Why Lord Donny and the Pro Left are Wrong on Trade

And the reactionary left does its thing… so predictable and so stupid.

I’ll get to today’s attempt to re-start the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, which should have been predicted by everyone, in another post, but I want to start with TPP and NAFTA.

I mean, good Lord. Lord Donny decides to pull out of the TPP and the professional left jumps up and down and slaps each other on the back. For Chrissakes, folks, I saw one of them claim Donny was “channeling Bernie.” I kid you not. And when they found out Donny had also reached out to Canada and Mexico to talk about getting rid of NAFTA, the creaming of the jeans among the professional left was palpable. Again, they took credit, saying that “Bernie” was the reason he decided to do that. It’s hard to tell if these people are just tone deaf or they are experiencing a brain-related event.

Let’s be crystal clear; Donny doesn’t give a flying fuck what “Bernie” thinks about anything.

First of all, on the short- and long-term, the TPP is, at worst, a wash for the United States. I know, I know, some of you have been programmed to believe that it’s a horrible deal that would send “millions of jobs” to Asia, but I have to ask…

WHAT jobs?

The manufacturing jobs that have left the country, left back in the 1980s. Did you not notice? If you’re too young to have been there when Saint Reagan’s Republicans rewarded companies who built plants in other countries and “revolutionary” Republicans in the 1990s were putting the kibosh on President Clinton’s efforts to make sure American goods were on a level playing field with Asian goods, consider this your history lesson. All the jobs that left were gone a long time ago. For chrissakes, if you know anything about Michael Moore, then you know his first documentary, “Roger & Me,” was released on December 20, 1989, which long before NAFTA. Those jobs were gone a long time before that, and Flint, Michigan was left for dead years before that film. If a miracle was to happen and jobs were to start coming back, who is going to do them, nearly 40 years after the great jobs purge. Those people who worked at the Flint GM plant are on Medicare and Social Security now. Thanks to Republicans, we have very little skilled labor left in this country. And thanks to the rise of a version of consumerism that places price at the top of the decision-making process, no one will be willing to pay the price for most consumer goods that are made here. So, get this through your thick skulls, professional left; if the jobs are going to come back, they will trickle back in. It won’t be a massive groundswell. And NAFTA is preventing nothing.

Even if we were killing the TPP, it wouldn’t magically bring jobs back to this country. Donny might want to raise taxes on companies who don’t make stuff here, but can you imagine enough Republicans going along with that to actually do so? They’ve all taken the pledge. As long as someone in Asia or Africa is more than willing to make your spatula or shirt for a few cents a day, jobs that pay $20+ per hour are not coming back here, anyway. In all. The TPP doesn’t bring jobs back. The purpose of TPP is to put more pressure on China to deal with other nations in a fair manner. Economically speaking, it really doesn’t do much for us directly, but it create a more level playing field that would force China’s hand. (And Russia’s, but that’s another story.)

Also, the pro left needs to know that pulling out of the TPP doesn’t actually kill the TPP. And the remarks that Lord Donny made in announcing his decision are very telling. He basically said that any trade deals from now on will be one-on-one, which reflects a reality that hasn’t existed for about, oh, 40 years. Remember what OPEC did to us when we tried this “America First” bullshit back when Nixon was president? That cartel was formed by a multi-nation trade agreement and they were able to screw a somewhat isolationist United States by using their power as multiple nations in control of one product – oil – to cut us off at the knees. If you were around then, you remember mom and dad having to sit in line at a local gas station on an even- or odd-numbered day to buy what little gasoline was available at twice the price it had been weeks earlier.

We live in an increasingly global economy. Globalization is the way economy has always worked, except in those heady days post-World War II, when we were virtually the only country left standing and intact. As countries in Europe and Asia recovered and got their bearings, they restored the competitive nature of the world economy. Yet the right and left wings in this country BOTH seem to think we can go back to a world in which we were the “Mack Daddy” and could dictate to everyone else how the economy would operate. That ain’t happening ever again, unless there is a World War III – and we may not survive that one intact because are now the economic center of the world; no way is everyone leaving us alone this time. More on that in another column later.

The constant talk about TPP and NAFTA is based on a world that no longer exists, in which the United States is the only remaining economic power in the world. The repeal of NAFTA will not happen; that would be too stupid even for Donny and he would have to get a GOP Congress that loves NAFTA to go along. Both Mexico and Canada have prospered under it and frankly, so have we. Mexico and Canada are among our top four trading partners, along with the EU and China. They both buy a lot of American goods and they produce a lot of inexpensive oil and gas, which reduces our dependence on Middle East and Russian oil, which is good for us. According to a study of the effects of NAFTA that was produced on its 20th anniversary, it cost 770,000 jobs total over 20 years. Yet, 35 million jobs were created during the Clinton and Obama Administrations post-NAFTA and the Great Recession was not caused by anything related to NAFTA.

Now, if you have a specific complaint about TPP or NAFTA, and it’s actually valid, fine; then express your reservations and demand specific changes. However, most of the pro lefties who bitch loudest about TPP have never read it. Hell, this morning, one of them told me this morning that it was negotiated in secret, even though it was published for the public about two years ago. And the pro lefties who whine about NAFTA imagine that it’s caused a lot of jobs to move south, which is not supported by any actual evidence.

Consider the reason Lord Donny is against TPP and NAFTA; he’s an isolationist. Being isolationist is not a good thing in a global economy. And let’s be clear; the economy is global, whether you like it or not, and isolationist countries are not faring well in such an economy. Isolationism is a certain cause of trade wars and a trade war should be the last thing anyone wants. If you want higher wages for the poor in other countries, cutting ourselves off from the world economy is no way to accomplish that. Donny wants to take us back in time to 1954, when we got rich rebuilding the world, and that ain’t happening again. Sorry.

Stick with the here and now and the world we live in. The TPP would prevent a trade war with China, and NAFTA is established as a trade agreement that has brought greater wealth to both Mexico and Canada, a must if anyone is serious about preventing illegal immigration and a must if we’re to avoid the same sort of inflation we saw in the 1970s. if Donny gets his way, people will be flowing over the border and our dollar will sink lower than it was during the Great Recession. And that’s not good, regardless of your pro left marching orders

About Milt Shook

A writer with more than 45 years in the political game (and let's face it, it is a game). I am a liberal because facts have a liberal bias, and I really like facts. If you like facts, you'll like this blog. If not, you'll have a hard time.


Why Lord Donny and the Pro Left are Wrong on Trade — 2 Comments

  1. You’ve made many good points.
    The one you didn’t address is the Star Chamber “Court” system that is closed and secret to “resolve” “disputes” costing a Multi-national imagined profits. Reportedly, this ‘court’ can ignore any and all local laws.
    This point seems more than enough to oppose the TPP until it can’t set aside citizens setting limits for themselves.
    If you intend to comment in a posting, i’ll watch for it.

  2. Just to reiterate two points.

    The present world trade regime is about forty years old and the regulatory structures are getting pretty rickety. The purpose of the trade agreements, collectively, is to bring those structures up to standard to address the realities of today (and the following decades). They are in no sense a conspiracy to screw the working man out of his daily bread, contrary to what the Gibbering Idiot Left has been squealing. The most likely major consequence of Trump crashing American adherence to the TPP will be the emergence of a new Pacific region trade regime centered on China – because they, unlike the Americans, are not crazy and can be trusted. Difficult, I say, to see how America comes out ahead on that one.

    Also, the bleeding of jobs from the American industrial heartland began in the Sixties and was well underway towards completion by the end of the Seventies. Anybody but me remember the Rust Belt? The political difficulty is that nobody cared about the plight of the white working class when the Southern states poached away all those jobs from the unionized high skill high wage North to become commodities in the low tax low regulation low skill home of the Trumpster meatheads.

    But, now that those same jobs have been poached away from the original poachers, I’m supposed to get all upset and treat this like some kind of national disaster. Suck it up, Klansmen. The Massachusetts economy landed on its feet, because we have all these colleges and a high standard of living which attracted and retained the smart people who built a marvelous high tech economy from little more than granite chips and seaweed. If you guys would just settle down and work hard and get smart then you too could build your own high tech prosperous economy without demanding that somebody else do the heavy lifting and turn the results over for you to enjoy.