Sunday, October 19, 2008

Blame America First (it's bipartisan!)

The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.

One of the recurrent Republican lines about Democrats is that they are America haters in favor of unilateral disarmament. The logic goes, supposedly, that if America were to disarm other nations would feel less threatened and would spend less on their militaries and we all could devote more spending our domestic economies.

But if you think about it, the standard libertarian Republican holds the same basic belief translated to the economic realm. Pretty universally, they claim Government (the people we elect) is the problem. Never mind that if you elect them these same Republicans would be by definition "part of the problem" and no longer "part of the solution". When it comes to trade, the idea is that if we dropped all of our trade barriers that we would be better off. Remarkably enough American workers cannot compete with subsidized foreign competition.

An Army is not that different from a manufacturing business. Chuck Norris movies to the contrary, militaries primarily consist of taking a large number of people and investing in training and equipment with the hope that the operation can outcompete rivals. The American military swept Iraq from Kuwait and later swept into Iraq without much difficulty because of the massive capital investments of the preceding decades. It wasn't that the Iraqi soldiers were especially cowardly, lazy or stupid, it was that they could not compete with the much more subsidized American competition.

Many countries competing with us for jobs hold down the real wages of their workers by Union suppression or currency manipulation and do not regulate pollution or workplace safety. Developed and Developing Nations are paying companies to build facilities in their jurisdiction. American workers are not especially lazy or stupid but they cannot compete with the much more subsidized foreign competition.

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