Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Jack Kemp op/ed on economic nationalism

Former VP candidate Jack Kemp, who retired permanently from public life after questions arose about his dealings with traders tied to the UN Oil-for-Food scandal and who now has his own consulting firm, opines in a WSJ op/ed piece:

Rep. Tom Tancredo, running for president, is miffed at President Bush for trying to design comprehensive immigration-reform legislation. The president wants a guest-worker program that could help alleviate border problems in the Southwest.
It's a tired bromide. Instead of having an incoming Hispanic underclass killing livestock and defiling ranches along the US-Mexico border, we should allow employers to sponsor third-world menials subsidized by the net taxpayer, spreading the externalities they bring (atavistic disease, increased pollution, poor educational performance, disproportionate welfare use, etc) across the entire country instead of just concentrating them in the Southwest.

In attacking Pat Buchanan for his criticism of the US-Japanese automobile relationship, he asserts the supremacy of the Reagan model. Ironically, it was President Reagan that signed the Voluntary Import Restraint Aggrement in 1981 that limited Japanese imports into the US. To get circumvent the obstacle, Toyota began constructing plants in the US. Apparently that strategy has long-term viability (Kemp, as a member of Toyota's North American advisory board would know), as Toyota is aiming to have every car sold in the US also manufactured here. Buchanan laments America's loss of manufacturing, and without Reagan's acceptance, Japan might not have ever concluded that building in a costly labor market like the US made good business sense. This doesn't strike me as the best example of protectionism gone wrong.

Finally, he champions job creation as indicative of the success of the Bush Administration's economic policy:

Overall, since the 2001 recession, according to David Malpass of Bear Stearns, the U.S. economy has created 9.3 million jobs; Japan only 350,000.
A couple of important qualifications are necessary. For one, Japan's total population is undergoing contraction. It was submerged below the replenishment rate decades ago, and now its absolute numbers have crept up to that precipice (there is a lag of several decades between fecundit changes and corresponding changes in the size of the total population; an illustration of why is here). Secondly, virtually all of those US jobs have gone to new foreign-born arrivals. These new workers make less than established citizens (who have seen their own earnings decline modestly due in part to an increased labor supply).

Fittingly, Kemp's piece is targeted at Republican leaders. The former Secretary is admonishing GOP chieftans for shifting toward more populist positions. Yet he's making the appeal in a newspaper that has relentlessly supported all the positions that have seen the Republican Party go from dominance at the decade's opening to destitution today: The Iraq War and military interventionism in other places of questionable vital national importance, opposition to the federal minimum wage increase, chastising those suspicious of 'PortGate', and support for unfettered open borders, to name a few. What the WSJ op/ed board has advocated has been scarcely short of suicidal for the GOP, yet still its writers wonders why Republicans are increasingly hesistant to follow its recommendations.

My take on free trade is that while specialization and competitive advantage maximize utility in a fanciful world, game theory and democracy work in concert against it. Even if everyone is better off in the long-run if no one cheats, there is always that temptation to do so to realize immediate gains (or in the case of one partner willfully accepting free imports into its own economy without demanding the same of the exporting economy, a sustained national advantage).

I see immigration and global competitiveness as intrinsically related. A state's position is largely influenced by its human capital, a point that directly leads to questions of how to shape immigration policy to increase international competitiveness, since it is as much the innate abilities of the population as it is the educational system in place that determines the value of that capital.

Unregulated immigration into the US makes about as much competitive sense as the WSJ's announcement that it will allow anyone who wants a job at the paper to come aboard. Plenty of people would like the opportunity, but that doesn't mean that making their dreams a reaity is good for the paper.

5 comments:

JSBolton said...

'Economic Nationalism', especially as used by Catoites, tends to be a smear-term.
The idea, in the smearing usage, would be to equivocate sensible patriotism with romantic Nationalism, and thus with unreason and national programs of violence, aggression and so on, all the way down the 'slippery' slopes of easy equivocation.
This has to be done, when there is no rational argument available for free trade in stolen articles, such as we receive by way of dollar support from foreign central banks.
Only the smearing, equivocating approach is available for excusing the receiving of the proceeds of such huge aggression, as could allow several central banks to each have hundreds of billions available for dollar support operations.
How do they get this money, and is it good for us to take it, are the questions which no one seems to be allowed to ask, in mainstream media.
Without the relevant questions even being publicly asked, we're treated to anticipatory denunciations of putative Economic Nationalism.
As if all the world were agreed that only the Global Utility need be considered; and no one would try to 'beggar thy neighbor' or deindustrialize thy neighbor.
The implied position may reduce to a contradiction-in-terms: economic nationalism can be good, and can never be good, at the same time and in the same respect.
If this is not the intended message from such as Kemp, let them show how they are really consistent on these points. Apart from some utterly disreputable anarchist types, attracted by freedom for aggression and the possibilities for destruction, it could easily be true that no consistent ground for rejecting economic patriotism, such as would bar some trade in governmentally-subsidized products
can be found; hence the smears.

Fat Knowledge said...

crush,

This isn't related to this post, but you might want to check out Many Eyes. Similar to Swivel (see a comparison here), but it is easier to make graphs and there is more interactiveness with it.

crush41 said...

FK,

Thanks for the heads up.

It doesn't appear that users are able to download data sets into excel through Many Eyes. Swivel's CSV use gives it a lot more utility from where I'm coming from.

True, Swivel throws up silly, useless graphs. But I don't plan on ever fishing around on Swivel--I like it as an accessory to data used in posts that can be linked directly to them and easily downloaded. The other gaudy stuff doesn't matter to me one way or the other.

crush41 said...

John,

Yes, slippery slope, haughty scorn, and ad hominem all present in the same piece virtually guarantees a shaky polemical foundation. Kemp is especially sloppy in citing Reagan and then ridiculing something Reagan was crucial to (even though it wasn't something Reagan championed of his own volition).

Fat Knowledge said...

crush,

Good point on Swivel being easier to use with .csv. There is an option to download a text file with Many Eyes that might be easily importable into Excel, but not as easy as a .csv file.

The thing I thought you might like are the maps of the US and the world which I think add some value to the data you come up with. But, their mapping tool still needs a little help to make the coloring work well.