The Job Crisis and the GOP

by Patrick J Buchanan – March 10, 2004

President Bush and his advisers are puzzled and worried.

Economic liftoff took place right on schedule in July when the tax cuts took effect. In the last six months of 2003, the economy blazed along on a growth path of 6 percent. But where are the jobs?

Last week’s jobs report, with hundreds of thousands giving up the search for work, and manufacturing jobs disappearing for the 43rd straight month, jolted the White House. What is going on?

They’re calling it a jobless recovery. Wrong. Millions of jobs are being created. They’re just not being created here in the United States.

The reasons can be traced to these four acronyms: NAFTA, GATT, WTO, PNTR. These are the trade treaties and global institutions that have permitted the historic substitution of foreign labor for American labor, to the enrichment of the transnational companies that look upon the Congress as a wholly owned subsidiary.

Numbers do not lie. In 2003, America exported $1 trillion in goods and services. Almost 10 percent of GDP. Excellent. By the Clinton-Bush I rule – $1 billion in exports creates 20,000 jobs – that $1 trillion worth of exports created 20 million jobs. Exports are good for America.

The problem? We imported $1.5 trillion in goods and services. That created or supported 30 million jobs abroad. But even this understates the case. For foreign workers can be hired at a fraction of the cost of a U.S. worker. Our $1.5 trillion in imports is probably supporting 150,000,000 jobs abroad.

The U.S. trade deficit is the greatest foreign aid and wealth transfer program in history, and our workers are paying for it by the loss to their families of the American Dream.

Consider China. With some $150 billion in imports from China last year, we supported 3 million jobs there. But as China’s wages are a tenth of U.S. wages, or less, we are probably talking about 30 million or 40 million jobs in China that are tied to exports to the United States.

For the Bush Republicans, the chickens are coming home to roost.

As Robert Novak reports, North Carolina welcomed Sen. John Edwards home after his unsuccessful campaign as a hero. Why? At the end, Edwards was a fiery adversary of the Bush-Clinton trade deals, a denunciator of NAFTA, a champion of workers. Indeed, just as almost all the Democrats ended up the campaign sounding like Howard Dean on Iraq, on trade they had all begun to sound like Dennis Kucinich.

North Carolina may now be in play in November, says Novak. If so, and Bush loses the Tarheel State, he loses the presidency.

At a weekend conference on immigration and jobs hosted by The American Cause, which this writer chairs, one speaker blurted out that while he voted for Bush in 2000, he would never do so again. The room erupted in applause, though virtually all there were conservatives, and all had once been Goldwater-Nixon-Reagan Republicans.

The crisis of the Bush dynasty is that, like the Bourbons of France, they have learned nothing and forgotten nothing. They do not understand that we have entered a new world where the old ways no longer work. They yet recite the old litanies that lost their relevance in the Reagan decade.

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, and India abandoned state socialism, and China threw open its doors, a billion workers were thrown onto a global job market to compete against Americans who earn 10 and 20 times their wages.

The trade deals the U.S. government then negotiated, at the behest of U.S. corporations, were not really trade deals at all, but enabling acts. U.S. corporations were told: You can now shut your U.S. factories, shed your U.S. workers, build your new plants in Mexico, China and India, and bring your finished goods back to the United States, free of charge. Go for it!

As Paul Craig Roberts writes, what is happening is not “free trade” in the Adam Smith sense where Portugal makes wine and Britain makes textiles and ships. What is happening is the mass transfer of the “factors of production” from First World countries to Third World countries.

What is happening in the world is what happened in America after World War II, when factories moved to the Sun Belt in search of non-union labor that would work as hard for half of what the high-paid workers in the industrial heartland demanded and got.

Asia is the new Sun Belt, and America is fated to be the “Rust Belt” of the world, as China becomes the factory floor of the global economy and India, through outsourcing, its back office.

Republican free-trade dogma inhibits action to protect U.S. jobs. The GOP is hogtied and hamstrung by its ideology in dealing with the crisis. Its only response is to mutter with Dr. Pangloss that it is all for the best.

The GOP is fortunate its opponent in 2004 is John F. Kerry, who is as clueless as they are on the new world economy that has been designed, and is operating, to loot America of her patrimony.