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CRIT-GEOG-FORUM  September 2011

CRIT-GEOG-FORUM September 2011

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Subject:

Re: U.S. measures to reduce teenage smoking deemed WTO violation

From:

tom wengraf <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

tom wengraf <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sat, 10 Sep 2011 19:05:16 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (143 lines)

I always hate the sort of article which starts "I always hate this sort of
article".

Michael Keary doesn't like democratic decision-making (beyond some minimum
he is prepared to concede. He isn't interested in discussing the very
particular issue about tobacco harming people's health (or the more general
one of the WTO ruling against national policies on health and environmental
issues 90% of the time). "Even if true, it's just a tiny case". So don't
worry about truth and falsity of cases officially deemed to be 'tiny'.  

Instead, half his email is a rant against a referendum around the Bulger
case, and the rest is spent attacking other people's "narratives" while
keeping his own pretty implicit. 

His own implicit grand narrative seems to be one that he himself wants to
keep innocent of complication by nasty facts (he doesn't cite one) is 

(a) representative democracy is in good health (by implication, don't worry
about current government practice on the NHS, for example, or the mass
corrupt practices of MPs in the last government), and please remember any
more democracy than our current one is not a good thing, 

(b) perfect free trade is a key force for good, and anybody who criticises
the pattern of WTO decisions is a nit-picker, and doesn't need debating in
detail, 

(c) if you are a perfectly reasonable citizen who wants to explore
'trade-law niceties' that call his narrative into question, then this is too
democratic and we should opt out of criticism of the WTO and interest groups
because the real world is full of "immense complication" which (for some
magic reason) only powerful people not contaminated by democratic leanings
or interested in niceties are able to decide about.

Keary says:
"The public cannot possibly have access to even the most minimal amount of
information necessary to make an informed choice on something like the WTO",


but luckily Keary does know and can tell us that he knows (no facts or
references) that the WTO is a "much more significant good". Despite the
"immense complication" that should make everybody else back off from trying
to judge the WTO (wrong), luckily Mike Keary is not "a member of the public"
and so can set us right and tell us to stop worrying about niceties and tiny
facts. 

I think his narrative is rather clear and that he hates democratic or civic
accountability. How critical and radical can a geographer be? I ask as a
sociologist.

Best wishes
 
Tom
 

 
 
 

-----Original Message-----
From: A forum for critical and radical geographers
[mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Michael Keary
Sent: Saturday, September 10, 2011 4:01 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: U.S. measures to reduce teenage smoking deemed WTO violation
Importance: High

I hate this sort of article. One, because there's always far more nuance
to the case than the biased reporting, which wants to present a particular
side in line with its general narrative, allows, and two because even if
true, it's a tiny case against a much more significant good. It's
identical to when conservatives attack the EU over the chocolate or banana
directives. If you want to attack the WTO, do so on broad grounds, rather
than trying to convince people by hard cases such as this. Attack the
benefits that a country gains. Attack the ideal of completely free-trade
(that, of course, it is far from meeting, more's the pity). Don't try to
mislead people that it's all about cases such as this, or chocolate
directives.

Moreover, what's this love of democratic decision-making? Why is more
democracy always good? Why can't we say that a minimal threshold of
democracy is a good thing, such as the democratic right of US citizens to
pull out of the WTO if they wished, but beyond that it is more likely to
produce knee-jerk responses to cases such as this which get blown out of
proportion, rather than reflecting the more sober, long-term will of the
people?

The example I've always liked since I heard it is: what if there had been
a referendum on crime and punishment in the weeks following the Jamie
Bulger killing? What odds that the death penalty and god knows what other
unspeakable laws would have come onto the statute? The public cannot
possibly have access to even the most minimal amount of information
necessary to make an informed choice on something like the WTO,
particularly in an era of Fox news and generally confirmation-bias news
reporting (and seeking). That doesn't mean it is thus a bad thing. We can
either live in the real world of immense complication or else cry for an
ideal of perfectly reasonable citizens who spend their lives in study of
trade-law niceties. It's not going to happen. We have representative
democracy for that reason.

Best,

Mike


> More overriding of national sovereignty and democratic decision-making by
> the WTO:
>
> Public Citizen
>
> Eyes on Trade
>
> September 06, 2011
>
> "U.S. measures to reduce teenage smoking violate World Trade Organization
> (WTO) rules, according to a panel ruling released late last week.
> Indonesia successfully argued that the U.S. Family Smoking Prevention and
> Tobacco Control Act (FSPTCA) of 2009 violated WTO rules. The ruling opens
> the door to more teenage tobacco addiction, while further imperiling the
> legitimacy of a WTO that rules against environmental, health and other
> national policies 90 percent of the time."
>
>
http://citizen.typepad.com/eyesontrade/2011/09/wto-opens-door-to-teen-tobacc
o-addiction.html
>
>
>
> Dr Jon Cloke
> Lecturer/Research Associate
> Geography Department
> Loughborough University
> Loughborough LE11 3TU
>
> Office: 01509 228193
> Mob: 07984 813681


-- 
Michael Keary
PhD Candidate
Department of International Politics
Aberystwyth University
+44 (0) 1970 623111 ext 4185

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