European swindlers, which turned Egypt into a centre of imperialist rivalry and anti-imperialist rebellion later on. But Mohammed Ali was no more a nationalist than any other Oriental despot. His Westernization, not his or his people’s aspirations, laid the foundations for later nationalism. If Egypt acquired the first nationalist movement in the Islamic world and Morocco one of the last, it was because Mohammed Ali (for perfectly comprehensible geopolitical reasons) was in the main paths of Westernization and the isolated self-sealed Sherifian Empire of the Moslem far west was not, and made no attempts to be. Nationalism, like so many other characteristics of the modern world, is the child of the dual revolution.”
 The source of this article is a highly readable and famous book by historian, E.J. Hobsbawm, The Age of Revolution 1789 to 1848, New American Library Publishing, 1962, pp.268-270. This was also the period of the rise of the Industrial Revolution and British imperialism, which won out over other contenders in the European trade and slaving wars that had gone on since the 14th century due to the chance coincidence of huge stores of coal and iron on that island, plus an army of dispossessed workers who could be forced to dig it up and man the foundries.
 The writer gives as his reference for this statement, J S Trimmingham, Islam in West Africa, Oxford, 1959, p.30. I am personally not aware of the reasons given there and would welcome comment or articles on why this might be so.
 Source, E.J. Hobsbawm, The Age of Revolution 1789 to 1848, New American Library Publishing, 1962, p.177.