04 March 2008

Politics as usual

I read that this year there have been a lot more people in their 20s participating in the elections, which is really great. I get tired of having just retirees deciding how to run the country. It's already hard for politicians to make any significant changes in things like social security and health care because they're afraid of getting voted out, but with a strong lobbist like the AARP and the majority of the voters being over 65, Congress can't touch anything that might hurt us now in favor of helping us in the future. I'm all for privatized social security and so are a lot of those in my generation, but the older folks were afraid that it would mess up what they have going on now even though it means that their grandkids will probably be on their own when it comes to retirement.

I enjoy politics in general, but out of all the many issues there are to get worked up about my issue of choice is international trade. Being a staunch supporter of free trade I automatically find myself grouped with conservatives since especially these days it seems like they're the only ones with decent economic views. When I listen to Clinton and Obama talk about getting rid of NAFTA I cringe. Are they serious? Why not do something contructive like re-training those displaced workers instead of trying to hang on to jobs we don't really want? Why are people so upset that we no longer make tvs in this country? Who wants to make tvs anyway? Automaker unions have made it impossible for US companies to compete with foreigners by insisting on huge retirement settlements, etc. By excluding foreign companies from our competitive market it's the consumers who will suffer and with rising gas prices and housing foreclosures we don't really need to pay more for clothes and cars as well.
 
I found this on the Foreign Policy blog, which gave me some hope of our trade situation if Obama wins, which is a distinct possibility.
Columbia University economist Jagdish Bhagwati, author of In Defense of Globalization and other fine works, sallies forth in today's Financial Times to say that Barack Obama would be a better free trader than Hillary Clinton. He offers five main arguments:

  1. Clinton wants to pause the Doha round of trade talks; Obama never said so. Obama has better economic advisors, such as Austan Goolsbee of the University of Chicago.

  2. The unions that support Obama are less opposed to trade than those that support Clinton.
    Clinton must oppose NAFTA more strongly than Obama because her husband
    supported it.

  3. Obama proposed the Patriot Employer Act, a politically smart but economically stupid idea that will never be enacted. Proposing it and letting it fail will allow Obama to "abandon the anti-trade rhetoric and embrace the multilateral free trade that has served the American and the world interest so well."

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