Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns


Myth-busting for a Healthy Commercial Republic

Kevin D. Williamson writes a sharp examination of some of the central myths propping up the sentimental (and false) attachment of some conservatives (e.g., Pat Buchanan) and other garden-variety critics of America's free trade system.  "Over time," Williamson says, "Buchanan-style protectionism is much more expensive than bank bailouts, and it's premised on even worse thinking."  Much of that bad thinking, it turns out, has to do with an overly-romantic (and selective) memory of the past and a willful sort of ignorance about today's realities.  Williamson also does not neglect to take into account the powerful influence of today's heightened expectations . . . though--unlike so-called "Crunchies" who tend to be-moan them as the source of our growing (as they see it) degeneracy and perhaps endemic to our system and indicative of a flaw--Williamson notes them with a hint of resignation, if not outright approval.  "Higher expectations are a good thing, too -- a very American thing -- but they have to be taken in a realistic context."

Ay, there's the rub . . . for taking things in "a realistic context" (i.e., a cheerful sense of humor and recognition of life's inevitable imperfection) seems to be a thing beyond the dominating memes of both the right and left today.

Categories > Economy

Discussions - 1 Comment

Buchanan is correct about protectionism, although any system involving government interference in economic affairs breeds its own set of liabilities. Nonetheless, the drop-off in manufacturing employment over the last decade has been nothing short of catastrophic. Buchanan understands something that the Libertarian (i.e., CATO) right fails to see -- protectionism is a CONSERVATIVE way to attain economic and social justice. It harnesses raw capitalism to produce viable middle classes, thereby ultimately providing the foundation for vibrant democracy.

It's all well and good that manufacturing as a proportion of GDP is healthy --- but that's useless if it doesn't employ our citizens in the process!

Abe Lincoln was a protectionist, by the way.

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