On Paul Sheehan

Niall Clugston writes: Re. “How Fairfax and Paul Sheehan bought the lies told by “Louise”” (Monday). Let’s not forget that Paul Sheehan was the man who brought us the “Magic Water” hoax of 2002.

On trade policy

Geoff Edwards writes: Re. “Slapping tariffs on cheap imported goods the dumbest kind of protectionism” (Monday). Bernard Keane, your admiration of free trade seems largely framed from the perspective of consumers.  In general, yes, consumers benefit from free trade with a country that has lower costs. But an economy consists of both consumers and producers. Free trade can devastate producers. And it is production, not consumption, that generates a nation’s prosperity. A nation that is careless of the fate of its own producers, especially its farmers, is headed for deep economic trouble.

On foreign ownership

John Kotsopoulos writes: Re. “Tassie dairy sale gets the tick as China milks free-trade deal” (February 24). It gets better than that Keith Binns.  Recently I saw an interview on a Foxtel Channel (CNBC I think it was) involving a leading Republican back room operator which touched on US/China relations. He was asked, in view of recent tensions in the South China Sea, was the US still obligated by treaty to defend Taiwan if it was attacked by China.

“Yes” he said, but, with a wry smile added “we would have to borrow the money from China.”

On the other hand, the massive industrialisation which feeds the insatiable appetite the west, and the US in particular, has for cheap consumer goods means China cannot just pull on a fight on a whim. Any disruption to economic activity risks unleashing the mother of all revolutions among hundreds of millions of factory workers recruited from poor rural areas to work in the sweat shop factories that underpin Chinese manufacturing.  Already we have seen a pushback from exploited workers demanding better pay and working conditions.

Economic imperialism can be a double-edged sword, it seems.

Peter Fray

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