But have you seen how cheap are a pair of outsourced Levi jeans at the Mall of America?
A conversation with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev last March over a live microphone, that our President thought private, famously revealed Barack Obama asking for Tsar Putin's patience on arms negotiations since a re-elected Obama would have more "flexibility" to sell out U.S. national security on armaments after he becomes unaccountable to voters.
Last week, the 2008 criticizer of executive orders issued by his predecessor, showed Tsar-like flexibility with respect to Article I, Section 8 when he added naturalization policy to his other executive order usurpations (see also oil moratoriums in contempt of court, non-recess recess appointments, etc). This time, our Chief Executive granted amnesty and work permits by fiat to over 800,000 persons currently ineligible for same under the now quaint notion of, "current law", i.e. statutory laws passed by the congressional representatives of We the People that can only be changed by making a Bill into a Law.
But even some statutory laws, passed with bi-partisan majorities to boot, sell out the American security born of the political and economic independence that our Founding Fathers fought and died to achieve. I speak of NAFTA, GATT. the WTO and their "Utopian free trade ancestors" (especially including the 1962 TEA Act) since at least the 1940s, and the latest visible result of same:
The Pentagon on Tuesday defended plans to buy attack helicopters from a Russian arms firm for the Afghan government even though the same company has supplied weapons to Syria's regime.
US senators have voiced dismay at the deal with Rosoboronexport, but defense officials said the contract with the firm was the only way to bolster Afghanistan's fleet of Russian-made choppers.
"We're not buying helicopters for the Syrian regime. We're buying helicopters in support of the Afghan Air Force," press secretary George Little told reporters.
Senator John Cornyn, in a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Monday, expressed outrage at the purchase of Mi-17 helicopters for Afghanistan from Rosoboronexport.
"I remain deeply troubled that the DoD (Department of Defense) would knowingly do business with a firm that has enabled mass atrocities in Syria.
"Such actions by Rosoboronexport warrant the renewal of US sanctions against it, not a billion-dollar DoD contract," Cornyn wrote.
Better late than never Senator, but if you wish to end this and further Rosoboronexports in the future, you and a majority of Congress and a like-minded President will have to end decades of Utopian free trade blindness that even the 1996 McDonnell Douglas-killing European Airbus cartel couldn't cure.
How does it happen that the last superpower on Earth is dependent on a Russian helicopter manufacturer to arm allies against the harborers of the architects of the September 11, 2001 attacks on our homeland?
Unlike Britain, which was under attack by Hitler's Nazi regime when it needed FDR and GM President William Knudson's help in securing the armaments for its defense, the United States has unilaterally secured its own increased insecurity via multi-lateral trade agreements that have made trans-national corporations the new "Arsenal of the Highest Bidder", whether for Democracy or not.
America has become increasingly dependent on foreign suppliers over many decades, so that in 2012, our Defense Department states that deals with the Russians are the "only way" to arm the Afghans charged with keeping the Taliban at bay.
What hath comparative advantage wrought?
Yes, there are many factors that have brought us to this sad state of affairs with shuttered armament and textile factories now housing Pennsylvania Mon Valley and Cabbagetown-Atlantan yuppies in upscale flats, while the working class collects food stamps and applies for disability benefits. These include improvements in technology that replace labor; overreaching labor unions and cheap labor overseas and across the Rio Grande. And yes, we are aware of the manufacturing GDP numbers that reveal how well are many companies in the U.S. thanks to tech "labor" sans a beating heart.
But the major reason that the United States is now so dependent on foreign sources for our defense is that we haven't made it a priority to retain the Washington-Hamiltonian independence that they and so many of our Protectionist Republican leaders fought so hard to achieve, before the advent of free-trade Utopianism.
The Great Betrayal
In his seminal book, The Great Betrayal, former Nixon and Reagan aide Pat Buchanan chronicles the history of American trade policy from before Britain's Intolerable Acts that led to the Declaration of Independence, through the late 1990's, along with prescient foresight concerning the consequences of our free trade policies since its publication 14 years ago.
Buchanan documents how:
Britain used the colonies for raw materials and inhibited the development of manufactures therein;
President Washington and Alexander Hamilton relentlessly pursued American economic independence as part and parcel of political liberty (including an aversion to dependence on foreign trade for our prosperity);
Presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were quickly persuaded of the folly of Utopian free trade upon taking office;
The tariff was instrumental is making the United States the greatest free trade zone the world had ever seen, while also protecting its domestic market and ensuring its national security independence;
The Party of Lincoln from the Civil War to WWI and in the Roaring Twenties used the tariff to makes those years the most productive in terms of the accumulation of wealth and the rise in the standard of living the greatest in the history of mankind;
Wilsonian free traders finally won the day in the aftermath of WWII when trade policy was used as a carrot in lieu of aid to win over allies in the Cold War;
When, in 1985 Toshiba sold silent propeller technology to the Soviet Union, many of Pat's conservative friends lobbied against sanctions;
President Ronald Reagan eloquently preached free trade but made several protectionist decisions that saved American industries, companies and jobs, including slapping a 5-year, 50% tariff on Japan to save Harley-Davidson from dumping; imposing steel and machine tool quotas; and demanding semi-conductor market access reciprocation from Japan to combat Hitachi dumping.
It wouldn't matter if Adam Smith favored Utopian free trade policies, but he didn't. After all, the debate isn't about personalities and conservative economic heroes. Rather, its about what policies work, and the only place that free trade Utopianism, like much of modern day liberalism, works is theoretically; hence Smith's "Exceptions" to Free Trade:
Industries necessary for the defence of the country;
Encouragement of domestic industry via a tariff as an equal tax;
Reciprocation against the high duties or import prohibitions of other nations; and
Use of tariffs to secure the repeal of the above in other nations so as to eventually gain access to their markets on a more equal basis. [Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and cause of the Wealth of Nations (New York: Modern Library, 1937) p. 429]
Blinded by an unprecedented post-WWII prosperity due, in large part, to the fact that most of the modern industrial world lay in ruins, which circumstance made the gradual erosion of the foundations of that prosperity imperceptible; we now find ourselves with the two major political parties in bed with trans-national corporations and the whole issue of free trade mostly off the public's radar screen.
We hope that the statements of GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney concerning China's trade and other policies will lead to a more eyes-wide-open approach to how we allow access to our precious domestic market that is the envy of the world; so that we stop giving it away to protectionist nations; and that Senator Cornyn and his honorable friends in the United States will find the outrage over sharing helicopter purchases with tyrannical enemies an occasion to re-visit NAFTA etc and begin to save a Middle America that Charles Murray describes as Coming Apart.
“One man with courage makes a majority.” – Andrew Jackson
Atlanta Law & Politics columnist – Examiner.com
Charlotte Observer and Atlanta Journal-Constitution op-eds archived at Townhall.com.