“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Sunday, March 09, 2008

NAFTA and the 2008 Presidential Election

Rip Van Republican

The Second Battle Of NAFTA
By: Pat Buchanan, The Bulletin

If Canada and Mexico do not renegotiate NAFTA, said Hillary Clinton in the Cleveland debate, she would "opt out" of the trade treaty that was the legislative altarpiece of Bill Clinton's presidency. Barack agreed. NAFTA is renegotiated, or NAFTA is gone.

Barack went further. He has denounced "open trucking," the feature of NAFTA whereby Mexican trucks are to be free to roam the United States and compete with the Teamsters of Jim Hoffa's union, which just endorsed him.

The trade issue is back, big-time. For to blue-collar workers in industrial states like Ohio, NAFTA is a code word for betrayal - a sellout of them and their families to CEOs panting to move production out of the United States to cheap-labor countries like Mexico and China.

Our workers' instincts are backed up by stats. In 2007, the U.S. trade deficit with Mexico soared 16 percent to $73 billion, a record. Mexico now ships more cars to us now than we ship to the world. And where did Mexico get an auto industry?

The U.S. trade deficit with China shot up 10 percent to $256 billion, the largest trade deficit ever between any two countries.

Charles MacMillion of MBG Services has run the numbers.

In manufactures, the United States had a trade deficit of $499 billion in 2007, a slight improvement over the $526 billion record in 2006. Yet that trade deficit in manufactured goods with the world is more than twice as large as our $224 billion bill for OPEC's oil.

Under President Bush, the U.S. trade deficit has doubled. Three million manufacturing jobs have vanished. And America has begun to run a trade deficit in advanced technology goods of more than $50 billion.

Our trade deficit in advanced technology goods with China is $67 billion, eight times what it is with Japan.

"Free trade is essential to the creation of high-paying quality jobs," said Mr. Bush on Thursday. But if exports create jobs (and they do), imports displace them. And if we import half a trillion dollars more in manufactures than we export, is not Bush trade policy literally slaughtering industrial jobs?

Is there not a correlation between $4.3 trillion in trade deficits under Mr. Bush, the 3 million manufacturing jobs lost under Mr. Bush, the fall of the dollar by 50 percent against the euro under Mr. Bush and the resurgence of inflation, signaled by a quadrupling of the price of gold, under Mr. Bush?

Neither Hillary nor Mr. Obama has laid out a new trade-and-tax policy to deal with the de-industrialization of America and our deepening dependency on foreign technology, manufactures and the loans to pay for them. But at least they are listening to the country.

John McCain seems blind and deaf to the crisis. In Michigan, he informed autoworkers their "jobs are not coming back" and explained his philosophy: "I'm a student of history. Every time the United States has become protectionist ... we've paid a very heavy price."

This is ahistorical nonsense. From 1860 to 1913, the United States was the most protectionist nation on earth and produced the most awesome growth of any nation in history. In 1860, the U.S. economy was half of Britain's; in 1913, it was more than twice Britain's.

In 1920, Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge won a landslide, cut income taxes from Mr. Wilson's 69 percent to 25 percent and doubled tariffs. America went on a tear. When Mr. Coolidge went home in 1929, the United States was producing 42 percent of the world's manufactured goods.

Who were America's protectionists?

Alexander Hamilton and James Madison moved the Tariff Act of 1789 through Congress. Aided by Henry Clay, John Calhoun, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, President Madison enacted the Tariff of 1816 to protect U.S. infant industries from British dumping.

Abraham Lincoln used Morrill Tariff revenue to fight the Civil War. The 11 GOP presidents who followed, from 1865 to 1929, all protectionists, made America the greatest industrial power in history, with a standard of living never before seen. Mocking protectionism, McCain is repudiating Republican history and all its achievements up to the era of Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon.

America rose to power behind a Republican tariff wall. What has free trade wrought? Lost sovereignty. A sinking dollar. A hollowing out of U.S. manufacturing. Stagnant wages. Wives forced into the labor market to maintain the family income. Mass indebtedness to foreign nations, and a deepening dependency on foreign goods and borrowings to pay for them. We have sacrificed our country on the altar of this Moloch, the mythical Global Economy.

It took Rip Van Republican 20 years to wake up to the disaster of open borders and five years to realize the folly of igniting wars in which no vital interest was at risk. How long before the GOP wakes up to the reality that globalism is not conservatism, never was, but is a pillar of Wilsonian liberalism, in whose vineyards our faux conservatives now daily labor?

Pat Buchanan is a politician, author, syndicated columnist and broadcaster.


  1. It's the end of the world. Hillary extols McCain's experience over a fellow Democrat, and Obama's inability to answer that 3AM phone call. Pat Buchanan extols the way Obama and Hillary are listening to the American worker instead of corporate fat cats. What's next, is Rosie going to compliment Donald Trump's hairpiece?

  2. We better get real border controls in place before we give in to populist calls for renegotiation of NAFTA. That trade deficit we run with Mexico is part of the relief valve which keeps our southern neighbor from really exploding all over us.

    To the north, populist forces are all too ready to reopen NAFTA...

  3. Good ol' Rip, travelled to the other world asleep, lingered there in a stupor, and upon return had nothing to show for the trip but his whiskers, and was mistaken for a royalist. The Christ of the Transfiguration, however, is the whole myth in a moment, being the guide, the path, the goal, the boon attained, and the means of return. With the ability to leap lightly over the line, he is the Cosmic Dancer, master of the Two Realms, bringing the boon of the fructifying deep, wihich is dark to us but light to them that have been there, and returned with its memory to mankind. Good Peter, seeing this, was reduced to inarticulate gibberish.

    from memory, from J. Campbell(I always liked that 'nothing to show for his trip but his whiskers':) )

  4. If we re-open NAFTA, we ignore the serious inroads that China has made in the Americas. It would prove the case that the US is an unreliable trading partner. In case anyone has forgotten, a lot of energy goes into the US from the north and the south.

    There are far smarter methods to solve the problems that we created for ourselves than to scapegoat others.

  5. "We better get real border controls in place before we give in to populist calls for renegotiation of NAFTA. That trade deficit we run with Mexico is part of the relief valve which keeps our southern neighbor from really exploding all over us."
    Border Control in 24 hours or less:

    National Gaurd, w/shoot to kill ROE's.

    It would save many lives, but liberals and librarians would spin themselves to their graves.

    ...what's wrong w/that?

  6. Gee, Bob you had me in awe of your extemporaneous depth and breath 'til I saw the credit.

    As it is, I'll admire the depth and breath of your reading and references.

    It's an honor to have you as an integral part of the EB and someday I would like to meet you.

  7. Minefield. Just joking..or am I?

  8. Hawaya Doug? Morning, Deuce.

    Hey palindrome, where are you from?

  9. That goes all the way back to high school, Whit. We had a really good English teacher, who was married to one of our Jewish fellows here. I remember to this day when she read that to us out of Campbell, and talked about it.

    I didn't know it at the time, but I see it now, what she was doing in that particular class, was reading through Campbell to us, or , rather, talking from Campbell, as even the sequence of the subjects fits the mold. Hooked me, finally.

  10. I'm on an adventure today. I rent a few apartments, and one lady left suddenly, leaving me in the middle of a lease, the bitch, and I got a call last night, guy with a heavy arabic accent all in a huff needing a place, right now. His girl has a Russian name. Wonder what's up. See ya later, if I return:)

  11. The Dems this weekend are pushing the torture issue and human rights orgs are up in arms over Bush's veto.

    Waterboarding involves strapping a person down and pouring water over his cloth-covered face to create the sensation of drowning. It has been traced back hundreds of years to the Spanish Inquisition and is condemned by nations around the world and human rights organizations as torture.

    These animals should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

  13. Al-bob,
    Hire a contractor to find a critical maintenance item impinging directly on renter's safety, take it off the market, he moves in some plastic and construction tools, and you wait it out til after the first Moscow Recruitment Center Explosion, then contact the FBI.

  14. Mexico Seizes Arsenal, Drugs in Tijuana

    A federal police officer looks down the street where a shootout between gunmen and police ...
    Fri Mar 7, 10:53 PM EST

    Soldiers seized assault rifles, grenades, marijuana and bulletproof vests bearing police insignia after a brief shootout in the Mexican border city of Tijuana.

    No one was wounded in the overnight exchange of fire with three suspects hunkered down in a house in La Mesa district, army Gen. Sergio Aponte Polito told reporters Friday.

    Troops seized 91 assault rifles — some with butts of gold and ivory — along with 18 grenades, the bulletproof vests and more than 880 pounds of marijuana, Aponte Polito said. The three suspects, aged 25 to 33, were arrested.

    The bust followed weeks of bloody confrontations along the U.S.-Mexico border between Mexican security forces and alleged drug cartel gunmen.

    On Tuesday, army troops fought a seven-hour gunbattle with suspects who were hiding in a house in an upscale neighborhood of Tijuana.

    When soldiers finally stormed the house, one person was found dead and two others were arrested. Several assault rifles, shotguns and police uniforms were also found.

    Also Friday, police commander Ricardo Rodriguez was shot dead in a city plaza by gunmen who opened fire with assault rifles from a moving car, state police director Daniel Camarena said.

    Rodriguez was killed a day after three mutilated bodies were dumped outside the offices of the federal Attorney General's office in Oaxaca.

    And in the border state of Tamaulipas, soldiers arrested six police officers who allegedly received payoffs from members of the Gulf cartel, Mexico's Defense Department said in a statement.

  15. No matter who wins the White House in November, the era of American torture is over. Was it worth it, making Lady Liberty lose her virginity?

  16. Bryson's "Walk in the Woods" is turning into a motor-car tour. But it's still interesting--

    For northbound hikers Sunfish Pond is something of a glorious novelty, since nowhere south of here will you find a body of water on a mountaintop. It is in fact the first glacial feature northbound hikers come across. During the last ice age, this was about as far as the ice sheets got. The farthest advance in New Jersey was about ten miles south of the Water Gap, though even here, where the climate would let it go no further, it was still at least 2,000 feet thick.

    Imagine it--a wall of ice nearly half a mile high, and beyond it for tens of thousands of square miles nothing but more ice, broken only by the peaks of a very few of te loftiest mountains. What a sight that must have been. And here is a thing that most of us fail to appreciate: we are still in an ice age, only now we experience it for just part of the year. (Except in Dougland, Hawaii). Snow and ice and cold are not really typical features of earth. Taking the long view, Antarctica is actually a jungle. (It's just having a chilly spell.) At the very peak of the last ice age 20,000 years ago, 30 percent of the earth was under ice. Today 10 percent still is. There have been at least a dozen ice ages in the last two million years, each lasting about 100,000 years. The most recent intrusion, called the Wisonsinian ice sheet, spread down from the polar regions over much of Europe and North America, growing to depths of up to two miles and advancing at a rate of up to 400 feet a year. As it soaked up the earth's free water, sea levels fell by 450 feet. Then, about 10,000 years ago, not abruptly exactly, but near enough, it began to melt back. No one knows why....

    No one knows much of anything about the earth's many ice ages--why they came, why they stopped, when they may return. One interesting theory, given our present day concerns with global warming, is that the ice ages were caused not by falling terperatures but by warming ones. Warm weather would increase precipitation, which would increase cloud cover, which would lead to less snow melt at higher elevations. You don't need a great deal of bad weather to get an ice age. As Gwen Schultz notes in Ice Age Lost "It is not necessrily the amount of snow that causes ice sheets, but the fact that snow, however little, lasts." In terms of precipitation, she observes, Antarctica "is the driest large area on Earth, drier over all than any large desert."

    from 'A Walk in the Woods'

  17. Man Climbs Everest In His Shorts

    No kidding, and much else besides. Scientists at a hypothermia lab can't figure him out.

    Match that, Al-Doug:)

  18. "Was it worth it, making Lady Liberty lose her virginity?"

    Lady Liberty can handle it, as always.

  19. Unlimited, Unregulated, Unreasonable, Free Trade Dogmatists

    If you watched the Republican presidential debates — and had no other knowledge of economic history — you might believe that Ronald Reagan, the personification of modern conservatism, was a pure free trader. During a debate in Michigan, for example, Mr. McCain said that President Reagan “must be spinning in his grave” to hear Republicans expressing concerns about free trade. But while free traders like to quote some of President Reagan’s open-markets rhetoric, they did not like many of his actual trade policies.

    President Reagan often broke with free-trade dogma. He arranged for voluntary restraint agreements to limit imports of automobiles and steel (an industry whose interests, by the way, I have represented). He provided temporary import relief for Harley-Davidson. He limited imports of sugar and textiles. His administration pushed for the “Plaza accord” of 1985, an agreement that made Japanese imports more expensive by raising the value of the yen.

    Each of these measures prompted vociferous criticism from free traders. But they worked. By the early 1990s, doubts about Americans’ ability to compete had been impressively reduced.

    President Reagan’s pragmatism contrasted strongly with the utopian dreams of free traders. Ever since Edmund Burke criticized the French philosophes, Anglo-American conservatism has rejected ivory-tower theories that disregard the realities of everyday life.

    Modern free traders, on the other hand, embrace their ideal with a passion that makes Robespierre seem prudent. They allow no room for practicality, nuance or flexibility. They embrace unbridled free trade, even as it helps China become a superpower. They see only bright lines, even when it means bowing to the whims of anti-American bureaucrats at the World Trade Organization.
    They oppose any trade limitations, even if we must depend on foreign countries to feed ourselves or equip our military. They see nothing but dogma — no matter how many jobs are lost, how high the trade deficit rises or how low the dollar falls.

    Conservative statesmen from Alexander Hamilton to Ronald Reagan sometimes supported protectionism and at other times they leaned toward lowering barriers. But they always understood that trade policy was merely a tool for building a strong and independent country with a prosperous middle class.

    Free traders like Mr. McCain instead rely too often on the notion that we should change the country to suit their trade policy — an approach that is not in the best traditions of American conservatism.

    Robert E. Lighthizer, a trade lawyer, was a deputy trade representative in the Reagan administration and the treasurer of Bob Dole’s 1996 presidential campaign.

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