Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Democrats deserve to lose.

I made the mistake of watching TV this weekend, and was treated to the massive flood of campaign advertisements (mostly negative). One in particular stood out as especially disgusting. It comes from the DSCC, is completely xenophobic, and is embedded below.

This add attacks Pat Toomey for his stance on trade with China. It starts off by focusing on Toomey's opposition to trade barriers with China, blaming them for "costing Pennsylvania nearly 100,000 jobs". This is bad enough. Apparently Democrats have no idea of how to stabilize the American economy, so all they can do is target China as a scapegoat*. However, it gets worse.

The advertisement finished by criticizing Toomey for welcoming China's economic growth, as though it's a problem that hundreds of millions of Chinese have risen above poverty in the past three decades. One advertisement (which I cannot find) even suggests that Toomey is betraying America because he considers the welfare of Chinese to have some value (and therefore he should seek a position in the Chinese government). To top it off, the advertisement end with a message in a fortune cookie.

All in all, this advertisement campaign reflects very poorly on the Democrats. First, it validates the impression that their economic strategy is identical to Hugo Chavez's: isolate and centralize. Second, it indicates that their foreign policy views economic growth outside of the USA as a threat. Finally, it demonstrates that their political strategy is to find scapegoats* for our economic problems. If I weren't so cynical about politic advertisements, I'd say that the Democrats were fascists.

*The Chinese have sold us cheap goods and given us cheap loans. Our misuse of those resources is not their fault. We could have used them to increase our own productivity, but instead we went on a wasteful consumption binge. Likewise, the fact that some people cannot find work is not due to the fact that foreigners sell us cheap goods; it is due to how we organize our own economic resources.


Anonymous said...

I've personally suspected that ever since the racial resentment types started voting majority GOP that there's been an aching wish on the part of Dems high in the party apparatus that they could get those votes back. Usually when a party activist makes noise about appealing to "populism" this -- rephrasing of trade policy in xenophobic terms -- ends up being what they mean.

Of course, if there were actual free trade as opposed to managed trade, there'd be no barriers but also no artificial encouragement. Freer trade by that standard probably would've resulted in less trade with China than what ended up happening.

Ricketson said...

I'm not sure that I understand why there would be less trade with China in a free market. I can guess at what you're referring to...

1) China subsidizes exports. True, but that is outside of our control, so I would treat it almost like a feature of the natural world. In this situation, I'm interpreting free trade as meaning simply that the USA maintain low tariffs, without conditions.

2) The USA subsidizes exports. Again, this is true since the "Free Trade" agreements include not only the guarantee of lowered tariffs, but also things like IP protection. However, this does not seem to address the point behind the advert -- restructuring of employment due to competition from Chinese goods.

3) The only good mechanism that I can think of are the trade agreements where the US requires the other country to permit US-owned businesses to set up operations in the other country, and guarantees the security of capital by threatening the other country with high tariffs (and really, invasion) if they confiscate capital from Americans.

The last one surely facilitates the transfer of manufacturing jobs to foreign countries, and it is also an explicit policy of the USA (at least in treaties like NAFTA).

Is there something else that you're thinking about?

Anonymous said...

2 & 3 were what I had in mind.

True, these kinds of ads don't touch particular policy on that level. I think that's the point though, visceral reaction vs actual policy consideration. Besides, specifics lead to the possibility of stepping on some toes -- specifically, the ones attached to the legs of big-time donors on their own side.

Anonymous said...

Democrats are only taking the former advice of Peter Beinart; that the permanent majority is built around the security of economic statism.

Of course, Beinart has since moved on. I guess the Dems didn't get the memo.