Free Trade, Free People, Prosperity and CAFTA

The goal is not to manage poverty. It is to help poor people provide for themselves (i.e. become not poor). In this respect, trade is better than aid. Intelligent people support free trade - in theory - but often oppose its practical manifestations. The benefits of trade are diffuse and come in the future, while costs are concentrated and immediate. Special interests can organize their constituencies around today’s costs and ignore tomorrow’s gains. It is misguided. For a good example, look at the attacks on CAFTA.

President Clinton, who the blue side adores, pushed NAFTA through. It was one of the reasons he was a good president. And he evidently was right. At least it didn't hurt, since the "golden age of the Clinton economy" followed. Between 1993 and 2003, the U.S. economy added almost 18 million new jobs, grew by 38 percent, and increased exports to Mexico and Canada from $134.3 billion to $250.6 billion. U.S. manufacturing output rose 41 percent. You may as well follow this link yourselves, so that you know how I plan to debunk all those NAFTA myths that will appear in the comments section.

CAFTA - DR (the DR is to include the Dominican Republic) will do the same for Central America. You can argue that the people of Central America will benefit more than those of the U.S. Good. They have farther to come and we can be generous. But all of us will be better off from the increased prosperity the agreement will bring.

It takes courage to vote for a free trade agreement. As I wrote above, the established interests point to real suffering and can make politicians suffer. Democrats used to serve the American interest in free trade - at least those not completely owned by established big business and labor. NAFTA passed with 102 Democratic votes. But now many of them just want to hand President Bush a defeat . This is the wrong place to play politics. Here politics hurts the U.S. and our friends.

Those without a political dog in the fight are doing the right thing. Jimmy Carter supports CAFTA and those of you who claim to love Bill Clinton, respect his achievement in free trade. Urge Dems to do the right thing.

Posted by Jack at July 10, 2005 9:49 PM