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The Expansionist
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Obvious Fix for Auto Industry. Why is no one talking about the obvious cure, in at least the short term, for the ills of the U.S. auto industry: simply forbidding sales in the U.S. of foreign cars, including cars made within the United States by companies with foreign owners? It is as tho holy free trade is more important than anything else in economics, more important even than the survival of the United States. I am not remotely devoted to free trade, and view with contempt the worship of free trade as a matter of nearly religious veneration. If foreigners want access to our internal market they can perfectly well do what we in the original Thirteen States did: give up our separate sovereignties and join our Union. If they value their independence more highly than access to our market, fine. Just stay the hell out of our domestic market until and unless we decide to open our market to outsiders. It's OUR internal market, and WE have the right to control, in every particular, who and what gets into it.
Trade must work for us, or be ended. Destructive trade is not a social good, and if the economy of the United States will be destroyed if we continue this free-trade madness, then LET US END FREE TRADE.
We are told that "protectionism" is a terrible, terrible thing that threatens world-wide Depression. Since when is "protection" a bad word? A little history here: the United States became a great power only thru protectionism. Goods from Britain and other parts of Europe would have been cheaper for Americans in the decades following our independence, but we would have been reduced to an economic appendage of Europe, a Third World-style supplier of raw materials and nothing more, had Congress not protected our economy with tariffs and favored American industry over foreign. The world has not so changed that protectionism today would be a bad thing, especially when the alternative is catastrophe.
Are we to prefer a Depression that destroys the United States, over a widespread Depression OUTSIDE the United States but in which the U.S. does rather well? Since when is it the duty of the United States to lay down its economic life for foreigners? What have they ever done for us?
More to the point, consenting to be destroyed economically — presumably as penance for our sins — wouldn't benefit ANYONE, because it would plunge the entire planet into the worst Depression in all of history, global in scope, catastrophic in scale. The mere recession in the U.S. today and the mortgage crisis that underlies it have already caused very, very serious displacement in large swaths of the world, from Europe to China. Workers thrown out of their jobs by the U.S. slowdown are already nearly rioting in China. Catastrophic Depression in the U.S. would produce cataclysmic, apocalyptic Depression all around this planet. In whose interest, then, is economic collapse in the U.S.?
Congress can perfectly well forbid sales of cars inside the United States by car companies based in foreign countries, permanently or temporarily. We can give the U.S. automakers a limited window in which to change their ways, say, three years, and if they haven't eliminated gas guzzlers and created high-milage, high-reliability cars by then, throw open our borders to foreign cars again — then, if need be, nationalize American car makers, fire all managers at the highest levels, install new management, and order them to create fuel-efficient, extremely reliable cars immediately.
Harley-Davidson was nearly destroyed by foreign competition. Congress restricted sale of foreign motorcycles for a few years; Harley-Davidson rebounded and told Congress it no longer needed protection; and then Congress let foreign motorcycles in again. It worked for Harley-Davidson. Why would it not work for General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler?
In short, we're not really facing destruction of the U.S. auto industry unless we CONSENT to commit national suicide. Why would we lay down our national economic life on the altar of free trade? F(asteris)k free trade!
(The current U.S. military death toll in Iraq, according to the website "Iraq Coalition Casualties", is 4,209 — for Israel.)

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