Arm Chair Economists & CAFTA
By Paul Streitz
May 19, 2005, 15:49

It looks like the free trade destruction of the American economy and the impoverishment of the American worker may be coming to an end. As Washington Times columnist Tony Blankly admits CAFTA (the Central American Free Trade Agreement) is “edging toward defeat in Congress.�

Tony Blankley is one of the Washington arm chair economists (the most notable is George Will) who seem to have never worked in a factory or been in a town where the citizens were depending on factory work for the livelihoods. Mr. Blankley is sure of his free trade convictions because he reads the Financial Times, which assures him that ten percent of our economic activity is due to free trade.

It would be nice if Tony Blankley and George Will got out of Washington once in a while. Maybe they could come to Bridgeport, CT where thirteen buildings, four stories high sit empty. They used to employee thousands of General Electric workers. Maybe he should go to Syracuse, New York, where houses have simply been abandoned as workers lost their jobs at Carrier and other factories. Or maybe, he should visit Rochester, New York where Kodak, once employed eighty-five thousand workers and now employs a quarter of that number. Maybe he should to Danbury, Connecticut where the hat industry employed hundreds of workers. All these jobs moved to foreign countries when free trade became Washington’s sweet song.

When the facts don’t fit the promise of free trade, arm chair economists like Tony Blankley, simply change their facts and make more promises. The millions of jobs lost to free trade were supposed to be converted into jobs in the computer industry. But somehow that didn’t work out. Instead, millions of jobs were outsourced by free trade to India, and millions of computer programmers imported on various technical visa programs, such as the H-1B visa.

Alexander Hamilton founded the U.S. economy as a strong protectionist economy where manufacturers and workers were protected from the cheap labor of foreign competition. The United States built the world’s wealthiest country under the protectionist banner. Hamilton did not worry about having the world’s lowest prices, he worried about having manufacturers who employed people. He knew that workers without jobs don’t care how low prices are. If prices go up because something is domestically made instead of foreign made, a worker can always consume a little less. But a worker without a job cannot buy anything. Workers always choose secure, high paying jobs and high prices over low prices and unemployment.
Hamilton’s protectionist economy started to be undone when Milton Friedman (the world’s most destructive economist) began peddling his utopian free trade theories in the 1970’s. Everybody would benefit, he said. The poor countries will be come richer, and the rich even richer.

It did work out that way, but Karl Mark and Friedrich Engels, those old communists, were dancing in their graves. They realized that free trade leads to chaos and poverty. That was and is what is happening to the United States. But workers in the United States get to vote. And Senators that voted for NAFTA are trying to hide under the nearest rock. No member of the House of Representatives dares mention free trade, CAFTA or NAFTA without risking being strung up to the nearest lamppost. Voting for CAFTA would be political suicide.

Free trade is dying in the U.S.A. It is time to admit it does not work. Politicians who don’t will end up finding other lines of business. That bell weather of political trendsetters, Hillary Clinton, is arguing for ‘temporary’ 35% tariffs on all Chinese goods. People are ready to vote for an unscrupulous scoundreless, if she will put workers back in their factories and decent wages in their pockets.

It is time to end free trade and put a stake through its heart. Put tariffs on all goods on entering the country so that no manufactured good can be sold cheaper due to cheap foreign labor. End the importation of all foreign cars, televisions, clothing shoes. Simply everything. If it can be made in the USA, it should be made in the USA. The result will be that unemployment will vanish, the wages of the average worker will go down and the multinational corporations who have been bleeding the economy for decades will go out of business. In economic terminology, the value of capital (stocks and bonds) will go down, and the value of labor (wages and jobs) will go up.

That suits most Americans just fine.

Paul Streitz is the author of a biography of Shakespeare: Oxford Son of Queen Elizabeth I and several musicals. He was a candidate for the Republican nomination in Connecticut for U.S. Senate in 2004. He is a director of CT Citizens for Immigration Control.

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