George Will should Stick To Baseball

Much of my time - too much, in fact - is spent patrolling the calcified pathways of our nations' political discourse, a route lined with the still mumbling corpses of the past half-century of debate.

Oh, how I long for the freedom and freshness of a new generation of partisans.

But, you cannot go to war against the enemy you want, you have to war against the enemy you have.

Today, Will makes a somnolent attack on Obama - in the midst of an attack on the resignation of Mark Penn. See, Will is so "with it", when it comes to "free trade" that he thinks the Penn resignation is a mistake. Then, after setting up this straw horse with some handy but miscomprehended statistics, he proceeds to take aim at Obama; foolishly.

His thesis, as best it can be understood, boils down to these points:

  • Colombia is too small an economy to much care about anyway
  • Only a small portion of the US workforce is confronted with international competition
  • Globalization and free trade only account for a "small fraction" of today's widening income disparities.
If these are the stones upon which his argument is built, then lets set to some disassembly:
  • If Colombia is so small, then there cannot possibly be any urgency to signing this free trade deal; any candidate for the presidency would be well advised to reserve their judgment until in office - so as to not be bound by a deal struck by a lame-duck predecessor.
  • Will provides us with examples of the vast numbers of professions who face no international competition: dentists and auto mechanics as well as government employees. But if this is true, then those self-same workers have as little to gain from this free trade deal as they have to lose; how would dentists or auto mechanics trade with Colombia anyway?
  • But it is in his third point that Will makes his fall, for if there is some "small fraction" of today's widening income disparity that is related to globalization and free trade, how is that accounted for in this agreement? The fact is that regardless of how small it may be, it is not accounted for in the slightest by any of the free trade agreements that have been signed since NAFTA. This is the main argument against the treaties, that they treat the interests of corporations (fictitious persons) as sacrosanct, which treating the interests of workers (actual persons) as insignificant.
At last, we have some Republican agreement that "some fraction", no matter how small, of income disparity is related to improperly designed free trade agreements. Now, we just need to develop the particulars on hoe to address this issue and we can then move forward together.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Colombia not Columbia.