*The following is an opinion column by R Muse*
It isn’t clear if Americans comprehend the concept of stupidity, and it is not because they lack intelligence, or the ability to learn and understand even the most basic things. It’s because too many Americans are stupid themselves and comfortable being so. What defines American stupidity is the inability to think critically, sensibly, or logically and believing every ridiculous thing Republicans say.
Part and parcel of so many Americans’ stupidity is sheer laziness. Why would a Republican voter have to think for themselves when Fox News, Republicans, and conservative talking heads dish out all the fallacious information the base thrives on daily? Republicans understand that their base of support is inherently stupid and too lazy to be informed, and it’s why they lie at the same frequency that most living beings draw breath.
One of the greatest displays of stupidity during this election season is that far too many Americans lack even a fundamental understanding about, and rage against, the importance of international trade deals. During this election season the primary drivers of anti-trade agreement outrage are men like Donald Trump and Bernard Sanders who claim that income inequality, stagnant wages, declining middle class, job losses and factory shutdowns are all the result of trade deals such as NAFTA. The claim, a stunning display of stupidity in-and-of-itself, is that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is why wages are low, income inequality has ballooned, the middle class is shrinking, and why corporations packed up and moved their operations, and Americans’ jobs, off to China.
It is unclear why so many Americans would believe China is located in North America, but that 1990’s era trade pact is between America, Mexico, and Canada; three nation’s that make up the lion’s share of North America. Claiming NAFTA is why American companies moved good jobs to China is tantamount to boasting that the benefits of Japanese, Korean auto manufacturers moving to America is because of NAFTA. Without international trade deals, including those involving the World Trade Organization (WTO), America’s economy would suffer greatly and those inexpensive gigantic televisions would be out of reach for most Americans. All economies depend on trade agreements and all but the stupidest Americans comprehend that simple fact.
Donald Trump regularly blames trade agreements for gutting the middle class, depressing wages and increasing income inequality. His solution is a solemn pledge to tear up existing agreements and make America great and every Republican voter a fabulous millionaire. Everything he says is nonsense, but that’s the great thing about the Republican base; Trump’s bullcrap lies have struck a chord with millions of stupid Americans. What Donald Trump and anti-trade advocates know for a fact is that international trade is not destroying good jobs, not hurting the middle class, and is not exacerbating income inequality; Republican tax and wage policy are the culprit.
However, when there is a relatively large number of Americans who are stupid, trade deals are an easy target; especially for morons who are angry they aren’t rich like Donald Trump; a man who has benefited greatly from those trade deals he condemns.
Like it or not, trade deals benefit every sector of the economy, some more than others, but on balance they are necessary for any nation to thrive in a global economy. What is curious is that while idiotic Republicans, and some “Democrats” are raging about “trade deals,” the same idiotic consumers benefit every day from cheaper clothes, automobiles, electronics and just about every other consumer product they buy over the Internets or at their local Walmart and Target stores. For American firms, trade deals allow them to sell more of their products overseas and thus hire more American workers.
Where trade appears to hurt some factories and workers is their seeming inability to compete with foreign, and many American, businesses that enjoy relative slave-labor wages, tax benefits and subsidies from governments, including the American government. But that is not down to any stinking trade agreement. Remember just four years ago President Obama and Democrats crusaded to eliminate Republican-enacted tax breaks and offshore shelters for American firms that picked up shop and moved to China; it was a crusade that the Republican-controlled Congress opposed out of hand.
It is also true that imports are not responsible for the loss of manufacturing jobs here at home despite what know-nothing Donald Trump says. According to economists and manufacturing experts, the greatest impact on manufacturers’ downsized labor force is automation, not imports. As noted in a New York Times piece, experts point out that other leading industrialized countries like Germany and Japan have lost a significant amount of manufacturing jobs regardless that they export more than they import, unlike America whose economy continues growing.
For example, in the nearly quarter-century period between 1990 and 2014, Japan’s manufacturing jobs fell 34 percent and Germany’s fell 25 percent according to a report by the congressional Research Service. Some Democrat should inform any number of Trump supporters that neither Germany nor Japan are signatories to NAFTA, and yet they have lost as many, and in some cases many more, manufacturing jobs as America.
If Americans want to take out their rage over lost jobs, or stagnant wages, or the decline of the middle class, or the crushing income inequality plaguing the nation’s economy, they should focus their anger on Republicans. Republicans are blocking any minimum wage hike and killing unions with the same resolve they blocked every Democratic attempt at eliminating tax breaks and subsidies for American manufacturing companies that relocated jobs overseas and then stashed the profits offshore to avoid paying taxes.
People that are always angry and stupid generally need something unrelated to their particular problem to rage against and Donald Trump knows this well. It’s why he targets international trade agreements as the source of all of his base’s economic woes. Look, if Trump’s base of support is too stupid to comprehend that NAFTA is not responsible for American companies moving jobs to China, the morons will believe anything Trump says, no matter how absurd.