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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Hitting Kim Jong Il Where it Hurts

As reported here The U.S. Commerce Secretary, Carlos Gutierrez, has declared that "While North Korea's people starve and suffer, there is simply no excuse for the regime to be splurging on cognac and cigars." Accordingly the Bush Administration has published a list of luxury items that it wants U.S. companies, and, more importantly, other countries to stop selling to North Koreans. The list includes tobacco products, booze, sporting items, yachts, expensive watches, musical instruments, art works, and jewelry.

This news brings up a question that I ask in a lot of connections. "Why do they bother?"

There are several things that are questionable about the Secretary's statement. It sounds patronizing. Who is he to be telling the North Koreans when they should or should not splurge? He could be violating the very principle by which so many Americans of modest means apparently follow the lead of their much better-heeled fellow citizens in voting Republican in the hope and even the expectation that their ship, too, will eventually sail in, and when it does they want their cigars and cognac to be right there on the store shelves, waiting.

Isn't this policy bad for business? And as a combative measure in the campaigh to get the North Koreans to stop thinking nuclear, it looks to be on the ineffectual and spiteful side.

But the most obvious question that suggests itself was dodged by the Bloomberg article to which I linked above. That question is: What about China?

I am sure that when the North Koreans can no longer get that stuff from the U.S., Japan, and other countries, China, which shares communism and a border with the North Koreans, will be happy to step right in and take up the slack.

I'm sure that China makes and can supply as many of those luxury items as the Koreans might desire. Ironically, the Chinese already ship so many luxury goods to the U.S. itself that they are enjoying a huge trade surplus at American expense, and many of the items on the Secretary's list are likely to be mainly Chinese-made. And meanwhile even the South Koreans, who also make boatloads of luxury goods, are likely to brave bringing on American and Japanese ire by smuggling a few things across the border to their long-detached but never forgotten brethren to the north.


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