There is a depressing article at Reason magazine about the protectionist instincts of both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. What the article does not tell us about much is whether McCain is much better (I honestly do not know, so I welcome comments about his voting record). And of course George W. Bush hardly made friends with Britain by slapping tariffs on steel imports – which also hurt American manufacturers and builders (but they lacked powerful friends in Congress). America is the largest economy in the world and despite what some of the more starry-eyed writers on China or the other ‘Brics’ might claim, is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future.
Basically, America matters. If the country goes down a more protectionist path, it will hit the world economy in general. For all his many flaws, Bill Clinton’s signing of the NAFTA Treaty – admittedly when Congress was in Republican hands – was one of the few major achievements of his time in power. It has helped to fuel the ascent of the world economy, lifting millions into higher living standards: if any fans of trade restrictions out there want to contest that assertion, let them provide figures. Here are some official US ones that give some pretty punchy numbers.
As the title says, I wish they could all lose. I have had it with the media guff about how a McCain-Obama contest will somehow elevate American politics and ‘restore’ its image in the eyes of the world. What is the point of winning image points among the Guardian-reading classes if you pull a rug under the world’s economy through greater trade restrictions? How is that going to help America’s ‘image’, assuming that Americans could or should give a flying **** what people think of them in the first place?