George Will is afraid.

Brown is a harbinger of a momentous, and ominous, aspect of the 2008 presidential election: For the first time in living memory, one of the major parties — Brown’s — will be essentially hostile to free trade, the foundation of today’s prosperity. The Democratic Party’s protectionism operates under the dissimulating label of “fair trade.”

“Brown” is Sherrod Brown, whom you might recall is the Democrat running for Senator from Ohio instead of Paul Hackett. Although I like Hackett and was distressed that he felt he’d been shoved out of politics — Sherrod Brown is good, too. He’s real good.

Brown, whose career voting record is, according to the American Conservative Union, more liberal than another Cleveland area congressman, Dennis Kucinich, makes scant concession to conservatism, cultural or economic. He opposes bans on same-sex marriage (DeWine also opposed the ban that Ohio voters overwhelmingly passed in 2004), human cloning and partial-birth abortion.

I think I’m in love.

But he does favor a line-item veto and a constitutional amendment to require a balanced federal budget. That amendment, which would constitutionalize fiscal policy, is a terrible idea but a convenient gesture by Brown, who knows it is going nowhere.

Pretty much the same game Republicans played with a proposed balanced budget amendment in the 1980s and early 1990s. What took the wind out of those sails was Clinton’s balancing of the budget.

But back to Wills’s fear that Dems will destroy the economy with “protectionist” policies — I argued here that unfettered globalism is hurting the U.S. more than it’s helping. Members of the investor class, like Will, can’t see it, because their stock portfolios look just fine and the GDP is growing, if not at record rates. But globalism in practice has given us corporate profits based on the exploitation of foreign labor, which in turn is eroding wages and employment standards within the U.S. Robert Kuttner argues that it may be compromising national security as well.

Will continues,

A serious student of trade policy, Brown notes that the trade deficit for all of 1992 was $39 billion, but was $724 billion last year and $68 billion just for January 2006. He wants U.S. trade policy to force “stronger labor and environmental standards” in less-developed nations. He says the point is to “bring up their living standards.” Oh, please. The primary point is to reduce the competitive advantages of nations with lower labor costs and lighter environmental regulations — nations that many Ohioans believe have caused their state to lose 222,800 manufacturing jobs in the past 10 years.

I see it this way — unfettered globalism amounts to importing lower wages and worse working conditions for Americans. We can either passively accept the destruction of a way of life for millions of Americans as the cost of doing business, or we can pro-actively work to export our employment standards to the rest of the globe. This will not only prevent countless Americans from falling out of the middle class, but it will improve the lives of workers everywhere. So corporate profits will be a little less robust — think of it as the cost of doing business.

Put another way — does this glorious global economy exist to serve humankind, or does humankind exist to serve the glorious global economy?

This is a question We, the People and our elected representatives need to be thinking about now, and we need to be very clear in our minds what our answer is. We’ve been stumbling along for the past few years with conservatives and neoliberals selling us a vision of global economy utopia that doesn’t add up. These people should be called upon to show us, in very concrete terms, how washing machines manufactured in Mexico and exported to India are going to enrich American workers. They need to be very specific about where jobs will come from to replace the manufacturing jobs we are losing. Platitudes about boats and rising tides, or band-aid answers about education, are not going to cut it. We need details. We need to see the plan. Now.

It may not have caused Will any inconvenience that Ohio lost 220,000 manufacturing jobs in the past ten years, but I ‘spect lots of Ohioans are keenly bothered by it. And just about every time a citizen of Ohio loses his Union job and health benefits, Sherrod Brown likely gains another supporter.

11 thoughts on “Ohio

  1. “Put another way — does this glorious global economy exist to serve humankind, or does humankind exist to serve the glorious global economy?”


    However neither does this glorious global economy exist to serve Americans.

    We Americans are suffering from “me first” globalization that wants to preserve our absolute wealth and consumption levels as economic imbalances are corrected, as opposed to preserving relative wealth and consumption levels that recognise change on both sides of the equation is inevitable.

    No politician, left or right, desiring to keep their job will tell us the truth, …. whipping us into a fever over minor issues like the Dubai Port deal is job security for our pols, not truth.

    But if they do start explaining how this is all going to work they’re then going to be compelled to explain why the top 1-5% of income earners should maintain their absolute wealth and income while the rest of us decline slowly, happily, sleepily, from what we have.

    Talk about taboo subjects.

    BTW, Orcinus has a great post on immigration up this morning:

  2. I put this comment under the previous post. Sorry; but, I am still in shock. More liberal than Dennis Kucinich! More liberal than Dennis Kucinich is something I did not believe was possible. I think I am in love, too.

    Why, would Will not believe that Democrats want to improve the working and living conditions of people in other countries? This seems to be a better way to export democracy than with the point of a gun and smart bombs. Now, if I heard a Republican saying things like that, the “oh, please” comment is a natural response.

  3. This seems to be a better way to export democracy than with the point of a gun and smart bombs.

    You’d think.

  4. Occam’s Razor just told me guns and smart bombs are about stealing natural resources, not democracy.

  5. joanr16 – comment 5-

    You are correct. He looks like a baseball player doesn’t he with his stupid bowtie. Oh, I know about his book and his talk, etc.

    I wouldn’t want his “dipstick” checking my lubs – he’s probably a lousy lover!

  6. joanr16 & Britwit – Don’t dismiss Mr. Will that quickly. I disagree with virtually everything he says and all that he stands for, but he knows how to use the English language in a most persuasive way.

    The Left needs someone as urbane and persuasive to get our message to the populace.

  7. We are going to experience a dramatic decrease in our standard of living, no matter what we do. Cheap oil is a thing of the past, and cheap energy is what drives economic well being. The days when we can use 25% of the world’s energy for 5% of the world’s population are rapidly coming to an end.

    The products of unskilled (and often highly skilled) labor can be purchased from less expensive nations and shipped here.

    Too many people and dwindling resources, and an absolute inability to address population growth issues.

    Mexicans streaming over the border for better wages is a key symptom of the problem.

    Ironically, Mexico is likely to be in a better position than the U.S. in the near and long term. They don’t have as far to fall, and relative to their needs they have much more oil than the U.S.

    I’m already planning to retire there.

  8. What Will and Snow and the rest don’t understand is, you can’t bullshit people who are directly experiencing what you’re talking about. Thus, they think if they keep telling us that everything is fine, don’t believe the naysayers, and waving their little magic graphs about, and just do it loud enough, that they will be able to convince us that everything is fine.

    Except, we’re poor, and see no hope of escape, or on the edge looking into the abyss, and we can do our budgets and we know that nobody’s going to raise our debt limit by another trillion, so it doesn’t work. Because how does a zillionaire being able to afford another yacht put bread on my table and medicine in my cabinet? How does the improved stock portfolio of someone else make it any easier for me to pay my rent?

    But they still don’t realize that they can’t bullshit people who are experiencing the reality of which they are lying…

  9. The products of unskilled (and often highly skilled) labor can be purchased from less expensive nations and shipped here.

    Not without cheap oil, they can’t.

    Not unless you know somebody’s got a whole fleet of clipper ships waiting in the wings ready to go after the peak.

    If that’s the case I’d really like to know about it, because afaik nobody’s starting to invest in how we’re going to get a functioning pre-petroleum international trade system back up and running fast enough to prevent a Rome II: When Empires Implode…

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