Free Trade Has Worked. Just Look at Texas.

The state has become the leading exporter in the U.S. since the passage of NAFTA in 1993.

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"It's funny because out of all the rhetoric coming out of this year's campaign this is the one issue thats going to have the most effect," states Erica Grieder, former senior editor at Texas Monthly. "We're going to have a lot of economic growth in Texas in the coming years because of trade. So if there's a hostility in Texas to trade that's not going to work out too well for us."

Free trade came under attack this election cycle with all major party candidates making statements that blamed bad trade policies for the loss of manufacturing jobs and and the decline of the middle class. The top target of scrutiny has been the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a bipartisan deal that removed all trading barriers between the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

While President-elect Donald Trump has referred to NAFTA as the "worst trade deal" ever signed, economists have come to the general consensus that NAFTA has had an overall positive effect on the economy since its passage in 1993.

Regional trade has increased from roughly $290 billion in 1993 to more than $1.1 trillion in 2016. And while foreign direct investment stock in Mexico has increased from $15 billion to over a $100 billion in that same period, U.S. exports with partnering NAFTA countries have tripled since the legislation took effect and Canada and Mexico now account for one-third of U.S. exports according to the Congressional Research Service.

"There's this kind of demagogue-ish concept that life is a zero-sum game. That the economy is primitive. That you take jobs from one country and move them to another country and there's only a finite number of jobs to go around," states Grieder. "Texas is proof that's not the case."

Since the passage of NAFTA, Texas has led the country in exports for over a decade and the state's gross domestic product (GDP) has gone from $444 billion in 1993 to nearly $1.6 trillion today. The state's employment rate has fared better than the national average—a 2016 Business Roundtable study showed that international trade was responsible for over 3.1 million jobs in the Lone Star state.

But even though the state is benefiting, the constant attack on free trade during the 2016 election cycle has turned even traditional supporters against international trade deals like NAFTA. The University of Texas at Austin's Texas Politics Project found that 51 percent of Texas Republicans think international trade deals have harmed the United States in a June 2016 poll.

The findings out of Texas are similar to overall national numbers—just 48 percent of Americans think international trade deals have been good for the country according to the most recent Pew Research polls.

"You have areas that do feel dislocated by globalization," says Grieder. "It's not really NAFTA, it's more the growth of China as a role player in the world economy, automation, technological change. But it's kind of easy to point to NAFTA."

Grieder explains that it is important that community industries that may be threatened by trade deals have the ability to apply for trade adjustment assistance. But she cites examples where cities have adapted. "Look at Pittsburgh—how much it has evolved and changed and now it's more stronger than it used to be. Indiana has done very well. It is possible for things to get better even if things change and that's the thing people need to look for."

Produced by Alexis Garcia. Camera by Zach Weissmueller and Alex Manning. Graphics by Joshua Swain. Music by Chris Zabriskie and Puddle of Infinity.

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  1. Kind of interesting that the TM writer they talked to basically said, “Globalization is a problem, but with China, not NAFTA”

    1. Most of the assumptions that ‘Free Trade = Good’ seem built on the idea that both nations engaging in trade are acting in good faith, and I think it’s also generally been shown that China isn’t doing that in at least their currency manipulation if not other ways. *shrug*

      Is it wrong to use the slave labor of a foreign country to build products at a lower cost for sale back in the home country? You decide!

      1. Yes, it’s wrong. But it’s wrong because of the slavery. Or, in the more common case, because the Chinese taxpayer and consumer loses out in subsidizing the production.

        For the US consumer, of course, it is an unalloyed benefit.

        1. “For the US consumer, of course, it is an unalloyed benefit.”

          I’m not so sure about this. Many of the things I buy for personal and business use are no longer available from domestic producers, and the quality of the products made by Asian suppliers leaves much to be desired.

          From auto repair parts, to printer toner cartridges, and even clothing – the drop in quality over the past 20 years is very visible and very real.

          But hey – the stuff is cheap – so you can buy everything again and again and again.

      2. If the U.S. adopted Free Trade unilaterally, without regard to what other nations do, then U.S. citizens would benefit.

        Trade is conducted between individuals and firms, for specific goods, services, and resources, not between nations for aggregate baskets of stuff.

        1. You are correct.

        2. I fourth you on that..

      3. Nations don’t trade. People do. Both parties benefit or the trade doesn’t happen. Unless, of course, if you have a government saying you have to make this trade or you aren’t allowed to make this trade. At that point it’s no longer free trade.

  2. NAFTA killed the middle class. If it actually was free trade I’d be for it though. Real free trade. Not a “You rub my back while I knife yours” trade deal.

    1. Honest question – where’s the cronyism in NAFTA?

      1. All over the place. Specific industries are singled out that get special treatment. There’s even a section where they go into this long list of how the governments are supposed to treat disagreements with a single line at the bottom “The above does not apply to Mexico.” I read most of the thing (what a slog) when they were still pushing for it and forced Mickey Cantor on radio to admit that they were using phony numbers.

        All that being said, It’s still probably a net positive over the byzantine regulations of what it was before.

    2. At best it’s “Okay, if you don’t tariff Caterpillar front end loaders, we won’t put tariffs on Zoolander Maple Syrup”. Arrangements like that will tend to drive capital to larger internationally operating companies (with political connections) and away from small and regional firms that are trying to compete with them. That’s not free trade.

      If NAFTA were really free trade, it would be a few paragraphs at most that basically say “We won’t put tariffs on your shit and you won’t put tariffs on our shit. And we won’t subsidize our shit and you don’t subsidize yours.”

      1. I’m looking for the link to your blog, so that I can follow it.

      2. “And we won’t subsidize our shit and you don’t subsidize yours.”

        You could leave this off, too. I don’t care if the Chinese gov’t wants to pay part of my cost for some phone.

        1. You mean you don’t think that our govt should be cheating us because the Chinese govt is cheating its own citizens?

          1. You mean you don’t think that our govt should be cheating us because the Chinese govt is cheating its own citizens?

            Because not subsidizing products is the government cheating us? Interesting. My blog is nothing in comparison to yours.

            1. My blog is nothing in comparison to yours.

              Well, I don’t like to brag, but….

              BTW, clicking on my handle should take one directly to my blog, which I don’t really maintain as well as I should.

              1. Well my blog is literally nothing so there’s that…

                1. My problem is Is rather hang out,on Reason, or Twitter, or Gab, etc., etc., etc…

              2. Subscribed

                /no sarc… it actually looks like good reading material

        2. So what you’re saying is, that you wouldn’t mind the inverse of a tariff war. Where subsidies get slapped onto exported products for political purposes, by each side of the trade, with each subsidy further distorting prices and bastardizing the natural economic indicators inherent in prices. So if you don’t mind that China is subsidizing cell phones, I wonder if you’d mind if the next town over subsidizing it’s sports stadium? Why should you mind? You get cheaper tickets and comfortable seating when you attend the games, that’s all that matters right? Or if your state was subsidizing car manufacturers with money taxed from people richer than you, why should you care? The money to subsidize wasn’t taken from you, and you get to benefit from the cheap cars for sale. So no reason to complain, there’s nothing wrong with subsidies, right?

          Plus, I imagine that as a business owner competing with subsidized imports, you might possibly give a shit that thoroughly anti-free market policies are ruining the business you worked so hard to build. I trust that you’ll never again raise the specter of crony capitalism since it’s such a non-issue.

          1. “Plus, I imagine that as a business owner competing with subsidized imports, you might possibly give a shit that thoroughly anti-free market policies are ruining the business you worked so hard to build.”

            Just like the guy who worked making buggy whips; if your product isn’t competitive because some other government wants to subsidize your goods, tough.
            I do not and cannot affect what China wants to do; I can react to it.

            1. Just like the guy who worked making buggy whips;

              Just like that guy huh? I don’t think the guy making buggy whips went out of business because of subsidies, for the record.

              if your product isn’t competitive because some other government wants to subsidize your goods, tough.

              Yes, it is tough. Very tough.

              I do not and cannot affect what China wants to do; I can react to it.

              Same goes for California and every other government in the country you live in. So there’s nothing wrong with subsidies and you have no reason to bitch about it UNLESS the money for those subsidies came directly out of your pocket, only then are subsidies economically detrimental or something.

              1. Subsidies draw more firms into producing a good or service than otherwise would, which means the resources used to produce said goods and services are being misallocated.

                1. Subsidies draw more firms into producing a good or service than otherwise would, which means the resources used to produce said goods and services are being misallocated.

                  Yes. Though I suspect that you just fucked up trying to disagree with me.

                  1. I fail to see where we disagree. I am pro-Free Trade, you are pro-Free Trade…

                    I see that you are trying to be disagreeable, but I attribute that to my poor wording in a previous post.

                    1. I fail to see where we disagree. I am pro-Free Trade, you are pro-Free Trade…

                      I see that you are trying to be disagreeable, but I attribute that to my poor wording in a previous post.

                      I’m not trying to be disagreeable. I haven’t shifted my message one single bit. We both agree that free trade is a good thing. We disagree about what exactly constitutes free trade. It’s my position that subsidies and special reductions in tariffs for individual companies are not free trade, it’s government managed trade. It’s the epitome of picking winners and losers, and many on these boards, though perhaps not you, think that subsidies and special perks for politically connected companies are just fine as long as they as consumers personally accrue all of the benefits and none of the costs.

                      Defending the TPP and NAFTA is not the same thing as defending free trade.

                    2. It’s my position that subsidies and special reductions in tariffs for individual companies are not free trade, it’s government managed trade.

                      That is also my position.

                      Defending the TPP and NAFTA is not the same thing as defending free trade.

                      I don’t think of NAFTA or the TPP as Free Trade, not so I defend them as such.

                    3. “nor do”, not “not so”.

                      Stupid, Chinese-made phone…

              2. China subsidizing their goods is functionally equivalent to them writing a check to me. They are buying me a toaster or whatever. Okay, cool, I like free shit.

                If they want to impoverish their citizens to make me richer, I am cool with that.

                Lets not do the same in reverse.

                1. Stop talking crazy.

                  In a real war, you blockade your enemy’s ports.

                  In a trade war, you blockade your own ports.

                  Don’t you know anything?

                2. China subsidizing their goods is functionally equivalent to them writing a check to me. They are buying me a toaster or whatever. Okay, cool, I like free shit.

                  If they want to impoverish their citizens to make me richer, I am cool with that.

                  I’m not cool with that, but that’s not at the heart of my problem with faux-free trade policies. Though it really seems like you and others have no problem with subsidies as long as the taxes to pay for them don’t come out of your pocket directly. You therefore shouldn’t care if some other city wants to subsidize their sports stadiums if it means you get cheaper tickets at a nicer stadium.

                  You also shouldn’t voice one single concern when the government taxes someone in a higher tax bracket than you to subsidize goods that you consume, because you just got slightly richer at their expense. You shouldn’t care when your company goes belly up because of artificially cheap imports, fair is fair after all and apparently subsidies are fair. You shouldn’t care anytime that the government picks winners and losers as long as you aren’t the loser. How very principled.

                  Lets not do the same in reverse.

                  Agreed. I love free trade. TPP ain’t it.

                  It’s amazing to see how many principled libertarians become shallow utilitarians at the first mention of any government managed trade policy that has “free trade” in the title.

                  1. From a moral perspective, I have a problem with China subsidizing. Ditto your other examples. If they ask me my opinion, I will tell them what to do. But if they dont, Im not gonna turn down the cheap sports tickets.

                    So, yeah, I dont care if Cincinnati has a horrible stadium deal. If Reds tickets are cheaper because of it (they arent), good for me. I cared about Louisville doing the same (although it no longer effects me, but it did at the time).

                    Seems appropriate:

                    Marge: Where’d you get all the money?
                    Grampa: The government. I didn’t earn it, I don’t need it, but if they miss one payment I’ll raise hell.

                    1. So, yeah, I dont care if Cincinnati has a horrible stadium deal. If Reds tickets are cheaper because of it (they arent), good for me. I cared about Louisville doing the same (although it no longer effects me, but it did at the time).

                      I don’t blame you for taking advantage of the cheaper tickets. I don’t blame you for opting for a Chinese made product that is subsidized and just as good as a non-subsidized one. That’s called being a rational consumer. But I would blame you for defending those policies or protesting proposals to end those policies, if you were so inclined.

                      Even if it were a principled stand to take, to not take advantage of subsidies, it would be nearly impossible to do. I for one, can’t be bothered to research every factor of production involved in every product I consume to try and sniff out subsidies, they’re so ubiquitous that it would be impossible.

                    2. But I would blame you for defending those policies or protesting proposals to end those policies, if you were so inclined.

                      I dont see anywhere in this thread that I have defended the policies or protesting ending them.

                      I really dont have any effect on the Chinese or Cincinnatese governments.

                    3. China subsidizing their goods is functionally equivalent to them writing a check to me. They are buying me a toaster or whatever. Okay, cool, I like free shit.

                      If they want to impoverish their citizens to make me richer, I am cool with that.

                    4. Though I did say, “if you were so inclined” specifically, for a reason.

                3. IF the subsidized product drives otherwise legitimate competitors out of business and said business happens to require huge startup costs, lead times and/or training times to get going again, it can create a monopoly and hurt US consumers over the long term.

                  e.g. China subsidizes their steel industry to the point it drives ours into the dirt, they can turn around and charge whatever they want after ours kicks. At that point, it’s also a national security issue as the sale of steel can be used as a weapon. How long can the US go without steel?

                  1. IF the subsidized product drives otherwise legitimate competitors out of business and said business happens to require huge startup costs, lead times and/or training times to get going again, it can create a monopoly and hurt US consumers over the long term.

                    That was the argument used against the “robber barons” in the 19th century. It had no basis in truth. Like the monopsony argument for raising minimum wage, it works in theory but finding actual evidence of the creature in the wild is non-existent.

                    Its Big Foot or the Loch Ness Monster.

                  2. @Francisco

                    I couldn’t have said it better myself. In fact as I was reading the beginning of your post, the steel industry immediately came to mind as an example I was going to reply with but then you beat me to it.

                    1. Francisco and Free Society:

                      Here ya go

                    2. A “free society” allows its individual members to trade with foreign nations even if said trade is bad for their home nation.

                    3. A “free society” allows its individual members to trade with foreign nations even if said trade is bad for their home nation.

                      Yeah and we don’t live in one of those. Trade to your heart’s content, but don’t tell me I should be celebrating what you call “free trade” when Acme Widget Co gets a special deal to sell it’s widgets abroad tariff free while the smaller competitors get left holding their dick as capital flows to the company receiving special favors. It’s the essence of government picking winners and losers.

                  3. e.g. China subsidizes their steel industry to the point it drives ours into the dirt, they can turn around and charge whatever they want after ours kicks.

                    Because we couldn’t reopen the steel plants as soon as the price got high enough? And where will China get the currency to subsidize this forever?

                    1. Because we couldn’t reopen the steel plants as soon as the price got high enough?

                      Once Texas shut down the oil wells in the 1980s they were never able to open them again.

                      That is why today Texas produces no oil

                      True story.

                    2. Because we couldn’t reopen the steel plants as soon as the price got high enough? And where will China get the currency to subsidize this forever?

                      It’s certainly possible to reopen the plants if the cost got high enough…. with plenty of misallocated resources, squandered wealth and personal loss leading up to that point. Let’s not pretend that political destruction is the same thing as creative destruction. Markets are resilient, but they’re not immune to political harm.

                    3. Because we couldn’t reopen the steel plants as soon as the price got high enough?

                      No, we can’t actually. IF our foundries close their doors, the initial investment required to reopen would be staggering. Staggering as in no private business would be able to afford it. The lead time to do so would be at least a decade without addressing the training required. If our foundries close, those experts will move on to other jobs, retire, die… How you gonna retrain people?

                      And where will China get the currency to subsidize this forever?

                      They can’t, obviously. But they can do it long enough to corner the steel market and use it as a weapon. Can the US go 10 years without steel?

                      The US government subsidizes steel because China subsidizes steel, to prevent the above scenario from developing. This is true of several industries the US cannot live without and they are addressed as national security issues by the Pentagon. So, under certain circumstances, subsidies can do harm to both sides.

                      What cavalier says is true. Trade takes place between individuals, not governments. Value for value. BUT war takes place between countries and countries can use trade as weaponry.

                  4. China subsidizes their steel industry to the point it drives ours into the dirt, they can turn around and charge whatever they want after ours kicks.

                    Well, um.
                    That sounds bad; really bad. I wonder, though, if China could maintain that policy long enough to drive every steel plant in the world out of operation.

                    Also, one would have to assume that a govt managed plant that operates to satisfy political objectives could outperform private firms that operate based on price and profit. I’m not sure it has ever been demonstrated that govt factories do better than private factories.

                    1. That sounds bad; really bad. I wonder, though, if China could maintain that policy long enough to drive every steel plant in the world out of operation.

                      I don’t think they could. But they could do very real harm to a particular adversary’s particular industry if that’s their intention. I don’t think that option should even be in their tool belt.

                      Also, one would have to assume that a govt managed plant that operates to satisfy political objectives could outperform private firms that operate based on price and profit. I’m not sure it has ever been demonstrated that govt factories do better than private factories.

                      They wouldn’t necessarily need to outperform them to put them out of business. And many of the “government owned” factories only have a relatively small share of ownership going to the government, they’re not necessarily factories managed by bureaucrats. Nor do subsidies require government ownership to do their thing in any case, so I don’t think that assumption needs to be made.

                    2. As someone that works for a company that does global engineering, design, construction I have first hand experience with how this works.

                      We, (U.S. based company) do a bid for large foreign project (usually lowest price wins). Our foreign competitors also do a bid for the same job. Their cost is lower, way, way lower. Why, because their government subsidizes them. They can afford to do the job at a “net loss” because their government covers the difference. So, they get the job, we don’t. This is happening a lot as companies in China, Japan, South Korea, etc. start to play in the global market.

                      To manage this, we have taken on partnering with some of these companies. Reduces scope for each company and reduces profits but at least we are getting “some” of the work.

                      For the clients, this is a good thing, lowers their TIC. But for everyone else it is a net loss.

                    3. I wonder, though, if China could maintain that policy long enough to drive every steel plant in the world out of operation.

                      Certainly not sustainable.

                      But, there aren’t that many of them. Take a look at that list and where they operate.

                      They are communists. They’ll give it the ole college try. And do you think they’ll give a fuck about taking it out of the ass of their own people?

          2. So what you’re saying is, that you wouldn’t mind the inverse of a tariff war. Where subsidies get slapped onto exported products for political purposes, by each side of the trade…

            I prefer that our govt not intervene in any way–whether tariffs, subsidies, quotas, or any other nonsense–regardless what the Chinese govt does.

            1. This.

              We do nothing. Preferably, China doesn’t put tariffs on our exports to China. Whether they want to subsidize their exports to us is not my problem.

            2. Yes, that’s exactly right. But if you think defending government policies labeled “free trade” is the same thing as actually defending free trade, then I have a bridge to sell you. It’s named the “Bridge of Free Trade” and it’s a steal and I anticipate that you’re ready to pay top dollar.

              1. ???

                I never claimed China subsidizing stuff was free trade. Your strawman is blowing away.

                1. I never claimed China subsidizing stuff was free trade.

                  And I never claimed free trade was a bad thing.

                  Your strawman is blowing away.

                  Whether they want to subsidize their exports to us is not my problem.

                  You are defending our trade policies vis a vis China, which basically runs a state-capitalist economic regime with state owned equity and subsidies unparalleled in the modern world. I dare say that free trade with China is nearly impossible as long as their government continues to a) manage it’s economy and b) use it’s unparalleled managing position to make economic interaction into a vehicle for political gain.

                  No strawman, just me telling you that free trade isn’t free trade just because a politician says it is. Unilateral free trade would be much better than these quid prop quo tariff agreements that steer capital away from companies that aren’t already large and politically connected, to ones that are.

                  1. You are defending our trade policies vis a vis China

                    [citation needed]

              2. What govt policy am I defending, exactly?

                1. He’s assuming you’re in favor of NAFTA, and possibly TPP.

                  1. Well if I come out against those particular policies and a person joins the dog pile on me about my supposed opposition to free trade, it’s not much of a leap to think that the person in question associates those policies with free trade.

                    1. Though if you’d read along, you’d find that we see each other’s positions a little more clearly now.

              3. It’s interesting to see ostensible libertarians twisting themselves into knots to try to fit in with protectionists by opposing free trade agreements. Call it jumping on the Trump bandwagon. The fact is, if you oppose trade agreements because they aren’t free enough, someone who opposes them because they are too free is worse than someone who supports them. “All or nothing” is an idiotic sentiment.

          3. Subsidies are a problem for the country (or state or municipality or whatever other government unit) that does it. Not for the country that benefits from it on the receiving end. Countries learn the hard way, just like any business that tries to undercut prices to drive out competition. When you try to turn those fake low prices into unjustifiably high prices, the competition comes right back at you.

    3. Bullshit. NAFTA isn’t perfect in that isn’t full free trade, but it’s better than its absence.

  3. “The University of Texas at Austin’s Texas Politics Project found that 51 percent of Texas Republicans think international trade deals have harmed the United States in a June 2016 poll.”

    Technically international trade deals could help Texas and still hurt the United States as a whole, so I dunno about that. Just a simple critique of the statement, rather than the argument for or against free trade itself.

  4. While President-elect Donald Trump has referred to NAFTA as the “worst trade deal” ever signed, economists have come to the general consensus that NAFTA has had an overall positive effect on the economy since its passage in 1993.

    Many people voting in this election felt they were outside of the “overall positive” collective that the general consensus of economists discovered. Graphs and tables were unpersuasive to lots of people whose paychecks had withered or disappeared in recent years.

    1. One of things we rarely talk about is cheaper goods today (and fairly for the foreseeable future) traded on income potential today and for the foreseeable future. I think it is a take that is worth doing.

    2. While President-elect Donald Trump has referred to NAFTA as the “worst trade deal” ever signed, economists have come to the general consensus that NAFTA has had an overall positive effect on the economy since its passage in 1993.

      “Sub-prime is contained.” “The housing collapse could not have been foreseen.” “Obamacare would, in general, depress prices.”

      I say we stop listening to these people.

      1. “I say we stop listening to these people.”

        Many folks have, and with good reason.

      2. And instead listen to the good old fashioned common sense that tells us the Mexicans are takin our jerbs?

        Economists by and large support free trade. They are right to support it. It’s the closest thing to an unalloyed good you can find in all of economics. If people can’t find jobs, they should blame 1) the governments (state or federal) that mire the labor market with regulations, 2) the unions that deflate demand for labor, or 3) themselves for not being able to provide a useful service to anyone.

        Blaming free trade is akin to blaming customers who found better, cheaper food elsewhere for your own shitty restaurant going out of business. I have no pity for such people.

    3. People are suffering economic distress because of govt intervention, not because of the lack of it.

      1. Quid pro quo tariff reductions for select companies is government intervention. It’s the epitome of “government picking winners and losers”.

        1. Agreed. We should have no tariff, except perhaps a low revenue tariff as a complete replacement of the income tax.

          1. I would prefer an SLT to the low revenue tariff, but I wouldnt complain about it.

            1. In the book “Naked Economics”, the author argues persuasively for a “lump-sum” tax.

              1. Is that a per-head tax? I am okay with that.

                Especially if I can reject my citizenship, stay where I live and just lose the right to vote, serve in office and serve on juries.

      2. No. They just see the obvious harms and don’t see the more diffuse benefits.

        1. Exactly.

    4. Individuals can suffer as a result of trade policies. However, I think the degree to which trade has hurt American business pales in comparison to tax & regulatory policies.

      1. More people suffer economically as a result of technological innovation than of trade policies. Doesn’t mean we should destroy machines, or prevent their construction.

        People sometimes can’t see the benefit of having things change, because in the short term changes can have a severe detrimental effect on their lives.

        The luddite textile workers who went around destroying the new-fangled looms didn’t know at the time that, while their specialised skills had been made obsolete, employment in the textile industry increased dramatically because of the looms.

    5. They may have felt they had not benefitted, that doesn’t mean they hadn’t. Just as the reason for the decline in manufacturing employment has nothing to do with greater automation and is solely due to cheap foreign labor.

  5. This is a bit of a nitpick, since overall the video is good, but whoever chose that music… jeez. For what should be an optimistic “free trade is good and helps us all” message, the last couple minutes of it in particular are downright funereal.

    1. “…the last couple minutes of it in particular are downright funereal.”

      That’s to placate all the commies who find this to be terrible news.

  6. Latest reason Clinton lost. The Media

    1. Hillary should have treated the media like ‘animals’

      Who doesn’t she treat like animals?

      1. Isn’t this the toady who liked the crease of Obama’s pants? I can’t keep them straight. Other than that Brock is one of those guys who seems to have at least a brainstem.

        1. I couldn’t tell you. They’re not worth knowing about.

        2. No, you’re thinking of David Brooks.

          Brock is the guy who wrote hit pieces against the Clintons in the early 90s for The American Spectator then underwent a conversion and became a left-wing lackey dedicated to exposing the conservative bias in the US media.

          1. dedicated to exposing the conservative bias in the US media.

            He must be some kind of performance artist trying to be ironic.

  7. As someone who used to work on cross-border customs paperwork for transportation companies, NAFTA ‘free trade’ isn’t.

    1. The people I know who prattle on about “free trade” have never imported or exported goods or services or worked overseas.

    2. If we’ve got free trade with Canada, then I should be able to send a truck load of goods to the great white north without any forms to sign or tariffs and bribes to pay. Yet, it seems to matter greatly which individual companies manufactured the goods I’m importing. That should be a clue.

  8. The thing about people as economic actors is that most of them aren’t only consumers. They are also workers and/or investors.

    Being able to buy cheap subsidized Chinese products doesn’t mean as much when you don’t have a job. The mistake we may be making in looking at these “free” trade deals is the total impact on the people who live in the US. There’s more to life than consuming, you know.

    The same goes for immigration. Sure, being able to import cheaper labor is good in one dimension, but on a more holistic analysis, are we (I know, KOLLECTIVISM!eleventy) better off?

    1. “The thing about people as economic actors is that most of them aren’t only consumers. They are also workers and/or investors.”

      Yes. The problem with a lot of libertarian thought is it dismisses the “worker” part of the economy as irrelevant to the apparently overriding goal of cheap consumer prices.

      1. Goddammit price of steak keeps going up, boohoo, I can’t afford to eat steak every night. That would be the consumer version of a lot of ‘worker’ complaints. No, you are not guaranteed a high wage semi-skilled job in the same town you grew up in. You have trade-offs to consider and choices to make.

        1. For some reason there are over 90,000,000 people who could be in the labor market but aren’t. I doubt that there are jobs for all of them, but I could be wrong.

          1. I think there are, AT SOME PRICE.

            1. The price might not be one that is legal today. And not one many of those people would take, as long as they have other benefits coming in.

              1. That is the trap we’re in right now. Many people get more pay from the welfare system than employers believe these people are worth in the labor force.

          2. If there is a “job shortage”, it is entirely due to govt intervention and regulation of the economy–which is true of any shortage of any other good or service.

            Resources are scarce and have alternate uses, while human wants are unlimited. In a truly free market, there would always be some unfulfilled need or desire that one could get paid to fulfill.

            1. Are we sure about that “entirely” you put in there?

      2. Um, no. Free trade forces companies to compete for employees which has a positive effect on employment and wages. Also, lower prices for consumer goods means consumers have more money left over to either buy other goods (which benefits the workers who make those goods) or to save and invest (and get used to develop other businesses, creating new jobs).

        The idea that foreign trade benefits consumers at the expense of domestic workers is one of those precariously myths that is so stupid that it has managed to gain traction on both left and right.

    2. …on a more holistic analysis, are we (I know, KOLLECTIVISM!eleventy) better off?

      240-year-old economic theory tells us that we are better off, and that theory has held up empirically for those 240 years.

      Something may have changed in the last decade or two that has changed all of that. But I would bet against it.

      1. Oh, I dunno. There’s a number of historical incidences of mass immigration, one of them going on right now, that tend to cast doubt on the proposition that mass immigration always and everywhere is an unalloyed good for the host society.

        1. I was specifically referring to free trade because that is indeed more of an open and shut case.

          I would say the same about immigration as well, but I would say it as certainly as it isn’t as well tested by theory and empiric observation through the last two centuries.

          1. That quote was from the mass immigration bit, but I take your point.

            One thing about the modern global economy that is new is the speed and volume of transport and the mobility of capital. I’m just speculating, but I wonder if changes that might have taken a generation before, with opportunity to adapt and mitigate dislocation, don’t happen in a few years now, with little opportunity to avoid dislocation.

            Mostly, though, I’m trying to get the point across that life is more than cheap imported crap, so focussing your analysis solely on that is missing a lot.

            1. I’d be happy to pay an extra ten cents for my socks if it means my neighborhood isn’t inundated with Somali migrants.

        2. By historical standards we’ve been undergoing perpetual mass immigration for over 200 years. This country has undeniably benefited more than it has suffered due to mass immigration.

  9. Free Trade Has Worked. Just Look at Texas.

    Texas is not everywhere. Visit the rust belt sometime.

      1. Probably not to Texas, so rent a UHaul and move somewhere and open a food truck or drive for Uber.

      2. Look dude, the American Dream is about having a shitty union factory job that you carries you from cradle to grave without needing any further education or effort. That was the case for nearly thirty years out of the 235 of this great nation’s history.

        1. My daddy worked at the factory, so why can’t I work at the factory?

          1. Hush sweet child. America’s Daddy will protect you from actually having to compete with other people for your livelihood.

          2. Because the factory closed, so disguise yourself as Raghunath the H1b and get a job as a web programmer. Or learn a Central American Spanish dialect and pick strawberries.

        2. These days, the American Dream is, for a lot of people, finding a job that pays the rent. Look at the labor participation rate.

          1. Ineed, those people are neither starving nor rioting. Why is that do you suppose?

            1. Ask some of them. The welfare system is a big part of it. But do you think that 90,000,000 jobs that could pay today’s living expenses would appear if welfare disappeared?

              1. No, but I could get servants by the truckload.

                1. Pro Libertate,

                  That’s certainly how it would work out unless there’s a careful dismantling of the current system.

                  I would like to hear a serious libertarian plan for trimming welfare dependency to some very small portion of the population. There’s lots of bitching about it, but how would the country go about fixing it?

                  1. Well, could do it all through private means–charities, mutual-aid societies, etc.–but if there needs to be a transition, at least reduce it to means-tested need. Measured by a grumpy old man who views each dollar spent as a dollar stolen from him.

                    And disability fraud–get rid of that right now.

                    1. My back hurts.

                      *holds out hand*

    1. Well, what caused the economic downturn there? Free trade?

  10. Fuck it. Why not try unilateral free trade?

  11. I wish Texas would export restaurants that did good frozen margaritas and fajitas to where I live now. God, I can’t believe we used to drive around the corner and have good, cheap food and drinks where the kids could be little kids and nobody cared.

    1. Can’t. That would be interstate commerce, which must necessarily be heavily regulated. Now, international commerce, that’s different.

      1. This is why I’m for secession.

        1. Confederate Racist Yokel!

          1. Look, I just googled “frozen margaritas near me” and got one result in Tampa, and the next closest was Ocala. I live in a fucking food desert. And I desperately need some Tex-Mexicans to move here and open restaurants.

            1. Miguel’s on Kennedy (Tampa) is okay. And there’s Red Mesa–the one on 4th Street.

              The Mexican isn’t bad here, but we’ve got a ton of good South American, and, of course, Cuban restaurants. Mostly in Tampa.

            2. Dude, frozen margaritas?

              Get them on the rocks, no salt, like God intended. The freezing and the salt are there to hide the taste of bad tequila. Don’t use bad tequila. You’ll thank me later.

              4 oz tequila
              1+ ounce Salerno blood orange liqueur
              3/4 ounce lime juice
              1/2 ounce agave nectar

              1. I was going to attack the frozen, but I didn’t want to interfere with my restaurant advice. To be sure, one can drink frozen anything, provided that one is at the beach.

                1. I understand the criticism of the frozen but not the salt.

                  Salt tastes good. End of story.

                2. I understand the criticism of the frozen but not the salt.

                  Salt tastes good. End of story.

              2. I do this at home, but I want to go out and get a frozen margarita, eat chips and queso, fajitas for dinner, and then get ice cream from the self-serve like God intended.

                1. ice cream from the self-serve

                  This is the part I object to.

                  Stop by Graeters or a local ice cream shop on the way home.

                2. I like this recipe:

                  Margarita Presidente
                  1 1/4 ounces tequila
                  1/2 ounce Cointreau liqueur
                  1/2 ounce Presidente brandy
                  4 ounces (1/2 cup) sweet & sour mix
                  splash Rose’s lime juice

                  1. That’s more like a half a margarita recipe, at most. Cointreau and Rose’s are both too sweet for me. De gustibus, though.

                    1. Well, what I drank in law school was not-infrequently an upside-down margarita, but those were simpler times.

                  2. Sweet & sour mix? Rose’s? Blah!

                    Good silver tequila
                    Cointreau (can’t argue that!)
                    Fresh lime juice
                    Simple syrup

                    And freezing *that* is just…wrong.

                    1. Cointreau (can’t argue that!)

                      Sure I can. Too sweet. The Salerno is a lot more subtle. Lets the tequila shine through a little more. Also, why add sugar water to a margarita when you can add agave nectar?

                      /margarita pedant OFF

                3. Ice cream at Larry’s; smoked fish at Ted Peter’s.

        2. Reason #157 why I’m for secession.

        3. At least a clear right to secede would be nice. You’d think the Declaration, which was essentially a legal brief justifying secession, would be enough, but the Civil War screwed that all up.

          1. Yep. The North should have seceded.

              1. A lot of liberty enhancing things were ruined its use for the of racism. Secession, Jury nullification, Federalism,

                1. ruined by its use in the defense of racism.

  12. It would behoove the Texas Monthly reporter to up her elocution. I liked her content, but struggled to extract it from her mumbling.

  13. Really??? You are going to make that total leap??? NAFTA has NOTHING to do with Texas exports. Of the Top 25 exported commodities from Texas, over 80% are the result of one thing, OIL! Take Oil out of the ground in Texas and there exports are smaller than Massachusetts! Oil, Petroleum, Natural gas, Petroleum byproducts etc. are the convenience of location that have propelled Texas exports, not trade agreements.

  14. Texas is exceptional. Over 25% of the exports from Texas in 2015 were in the form of petroleum products. No other states have the capacity to either produce oil and gas, or to refine oil and gas into products such as plastics that Texas has built. Texas produces over 35% of the oil produced in the United States. Texas alone produces more oil than Mexico and more light crude than Canada. Canada only out produces Texas by mining bitumen and exporting heavy crude. When products are based on natural resources, it is misleading to compare them to manufactured items like trucks and appliances. Many of the other exports of Texas are in the form of electronics components and machine components. Those products often return to the US as finished items. “Free trade” does not always actually exist within NAFTA, as the trade rules create loopholes that make very strange markets come into existence. Much of our “exports” to Mexico and Canada come back but are measured as part of our export trade. If you look at the top imports for Texas, the list is very similar to the top exports. Why were the same products both exported and imported? I would suggest it has something to do with labor costs. Somebody lost a job and someone else, likely in Mexico, got a job.

  15. Guys no – Texas does well becasue there is no income tax – low overall taxes – inexpensive real estate and energy – less regulation. NAFTA is a job killer for the working class.

    1. Nope.

      Plant closings didn’t increase post-NAFTA and industrial production increased post-NAFTA. More jobs have been created than lost.

  16. What You Need to Know About Free Trade Agreements and Fast Track
    Trade Agreements Are Negotiated in Secret
    One of the aspects Lilliston finds most disturbing is the fact that trade agreements are negotiated in secret; hence it’s very difficult to engage in a public debate about them.

    By the time Congress votes on them, the deals have already been struck, and the public has no way of knowing the details of the negotiations.

    “That’s why it’s really important to speak out now about it and try to raise questions, so that we can be sure that the agreements reflect the interest of the public good and not just a handful of private corporations who are behind the scenes negotiating hand in hand with the US Trade representative on these trade agreements,” he says.

    http://articles.mercola.com/si…..track.aspx

  17. An Introduction to Trading Away Your Freedom..
    We were warned about trading with our countries – these Trade Deals are treasonous….
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLwlHu3QHAw

  18. How Many Nails Does it Take to Seal a Coffin? – Freedom Outpost
    The next time you have a few moments free between jobs, why not give it a go. It is only 5,544 pages containing 2,056,560 words, which is, according to the Daily Caller..
    Although it is called a “free trade” agreement, the TPP is not mainly about trade. Of TPP’s 29 draft chapters, only five deal with traditional trade issues. One chapter would provide incentives to offshore jobs to low-wage countries. Many would impose limits on government policies that we rely on in our daily lives for safe food, a clean environment, and more. Our domestic federal, state, and local policies would be required to comply with TPP rules.

    http://freedomoutpost.com/2015…..-a-coffin/

  19. Heritage Foundation Is The Controlled Opposition..
    In my last article, I documented Heritage Foundation’s drafting and promotion of job destroying NAFTA, but Heritage is also responsible for many other ills that American citizens face today, including healthcare and education.
    We must remember, the 1955 UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) book, MENTAL HEALTH IN EDUCATION, is the earliest reference to the need for “choice” in education. The Charter Schools concept, strongly marketed around the country by Heritage affiliates, with the help of many CNP members in every state, attempts to link patriotic free enterprise themes to a blatantly unconstitutional system of corporate fascism to business/government partnerships in the education of our children.
    http://newswithviews.com/Nelson/kelleigh377.htm

  20. Heritage Foundation, NAFTA, School Choice and the Destruction of Traditional Education..

    How many of the Heritage Foundation’s supporters (good Americans) realize that the Heritage Foundation came up with the idea for the North American Free Trade Agreement which has resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of American jobs? The 1993 Annual Report of the Heritage Foundation of Washington, D.C. dedicated to their twentieth year celebration, revealed the following:

    http://www.newswithviews.com/i…..byt111.htm

  21. Exports aren’t the problem. Our out of balance imports vs exports is the problem. So keep on what you are doing, but you aren’t big enough to balance the books. Our import surplus is the USA exporting capital to other nations that we need here to create jobs.

    1. Nope. The “trade deficit” is meaningless as far as economic performance goes. We ran our biggest trade surplus during the Great Depression. All an ‘import surplus’ means is foreign countries are investing in American companies, which is fine.

      Jesus, the Trumpkins really are out in force tonight.

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  23. the real reason our economy is circling down the vertical black four inch pipe is the overbearing burdens placed upon business in general here in the states. NAFTA and such don’t do a thing to remove those barriers to success this side the lines. THAT is the main driver for “offshoring” so much US manufacturing.

    I’m not all that up to speed on these “free trade agreements” but I do know that they are, in the main, anything but. Fix the deterrents and burdens on US industry, coming from many quarters of government and most all of it unconstitutioinal, and see how we get back up and into the fray. Then maybe take a look at these trade agreements. I’ve ready plenty of stupid stuff on HOW those treaties have messed with international trade…..

  24. Any state that can sell tech or energy will do better than the rust belt. Detroit was apparently some auto manufacturing giant in its heydays but when that ONE industry choked the entire state suffered.

    Americans like Japanese cars. At the top of my head, they still outsell American cars here. America is like 100 times larger than the densely packed Japan and middle class America still has more purchasing power compared to elsewhere. Shinzo Abe is meeting with Donald Trump (highly inappropriate, because Obama is still president!!!) for reasons that are obvious.

    It seems like the rust belt has no chance. There are countries that make better cheese than Wisconsin and better cars than Detroit. The south exports a lot of agriculture (TX and GA has JPN car plants) and is closer to oil fields. CA and NY sells entertainment and information. That region might have to diversify to be prosperous. Somehow.

  25. Texas exports are overwhelmingly oil and related products. Extractive industries are not labor intensive, and petroleum products have their own special import/export rules, taxes, and tariffs. To use Texas as an example of the benefits of “free trade” is just stupid.

    In fact, the biggest problem with free trade is still… that we don’t have it and that none of the so-called “free trade agreements” were going to bring it about. A free trade agreement is a contradiction in terms; you don’t need to “agree” to free trade, you simply unilaterally remove all trade barriers and tariffs. If you think that doing that requires an “agreement”, then you are not in favor of free trade in the first place.

  26. Wow this is either deliberate false reporting or journalism ignorance. Trucking industry lost hundreds of thousands of jobs. As soon as it went into effect some factories closed left country. 40k factories and businesses left in first decade. Illegals flooded into our country taking jobs. The employees and unions lost bargaining power and oodles of businesses forced decreased wages “or they would leave and go to mexico.” China gained factories too. Caterpillar keeps closing plants and opened their 24th in china. Tyson is shipping chickens to china to process (the worst country in world for food industry as no health regulations then ship back NOT LABELED china. China has taken a no. Of steps to decimate the US $ world based currency to destroy USA and is incesting heavily in gold and silver. NAFTA needs to be shredded even at the cost of a bumpy ride because better to ride the bumpy dirt road thru the country then third world our country in long range

    1. Investing not incesting – typo- sorry don’t have gerbil fingers.

  27. http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/4550207
    Read a list of damages. I used to work in trucking industry. Hundreds of thousands of jobs lost, wages dropped, 40k factories and businesses left in first year. China gained most factories in last ten years and are taking many steps to decimate the US $ which is world currency. Caterpillar still closing factories opened its 24th in china. Tyson shipping chickens to china to process and ship back to sell to americans wirking on closing our tyson factories it appears. Russia is being attacked because theyve been thru it and rubles are not used anywhere in world just in russia. Note julian assange hiding till statute if limitations runs out for raoe and abuse of wimen, is a convicted super hacker if top secret classified gov doc’s of pentagon and a ling lust of gov agencies. 26 convictions and many more were dropped. Wake up. Assange hacked not russia, i’d bet on it. Snowden a cia contractor employee took 10k documents in a top security job of cia contractor with top surveillance unnoticed? Git passport unnoticed? Just happened to be safely in russia before public story issued? Usa yanked his passport to make sure he stayed in russia covered up? Then snowden just happened to go to venezuela no problem unnoticed? Cia are liars. Its cia same crud like iran contra affair. Beware

    1. Lots of typo’s sorry … i do not have gerbil fingers.

  28. Wow, timely investigation by reason.com

  29. free trade needs a better publicist. the reason it’s so reviled is because you can’t put the invisible hand of economics on tv. you can put someone who just lost their job, with two kids, and no idea how they’re going to put food on the table on every channel and everyone will sympathize. so long as this is the case, free trade loses.

  30. I just want complete package labeling listing every country the product has been in. Especially for food products. Just a list of flags of every country every part of the product has been in. That way I can make better decisions. And this should apply to every product and part of every product. When labeling software and movies, the labeling should include the actual country the software or movie was created as well as where the dvd was stamped.

  31. Because labelling is cost-free.

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