In Freedom from Want, Edward Gresser argues that free trade is good for other countries, such as Cambodia, since it provides them with jobs. In reading Pat Buchanan’s pro-protectionist book, The Great Betrayal, I’ve wondered how Buchanan addresses the impact of free trade or protectionism on other countries. Essentially, Buchanan says that we should look out for our own—-but he’s not particularly racist in making that argument, as he has been accused of being when it comes to other things that he has said and written. Rather, Buchanan says that we should look out for the African-Americans and Hispanic Americans who are already citizens of the U.S. Moreover, appealing to Booker T. Washington, Buchanan says that it’s wrong to give American jobs to immigrants (particularly illegal immigrants) rather than the African-Americans who are already here.
On one occasion in my latest reading, Buchanan does demonstrate compassion for the Mexicans. He says that many Mexicans were hurt when their peso was devalued in order to give Mexico a trade surplus, for that lessened the value of their money.
On an unrelated note, what policies does Buchanan support when it comes to protectionism? Does he want to slap a huge tariff on imported goods, which many think would be disastrous because of how interconnected the world’s economies are? Buchanan on page 298 expresses support for a gradual revenue tariff: “The tariff could be imposed in stages: 5 percent immediately, 5 percent in six months, the final 5 percent a year later, giving merchants eighteen months to adjust.”
Another point Buchanan made that I found pretty cool—-even though I cannot find it right now—-is that other countries would continue to export their products to the United States, even if we had a higher tariff. The reason is that we’re a good customer base for their products, and they’d make more money exporting to us even when a tariff were added, than they would make not selling their stuff to us at all. This, in my opinion, highlights a contradiction in protectionist thought: protectionists want tariffs to encourage us to buy American and to rebuild the American manufacturing base, and yet they also want us to buy foreign goods because the tariffs can generate revenue for the federal government—-and more right-wing protectionists argue that this would result in a lower tax burden on Americans.