Monday, April 4, 2016

Another anti-Hyundai Screed, Some Political Notes and a Short, Short Story


Why I Will Not Buy a Hyundai nor a Kia
Here is a brief quote from the Congressional Research Service’s 1-16-14 report entitled “The U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA): Provisions and Implementation” This was passed by Congress in 2011 and passed by the South Korean legislature in 2012.  While it contains advantages for both South Korea and the United States, the objectives of both countries differ.  South Korea would like to integrate components manufactured in North Korea which they include in South Korean products which fall under the treaty.  The United States opposes this.  Note the ambiguity in the following language taken from the Congressional Research Service’s report.

“Another criticism of the KORUS FTA was that it could constrain the United States’ ability to restrict imports of North Korean goods or components, for instance, by invoking the agreement’s dispute settlement procedures to challenge a U.S. decision to prohibit the entry of a South Korean product that contains North Korean components. However, provisions in the KORUS-FTA will appear to allow either the United States or South Korea to impose or maintain trade restrictions against the goods of a third country (such as North Korea); thus the agreement will accord each Party the right to restrict trade with the other Party in implementing any such embargo. 

In the KORUS FTA negotiations, the United States backed away from the principle of its initial position of not ever expanding the KORUS FTA to North Korea-made products, a significant achievement for South Korea. At the same time, the United States appeared to give up little in substance in the near-to-middle term. The United States apparently would be able to control the decision to and pace of any move to grant preferential treatment to North Korea-made products. Any perceptions of foot-dragging by the United States, however, may come at a diplomatic price if future South Korean governments push for more rapid integration of North Korean industrial zones into the FTA.” 

The manufacturing in the North Korean industrial zones referred to above takes place in the Kasong Industrial Complex, in North Korea just across the border.  Many South Korean plants operate there, paying the North Korean government which in turn pays the workers there at probably the lowest wage rates in Asia. 

The South Korean Hyundai conglomerate, which includes its subsidiary companies manufacturing Hyundai and Kia automobiles, manages and operates the North Korean Kasong Industrial Complex. (It usually shuts down during periods of tension between the two Koreas, but invariably reopens shortly thereafter.)  There are plants there making components for automobiles.  Whether these parts find their way into Hyundais and Kias sold in the United States is uncertain, but even if they are used only in vehicles sold elsewhere, they affect the profitability of Hyundai and Kia and the pricing of their products.

The family which founded the Hyundai group of companies has North Korean origins.  In fact, their Chairperson was an honored guest at the funeral of the present North Korean President’s father, Kim Jong Il back in 2011.  Companies in the Hyundai group were also influential in building the railroad system in North Korea.  For these reasons, as well as ambiguities in the report cited above, I will not purchase a Hyundai nor a Kia vehicle and I consider it to be an unpatriotic act on the part of those who do, at least so long as the nuclear-armed North Korean government remains belligerent toward the United States.


Jack Lippman


Political Notes

Okay, so I was wrong when I suggested that the Republicans cancel their convention a few weeks ago.  They will have it, and they will either nominate someone other than Donald Trump, who will then decide to run as a third party candidate, or they will give him the nomination, and other Republicans, the ones with more than half a brain, will run their own third party candidate.  The outcome, however, will be the same as I had predicted.

It will result in the same scenario I postulated a few weeks ago.  Neither Trump nor the Republican Mainstream candidate nor the Democratic candidate will get the requisite 270 electoral votes needed to become President.  The decision will then be made by the House of Representatives with one vote per state.  Since a majority of state delegations are Republican controlled, they will vote in a Republican President, probably the Mainstream candidate.  My guess is that it will probably be either Paul Ryan or John Kasich.  

The only way the Democrats can elect Hillary Clinton (or a surging Bernie Sanders) would be to keep the election out of the House, and that, in a three party race, will take a truly massive voter turnout.


Kasich or Ryan?

(I saw a bumper sticker the other day reading “Those who ignore the lessons of history are doomed to vote Republican.”  The car had Arkansas plates, no less.  Governor Huckabee wasn’t driving.)