Author Topic: Some thoughts on protectionism and trade  (Read 3182 times)

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Offline ThomasPaine2008

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Some thoughts on protectionism and trade
« on: September 10, 2018, 11:33:55 pm »
There has been much debate on protectionism and trade recently; and this is a point that Trump has been especially good on - especially when compared to most other presidents this century or last.  I am, however, not very pleased at Larry Kudlow as his economic advisor.  Kudlow is out to convince Trump he is a free trader at heart.  I don't have many references to back up my post this time, so this time, I'll just tell you what I think of it, and maybe others can help me out with refs.

Somewhere in my reading, I came across an early US "Founding Fathers" quote that said "free trade" was a Torry policy; although I can't find it now.  The Tories were one of two major political parties before the Revolutionary War - the one that leaned toward "The Crown's" policies.  After the Revolutionary War, they became personae non grata.  To call free trade a Tory policy was to say it favored "The Crown."  We might think of it as a policy to allow sovereign wealth funds, in the most literal sense of the phrase, to engage in anti-competitive practices, such as buying out competition, establishing cartels, and "market dumping" (i.e. selling at a loss to drive the competition out of business).  The Founding Fathers wanted no part of it.  Now that it seems as if internationalist bankers have control of central banks around the world.  I propose that they do not consider their task complete until they can shift money around freely in order to control all economies around the world (not that there wouldn't be other parts of that programme after that, too).

The opposite of free trade policy is protectionist policy.  They hate that.  It means that some industries of strategic importance, such as munitions, important exports, and necessities (not to mention computer motherboards - see any of them being manufactured in the US?), are supported by tariffs when threatened by outside economic powers.  I heard a report that the reason trucks are so popular in the US now is because Pres. Carter had imposed tariffs on European truck manufacturers, and that made making trucks more profitable for US automobile manufacturers - and they then swayed popular sentiment.  While it is true that in the best of all possible worlds, it would be best if manufacturers on a more or less level playing field (with reasonable standards for the treatment of workers, the environment, etc.) could import and export world-wide freely (I'll give you that, Larry), there would also need to be controls on large industrial and economic powers, so that they don't get abusive when they get too big.  Right now, we seem to have none.

There used to be a requirement that corporations could only be chartered if they were operating in the public good.  I read that a Rockefeller was the initiator of modern semi-psychopathic and psychopathic corporations; by getting an exemption from that rule, in order to create, presumably, Standard Oil.  Now, it is a requirement of law, that if a publicly traded corporation (e.g. like those on stock exchanges) can take any action to enhance shareholder value, it must - no matter what the human cost.  I propose, as a partial return to moral corporations, that we offer tax incentives to those that operate in the public good.

So, what should we do about trade and tariffs?  For starters, Trump is right that the US shouldn't be allowing other countries to have high tariffs on US goods, when we have low tariffs on those same goods in general; although there may be exceptions, such as if a foreign industry is fledgling, and they need protectionist trade policies - whereas the US ones are well-established.  I believe that such reasonable exceptions have been utilized to ruin, not all, but huge swaths of US manufacturing.

Watch the documentaries "The High Cost of Low Prices," and "Is Wal-Mart Good For America?" if you haven't.  In them, you'll see how Wal-Mart brought an international trade agreement lawsuit against the last US manufacturer of televisions: Thompson.  They were forced out of business.  One employee points out that when criticized about too many non-US goods in Wal-Mart, they had a huge "Made in the USA" campaign; and they were sure that reporters would start covering the fact that in a given store, only one small set of shelves had made in USA goods on them; whereas the rest of the store did not (read sweat-shop labor).  In them, we see a scene at a port in San Diego, where trade goods are coming in from China in unimaginably huge numbers, but the only goods being exported to China, in one dock worker's opinion, were raw materials for manufacturing.

Trump is promoting huge tariffs on huge numbers of goods.  There are also reports he is not withdrawing from NAFTA, but re-negotiating it.  What I don't like about the idea, is that NAFTA was proposed in the first place, to be a trade organization, like the EU, which became tyrannical government by stealth.  Alex Jones has many times covered how they proposed a "NAFTA Superhighway," evidently to promote the homogenization of the countries of North America.  They also proposed a NAFTA "tribunal to be over the Supreme Court and a legislature to be over Congress."  It seems to me that a treaty created to overthrow us deserves absolutely zero affirmation by us.  This is not to say that it can't be fixed, and be converted into a non-psycopathic version of NAFTA; but a lot of work would have to be done, and it seems safest to start over.

I'll give some ideas that I think would be commendable.  If foreign countries are allowing sweat-shops, forced labor shops, big environmental polluters, or those engaging in anti-competitive practices, goods manufactured in such conditions are at an economic advantage; but not for the workers and/or future generations.  They should have stiff tariffs, to put them on more even par with US manufacturing; where some of those regulations are yet still enforced.  If a good or product is of inferior quality, it should have stiff tariffs.  For example, Chinese steel is said to either be very high carbon, or very low; and thus much softer than US, British or German steel.  It, and anything manufactured with Chinese steel that is demonstrably softer, should have stiff tariffs.

One thing we should not have, is high tariffs on raw materials for manufacturing.  Like China, we can use to import raw materials too.  We need them for our industry.  If Harley Davidson relocates to China, I believe their bikes will be of inferior quality, due to el-cheapo steel.  Because mining rare earth elements in the US has been banned, because of waste minerals we must also mine, for supposed environmental reasons, we cannot manufacture electronic components which require them.  Thus, we have the shame of having to import ALL of our PC motherboards, usually from China, and we cannot manufacture them, although we certainly could; when we invented them.  We do need to make quality manufacturing raw materials available for Harley and other manufacturers, whether made in the US or elsewhere, but we also need to uphold moral industry, so that it upholds decent labor and environmental standards.  If a nation can uphold similar standards in manufacturing, but is charging high tariffs for US goods, then raw materials, in my opinion, are the last thing we need to impose high tariffs on.

If you really want to reform corporate life, I recommend a few things that will really put the CFR and internationalist bankers into paroxysms.  Against Obama, who is reported to have said upon election, "There will be no 'Buy American" campaign," (and this should be a good political point,) we really should consider tax breaks for US corporations who manufacture in the US.  We should also consider, as above, tax breaks for corporations operating in the public good.  True, determining just what the public good is can be dicey, but a tax break needn't cripple a corporation that believes they are, but are deemed not to.  There could be degrees of tax breaks.  The thing is, corporations are often quick to adjust to become eligible tax breaks.  I'd heard that there were tax breaks to off-shore US manufacturing; under both Demopublican and Republocrat administrations.  This back-stabbing resulted in our current sorry state of manufacturing.  I think it would only be appropriate to offer the opposite, while we try to rebuild from these awful trade policies.