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Catfish and Cod
Monday, August 04, 2003
 
No better words in the world.
(Link path: Boston Globe)

RED SOX WIN.

Oliver Willis, how can you be talking about Redskins at a time like this?
 
They've waited almost too long.
(Link path: Washington Post; the Gray Lady, free and pointless registration required)

The peacekeepers are finally arriving, and the Liberian government and rebels are withdrawing. Finally.

Taylor, under the watchful eye of diplomats and armed soldiers, is initiating his extrication process. Finally.

People are eating their last reserves and beginning to cook dogs and cats to stay alive. Finall -- what?!

Forget niceties about whose troops go first, or whether the US troops are going to come ashore or skulk in their ships. Get some Humanitarian Daily Rations there, and get them now! Else this is all an academic excercise, because everyone will starve.

This is what comes of pussyfooting about peacekeeping expeditions.
 
A magician's trick.
(Link path: Washington Post)

The removal of "unauthorized outposts" is just like an old magician's trick. The Israelis know it; the Palestinians know it; I suspect that the Americans know it, too. Sharon announces demolitions, which are duly shown on TV. The settlers lodge protests with the Israeli Supreme Court, some of which succeed, most of which fail. And then they turn around and build an equal, or greater, number of outposts elsewhere. Watch my waving hand as it vanishes the coin...

...not my slow-moving hand, placing the coin in my pocket. While the meaningless drama of bulldozers plays itself out, the large and established settlements experience "natural growth" and push their boundaries over Palestinian villages and fields. What the Israelis don't tell you is that "natural growth" is, and always have been, propped up by immense subsidies for anyone willing to move to the territories. The huge majority of "settlers" are not Jewish pioneers or Eretz-Israel fundamentalists, but ordinary Israelis who have followed the paths of economic least resistance. The Israeli government is, and has through successive administrations for the last thirty-five years, maintained a housing market such that people must inevitably move to the territories.

Eliminate those subsidies, and you'd see a massive population shift back to Israel proper, where people are shot less. Except for mega-settlements like Ariel, which are deep enough to give protection to people in its center, most settlers are well within Palestinian firing range, and they all know it. Much of Israel proper is, too, but then there will soon be a wall between Israel and the territories to protect them.

The Palestinians have been clamoring for quite some time for territorial contiguity -- that is, for the right to go from one point to another within their territory without having to worry about Israel's permission. Shouldn't the Jews demand the same?
 
The cracks are showing.
(Link path: Electric Venom, the Command Post, the Beeb)

North Korea is saying, "My gun's jammed. Why don't you put yours down? It would be the fair thing to do, old chap." But if you're playing to win, if you're in a war, you keep firing. Trust me, the North wouldn't stop their propaganda if the South asked. And it won't hurt South Korea to ignore the suggestion; North Korean propaganda doesn't have anywhere near the effects that South Korean propaganda has. One reason why is that South Koreans know beforehand (except for those with idiotarian self-blinders) what North Korea is like; the reverse is not true. Another reason is that South Korea is much, much richer than North Korea. The South Koreans are far less desperate.

The only logical reason North Korea would make an obvious capitulation is because those broadcasts are working, to the extent that the Nork leadership is nervous. Things must be moving faster than I thought; a few more months could bring the end of another cheap imitation of Hell on Earth. Here's hoping
Sunday, August 03, 2003
 
The sound you hear is the system working.
(Link path: The Grey Lady, free and pointless registration required)

The Grey Lady seems suspicious that surgical procedures aren't put under FDA approval. It's true, they aren't. But surgery isn't pharmacology. It's cutting and pasting, a quite straightforward system for fixing what ails ye. (It's also the most invasive, traumatic, and dangerous, but then you can't have it all.) If a large set of qualified surgeons oversee animal experimentation, all appears well, and (most important) the patient and his/her family are fully informed, the testing system should proceed pretty much as described.

In case anyone wonders why I went into this profession, this is one of the reasons. In this business, your inventions can save lives.
 
Wisdom of the day.
(Link path: the View from Chaos Manor, Newcastle University)

The English learned long ago never to pay the Dane. Neither should we pay, or allow our money to be paid to, terrorizing Arabs or blackmailing North Koreans.

DANEGELD (AD 980 - 1016)

IT IS always a temptation to an armed and agile nation,
To call upon a neighbour and to say:—
“We invaded you last night—we are quite prepared to fight,
Unless you pay us cash to go away.”
And that is called asking for Dane-geld,
And the people who ask it explain
That you’ve only to pay ’em the Dane-geld
And then you’ll get rid of the Dane!

It is always a temptation to a rich and lazy nation,
To puff and look important and to say:—
“Though we know we should defeat you, we have not the time to meet you.
We will therefore pay you cash to go away.”

And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
But we’ve proved it again and again,
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
You never get rid of the Dane.

It is wrong to put temptation in the path of any nation,
For fear they should succumb and go astray,
So when you are requested to pay up or be molested,
You will find it better policy to says:—

“We never pay any one Dane-geld,
No matter how trifling the cost,
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
And the nation that plays it is lost!”

-- Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)
 
Knowledge: a clear advantage.
(Link path: the View from Chaos Manor, New Scientist, Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 96:384)

A better argument for a science and/or medicine career I've never heard. In fact, a better argument for education of any sort I've never heard.

Buck up, all you oppressed high school geeks, for you shall dance on your enemies' graves. :-)


 
I don't think they got the message.
(Link path: the Footballs of Rabid Pro-Semitism, MSNBC)

I don't think al-Qaeda is paying attention to their enemies.

MSNBC reports that one element of their now-foiled new-and-improved hijacking plans is smuggling weapons onto planes concealed in everyday items. Well, perhaps they could get a knife or even a derringer gun onto a plane this way. In fact, given the attention span of the average TSA employee, I'd expect that such a subterfuge would work.

But it wouldn't matter. Any plane large enough to commandeer will also have a number of people willing to attack in order to prevent another September 11th. They would not hesitate or debate the issues. They would attack, immediately, because everyone now understands that you can't allow a plane to be hijacked, for the good of everyone. If the plane crashes and everyone aboard dies, that's still better than another Eleventh. They can't just kill the crew; they'll have to kill everyone, or at least every able adult, aboard.

Sun Tzu wrote that knowing your enemy and knowing yourself are the keys to any victory. al-Qaeda may or may not understand themselves; but they certainly don't understand us.

This is one of many reasons why we are going to win.
 
Hemophilia and sickle-cell disease.
(Link path: the Beeb, Lancet 632(9381):351-354)

Hemophilia is a terrible disease. Those who suffer from it must watch their actions very carefully, every day of their life, lest a scratch or a bruise become a major injury. Before the advent of synthetic blood clotting factors, it was close to a death sentence for everyone who couldn't afford to be watched every day of their life, i.e., everyone except descendents of Queen Victoria.

Sickle-cell disease is similarly debilitating. When sickle-cell crisis hits, the patient is helpless. Sickle-cell anemia is caused by a mutation in the beta hemoglobin gene that allows the hemoglobin molecule to polymerize within the red blood cell, deforming the cell and reducing its oxygen-porting efficiency. Even at sea level, a sickle-cell patient has significant anemia and hypoxia -- low red cell counts (because the sickled cells don't fit into capillaries and burst) and low blood oxygen levels (because of the lack of cells plus the loss of functional hemoglobin).

So if sickle-cell disease is so debilitating, why hasn't evolution rid us of the trait long ago? Why is it a common genetic disease, instead of a freak occurence that only comes up in Case Studies of the Massachussetts General Hospital?

Sickle-cell disease only occurs when an unfortunate individual bears two copies of the debilitating gene. If the patient bears only one copy, they are said to bear sickle-cell trait. And these individuals are not only healthy, they have an advantage over the average human. Their abnormal hemoglobin gives their red cells the ability to resist many times of malaria infection. This is not an insignificant trait, especially in the jungles of Africa where humanity evolved.

So while sickle-cell disease is a negative evolutionary factor, the far larger number of sickle trait bearers have such a positive advantage that sickle trait persists in the human population.

Researchers report in this week's Lancet that hemophilia trait has a similar evolutionary advantage. Hemophilia carriers have a lower chance of heart disease than the average population.

Are the hemophiliacs numerous for the same reason that sickle-cell disease sufferers are numerous? There's no data to suggest it yet. Maybe someone should go gather some.
 
The fog of "war" clears somewhat.
(Link path: Incestuous Amplification)

Incestuous Amplification, who has followed the North Koreans with far more attention than I, agrees that the North Koreans are not likely to negotiate nicely:

Knowing the history of North Korean negotiating tactics, it would be quite easy for them to minimize the multilateral sessions, breeze through them with no effort, and bring out the big guns and blustering rhetoric during the promised bilateral session with the United States. If the Norks know that bilateral sessions will take place (whether formal or informal) alongside the multilateral, what incentive do the North Koreans have to fully participate and push their agenda in the multilateral format? None.

But two can play that game. Den Beste points out that we forced the North Koreans to use trilateral, rather than bilateral, talks with the Chinese by the expedient of refusing to meet in the same room and forcing "shuttle diplomacy".

We may do the same if the North Koreans make a mockery of "big-tent" talks. Here's the idea:

1) The North Koreans act asinine at the big-table discussions, and they break up.
2) The North Koreans go into the bilateral negotiations, and similarly act asinine. The Americans get up and walk out, or insult the North Koreans so that they walk out.
3) Once again, we initiate "shuttle diplomacy", with everyone else in the role of "shuttlers".

What purpose would such activities serve? None, if we walk in with the intention of actually making a deal with the North Koreans. But if they serve up standard fare, i.e., threats and blackmail, then we force everyone else to endure North Korean guff. That will strengthen our arguments for the North Korean blockade that we've been arguing for. When the North Koreans act insane, these arguments will take root in the diplomats' hearts and guts, where humans are far more vulnerable to prejudice. The goal is to convince the Great Powers' diplomatic corps that no deal with North Korea is possible. If all five nations then agree that a blockade is necessary, a blockade will happen. (The participants include three of the five members of the Security Council, and every major economic power in the region.) The North Koreans will be forced to either launch a pre-emptive attack or face economic starvation within weeks. Either choice results in suicide for the North Korean regime.

The bet that's being made here is that behind the facade of bluff and bluster, Kim Jong-Il is a rational actor. That he will act to save his butt, and make a deal to try to gain time. That would give us more time to organize a deal with the Chinese that will resolve the "Korean Question" permanently. The shape of such a deal is clear: South Korea gets North Korea, with active Chinese participation in the dismantlement of the current North Korean regime, in return for an eviction of the United States from the Korean peninsula.

UPDATE: Facts on the Ground thinks "Agreed Framework Plus" will be the result of the negotiations. This outcome is possible, but it will only be a stopgap if it occurs. The Administration will continue its efforts to talk the Chinese into putting the Norks out of their misery, because there's really no way to guarantee North Korean complicity.
Saturday, August 02, 2003
 
"Please agree not to use your superior weapons until we have them, too."
(Link path: Washington Post)

What a joke. Does anyone really believe we will agree to such a ridiculous treaty?

The U.S. hasn't even deployed a weapon in space. It hasn't even tested a weapon in space. In fact, proposals to deploy weapons in space have been shot down as too expensive and too vulnerable for years. Anyone remember "Star Wars"?

But the Russians and Chinese are "concerned". So they try anyway, full knowing the futility of the excercise. They can't stop us from launching weapons if we want, and they can't follow suit if we do. We are currently dominant in space, and we will continue to be if we don't royally screw up.

The real motivation for this diplomatic insanity is Russian and Chinese xenophobia, and distant memories of foreign invasion. It hasn't really sunk into their minds that the US doesn't want to invade them, and isn't going to. Their nuclear arsenals are plenty of deterrent. They could blow up a hundred US cities if they wished; both Russia and China have enough missiles to overwhelm any defense the U.S. could muster in the next twenty years. And witness the lengths we go to to prevent North Koreans or terrorists from blowing up one American city.

Behold the power of irrational thought.
 
Keep on his case.
(Link path: Boston Globe/AP)

The ECOWAS and US troops aren't going to stop the chaos in Liberia. They might cause it to end indirectly, but that's not their mission.

They're going in because it's the only way Charles Taylor really, actually, finally will step down and accept exile in Nigeria.

Please remember that every day of delay causes more deaths and fighting in Monrovia. I suppose Taylor's still hoping for a victory he can use as an excuse to call off the resignation. I doubt the world will allow that.
 
Murky Palestinian politics.
(Link path: The Grey Lady, free and pointless registration required)

It looks like there are now three power centers in the Palestinian government: Arafat, Dahlan, and Abbas. Arafat has now taken actions directly against Dahlan's public pronouncements. Previously, despite public declarations of fealty, Abbas and Dahlan have both taken actions Arafat would never order.

Dahlan controls security; Abbas controls Palestinian foreign policy; Arafat holds public support and his crony network. It's not clear who Fatah and the al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades are answering to, but they answer to someone, because they have agreed to the cease-fire. Hamas and Jihad no doubt consider the cease-fire to be a means to re-arm; the Israelis don't like that, but they and we agree for now that Abbas and Dahlan really are too weak to curb the militants, and that we'll have to strengthen the PA. The question is, with politics as murky as this, can the PA be strengthened?
 
Who really blinked?
(Link path: USS Clueless, ABC News; Slate, Washington Post)

Steven Den Beste is running a in-depth positive-spin review of the newest word in North Korean relations. He's an eloquent writer, and you really should "read the whole thing". The upshot of the article is that North Korean negotiations -- indeed, all negotiations with Communist countries -- are based upon brinkmanship. According to Den Beste, North Korea has suddenly capitulated, supposedly under Chinese pressure. The American position of "engaged apathy" has triumphed, and if we just stay the course, North Korea will either make a true deal with the U.S., or be constrained by the Chinese.

Fred Kaplan thinks otherwise. His take on the news of the North Korean agreement includes a reluctant, divided Administration who made a major concession to the North Koreans in a rush of desperation. Kaplan cites a number of North Korean pronouncements favoring multilateral talks, as well as a Washington Post dispatch from Seoul, to bolster his thesis that the Administration only recently paid any real attention to the North Korean crisis at all.

Both gentlemen have an agenda at hand. Den Beste, as a libertarian neocon, believes in the deep planning and execution abilities of the Administration. Kaplan, as a member of the Watergate-bred punditocracy, has a vested interest in attacking the Administration. Both raise valid points and have hard data to bolster their conclusions. Who's right? Will the tru7h be revealed?

Den Beste's argument rests on the conclusion that North Korea has taken a sudden, abrupt about face:

I think the Chinese leadership has finally accepted that North Korea is the problem, and that it can only be solved if China helps apply pressure to NK...There's really no other way to explain why the stated policy of NK changed so radically in such a short time. A change from monumental pugnaciousness to a major concession in just one week could only really have happened if someone capable of applying intolerable pressure actually did so, and only the Chinese have that ability.


The problem with the thesis as stated, as Kaplan points out, is that North Korea didn't make a sudden, abrupt about face:

On June 10, a U.S. official, speaking on background, told Japanese reporters that North Korea might soon agree to participate in broader talks -- to include at least Japan and South Korea -- possibly in August. Since Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage was in Tokyo on that day, it can be inferred that he or one of his aides was the source.

On July 8, North Korean diplomats held unofficial talks with their American counterparts at the United Nations. A week later, Chinese officials told the Tokyo daily Asahi Shimbun that the North Koreans had said at the meeting that they would agree to five-nation talks (Russia was not yet involved) if Washington guaranteed not to undermine the Pyongyang regime.

On July 12, Chinese and North Korean officials held informal talks on the subject, at the conclusion of which -- as CNN reported at the time -- Pyongyang once again agreed to multilateral talks.

On July 25, New Zealand's prime minister, Helen Clark, after meeting with South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun, said a round of multilateral talks would begin "as early as next month."

So, what's going on here? Why is North Korea's agreement being heralded today as a new development when, in fact, the shift occurred over three months ago�and was reported at the time by some of the same news agencies that are now calling it a breakthrough?


The statements given above can only be reconciled if additional communications, ones we're not privy to, caused some actor in this morality play to change their mind. One way to intepret the data is that, unlike the four previous announcements, the U.S. now had the Chinese assurances they previously lacked. (I expect Den Beste will interpret events this way.) Another theory, advanced by Kaplan, states that the North Koreans (or Chinese) now had the American assurances they previously lacked. In other words, neither North Korea nor China blinked -- we did.

The Post quotes a North Korean foreign ministry spokesman as saying Pyongyang agreed to multilateral negotiations after Washington gave assurances that the two sides could meet one-on-one, separately, during the talks. "Some time ago," the spokesman said, "the U.S. informed the DPRK through a third party that the DPRK-U.S. bilateral talks may be held within the framework of multilateral talks." (DPRK stands for Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the official name of North Korea.)

In other words, if this report is true, the Americans are coming to the talks after making at least as big a concession as the North Koreans. There will be a multilateral framework, but also -- shhhhh! -- some bilateral talks within that framework.


But is this really a concession? How common is this practice? People often hold bilateral talks in a multilateral setting. It's done all the time at the Group of Eight summits, for instance. And Kaplan himself points out that unofficial bilateral talks have occurred twice before already:

After all, during last April's trilateral talks in Beijing, the U.S. and North Korean delegations held separate one-on-one sessions. In fact, many understood those sessions to be de facto bilateral talks�although Bush was unwilling to label them as such�with China serving as host, intermediary, and diplomatic cover.


So how is it that bilateral talks are a diplomatic concession, if we've already conducted them before? Note also that the North Koreans are emphasizing the bilateral talks, hinting that the real discussions will be held there, and that they have thus won an American concession. This statement is as self-serving as the Administration-spun stories that Kaplan is attempting to skewer.

Kaplan, it should be pointed out, believes that the trilateral talks in China were unoffcially bilateral, and the Chinese presence was superfluous. Den Beste doesn't know about (or doesn't believe in) the unofficial bilateral talks, and believes Chinese involvement was critical.

In the Orient, diplomacy is considered to be "war by other means", and vice versa. If that's true, then a "fog of war" has descended upon US-North Korea relations. Both sides believe they are winning, and it's far from clear who really has the upper hand. The only firm conclusion we can draw is that talks will occur in September, with all concerned parties in active participation. That has to be good news, considering that everyone involved has essentially hid from the issues for fifty years.

Finally, a word from the soapbox: Personally, I believe North Korea can't be trusted. They entered into the 1994 Agreed Framework fully intending to break it, and I believe they will break future agreements if they can. Only active involvement and close monitoring by the threatened countries, especially China, can force North Korean compliance. Even so, a North Korean-U.S. agreement will only stabilize, not fix, the situation. In the long run, North Korea will collapse, and either China or South Korea will have to incorporate and rehabilitate it. (I would favor South Korea; for starters, they would want to.) The real issues are, one, to minimize the danger to neighbors when the DPRK time bomb finally blows, and two, to arrange the mechanisms for future North Korean administration. Hopefully, in places the North Koreans can't hear them, the Eastern powers will discuss the future as well as the present.

UPDATE: Welcome to visitors from USS Clueless, and thanks to Den Beste for linking! Feel free to take a look around, ya'll...

UPDATE TWO: Incestuous Amplification has more in-depth coverage. I comment on it above.
Friday, August 01, 2003
 
This should make many a blogger happy.
(Link path: Washington Post)

John Poindexter has resigned.

Poindexter, as many of you may recall, was the mastermind behind Total Information Awareness, lampooned by many a Website as the next step towards Big Brother. Before that, he was convicted of numerous high crimes and misdemeanors for his leading role as National Security Advisor in the Iran-Contra scandal. And previous to that, he had an illustrious career as an officer in the United States Navy.

While I honor Admiral Poindexter for defending my country for many years, his decisions regarding national security and public policy have been repeatedly repudiated by the government and people of the United States. It is my sound and reasoned opinion that he has no business in any "office of trust or profit under the United States", despite the court decision in 1990 to lift such restriction.

One of his out-of-control think-tank's many ideas was the recent Policy Analysis Market. Though the idea is well-regarded in the blogosphere, I oppose the development of such a "terror futures market" under government contract (it's a great private sector idea). However, this additional affront to Congress' sensibility has become the straw that finally broke the camel's back. Poindexter has succumbed to pressure and taken one for the team.

How will my fellow bloggers respond to Poindexter's fall? I predict that the good idea of PAM will not absolve Poindexter, in the blogosphere's eyes, from the utter travesty that arose from the development of TIA. Goodbye, Admiral. And good riddance.

UPDATE: Phil Carter explains why the Administration won't make headway on their brainstorming sessions.
 
The lords of capitalism and the new colonialism.
(Link path: King of the Blogs, Blog Mela @ Gene Expression, Time Magazine)

The most positive thing about the Information Revolution is that information can be moved anywhere. Ideas are now free to travel the world on beams of light, bound by no conveyance. A tank cannon is fired in Baghdad, and a rancher in Wyoming watches live. A blogger in Tennessee makes a comment, and instantly changes the course of the second Iranian revolution.

The most negative thing about the Information Revolution is that many jobs can be moved anywhere. Only physical matters have to be dealt with personally; only physical objects have to be placed in a single location. Any job or business that depends on ideas, however, can be placed anywhere there are people with sufficient skills.

When the ticker was invented, suddenly it was less important to live and work near Wall Street. You could find out what the prices on the NYSE were anywhere in the country. That dispersal of news led to a dispersal of the financial industry: a very welcome development for financial freedom in the age of J. P. Morgan & Son. But the move of banking concerns to Hartford, Charlotte, and elsewhere was a disaster for Wall Street denizens who believed they had a monopoly on large-scale U.S. stockbrokering simply due to their location. The equivalent advances today in the Internet and global shipping have made it possible to send manufacturing, IT, finance, engineering, telemarketing, customer support, and even R&D abroad. Your proximity to your home company has no meaning anymore; and for capitalist companies with no binding ties to their original nation, that means the company has no loyalty to any local employees anymore. The advances in communication and transportation mean that business is less dependent on location.

In the union battles of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, one of the biggest threats that managers and owners could bring to bear against striking workers is the threat of replacement workers. Many managers carried out that threat; the most recent example was Reagan's replacement of striking air traffic controllers in the 1980's. If your labor is not indispensable, then all your offers and threats mean little: your labor is no more valuable than the next man's. In a free market, that means that the cost of labor is set by the man who is willing to work for the least amount of money. In the language of capitalism, you are "underbid".

Replacement workers are only possible in a labor glut. If there are plenty of laborers around desperate for work, you can hire up workers cheap and throw the striking bums into the unemployed pool. But if labor is scarce, then you will find few people willing to work for peanuts. And to hire people away from other companies, you'll have to offer them benefits at least as good as the ones they were receiving at their old job, and potentially better.

When I go on vacation, I often take trips to historical sites all over America. Two locations I've visited on my trips were the Vanderbilt mansions in Hyde Park, N.Y., and Asheville, N.C. On both trips, the tours include a walk through the servants' quarters. In North Carolina, the quarters were cramped, dark, and plain, with very few amenities. In New York, servants had wide corridors, ample sleeping spaces, and crystal and china only a shade less beautiful than the masters'.

Why the difference?, I asked the tour guide. The answer was simple. In New York, there was a severe shortage of workers willing to be house servants. (Most immigrants came to the U.S. to get away from such affectations, and native-born Americans were too proud.) In addition, there were multiple wealthy families nearby competing for the same small labor pool. The families had to outbid each other in order to attract well-trained servants; the Vanderbilts were very careful, for instance, to offer twice the salary of their neighbors the Roosevelts. In North Carolina, there were plenty of dirt-poor people, including former slaves who remembered house-service, and no competition at all.

The relative amounts of labor and work determine the price of labor, and hence the standard of living of the laborers. In a labor glut, work is cheap and workers are poor. In a labor shortage, work is expensive and workers are well treated.

The combined forces of exponential population growth, globalization, and the Information Revolution have created the worst labor glut in the history of the world. As a result, companies are free to choose their location and their workers without any regard to local concerns. Austin or Bangalore, the Ruhr or the Siberian Far East; there's no difference. Every town in the world is now in direct competition with every other town in the world.

I've watched this process at work in Mississippi. In order to attract factories and jobs, local governments must offer tremendous bonuses to incoming corporations. Land deals. Free utility connections. Tax breaks. New roads built specifically for companies, at taxpayer expense. Subsidies for worker housing. Education programs directed at training factory workers. All these sweetheart deals are on the table -- indeed, are forced onto the table. Your local government has no choice; if it wants the local economy to grow, it must offer a sweetheart deal, and the bigger the better, because there might be another town or county or state that will give an even better deal and convince the company to abandon you.

And even when the plant is built and the workers hired and a history and relationship established, there's no guarantee that the company won't pull up stakes in just a few years. Because the government contributed heavily to the investments in the plant, there is less investment made by the company. This means smaller losses if the plant is shut down in favor of better labor costs in Mexico or China. The local government must actively continue to woo the plant, and offer even better monetary deals. Less environmental regulation. Less monitoring of labor regulations. Tolerance of migrant workers. Acceptance of layoffs. Approval for toxic waste dumping. And, in effect, tolerance of whatever whims "senior management" choose.

The companies, in effect, hold more power than the government, because they hold the power of the purse over the heads of everyone in the town. In some places, this has held true for hundreds of years. When the company is munificent, shows concern for the local population, and has no intentions of leaving, the result is the happy and prosperous town of Corning, New York. When the company is moneygrubbing, indifferent to local opinion, and ready to leave for greener pastures at a moment's notice, you get the miserable coal-towns of West Virginia.

The old "colonial" system allowed Europeans to extract natural resources and utilize native labor. Because of the overwhelming techonological, economic, and military advantage held by the European powers, local governments from Benin to Bahrain had to accept whatever dictates and forms of government were decreed from the capital. The European powers, on the other hand, were safe from such dictates because they, and they alone, held the factories and skilled laborers that made industry possible. While peoples around the world toiled for whatever improvements they could beg, plead, or borrow from European masters, the labor unions and democrats of the West won concessions and power and wealth and safety.

With population and education on the rise everywhere, the Western populations no longer have a monopoly on industry or even technology. Globalization means that corporations no longer have any affiliation or loyalty to the Western nations that gave them birth. And the information age, plus cheap global trade, means that every land and people on Earth can be freely competed against, for the most efficient generation of wealth.

There are no "colonial regions" anymore, or any "colonizing nations". We are all, now, colonies of the capitalists.