The following excerpt is taken from the end of this linked Reuters article:
Bush warned against taking a protectionist turn in response to the current financial turbulence, saying free markets and free trade were fundamental to long-term economic growth.
“These policies have shown themselves time and time again to be the surest path to creating jobs, increasing commerce, and fostering progress,” Bush said. “And this moment of global economic uncertainty would be precisely the wrong time to reject such proven methods for creating prosperity and hope.”
Yeah, right. The world is just awash in prosperity and hope right now, isn’t it? Can there be any greater indictment of our free trade policies than the fact that Bush clings to them so desperately? It’s like a drowning man crying out, “Water! Water!” instead of shouting, “Help!”
There can be no doubt that our free trade policies have created jobs, increased commerce and fostered progress around the world – all at the expense of the United States. Of course! Pumping $700 billion into the rest of the world, year-in and year-out, will do wonders for the economies of nations like China, Japan, Korea and Germany. But all it did for us is drive us into bankruptcy.
Trade is a wonderful thing. Really! But the word “trade” implies some mutually beneficial exchange. By definition, to be mutually beneficial, it has to be balanced. It’s simply impossible for either side to sustain a large deficit indefinitely without eventually destroying their economy, and there’s nothing beneficial about that. While trade is a wonderful thing, misguided trade policies like unfettered “free” trade skew the process and offer a slow but steady path to economic ruin.
It’s time for a return to sensible trade policies that maximize the benefit of trade for the U.S. while maintaining a balance.