Good Thing, Bad Thing About the First Presidential Debate

Good thing: nobody made trade with furriners their racist whipping boy.

Bad thing: in a debate on foreign policy, international trade didn’t even come up.

My friends, here’s some straight talk: we are soooo fucked.

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6 Responses to Good Thing, Bad Thing About the First Presidential Debate

  1. 1) The first debate was supposed to be about national security/foreign policy; trade would fit more naturally under economic policy, which they’re going to debate later. Because of the economic crisis they jammed in half an hour to talk about the bailout, but other economic issues weren’t on the agenda.

    2) I had no idea that when I go back to the community I grew up in and see how Republican trade policies have led to record rates of foreclosure and unemployment, that everything was actually fine and I was just being misled by my deep, deep racist streak. That’s a relief!

  2. Sandy says:

    1) Trade could fit under either, but one would think it deserved a name check, especially when the financial crisis has international implications (like, will foreigners keep buying T-bills in order to make them worth swapping for mortgage-backed securities).

    2) The mortgage crisis is caused by freer trade? Here I thought it was an asset price bubble. As for manufacturing, George W. Bush put illegal tariffs on steel while Clinton was a truer champion of free trade than McCain. As I recall, the Nineties were pretty good for jobs. But hey, if you think differently, McCain wants your vote.

    As for racism, if trade opponents don’t want to be perceived as racist, they should spend as much time complaining about Canadians and Irish taking their jarbs as Mexicans. So far, the countries mentioned by trade opponents mirror the countries mentioned by the people who just want to “enforce the law” along our (southern) borders…not that they’re racist, of course.

  3. “The mortgage crisis is caused by freer trade? Here I thought it was an asset price bubble.”

    Nobody was building luxury condos in Detroit, where you can buy a house for a dollar.

    “As for manufacturing, George W. Bush put illegal tariffs on steel while Clinton was a truer champion of free trade than McCain.”

    That’s true. To pass NAFTA, Clinton promised a lot of things — labor and environmental standards for trade, retraining for affected workers, etc — none of which ever came to pass.

    “As I recall, the Nineties were pretty good for jobs.”

    Not everywhere.

    “As for racism, if trade opponents don’t want to be perceived as racist, they should spend as much time complaining about Canadians and Irish taking their jarbs as Mexicans.”

    No, they should spend time proportionally to the degree to which their jobs have fled to a particular country. Which is why the country that most people talk about these days isn’t Canada, Ireland, or Mexico, it’s China.

  4. Sandy says:

    I think in Detroit they have a couple of problems. The biggest one pushing houses down to a dollar is undoubtedly this guy, though his relationship to international trade policy goes back to the administration of George…Washington.

    The second is that after the VREs of the 80s and the tariffs of the 70s and the cheap oil of the 90s and the hidebound management of, well, all that time, Detroit makes crappy cars nobody wants. I’m not sure what government policies can fix that. A bailout (oh yes, they want one too) will just postpone the inevitable.

    It has a third problem, in which it’s located in Michigan, not Ohio, so it really doesn’t have much to do with Ohio foreclosures.

    “No, they should spend time proportionally to the degree to which their jobs have fled to a particular country. Which is why the country that most people talk about these days isn’t Canada, Ireland, or Mexico, it’s China.”

    Um, no, the countries they’ve lost most of their jobs to are Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Kentucky. And also Canada, where there are huge auto plants right across the international boundary. But if one imaginary line like the Brown People Line (I mean, uh, US-Mexican border) or the Yellow Peril Line (aka International Date Line) matters, then surely there’s no reason not to get upset over the Ohio-Kentucky line or the lines that separate Ohio from all the Southeastern states. If your zero-sum view of economics is correct, Ohio should secede and tax out-of-Ohio goods in order to create support for local businesses.

    But hey, we’re on the heels of a massive financial crisis coupled with a stock market crash, why not go for the trifecta and reenact Smoot-Hawley.

  5. lunchstealer says:

    It’s true that Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana are hard-hit by the foreclosure crisis, but that doesn’t mean that it can be directly linked to trade policies. Indeed, the numbers seem to contradict that idea. 4 of the top 5 states by foreclosures for 2007 (by proportion of total households) were Sun-belt states with a low proportion of manufacturing jobs. Several manufacturing-heavy states are in the bottom half of the list, including New York, Massachussets, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

    I’m sure there’s a trade-policy signal in this, but it’s going to be smaller than the problems caused by massive over-valuation of property, the plummeting dollar (in turn caused by massive government spending, both domestic and in Iraq), and the over-investment in home ownership (caused mostly by byzantine tax policies).

    In point of fact, my previous financial advisor (whom I was largely unimpressed by and who is no longer in business) told me when discussing the possibility of buying a house “don’t put any money down, and get the most house you can afford, because mortgage money is the cheapest money out there.” No-money down and largest-possible is pretty much the definition of sub-prime. Her reasoning for this was to shelter as much money as possible from taxation.

  6. lunchstealer says:

    Oh, and don’t forget that steel tariffs pushed up the price of domestic automobiles. Add to that the fact that they suck and have sucked for a long time, and it’s easy to see why they’re shedding jobs like it’s nobody’s business.

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