One of the basic claims of democracy is based on free expression. That, in turn, hinges on a free media. Study after study shows how little of that remains in the US – and how investigative journalism has been driven out by the power of corporate capital which now controls so much of the world’s media. If the previous link doesn;t work, try here It is, therefore, good to know that in at least one country an independent investigative journal has a strong financial record ie France’s Canard Enchaine. Der Spiegel has a good article on how old-fashioned values are still alive and well in one journal – and have governments quaking in their collective shoes. The E-journal Scottish Review (in links on right-hand side) is an example of what can be done with minimal resources on that medium.
At the other end of the scale, you have to read abstruse academic articles to get some insights into the corrupt practices in this part of the world – see this piece on how privatisation and decentralisation strips Romanian forests for private advantage.
And a reminder about the hypocrisy and lies of the US on matters relating to free trade. The painting is another early 20th century Bulgarian one - this time Kodjaimanov
For 30 years, Washington has been shopping a trade-not-aid based economic diplomacy across Latin America and beyond. According to what is generally known as the “Washington consensus”, the US has provided Latin America loans conditional on privatisation, deregulation and other forms of structural adjustment. More recently, what has been on offer are trade deals such as the US-Colombia Free Trade Agreement: access to the US market in exchange for similar conditions.
The 30-year record of the Washington consensus was abysmal for Latin America, which grew less than 1% per year in per capita terms during the period, in contrast with 2.6% during the period 1960-81. East Asia, on the other hand, which is known for its state-managed globalisation (most recently epitomised by China), has grown 6.7% per annum in per capita terms since 1981, actually up from 3.5% in that same period.
The signature trade treaty, of course, was the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta). Despite the fact that exports to the US increased sevenfold, per capita growth and employment have been lacklustre at best. Mexico probably gained about 600,000 jobs in the manufacturing sector since Nafta took effect, but the country lost at least 2m in agriculture, as cheap imports of corn and other commodities flooded the newly liberalised market.