Monthly Archives: November 2006

The ‘Fair Trade’ Myth

In today’s Washington Post, Robert Samuelson demonstrates that the arguments in favor of so-called ‘fair trade’ are, quite simply, nonsense:

American trade deficits haven’t destroyed U.S. job creation by sending work abroad. Consider: From 1980 to 2006, the trade deficit jumped from $19 billion to an estimated $786 billion, or from less than 1 percent of gross domestic product to about 6 percent. Still, employment in the same period rose from 99 million to 145 million. Job creation defies the trade deficits, whose causes lie largely beyond our control and have little to do with “unfair” trade practices.

And in response to ‘fair trade’ advocates such as Lou Dobbs, who argue that free trade is destroying American jobs, Samuelson says:

Faster economic growth in the United States than in many of our major trading partners has stunted our exports and increased our imports. Likewise, the dollar’s role as the main global currency — used for trade and international investment — has kept its exchange rate high. Companies, individuals and governments hold on to dollars rather than selling. This makes U.S. exports more expensive and imports cheaper. To be sure, that puts U.S. factory workers and farmers at a disadvantage on world markets. The disadvantage is compounded when some countries (China) keep their currencies artificially undervalued. Inevitably, some jobs move abroad and some factories close because of import competition.

But there are also larger truths. One is that China’s surging exports have (so far) come mostly at the expense of other Asian countries. Goods once shipped from Taiwan or Thailand now arrive from China. Another truth is that U.S. jobs are destroyed for many reasons — new domestic competition, new technologies, changing consumer tastes, the business cycle. A remarkable statistic: Every three months, 7 million to 8 million U.S. jobs disappear and roughly an equal or greater number are created. Trade is a relatively minor factor in job loss.

It is, however, an easy scapegoat. It enables critics to blame foreigners and suggest a solution: restrict trade. “Economic change is disruptive,” says economist Douglas Irwin of Dartmouth College. “If the cause is technology, you can’t do much about it.” Globalization becomes a convenient explanation for many economic discontents, from job insecurity to squeezed living standard

Exactly. It’s easier to blame the Chinese, or the Koreans, or whoever for the state of the economy than to look at internal causes such as the cost of government regulation or, quite honestly, the simple failure of American companies to respond adequately to foreign competition. There is a reason that Ford and General Motors are being beaten by Honda and Toyota, and it has little to do with the trade laws.

The more things change…

I’m watching Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life and there was a quote from her from 1979 that I think rings so true today:

“I want to make something clear, I am not a conservative. I think that today’s conservatives are worse than today’s liberals. I think that they are, if anyone destroys this country, it will be the conservatives because they do not know how to preach capitalism, to explain it to the people…because they do nothing except apologize and because they are all altruists. They are all based on religious altruism and on that combination of ideas, you cannot save this country.”

That is the state of the Republican Party today.

Abstinence: It’s Not Just For Kids Anymore

Apparently concluding that we’ve solved every other problem in the world, the Federal Government has now decided to tell adults when they should and shouldn’t have sex:

The federal government’s “no sex without marriage” message isn’t just for kids anymore.

Now the government is targeting unmarried adults up to age 29 as part of its abstinence-only programs, which include millions of dollars in federal money that will be available to the states under revised federal grant guidelines for 2007.

The government says the change is a clarification. But critics say it’s a clear signal of a more directed policy targeting the sexual behavior of adults.

“They’ve stepped over the line of common sense,” said James Wagoner, president of Advocates for Youth, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit that supports sex education. “To be preaching abstinence when 90% of people are having sex is in essence to lose touch with reality. It’s an ideological campaign. It has nothing to do with public health.”

Abstinence education programs, which have focused on preteens and teens, teach that abstaining from sex is the only effective or acceptable method to prevent pregnancy or disease. They give no instruction on birth control or safe sex.

This change in policy is apparently based on the following shocking revelation:

The National Center for Health Statistics says well over 90% of adults ages 20-29 have had sexual intercourse.

Really ? I never would’ve imagined.

The Blogfather says it best:

CALL ME CRAZY, but I don’t see why the federal government should be spending tax money to tell grownups not to have sex:

Outside of the Bush Administration, I don’t think anyone else does either.

1 2 3 4 17