Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Candidates and Trade

Informative article. I'd heard some of this before, and obviously I didn't like Hillary's stance. No shock there. I think McCain comes out the best, though I find some of what he says confusing.
It was courageous of Mr. McCain to tell Iowans that he would eliminate subsidies for ethanol and other agricultural products. Instead, he expressed strong support for job retraining programs: "We need to go to the community colleges. We even need, if you're a senior laid-off worker who gets another job, to make up in compensation for the amount of money that's the difference between the job that he lost."
What? I don't think so. Why should a "senior" worker get any preference? And what is he saying, we should subsidize his income? Not likely.

Then there is Obama:
Barack Obama is more even-handed: "Global trade is not going away, technology is not going away, the Internet is not going away. And that means enormous opportunities, but [it] also means more dislocations." In a 2005 essay he said: "It's not whether we should protect our workers from competition, but what we can do to fully enable them to compete against workers all over the world."
The Democratic candidates do not speak of reducing or eliminating farm-subsidy spending, only of redirecting it toward the "little guy." According to his Web site, Mr. Obama "will make sure our farm subsidies help family farmers, not giant corporations." He envisages "a national commitment to prepare every child in America with the education they need to compete in the new economy; to provide retraining and wage insurance so even if you lose your job you can train for another." These are laudable goals, but they sound impossibly expensive.
I don't understand where these people keep coming up with the idea that we aren't trying to prepare the youth for the new economy. I'd say that there is more effort by the teacher's unions to maintain the status quo rather than adapt. Parents for the most part want their kids to succeed, but they don't always have the ability to make it happen. It also brings up the question of what do we do about those jobs in the economy that need to be maintained and are not part of the "new" economy? I'm sure we can get illegal immigrants to do the work, but that isn't viable.

Farm subsidies are a real issue. I just think Obama's statement is vague like most of his policy statements to date. Hillary at least has laid out her intentions with some detail. I still think Obama is being elected based on charisma and not on content. And that is a serious problem.

Mr. Romney sometimes advocates less government intervention, other times more. In an optimistic speech in Detroit, he said "that Michigan can once again lead the world's automotive industry. But it means we're going to have to change things in Washington." Rightly pointing out that "the burdens on American manufacturing are largely imposed by government," Mr. Romney believes "taking off those burdens is only part of the solution."

But he will not leave the rest to the marketplace. He pledges to "make a five-fold increase -- from $4 billion to $20 billion -- in our national investment in energy research, fuel technology, materials science, and automotive technology." He also says he would maintain U.S. farm-subsidy programs until other countries remove theirs.

I'd like to know specifics on what burdens he proposes removing. Taxation would be nice, but what do we throw out otherwise? OSHA rules? Hazardous material and pollution laws? Most of our regulations were put in place for a reason, the business world will skip protection the environment or the worker if they aren't held to the law. I am aware that some of these regulations are extreme. Simplification and removing the fees for licensing and regulations would be a start. It'll never happen.

I do like the ideas on funding research, though I think that it should only be matching funding for the industries that specialize in those technologies. They need to do some of that on their own. The public needn't solely fund their share holder profits.

Go and read it.

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