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Robson On Politics

National snubs mum and dad investors

Half a century ago, the National Party was founded by farmers and small town business owners. The party was going to be the party to represent the small entrepreneur and the mum and dad investor.

By the early 1990s, the party's policies were hardly distinguishable from those of the Business Roundtable, an organization that articulates the interests of the large corporations - many of them local branches of foreign firms, but National's rhetoric started to improve by the end of the decade because of MMP and the need to start sounding more like a party that cares about small business people.

The party clearly still has a lot of work to do before it gets back to its roots. I mean, how can it be that, in 2006, National can delay Parliament taking quick action to fix the law to protect small investors' and shareholders' interests from companies that might use a loophole in the law to avoid the provisions of the Takeovers' Code?

It is incredible how National, under its current leadership team, continues to remain so far out of touch with small business and small investors.


Global Climate Change - good news in the battle against bird flu?
I read this week a calculation that unchecked climate change could drive up to 72 per cent of the world's bird species into extinction but that collective community and political action could limit the losses with good leadership.


Of course the U.S. isn't part of the solution
That leadership is never going to come from the U.S. government and we should not worry about that.

Democrats and Republicans are mirror images of each other when it comes to saying no to multilateral action on international challenges - be it the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (Kyoto Protocol) or the WTO's Doha Development Round which proposes to reduce the crippling import barriers that the richest nations impose on the sale of the goods produced by the poorest in the world, particularly agricultural exports.

Global Climate Change - we'll have to be the leaders
No. The leadership will have to come from from us, and our neighbours in the rapidly expanding economic societies of Asia.

Nearly a decade ago, ministers from the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) recognised the importance of accelerating action to deal with global emissions of greenhouse gases. Ministers noted that this important issue was being addressed in the Third Conference of the Parties under the United Nations Framework Convention and they agreed that enhancing energy efficiency is a key element in addressing climate change.

The APEC Summit over coming days in Viet Nam is an opportunity for some of those powerhouses of tomorrow to stake stock and assess how they are going to show greater social and environmental leadership to match their increasing economic strength. While co-ordinated global action would be best, the next best alternative is multilateral action across as many societies as possible.


Democrat-Republican vandals are anti-WTO, anti internaitonal rules
The Democrats and Republicans are almost identical when it comes to their determination to stonewall multilateral reductions to barriers in trade at the Doha Development Round.

Democrats, like Republicans, prefer the Big Apartheid Economic Wall Approach when it comes to protecting American corporate agribusiness from "unfair competition" from Third World farmers.


The American parties use trade as a blunt economic instrument to advance U.S. foreign policy.
Trade penalties are imposed on Palestinians, for example, because 44% of them voted for the "wrong" party in a fair and free general election.


But trade privileges are extended to repressive, undemocratic, corrupt tyrannies that toe the U.S. foreign policy line.

Unfair "free trade" deals are extended, for example, to Morocco (which built an apartheid wall through the illegally occupied Western Sahara where it wages war on those who resist occupation), to the Kingdom of Jordan, where democrats get locked up at whim and parliament is dismissed at will, and some of the Arabian Gulf states (so undemocratic and discriminatory in relation to their ethnic minorities that words fail to describe them).


Threats of penalties are made to countries where free elections promise to deliver the "wrong" result (Nicaragua)


This week, it still isn't clear if Congress will enact a law proposing to at last establish permanent normal trade relations with Viet Nam, something Mr Bush was banking on before arriving at the APEC summit.


Viet Nam is still, of course, a very poor society, still not recovered fully from the over two million deaths, and massive infrastructure destruction, that it suffered in that doomed Democrat/Republican 20-year War Against Terror (also known as the U.S.-led war to stop Viet Namese independence 1955-1975).


After snubbing Viet Nam for years after its defeat there in 1975, U.S. governments by the late 1990s had realised that their own belligerent attitude was seriously damaging the chances of American firms to compete with companies from China, Japan and Europe that were prospering from trade and investment with the dynamic Viet Namese people.

In 2001, the Republican American government signed the U.S.-Viet Nam Bilateral Trade Agreement went into effect and two-way trade has since jumped from $1.5 billion to nearly $10 billion a year.

That means, in plain language, job opportunities and life opportunities that otherwise would not exist for some extremely poor Viet Namese people - and hope for the future, therefore, for their families. Viet Nam has become America's fourth-largest source of shrimp, and ranks third in shoes and furniture.

Over time, as Viet Namese living standards rise, it means more and more export opportunities for U.S. companies, which employ American workers, and more opportunities for potential exporters to Viet Nam from every other place on Earth - New Zealand workers benefit when New Zealand-based companies sell services and products to meet the demands of richer Viet Namese consumers.

The process demands active, intelligent and progressive governments that work with their own people to strengthen the society's skills base, work/life balance rights of the workers and the public education and health standards in the community because countries equipped with better training and healthier,smarter workers are going to be the countries that make the most of the opportunities available to them.



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