Category Archives: Free Trade

Can Someone Convince Rep. John Duncan to Run for President?

Rep. Duncan, along with Rep. Walter Jones, are just about the only two* national level elected Republicans who are willing to proclaim the non-interventionist message. Neither have perfect voting records from my standpoint, but Duncan has paleo ties and is, as best as I recall, also solid against trade deals. Could Duncan perhaps revive the old paleo Buchananite coalition?

*Justin Amash is perhaps another one, but I don’t really hear him speak much on foreign policy unless I’m missing something. He’s good on the security state though.

The text of the speech is available here.

Trade News from The Coalition for a Prosperous America 25 Feb 14

CPA sends me frequent trade news updates. At the first of the year I said I was going to try to post more of the stuff that is sent to us, but I haven’t been doing a very good job of that so far. I’ll try to do better, but consider this a first attempt at that effort:

The best trade and economic information on the web, brought to you by the Coalition for a Prosperous America.

Feb 24, 2014 11:55 am | Sara Haimowitz

Reposted from Politico ***** Big obstacles loom in Pacific trade meeting Adam Behsudi  |  February 21, 2014  |  Politico Trade ministers headed to Singapore for another round of high-level meetings on a Pacific Rim deal appear as likely to make headway as they did the last time — not very….

Who’ll Stand for the Working American?

But the fruits of their labor
Are worth more than their pay
And it’s time a few of them were recognized – Alabama

Speaker John Boehner schemes on how to grant amnesty.

President Obama schemes on passing the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which EIC warns could involve 40% of the world’s economy.

China gains in the high-value segment of American market.

Who’ll stand for the working American?

Quotes from former US Senator Fritz Hollings, SC:

“The U. S. was founded in a trade war. The Mother Country prohibited manufacture in the colony, and the Navigation Act of 1651 required the colony’s exports to be carried in English bottoms.” Source.

“We now have the export profile of an eighteenth century colony.” Source.

Pat Buchanan Takes on Free Trade

Here’s one to warm the hearts of our old school paleo readers. (Is there such a thing as a new school paleo?) Pat Buchanan takes on free trade. Brings back memories, doesn’t it?

Since CHT worked hard to stop the Korea “Free Trade” Agreement, here is what Pat has to say about that.

What about South Korea, the country with whom we signed a free-trade deal in 2012?

U.S. exports to Korea fell last year, and due to a surge in imports our trade deficit in goods with South Korea soared 25 percent to $16.6 billion.

Seoul’s trade minister who cut that deal and cleaned our clock should get a medal and the kind of bonus Americans reserve for people like hedge fund managers and the folks who ran Fannie and Freddie.

Globaloney, 19th Century Edition

By Ian Fletcher

Everyone knows we live in a brave new world of globalization.

And like a lot of thing that everyone knows, it isn’t so.

Not only was the globalization of the late 19th century, with formal colonial empires spanning the world, just as profound as today, it generated a similar class of professional sophist to justify it all.

Think Thomas Friedman and his ilk are original? Think again. I just discovered a most amusing clip from the BBC TV production of Anthony Trollope’s 1875 novel The Way We Live Now, a startlingly modern satire of corrupt yuppies in Victorian London.

See here:

Free trade didn’t work out too well for Britain, which had risen to power as a protectionist nation and began to decline after embracing free trade, as I’ve written here.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Ian Fletcher is Senior Economist of the Coalition for a Prosperous America, a nationwide grass-roots organization dedicated to fixing America’s trade policies and comprising representatives from business, agriculture, and labor. He was previously Research Fellow at the U.S. Business and Industry Council, a Washington think tank, and before that, an economist in private practice serving mainly hedge funds and private equity firms. Educated at Columbia University and the University of Chicago, he lives in San Francisco. He is the author of Free Trade Doesn’t Work: What Should Replace It and Why.

The Free Trade Betrayal

Pat Buchanan exposes “Free Trade” agreements for what they are – one-sided deals for politically connected big business that enrich the few and impoverish the majority. It happened with NAFTA, says Pat, and now it’s happening with the Korean Free Trade agreement – just as the critics warned it would.

What should we demand from our trade policies? Pat puts it directly and simply: “Instead of a trade policy crafted for the benefit of multinationalist corporations, we need a new trade policy that puts America and Americans first.”

Of course, the internationalists of the left whoop with glee at the prospect of Americans being reduced to a Third-World standard of living. For them, equality is what it’s all about. No wonder Karl Marx supported Free Trade:

But, in general, the protective system of our day is conservative, while the free trade system is destructive. It breaks up old nationalities and pushes the antagonism of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie to the extreme point. In a word, the free trade system hastens the social revolution. It is in this revolutionary sense alone, gentlemen, that I vote in favor of free trade.
Karl Marx, “On the Question of Free Trade” – January 9, 1848

But putting “America First,” as Pat counsels above, is portrayed by the ruling elite and its mouthpieces as “racist.” The Southern Poverty Law Center explicitly links opposition to “Free Trade” with “extremism”: “NAFTA and other international economic pacts are deeply resented by radical rightists, among others, who see them as evidence of the growing power of a global elite, or ‘New World Order’.”

The globalist enforcers smear our desire to protect our jobs as “xenophobic.” After all, enlightened people know it’s wrong to care more about Americans than foreigners.

Meanwhile, the ultra rich shovel in the dough – and their mouthpieces get their cut.

Peter Gemma on the Link Between Immigration and Free Trade

Here is an article from our friend Peter Gemma on the link between immigration and free trade. (Editor’s note: This article was previously misleadingly labeled a book review. It has been corrected to more accurately reflect the content of the article.)

In his book, The Open-Borders Network: How a Web of Ethnic Activists, Journalists, Corporations, Politicians, Lawyers, and Clergy Undermine U.S. Border Security and National Sovereignty, author Kevin Lamb —managing editor of this journal — makes this important observation: “The propaganda in favor of uncontrolled immigration from today’s business leaders echoes the arguments California business magnates made in support of bringing in hundreds of thousands of Chinese coolies to work on the railroads and in agriculture in the 1880s. Yet there is an important difference. Until recently, advocates for American business took care to claim that their demands served the interests of the nation and its people. Today, a growing and significant segment of America’s most important business interests is not only striving for, but openly espouses, the opening of America’s borders and the eclipse of its national sovereignty.”1

The special interests Lamb writes about are what President Dwight Eisenhower dubbed “the military-industrial complex”: a powerful conglomerate consisting of Wall Street moguls, multi-national corporate elites, and naïve politicians, who on this issue, will march under a “free trade” banner in anybody’s parade.

Corporate elites and political globalists are mounting an assault on American immigration restriction laws, job growth policies — and U.S. sovereignty. Their weaponry includes so-called “free trade” treaties, and the establishment of regulatory agencies such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) to facilitate them. The World Economic Forum (WEF) is an example of a formidable battalion in the open borders army. Its membership includes over 800 chief executives, some 200 government leaders, numerous high-ranking officials from regional and international organizations, and some 300 scientists, artists, and representatives of the media. Major firms from all sectors of business and industry are represented. WEF is part of the establishment who, as Lamb says, advocate tearing down America’s borders, stealing jobs from the working class, and neutralizing U.S. national sovereignty.

See more…

Ian Flelcher: Newt Gingrich, Pseudo-Intellectual Free-Trade Kool-Aid Drinker

Ian Fletcher

At least one Republican presidential candidate (Roemer) is actually good on trade issues. At least one (Romney) may be at least o-kay if he really means what he says.  At least one (Cain) is an odd mix of very good and very bad. And at least one (Perry) seems to be just naïve and corrupt on the subject.

But I have yet to report on a candidate who is proactively, deliberately, ideologically wrong on trade as a matter of high principle.

Until now.  His name is Newt Gingrich.

Gingrich is, of course, already familiar to Americans from his unhappy stint as House Speaker in the mid 1990s, a stint which ended up disappointing both Democrats and his own Republicans.  Republicans, of course, abandoned him as leader in 1999 after he led his party to the worst-ever  Congressional loss by a party not in control of the White House.

And there was all that nastiness in 1997 about  allegedly using tax-deductible charitable donations to fund a non-charitable college course he taught—and of then lying about it to the House Ethics Committee. Was he innocent? Well, the House voted 395-28 to fine him an unprecedented $300,000 as part of a deal to avoid a full hearing, if that helps the reader any.

Gingrich seemed, as recently as a year or so ago, to have been relegated to well-paid has-been land—decorated, of course, with the polite fiction of his being an elder statesman of the party.

During this earlier career, Gingrich racked up a record of supporting every major wrong move on trade issues the United States has made in recent decades. To wit:

·         In 1993, he supported the North American Free Trade Agreement. (Which wasn’t even enough, according to him.  He wanted to eventually add Chile to the deal with the aim of eventually expanding it to cover the entire New World.)

·         In 1994, he  voted for creation of the World Trade Organization and American membership.

·        In 1998, he supported Most Favored Nation (now  known as Permanent Normal Trade Relations) status with China.

Gingrich has been openly contemptuous of American sovereignty when it comes to trade.  He said, in testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee in June 1994,

I am just saying that we need to be honest about the fact that we are transferring from the United States at a practical level significant authority to a new organization. This is a transformational moment. I would feel better if the people who favor this would just be honest about the scale of change.

This is very close to Maastricht [a key European Union treaty], and twenty years from now we will look back on this as a very important defining moment. This is not just another trade agreement. This is adopting something which twice, once in the 1940s and once in the 1950s, the U.S. Congress rejected. I am not even saying we should reject it; I, in fact, lean toward it.

Gingrich’s naiveté with regards to America’s most formidable economic adversary, the People’s Republic of China, is astonishing. The following PBS interview excerpt is almost painful to read, pure Thomas Friedman fantasy:

INTERVIEWER: Was it a good thing to allow China to become an open trading partner?

NEWT GINGRICH: Absolutely…Trade increases the likelihood that you and they will engage in win-win activities. The difference between politics and trade is that in politics I may take something from you to give to somebody else, even though you don’t want to lose it, so I raise your taxes. I charge you a fee. I confiscate your farm. In a free market you only do the things that make you happy in order for me to get the things that make me happy, and if we’re not both happy the trade doesn’t occur. So free markets dramatically lower the friction of human relationships and increase the relative pleasure and the relative success of human relationships. The more the Chinese and Americans [sit] down together to create more wealth, the happier they’ll be with each other, the less likely we’ll have conflict.

No concept of state capitalism at all. No concept that under state capitalism, capitalism strengthens, rather than disciplines, the state.  No concept of mercantilism, or the idea that trade can be practiced by foreign nations as rivalry, with a deliberate agenda to weaken the U.S.

Gingrich doesn’t seem to have wised up since, either.  If one consults his current campaign website’s section on jobs and the economy, there is no mention of trade issues. I guess they’re just not that important, despite a $500 billion-a-year trade deficit. The closest he comes to trade issues is to suggest some policies to “strengthen the dollar.”  While I’m sure the use of the word “strengthen” may make some conservative hearts beat faster, a strong dollar is actually something that has been inflicted on us by Chinese currency manipulation, it is a bad thing, and we need to go in the other direction if we ever expect to balance our trade.

How did Gingrich end up with these appalling ideas?  I can’t plumb his personality, but one of his worst liabilities, on a personal and political level, is his astonishing pseudo-intellectualism.  Intellectually pretentious politicians are a dime a dozen in, say, France, but they are quite rare here, so he stands out for this. As a PhD and former history professor, he seems to instinctively believe that his thoughts go on a higher level than other politicians.

This is a recipe for disaster.

First, intellectuals rarely make good politicians. It’s just a different skill set. A historian can spend a lifetime pondering a question and then give a carefully hedged and nuanced answer. A politician must vote Yea or Nay today. A physicist can discover a theory than only a dozen other people in the world understand, win the Nobel for it, and deserve it.  A politician in a democracy must think and act in ways that millions can understand.

This doesn’t mean politicians shouldn’t be smart, but it does mean that they generally shouldn’t be intellectuals.

It’s no accident that we haven’t had a decent intellectual president since Teddy Roosevelt, who could have gotten tenure teaching history at any university he wanted and whose naval history of the War of 1812 is still a standard work on the topic. The Founders’ generation had a lot of highly intellectual political figures. But that’s unsurprising, as this was a time when the ideology this country is based on was new, so it took genuine brains to understand and fight for it.

What’s even worse is that Newt Gingrich isn’t even an actual intellectual so much as a pseudo-intellectual.  He’s not somebody who has mastered an actual intellectual discipline and takes seriously the idea of intellectual discipline—that is, thinking not however one might wish, but in accord with certain canons derived from objective reality.  He’s more somebody who just loves ideas. Especially big ideas. I am told his staffers used to joke about having a whole filing cabinet labeled “Newt’s ideas” and a file folder labeled “Newt’s good ideas.” There’s a gaseousness, a love of big for the sake of big, a preference for the intellectually flashy over the boring truth, that runs through what he writes and says.  And it’s thus no surprise he’s so hot for globalism, this being one of the biggest, flashiest, most gaseous ideas since the death of Marxism.

America has already had one go at being the lab for Prof. Gingrich’s speculations; we don’t need another.

Ian Fletcher is Senior Economist of the Coalition for a Prosperous America, a nationwide grass-roots organization dedicated to fixing America’s trade policies and comprising representatives from business, agriculture, and labor. He was previously Research Fellow at the U.S. Business and Industry Council, a Washington think tank, and before that, an economist in private practice serving mainly hedge funds and private equity firms. Educated at Columbia University and the University of Chicago, he lives in San Francisco. He is the author of Free Trade Doesn’t Work: What Should Replace It and Why.

Piatak: Suicide of a Superpower by Patrick J. Buchanan

Book review of Patrick J. Buchanan’s Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?

The Mob vs. the Statesman

Tom Piatak, Chronicles Magazine, Oct. 31, 2011

For two decades now, Pat Buchanan has been warning us of the dangers our country faces. When he first started sounding the alarm, at the end of the Cold War, those dangers were hard to perceive. Now, they are hard to ignore. Pointless wars in the Mideast have resulted in thousands of American casualties and the waste of hundreds of billions of dollars. Our trade policies have led to the loss of millions of manufacturing jobs and 50,000 factories and an increasing dependence on foreign nations, which both provide us with goods we no longer make and own our debt. Uncontrolled immigration has driven down wages and driven Americans out of the job market in some areas and is poised to radically transform the country. The great American middle class is reeling, in part because of the downward pressure on wages caused by free trade and mass immigration. Unregulated finance has brought the nation to the brink of economic ruin, and the loss of a common faith and common culture threatens our national unity. All the while, the federal government has continued to grow and grow, constantly assuming duties it does not have while failing to exercise those it does. Pat Buchanan was called many names for raising these issues, but he has been right and his critics have been wrong.

[Continue reading at Chronicles.]

Book Review: Pat Buchanan’s Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?

Patrick J. Buchanan, Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?

New York; Thomas Dunne Books; October 2011; 496 pages; $27.99

The Happy Warrior

by Peter B. Gemma

Pat Buchanan’s hundreds, if not thousands, of incisive articles and commentaries have appeared in print and on the internet for decades (he became a columnist for the St. Louis Globe-Democrat at age 23). His writings have proven to be both controversial and courageous—defending Middle American values, defining an America First foreign policy, and dicing up the elitist-driven multicultural agenda. The Christian Science Monitor calls him “Dennis the Menace with the pen of H. L. Menken.”

Along the way he stopped to run for President on three different occasions. In 1992 he had a major impact on the Republican nomination process, nearly scoring an upset victory over President George H. W. Bush in the crucial New Hampshire GOP primary. Buchanan continued his influential political crusade for traditional conservative issues in 1996—besting Bob Dole, the favored Republican candidate, in several states. In 2000, he hewed the tough road as a third party presidential candidate and was the lone voice supporting fair trade, a non-interventionist foreign policy, and opposing illegal immigration (as well as capping legal immigration). Columnist George F. Will says “Pat Buchanan is the pit bull of the American Right.”

Buchanan finds time to write best-selling books too—thought-provoking albeit foreboding and sternly worded titles including, State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America (2006), The Death of the West: How Dying Populations and Immigrant Invasions Imperil Our Country and Civilization (2002), and The Great Betrayal: How American Sovereignty and Social Justice Are Being Sacrificed to the Gods of the Global Economy (1998). Somehow he can investigate and interpret the threats to America’s sovereignty, economy, and its traditional culture—yet find a way to offer practical and encouraging solutions. This is why the left-wing newspaper Village Voice conceded “Buchanan is one hell of a wordsmith.”

He obviously enjoys the battle as he enters the fray on every front.

Now comes his eleventh book, Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025? and Pat Buchanan is at his combative best explaining the question he poses:

“Our intellectual, cultural, and political elites are today engaged in one of the most audacious and ambitious experiments in history. They are trying to transform a Western Christian republic into an egalitarian democracy made up of all the tribes, races, creeds, and cultures of planet Earth.”

Continue reading

Roy Moore on the Issues

Here is Roy Moore on the issue. (This will take you to the main page where you can click on issues. It is a page within a page so it doesn’t have a separate URL.) There is very little here to object to. I think he is easily the most “paleoish” candidate so far. You can read his issues yourself, but here are some highlights.

He addresses trade specifically which should warm paleo hearts.

We also need to return American manufacturing to our Country by revoking unfair free trade agreements which have severely damaged our economy through loss of jobs and skill development. We need the phrase Made in America to mean something again.

On immigration.

We must stop the flow of illegal aliens across both our northern and southern borders. Open borders are a threat to our national security and to our economy. We must allow willing states (like Arizona) to do their own job of protecting the health, safety, and welfare of its citizens.

On the military he takes a typical “strong defense” stand, rhetoric which is unfortunate but probably a necessary condition of entry into a Republican primary. 

As a former military officer, Vietnam veteran, and graduate of West Point, I believe in a strong military defense, and I have always been a strong advocate for the men and women who now serve in the Armed Forces. More funding should be available to develop a missile defense system and to bring back our Navy, Air Force, Army, Marines and Coast Guard to the most modern technological advances including weapon systems.

But this is better.

Only in dire emergencies should a President as Commander-in-Chief employ the use of arms as set forth in the War Powers Clause.  In all other cases action by Congress is required under the Constitution.

And this is highly encouraging.

America should serve as a good example to other nations, not as a police force to force our will upon others. We must treat sovereign nations as we would want to be treated. Respect for our strength is our best defense.  Walk softly and carry a big stick is and should be our guide. We should not be subject to UN control and direction and should not rely or support UN treaties like LOST (Law of the Sea Treaty), Convention on the Rights of the Child, and Kyoto Protocol, which Barack Obama unsuccessfully tried to force on our Country.  Such treaties only undermine our sovereignty as a nation. We must stand strongly with our allies and act with authority and discipline with those who would undermine and destroy our national security. We must maintain a strong nuclear defense and not rely on nuclear reduction treaties which will leave us vulnerable to foreign powers.

Trading Away Sovereignty

Trading Away Sovereignty

By Virgil Goode, American Conservative, March 7, 2011

Last week, the New York Times reported that Obama received received “rare bipartisan praise” from Republicans when he signed the South Korean Free Trade agreement, known as KORUS, last December. However Republicans stalled congressional approval of the agreement, largely because of “partisan feuding,” in part because Republicans want even more free trade agreements with Columbia and Panama.

While I am glad that KORUS is stalled, Republicans should oppose it on principle because it creates a globalist bureaucracy that will cost hundreds of thousands of American jobs, not because of partisan bickering over how quickly we expand these globalist agreements.

Republican supporters of KORUS claim that the agreement is about promoting capitalism, free markets, and free trade. The truth is that this agreement does not promote free markets. On the contrary, it will make American businesses more regulated.

[Continue reading....]


Update:  If you haven’t done so already, please sign the petition at Stop US-Korea NAFTA.

South Korea: The Next ‘Free Trade’ Battleground

South Korea: The Next ‘Free Trade’ Battleground

Peter Gemma interviews Ian Fletcher, The Jacksonville Observer, March 1, 2011

The upcoming fight over the proposed Free Trade Agreement with Korea, first negotiated by President George W. Bush but not yet ratified by Congress, is now being promoted by the Obama administration. A majority of Democrats and a few key Republicans have already come out strongly against the proposed treaty calling it managed trade not free trade and citing the toll it will take on American jobs and its threat to sovereignty via international control over its provisions – all buried in 1000 pages of details. Some have labeled it “Son of NAFTA,” after the costly and controversial North American Free Trade Agreement. Peter Gemma, a freelance journalist and columnist with Middle American News, recently interviewed Ian Fletcher, Adjunct Fellow at the U.S. Business and Industry Council about the pending agreement.

GEMMA: Your latest book, Free Trade Doesn’t Work, has just been published.Tell me something about the premise – one does not see the issues of globalization, free markets, and trade deficits framed that way.

FLETCHER: It has been taken for granted by our government for decades now that free trade is a good idea. But in reality, as soon as one makes the effort to dig beneath the surface of the economics that supposedly proves free trade is best, one discovers that free trade has enormous drawbacks—and that for most of American history, our government was well aware of this and America did not have free trade.

GEMMA: Isn’t “free trade” a good idea in general?

FLETCHER: No, it isn’t. Trade is a good idea, but that’s not the same thing as free trade. We haven’t taken pure laissez faire seriously in our domestic economy in over 100 years, so why should we take it seriously internationally? You can’t even have real free trade except in a perfect world with no political interference, which is not even remotely the reality.

[Continue reading....]

Update:  Sign the petition at Stop US-Korea NAFTA.

Manufacturing’s Dismal Decade

Manufacturing’s Dismal Decade

By Patrick J. Buchanan

Last year, Barack Obama committed his administration to doubling U.S. exports in half a decade.

The good news: He is on the way. U.S. exports of goods and services grew in 2010 by 16.6 percent.

Bad news: U.S. imports, starting from a higher base, surged by 19.7 percent.

Result: The U.S. trade deficit in 2010 worsened by 33 percent, rising from $375 billion to $498 billion, the largest percentage increase in a decade. If Obama keeps this up, he may prove as big a disaster for U.S. manufacturing as his predecessor, although these are big shoes to fill.

As he has each February for years, Charles W. McMillion of MBG Information Services has compiled the stats on the industrial decline of his country under our free trade presidents. Here are but a few numbers for the decade from December 2000, the month before George W. Bush took the oath, to December 2010, the end of Obama’s second year.

In that decade, America ran a total of $6.1 trillion in trade deficits, more than our entire economic growth. To finance those 10 years of deficits, America had to borrow $1.553 billion every day.

And we wonder why China owns America.

[Continue reading....]

Why Conservatives Should Oppose KORUS Part II: States’ Rights

This series is a work-in-progress. Your feedback would be appreciated.

That group of conservatives often identified as paleoconservatives are usually characterized by three issues on which they differ from “regular” (i.e. movement) conservatives. They are non-interventionist on foreign policy, they were immigration restrictionists before immigration restriction was cool, and they are skeptical of free trade. (There is more to paleoconservatism than these three issues, but this should suffice for the sake of this discussion.)

One curious exception to this categorization has often been Southern conservatives. (When I say Southern conservatives I don’t just mean conservatives who happen to be from the South although obviously there is some overlap. I mean those conservatives who consciously come at their conservatism from a uniquely Southern perspective.) Southern conservatives have generally been regarded as a subset of paleoconservatives, but many Southern conservatives have been more reluctant than their other paleo peers to embrace “protectionism” and “protective” tariffs (as opposed to a revenue tariff). (I use quotation marks around protectionism, not because I don’t think it is a real thing, but because I don’t think both sides necessarily agree about what the word means.)

There is a clear historical reason for this. Southern conservatives have naturally become well versed in defending the Southern cause in the War Between the States, and one of those causes was opposition to a high protective tariff, which was rightly seen as intended to benefit one section of the country, Northern merchants, at the expense of another, Southern agrarians. So Southern conservatives have been slower to embrace protectionist tariffs that they view as intended to benefit some (industry primarily) arguably at the expense of others.

Of course there are exceptions to this. The average man on the street conservative in the South may be just as likely or more to be skeptical of free trade, than his man on the street conservative Northern counterpart. I am speaking here primarily of an identifiable subset of Southern conservative thinkers who would otherwise be easily characterized as paleocons. This reluctance to whole heartedly endorse protectionist trade measures among historically attuned Southern conservatives is evident in the blogosphere and paleo commentariate.

And this is not just because Southern conservatives have to a greater degree adopted laissez-faire free market ideology. On the contrary, Southern conservatives (and paleocons in general) are more likely to recognize the importance of an economics (and politics) of the human scale and to be skeptical of economic reductionism and “economic man” thinking. I believe what is more at work here, besides historical sensibilities, is a skepticism toward nationalism in all its manifestations (and protectionism is often couched as economic nationalism) and a healthy skepticism that the Feds could create a rational and fair (unbeholden to powerful lobbies) economic nationalist agenda even if it were deemed desirable and constitutional. (While no conservative would doubt the constitutionality of tariffs per se, the “industrial policy” that often accompanies an economic nationalist agenda could be viewed as constitutionally suspect depending on what exactly is being proposed.)

I will leave this debate to the various partisans. My point with this essay is to point out that Southern conservatives who might otherwise be reluctant to embrace “protectionism,” should recognize the danger of the proposed KORUS FTA to another issue that is near and dear to their hearts, states’ rights. A vote on KORUS is imminent. Obama could drop it in the hopper any time he thinks would best facilitate its passage. It is time to put pointy headed discussions like the one above aside for a later day, and work to stop the KORUS broadside to US sovereignty and states’ rights.

According to Americans for Free and Fair Trade, KORUS “using language almost lifted from NAFTA … obligates the federal government to force U.S. states to conform state laws to every single provision in the 1000-page agreement – whether directly related to trade or not.” Furthermore, “Korean and other multi-national corporations could take any dispute with federal or state laws, regulations, or rules to the World Court or United Nations. Federal or state courts would have no authority over the companies.” (emphasis mine)

A person might not like all the rules and regulations individual states may impose on businesses in their state. In fact, conservative minded folks probably don’t. But those rules and regulations are a matter that is properly addressed by the people of the state and their representatives and state and federal courts if necessary. To allow foreign corporations to challenge state laws before foreign tribunals is an intolerable outrage. No self respecting Southern conservative or any other patriotic conservative should stand for this.

It is time for the various partisans in the academic free trade vs. fair trade debate to put their differences aside while we stop this KORUS outrage before it is too late. Once we have done that, then we can reengage this always entertaining debate, a debate to which Southern conservatives bring a unique and historically informed perspective.

Why Conservatives Should Oppose KORUS Part I: Sovereignty

I am working on a series of articles on the KORUS agreement, but I thought I would post this to give CHT’s readers a taste of what is to come. Your feedback would be welcome.

Conservatives relentlessly complain, appropriately so, that the Fed Gov does too much. With the recent reemergence of Constitutionalism, this is even more the case. This Constitutionalism is characterized by the belief that the Feds can only do that which they are specifically authorized to do, primarily in Article 1 Section 8, and nothing more. This can be called the enumerated powers doctrine.

This renewed focus on enumerated powers and constitutional limits is welcomed, but it should not be forgotten that it can also be a problem when Congress fails to do those things it is specifically authorized to do. Congress is specifically authorized to regulate foreign commerce and set tariffs. But actually making laws is hard and dirty work, and trade laws are particularly fraught with political difficulties. That is why we end up with these “free trade” agreements which are negotiated by unelected trade representative that then must be “fast tracked” so as to limit debate. This represents a failure of will on the part of Congress. While this unsavory end around the normal legislative process may not be unconstitutional per se, what Congress can’t do constitutionally is fob off to supranational entities powers that are specifically vested in Congress.

Here we have an inherent problem with KORUS as with NAFTA before it. The agreement cedes authority over our domestic trade matters to the United Nations and the World Bank. Foreign corporations can challenge federal and even state laws by dragging the US before foreign tribunals. This is an intolerable outrage and no patriotic American should stand for it.

Sovereignty is an issue that unites left and right, but my main audience here is conservatives. No conservative, whether a free-trader or a fair trader, should be willing to stand by while Congress effectively punts its responsibilities to globalist bureaucrats. Let your Representative know how you feel. Tell them to vote no on the sovereignty trashing managed trade KORUS boondoggle.

Another Potential Divide at CPAC: KORUS FTA

Movement conservatism has long been committed to free trade. While the base of the GOP is skeptical of  “free trade” deals, movement cons are a slightly different more ideological breed. This disconnect between the more populist base and the more ideological movement was seriously exposed during Pat Buchanan’s ’92 and ’96 runs for the GOP Presidential nomination.

There is a growing movement on the right in opposition to the KORUS FTA, however. I wonder if this anti-KORUS sentiment  is anywhere in evidence at CPAC? I’ll sniff around for evidence that it is and let you know. If any of our readers are attending CPAC and would like to report in, that would be much appreciated also.

Update: I do know that “The Donald,” who is against KORUS, spoke today.

The Chrysler Super Bowl Ad

I was encouraged by the Chrysler Super Bowl ad. It was an obvious emotional appeal to patriotism and to bring a once proud American city that has been devastated by de-industrialization (among other things) back. I could have done without using a controversial figure like Eminem in it, but I understand that the Detroit connection was there.

Just for discussion’s sake. I thought the Bridgestone beaver ad was the best. I also like the dog running for the glass door Doritos ad and the Darth Vader Volkswagen ad. I watched the Super Bowl with some friends and the beaver ad was easily our consensus favorite.