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Sunday, May 8, 2016

Free Trade, NAFTA, Trump, and Conservative Values

I farted loudly at a 4th of July cookout some ten or twelve years ago. My relatives are not the type to find amusement in such an offering. It was not of course a literal fart. I'm well schooled in the discrete passing of gas over a period of time, as well as moving to a more remote location to break Independence Day wind. My analogous fart was the news to family that I wrote a letter to the editor of a prominent magazine and that I was in fact published. I was quite proud of the fact, the publishing, but my comments to the editor were not well received by my closest relatives. The gist of the letter was that China has been screwing us over for decades and the time to give them a taste of their own medicine was today.

I'll give you their argument first: If we tariff goods coming into this country, it's the same thing as another tax on the hard working Americans who make this country great. You raise taxes on Chinese imports and that instantly causes an increase in the cost of rice, grains, products, knick-knacks, paddiwacks, oh, and did I mention give the poor dog a bone?

So tariffing Chinese products hurts Americans is their argument. They really really believe that, by the way. Conservatives are completely and totally against tariffing any country no matter what, because in the end we only hurt ourselves. It's self-destructive you see. It hurts us. Is that it? Oh you were finished? Well, allow me to retort!

The following is a true story. It happened like this. I was on a week-end field trip along with my Baptist church school friends. It was a week-end long marathon of track-and-field events which we competed in. There were also board games like backgammon, checkers, and chess.

(I didn't win a single event ... because can't run can't jump, can't even play checkers very well.)

During the course of the week-end long competition, I happened across a twenty-dollar bill laying on the ground. I of course immediately picked it up and glanced around to see who saw my find. (By the way, this was forty years ago and twenty dollars was worth 91 dollars.) To a nine year old, that was a lot of money! It turns out that some kids did see me find it. The three of them ran over and demanded half. I said no. They said, "then we'll go tell on you." I told them I'd do them one better. I marched—with black-mailing kids in tow—straight to the school office and turned over that twenty, to the consternation of the school office worker who had probably never seen such a thing in her entire life. (Nine year olds are not exactly known for their rigorous moral uprightness and all that.) The moral of the story is really quite simple. I'd rather get nothing at all than bend over and take if from a gang of lowlifes.

And by the way, that's what America is doing, and has been doing, since WWII. We're bending over and taking it from China and we have been for years and years. Spin that fact any way you want to, but as much as I hate The Donald, he's straight to the mark on that one. China is wrong-holing us, and hard! It's got to stop. Stopping it is incredibly simple. You show them that you're willing to suffer a little bit if that ends up making them suffer even more. In a world where the Chinese are tariffed at 45% 50% 100%, that world will see the absolute end of ruinous Chinese tariffs, the end of rampant Chinese hackers stealing trade secrets, the end of all kinds of illegal drugs being shipped through the mail. The Chinese have been punking America like the 90 pound pretty boy gets punked at San Quentin. It's got to stop! We either fight back and take our lumps, or we keep taking it and taking it. What would you do?

I'm for a wall between us and Mexico. I'm for massive tariffs on Chinese goods. I hope The Donald has a bite as good as his bark. If he wins. If he really does it. If he can. If, if, if...

We have a trade agreement between our closest neighbors Canada and Mexico, called NAFTA. Trump promises that he'll build a wall and make Mexico pay for it. I assume he means with tariffs. Can he do that if it violates the terms of the NAFTA agreement? Does he even know what NAFTA is? Will he attempt to be King or President? Who is Donald Trump? What does he want?

So many questions and so few answers. What if the piƱata I'm blindly swinging at, holds a nest of scorpions? You pays your money and you takes your chances. Life is all about the luck of the draw. I wonder what joker had the brilliant idea to put a couple of jokers like Clinton and Trump in the deck?

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