Here's How We Can Really Protect America

From Thomas Friedman to Barack Obama, from Mitt Romney to John McCain, it's fashionable among the "intelligentsia" and elites of both parties to ridicule "protectionism" as a way to rebuild America.

Yet during his campaign, Donald Trump openly embraced the idea of slapping tariffs on imported goods.

After visiting where I grew up in Michigan for the holidays, I'd argue this was more than half of why he won the Electoral College part of the election of 2016. Protectionism built America, and people here in the industrial Midwest know it. The people, while often mal- and mis-informed by our corporate media, aren't stupid, and many are old enough to remember how good things were for workers when we operated under a nakedly protectionist system of trade.

By abandoning protectionism, we now find ourselves in a situation where we can no longer build a missile without parts from China, a country that could cut us off anytime it chooses.

Every night, in retail stores across the nation, a button is pushed and all the money taken in that day is sucked up into an account in Bentonville, Arkansas (Walmart HQ) or other cities, and then much of that money is immediately sent to China, Vietnam, Mexico and other low-wage nations to pay for the goods bought on American credit cards.

We get cheap goods, they get our money. To the point that our trade deficit with other nations has been hovering in the $600 billion/year range for most of the lives of most millennials. That money makes its way back into the U.S. (it is dollars, after all, so they pretty much ultimately have to be spent here) in the form of massive purchases of our factories, stores and commercial buildings; and now so much is being poured into residential real estate that "housing booms" which are actually bubbles are forming all across the country, pricing average Americans out of affordable housing as foreign buyers become our new landlords.

Prior to the Reagan administration, when we still had strong tariffs in place and almost a quarter of our workforce was both engaged in manufacturing and unionized, America was the world's largest creditor nation. More countries owed us money—mostly from importing our well-made goods-than any other country in the history of the world.

Today, we are the largest debtor nation in the world, almost entirely because of neoliberal changes in our trade policies, what the best and the brightest call free trade.

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Comments

cccccttttt 5 years 29 weeks ago
#1

Trade has its place, but only after a country has fully employed its own work force.

Screw the GDP arguments of economists supporting "free trade".

Big trouble when a countriy uses cheap labor, a lowball currency exchange, and no pollution laws to invade markets of another country.

Lets give Trump a chance to try his approach.

If it fails or unleashes too much pollution, then vote him out.

ct

Uncle Ralph's picture
Uncle Ralph 5 years 29 weeks ago
#2

70% of what is sold in Germany is made in Germany. They still make friggin' pencils in Germany (see Michael Moore's "Where To Invade Next"). In Germany the working class German counts for something. In the US, every other consideration is eclipsed by enrichment of the oligarchy; we---as a country---just don't care about anything else. I was afraid Hillary would lose because she just had too much history with NAFTA and was gung-ho for the TPP (until she had to tone it down to slip past the Bernie bros just long enough to get elected). The ruination of the Rust Belt was 80% of what this last election was about and the Dems, especially the goddam DNC, just didn't get it. Hillary was a center-right Republican in progressive liberal clothing and nobody bought it. The votes she did get were those of people horrified at the prospect of a Trump presidency. I suppose there were a few people who voted for Hillary, but I don't know any of them. Lets run a democrat next time, somebody like, oh, I don't know . . . Bernie Sanders?

Legend 5 years 29 weeks ago
#3

We export our slavery.

deepspace's picture
deepspace 5 years 29 weeks ago
#4

Whether a political party wins or loses, its focus is always on the next election ... and the next ... and the next. That's just politics 101. The trouble this time around is the Democratic Party lost so badly on all major fronts for every reason imaginable that it could be decades before it can claw its way back into the hearts and minds of the electorate enough to overcome right-wing propaganda and Republican manipulation of the electoral process.

In the interim, the damage done to (small "d") democratic institutions and principles could be so devastating as to be insurmountable in any realistic sense, even in the long run, without a widespread revolution -- not violent resistance, which would be supremely unwise, especially in this day and age, but a revolution in the very mind and soul of each individual, whereby outward insanity must be questioned and rejected at every level.

Unfortunately, it's looking more and more likely that humankind is simply running out of time for such a revolution of consciousness to change the paradigm of devastation. The short span of 10,000 years of escalating violent human thought patterns has only resulted in a very real possibility of reaching a point of no return. In other words, the primary edict of evolution is proving true: if a species does not adapt to outside reality, it will go extinct.

In 300 million years, or so, Earth will no doubt re-balance itself and once again be a paradise. Perhaps, a different species will evolve enough to survive the long run.

So that's the big, BIG picture!

humanitys team's picture
humanitys team 5 years 29 weeks ago
#5

Changes have to be made in the human heart ,you can't legislate morality . Conscience has to be brought into commerce an understanding that any buisness decisions can affect large amounts of people and have consequences.

Consciousness will be raised and awareness will increase around the issue of multiple impact .Buisnesses have to understand they are communities of people that have environmental and global responsibility.

Gary Reber's picture
Gary Reber 5 years 29 weeks ago
#6

See my comment at
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http://www.foreconomicjustice.org/16004/how-to-really-protect-america

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