Thursday, August 11, 2005

When is a treaty not a treaty?

When you don't have to abide by any of the rules, as long as you don't like them, apparently. I'd like to personally thank the United States for clearing this up for us. Rules are for suckers. Ignorance and pig-headedness are a viable substitute for good faith negotiating.

Why in the world do some Americans, and especially the badly misnamed Coalition for Fair Lumber Imports, believe that they can simply ignore every NAFTA panel on softwood lumber? The Canadians won the final appeal Wednesday, so of course the logical thing to do is ignore this fact, and launch a constitutional challenge of NAFTA! Not that there's nothing in NAFTA I'd change if I had the chance, but if it fell all at once, it could seriously damage both our economies.

I believe this whole ignorant mess has something to do with a familiar psychological impulse: everyone thinks they are more righteous than they actually are.

In its mild form, this is no problem. People belive they are a little bit nicer and nobler than they really are, but can be reality-checked to within limits.

When it is inflated with ego and ideology, human beings can belive that their personal goals are exactly the same as the moral underpinnings of the universe. It's certainly not a viewpoint that's confined to Americans (Conrad Black comes to mind, along with some other historical Canadian figures). But it is the fashionable ideology down south right now. The Commander in Chief certainly believes it, along with his right-Republican comrades. It's a simple equation to them: We = Right. Anyone who is not We = Wrong.

Part of it is no doubt due to their misunderstanding of the BC stumpage system, a quasi-Georgist edifice that is actually a pretty good model of public land management. They probably think it's some sort of socialist weirdo experiment. Not nearly as noble and proper as their crony capitalist system, in which the US Forest Service builds logging roads for private, for-profit firms.

Now the Canadian goverment is suggesting (not even threatening - wimps) a trade war. They are targeting such things as newsprint, seafood, agricultural and wood products. Those are all made here in Canada, so that has the doubly attractive (for the Liberal Party) effect of buttering up several Canadian industries. And just before a winter election, what a damn coincidence! Of course, it'll drive up the prices of all those things in Canada, at least a little bit, but what the hell.

I suggest we hit them with something better. We should orgainze a boycott, one not linked to the goverment. Pick a firm that deals with both Canadian and US lumber firms and stop shopping there. Even if they only lose twenty or thirty per cent of their business, it will be a good reason for them to put some pressure on the US goverment, and buy us a few senators to end this mess.

Home Depot, anyone?

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