Friday, July 23, 2004


I am afraid this is true: "Over the past three years, President Bush has positioned himself as one of the more hostile opponents of free trade. Last week the Bush administration announced it was levying antidumping duties on shrimp imported from China and Vietnam, with more countries perhaps to be added soon. Last year, a tariff on catfish from Vietnam was enacted. These, in addition to antidumping duties on bras and wooden furniture, the now-infamous steel tariffs, and a heavy dose of agricultural subsidies, expose a President who is as openly hostile to free trade as any in modern history."

The "dumping" excuse: "Do you like shrimp but wish it cost more? Need bedroom furniture but hate getting a good deal on it? If so, you're very different from most Americans. You are, however, one of the few who can rejoice in our national trade policies. Politicians know U.S. consumers are more than happy to buy foreign goods if the quality is sufficient and the price is right. They also know explicit efforts to shut out imports are usually political fool's gold, more likely to bring defeat than victory at the polls. So how can our leaders cater to corporate executives and workers who resent competition, without looking like hidebound protectionists? Simple: They don't attack trade -- they attack 'dumping.' When it comes to trade, many Americans cherish the notion we are victims of our innocent good-heartedness. In this picture, we're always being cynically exploited by underhanded foreigners while our own companies play by the rules."

Free trade always beneficial: "Free trade intertwines international voluntary exchanges to such an extent that war is unthinkable to the participants; it is a doctrine of international peace in which the frontiers of nations are immaterial to their citizens. Any voluntary exchange benefits both participants. No fact about trade is more superficial than the particular pieces of geography concerned, so a single nation pursuing free trade unilaterally still gains."

Ten truths about trade: "Is globalization sending the best American jobs overseas? If you get your news from CNN's Lou Dobbs, the answer is 'of course' and the only real issue is how many trade restrictions should be applied to stem the bleeding. But the recent scare about 'offshoring' is just the latest twist on an inaccurate, decades-old complaint that global trade is stealing jobs and causing a 'race to the bottom' in which corporations relentlessly scour the world for the lowest wages and most squalid working conditions."

Icelandic blogger Ice & Fire takes a big interest in the Left/Right basics. One quote: "When jobs are competed for on an international scale, low-skilled manufacturing jobs often move to poorer countries, thereby decreasing the power of local unions often controlled by the Left. All other reasons for the Left to fight free trade worldwide are derived from this reason".


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