While Maclean’s magazine explains why (relatively) big things go wrong here in Canada ~ like pipelines, for example, in the USA the New Republic explains how partisan politics is driving two protectionists (one bought and paid for by Big Labour, the other just an buffoon) towards even more extreme anti-trade positions. Both articles, however, fail to get to the nub of the problem: the growing anti-globalization movement.
In an excellent article The Economist explains that “The backlash against trade is just one symptom of a pervasive anxiety about the effects of open economies. Britain’s Brexit vote reflected concerns about the impact of unfettered migration on public services, jobs and culture. Big businesses are slammed for using foreign boltholes to dodge taxes. Such critiques contain some truth: more must be done to help those who lose out from openness. But there is a world of difference between improving globalisation and reversing it. The idea that globalisation is a scam that benefits only corporations and the rich could scarcely be more wrong.“
“Protectionism,” The Economist says, “hurts consumers and does little for workers. The worst-off benefit far more from trade than the rich. A study of 40 countries found that the richest consumers would lose 28% of their purchasing power if cross-border trade ended; but those in the bottom tenth would lose 63%. The annual cost to American consumers of switching to non-Chinese tyres after Barack Obama slapped on anti-dumping tariffs in 2009 was around $1.1 billion, according to the Peterson Institute for International Economics. That amounts to over $900,000 for each of the 1,200 jobs that were “saved”.” So, why, in the face of such evidence are people like Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump such ardent anti-globalist? Well, she, I think, because she is a stooge for the Big Money paid by Big Labour and he because, I am pretty sure, he’s simply stupid … crafty, to be sure, but, at bottom, a fool.
The Economist concludes with an argument that must ring true for every real, honest, thinking Conservative: “These are the sensible responses to the peddlers of protectionism and nativism. The worst answer would be for countries to turn their backs on globalisation. The case for openness remains much the same as it did when this newspaper was founded to support the repeal of the Corn Laws. There are more—and more varied—opportunities in open economies than in closed ones. And, in general, greater opportunity makes people better off. Since the 1840s, free-traders have believed that closed economies favour the powerful and hurt the labouring classes. They were right then. They are right now.” In my considered opinion anyone who is a little protectionist, anyone who is not a committed free trader is not a Conservative, but (s) is, very likely, a fool. I’m afraid that an awful lot of fools post protectionist drivel on so-called conservative web sites.
The big, frightening news, however, is in Foreign Affairs, which offers a pessimistic view of both the CETA (the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between the European Union and Canada, negotiations for which concluded in 2014) and the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the mammoth free trade agreement between the United States and the EU.
Once again, as with pipelines in Canada, simple, ignorant protectionism that panders to the worst fears of Americans, Brexit and anti-globalization in general is the problem; the real enemies are fear and ignorance and the politicians who pander to both.
Of course we all wonder why once profitable steel makers must close and why it is so hard to maintain aircraft and telecommunications design and production here in Canada when the Koreans and the Finns seem to do it so well. It is easier to blame “the others,” shifty foreigners who cheat and migrants who take our jobs here at home, than it is to remember the fundamental about which Adam Smith wrote 240 years ago: the division of labour, productivity, and free markets. We, Conservatives, must believe in and preach capitalism and free trade … of we are not conservatives, except, perhaps, for the kind about whom John Stuart Mill complained:
Today, in the 21st century, the conservatives who Mill called “stupid people” are, overwhelmingly, found in the Liberal and New Democratic Parties in Canada and in the Labour Party in the UK and in the Democratic party in the USA, but they are always on the fringes of modern, capitalist, free trading Conservative parties, too, as Donald Trump has demonstrated.