A.J. DiCintio
Is free trade stupid trade?
By A.J. DiCintio
November 13, 2010

Although "the economy" was the overriding issue during this year's election, the controversy regarding fair trade vs. free trade surprisingly wasn't a big deal.

However, fair traders need not worry; for the '08 Election serves as a reminder of how important the trade issue really is.

Specifically, that John McCain considered the topic so important to his image as captain of the Straight Talk Express he felt compelled to take the deadly risk of telling Michigan voters (and thus voters across the nation) their lost jobs were never coming back.

And that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton deemed the issue so absolutely crucial to winning the Buckeye State they downed energy drinks by the gallon to stave off fatigue caused by stumping across every one of the state's square feet, every inch of the way promising citizens that if nominated and elected, they would stamp serious changes into NAFTA, if not stomp out the Ohio-hated treaty entirely.

Of course, McCain had nothing to offer unemployed or underemployed Michiganders except platitudes which combined with a buck fifty will buy a cup of coffee.

And the plain truth about the Democratic duo is that they lied through their teeth, as evidenced by the fact that since Obama took office, neither they nor any other administration official has uttered a single word about modifying or repealing NAFTA.

This is not to say that those three politicians are the only true-believing devotees of the free trade status quo; for it is dogmatically supported by people as disparate as the majority of Republican elites and just about everyone who writes for the NYT.

There are, however, dissenters to the free trade faith, among whom Pat Buchanan is best known for singularly carrying the fair trade banner against most of the American political/industrial power structure.

But with Donald Trump having offered his thoughts about the subject in a recent appearance with Greta Van Susteren, significant help toward beginning an honest, rational discussion about the trade issue may be on the way.

Unafraid to go on the record with his usual directness, Trump declared politicians ought to be "ashamed" for having creating an environment that rewards companies for moving manufacture of "product" offshore, especially to China and Mexico.

As a buyer of huge amounts of product, he then pointed out the stunning irony of the U.S. "nation building" in China, which uses its cheap labor and undervalued currency to send us inferior, sometimes deadly goods.

Next, he argued that to bring fairness to the economic playing field and thus good jobs back to the U.S., we ought to impose a stiff tariff on Chinese goods.

Finally, to make certain no one would doubt the fierceness of his intellectual commitment to fair trade, he used the words "stupid" and "stupidity" as he assailed the trade policies instituted by our political leaders —

First, when he revealed that foreign businessmen have told him "[They] can't believe how stupid American [trade] representatives are."

Second, when he exclaimed "stupidity!" as he condemned (using the example of Newton, Iowa's Maytag Corp.) the exportation of jobs to Mexico, asking, "Are we running Mexico, or are we running [the USA]?"

Now, free traders respond to the likes of Buchanan and Trump by warning of trade wars and debt disasters that could bring on a depression, never mentioning that such a calamity wouldn't be an issue if it weren't for the trade policies they instituted in the first place.

But more importantly, they argue ferociously that free trade has produced a net benefit for American workers.

Really? Then why haven't they flooded this nation with meticulously detailed information that, state by state, town by town, and job by job contrasts how many good jobs free trade has cost us with the number of good jobs (defined by precise wage and benefits data) it has created?

Most likely, the answer to the question is that free traders don't want the public to realize that Barack Obama imitated them when, having pulled numbers from the upper regions of the stratosphere, he asked the American people to trust him that his porkish $800 billion "stimulus" not only saved 8 million jobs but also created 3 million new ones.

So, until free trade advocates provide me with incontrovertible facts that their trade policy is a boon for the United States and not a Pollyannaish-induced, new world order nightmare or a selfish scam that tramples upon the middle class while stuffing the pockets of a favored few, I'll side with Trump that free trade is stupid trade.

Moreover, to help bring about the triumph of Trump's trade ideas, I propose the following national goal:

(1) Outsource the job of every big shot CEO and every Wall Street bigwig to an ambitious, common sense, summa cum laude Second World business person or magna cum laude financial guru happy to work for half a million a year, max.

(2) Outsource the job of every big-time lawyer to an admirably diligent, cum laude Third World law school graduate willing to bill the most complex legal work at $50 an hour, the rest at $25.

(3) Outsource the job of every Washington politician to the appropriate number of moral and intellectual degenerates First, Second, and Third World nations have to offer at $1 a day, benefits included.

I guarantee that the moment tens of millions of us simply shout our support for such a goal, it will take only three nanoseconds more for a universal fair trade bill to be lobbied into passage in the House and Senate and signed into law by a proudly smiling, "I've always been a fair trader" president.

© A.J. DiCintio


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

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A.J. DiCintio

A.J. DiCintio posts regularly at RenewAmerica and YourNews.com. He first exercised his polemical skills arguing with friends on the street corners of the working class neighborhood where he grew up. Retired from teaching, he now applies those skills, somewhat honed and polished by experience, to social/political affairs.


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