Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Great Betrayal 4

I have three items for my write-up today on Pat Buchanan's The Great Betrayal: How American Sovereignty and Social Justice Are Being Sacrificed to the Gods of the Global Economy.

1.  A couple of times in this book, Pat Buchanan, a conservative, seeks to justify protectionism on socially conservative grounds.  Because wages in the U.S. have stagnated, Buchanan argues, married women with children have had to enter the labor force, and the result of that has been "falling birthrates and rising delinquency[,] teenage drug use, alcohol abuse, promiscuity, illegitimacy[,] abortions----and...the high divorce rate among working parents" (page 113).  Feminists such as Susan Faludi would probably question this argument, even though they would most likely agree with Buchanan that the stagnation of wages is a problem.

2.  On page 112, Buchanan has a chart entitled "Average Weekly Earnings, 1960-95 (in 1982 Dollars)", and his source for the information in that chart is the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  According to the chart, from 1960 to 1970, weekly earnings dramatically went up.  They went down a bit from 1970 to 1975, then they went up slightly from 1975 to around 1978.  From around 1978 to around 1983, they really tanked.  There was a slight bump from around 1983 to 1985.  From 1985 to 1995, there was a decline.  My question is this: Can this decline be blamed on free trade?  John F. Kennedy had free trade policies that Lyndon Johnson held fast to, and weekly earnings went up during that time.  Ronald Reagan had free trade policies, but Buchanan lauds some things that Reagan did that were protectionist.  Under Reagan, though, weekly earnings declined.

3.  Buchanan talks about a desire among some within the elites to erase national borders.  At one point, he refers to Strobe Talbott's vision that "all states will recognize a single, global authority" (Talbott's words, quoted on page 106).  I have two questions.  First of all, if Buchanan is against the elimination of nations, then why on page 113 does he criticize Welsh and Scottish nationalism and ethnic politics?  I realize that he thinks that there are people who are more loyal to their ethnic group than to their country, but doesn't ethnic pride contradict the drive towards the new world order that Buchanan criticizes?  Second, could a one world government actually eliminate some of the problems with free trade that Buchanan talks about?  Currently, companies leave the U.S. because they can pay overseas workers more cheaply, and the wages that are paid to overseas workers provide the workers with a fairly decent standard of living (at least according to Edward Gresser).  But would the disparity between wages here and wages overseas exist if the world had a single currency?  And would overseas companies be able to take advantage of other countries' loose regulations (as compared to what the U.S. has) and out-compete U.S. companies if the entire world had the same regulations?

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