The Reverse Peristalsis of Free Trade

When Ross Perot warned us of a great sucking sound of jobs moving to Mexico in the wake of NAFTA, few of us thought of Newton’s third law of motion; “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction .”

With the peristalsis of job sucking, free trade also gives us reverse peristalsis such as this:

Three months ago, when the authorities announced that they had seized a large cache of counterfeit drugs from Euro Gulf’s warehouse deep inside a sprawling free trade zone here [in Dubai], they gave no hint of the raid’s global significance.

But an examination of the case reveals its link to a complex supply chain of fake drugs that ran from China through Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates, Britain and the Bahamas, ultimately leading to an Internet pharmacy whose American customers believed they were buying medicine from Canada, according to interviews with regulators and drug company investigators in six countries…

The problem is that counterfeiters use free trade zones to hide — or sanitize — a drug’s provenance, or to make, market or relabel adulterated products, according to anticounterfeiting experts.

The New York Times article demonstrates that those of us of a certain age, who depend upon medications, should be concerned:

…there is no shortage of Chinese companies making fake, subpotent or adulterated drug products.

“Some of them in the morning, they manufacture good drugs and in the afternoon and evening they manufacture counterfeit medicine,” said Dr. Mohammed Abu Elkhair, a health official in Abu Dhabi who helped organize a conference last month in the capital city to educate United Arab Emirates officials on how to combat counterfeit medicine…

Calling counterfeit medicine a growing global threat, Dr. Abu Elkhair said one only had to look at a mass poisoning in Panama last year to understand the seriousness of the problem. More than a hundred people died there because the government had unwittingly mixed a counterfeit ingredient made by a chemical company in China into cold medicine.

This highlights the consequences of laissez faire gone global. By warping the thought of Adam Smith, laissez faire capitalism became a full-blown theology, undergirded by the heresy of quietism. The god of this theology is usually known by the plain name of “Unseen Hand.”

The heresy — quietism — according to the Catholic Encyclopedia,

is the doctrine which declares that man’s highest perfection consists in a sort of psychical self-annihilation and a consequent absorption of the soul into the Divine Essence even during the present life. In the state of “quietude” the mind is wholly inactive; it no longer thinks or wills on its own account, but remains passive while God acts within it. Quietism is thus generally speaking a sort of false or exaggerated mysticism, which under the guise of the loftiest spirituality contains erroneous notions which, if consistently followed, would prove fatal to morality.

Unseen Hand works in, with, and under the industrious anthill that is the global market economy. The exaggerated mysticism of prophets such as Milton the Friedman demands that minds and wills abstain from any interference whatsoever in the workings of Unseen Hand.

Yes, the Catholic Encyclopedia nails it. Quietism in this religion does prove “fatal to morality.”


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