February 05, 2009


Richard makes some valuable points regarding my previous post on Obama supporting free trade.  Obamanomics may well be the biggest spending spree in American history, and will probably do little to alleviate our troubles.  It will most likely amount to bread and circuses to appease Obama’s constituents.  As Pat Buchanan recently wrote:

But does it make sense to include in a plan to prepare America for the 21st century borrowing billions from Beijing to mail out in $500 checks to folks who don’t pay income taxes, so they can run down to Wal-Mart and buy more goods made in China?

While Obama has proven not to be a protectionist, he probably does not support free trade because he believes it to be necessarily good for America.  To the contrary, as his recent quote suggests, he probably thinks it is the duty of the First World to support free trade.  I suspect his reasoning is not far from Paul Krugman’s, cheerleader for free trade at the New York Times.  As discussed by J.G. Collings, Krugman made an extraordinary confession a couple years ago.  Krugman admitted that global free trade has indeed depressed the wages of American workers and the cheap imports don’t make up the difference.  Yet, Krugman still champions free trade.  His reasoning?  Collins writes:

[Krugman is] concerned about the economies of countries where goods are produced.  Krugman foresees a catastrophe if the United States and Europe close off access to cheap imports.  “Where would that leave Bangladesh?… Where would that leave India?  Where would that leave Mexico?”  The hand-wringing doesn’t extend, apparently, to that 50-something father of four on the Chrysler assembly line who just got a pink slip…..

In a transnational economy that is permeated with open trade, wages spiral ever downward because of virtually unlimited supply of laborers from poor countries who accept lower wages for their work….

Krugman’s concern about the dire state of the economies of the Third World betrays a sort of imperialistic arrogance.  He acts as of there is some white man’s burden to sustain the economies of lesser-developed nations by purchasing their goods or, as is more often the case, manufacturing goods in the Third World for Western consumption.

This “moralist” support for global trade, as Collins suggests, is a product of empire, and probably is not far from the reasoning of many who support mass immigration and interventionism.  In fact, I think it’s debatable whether the three can be separated.

Such “humanitarianism” begs the question why cannot the United States act like other, non-ideological nations?  What is wrong with returning to America’s long-standing tradition of tariffs and acting in its own interest?  Buchanan wrote last year:

In today?s world, America faces nationalistic trade rivals who manipulate currencies, employ nontariff barriers, subsidize their manufacturers, rebate value-added taxes on exports to us and impose value-added taxes on imports from us, all to capture our markets and kill our great companies.

It seems to me that many free-trade advocates are asking Americans to show up to a gun fight with knives.  One must ask:  cui bono?


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