14 July 2016   Leave a comment

China has issued a white paper refuting the judgment of the International Arbitration Court at the Hague which repudiated China’s claims in the South China Sea.  It is a very long paper which essentially rests upon the Chinese claim that it has exercised sovereignty over the islands in the South China Sea for over 2,000 years.  The issue of contention is precisely the  question of sovereignty.  The Arbitration Court based its judgment on the UN Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).  China claims that the arbitration court has no jurisdiction on the question of sovereignty and that UNCLOS has no relevance to the issue of sovereignty.  The distinction is quite fine:  international law is not the same thing as sovereignty, but international law does have a lot to say on the issue of sovereignty.

How cynical can one be?  Goldman Sachs has announced the appointment of José Manuel Barroso as non-executive chairman of Goldman Sachs International.  Barroso is certainly qualified for the position since he served as president of the European Commission from 2004 to 2014.  In 2011, when the European Union was facing a very serious sovereign debt crisis, a crisis that  Goldman Sachs helped create, Barroso gave a speech in which he stated:

“In the last three years, Member States – I should say taxpayers – have granted aid and provided guarantees of € 4.6 trillion to the financial sector. It is time for the financial sector to make a contribution back to society. That is why I am very proud to say that today, the Commission adopted a proposal for the Financial Transaction Tax. Today I am putting before you a very important text that if implemented may generate a revenue of about € 55 billion per year. Some people will ask “Why?”. Why? It is a question of fairness. If our farmers, if our workers, if all the sectors of the economy from industry to agriculture to services, if they all pay a contribution to the society also the banking sector should make a contribution to the society.

The Financial Transaction Tax went nowhere.  But perhaps by giving back, Barroso only meant a great-paying job for himself.  It is difficult to imagine real change when the public and private sectors are so incestuous.  And the relationships forged tend to cluster around the decision-making centers of every country.  The ratio of incomes in the major political cities to the incomes of countries as a whole is quite striking, but in no country is it as bad as in Washington, DC.

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Posted July 15, 2016 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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