Thursday, December 29, 2005

The Blessings of Free Trade

What is free trade? The Left has adequately defined free trade as something evil, or something that is not natural and should be avoided at all costs. They frame the debate against free trade by citing numerous unfounded case studies and examples of how free trade hurts job growth, abuses child labor laws, denigrates the environment, or damages many Third World countries economies. This is not free trade. These simple talking points appeal to many uninformed people who simply avoid dissecting each of these criticisms and find the evidence behind each claim lacking in every angle of their argument. Free trade is the exchange of goods and services from one country to another without any restrictions. In theory, free trade not only benefits the individual, but it also benefits the world.

To further understand why a liberalized market is essential for sustainable economic growth let’s examine a standard model of what happens in a free trading environment. Let’s use the steel industry as our prime example. Raising tariffs against imported steel from foreign manufacturers will inflict immense damage to the US economy. These tariffs, or taxes, prevent the foreign steel producers from selling the steel to American companies and consumers at a cheaper price than what the domestic steel industry is selling at.

So you may ask yourself, ‘what exactly would be the purpose of these tariffs?’ The protectionist policy of the Left has advocated and cited that the American steel industry will lose thousands of jobs if we eliminate tariffs and allow cheaper foreign steel to be sold to the American consumers. Even though this claim may have some truth to it, the belief that only steel companies drive the economy is flat out deceitful. In 1998, after the elimination of the steel tariffs, only 10,000 jobs had been lost in the domestic steel industry. This number was relatively small compared to the 2.5 million jobs created in 1998, which included an increase in jobs in sectors where companies purchased steel at cheaper prices. The cheaper steel prices enabled car companies, like Ford, and military contractors, like Boeing, to higher more employees. Competition coerces these companies to compete for consumer business, which consequently lowers the steel prices, invokes more innovation, and improves the quality of the steel industry.

A general myth many liberals continue to shriek is the belief that free trade causes more child labor. However, a recent study done by Dartmouth economists Eric Edmonds and Nina Pavcnik conclude that free trade has in fact decreased the need for child labor. The study examined Vietnam, a country that liberalized their market in the 1990s. Vietnam increased exports throughout the 1990s which eventually lead to an increase in wealth in the economy. Thus poor families that see an increase in their income do not need to rely on the labor of their own children for additional income. The analysis of the study found that “real income growth among Vietnamese farming families between 1993 and 1998 can account for nearly one-half of the large decline in child labor in rural Vietnam that occurred over this period."

The basic philosophy of freedom also plays an important role in a free market. When one speaks of the components involved in free trade, many people often forget that it doesn’t just involve countries. It involves individuals living within those countries. To put a restriction on someone from selling goods in a land where they didn’t manufacture the product or grow the commodity strips man away from the primordial aspects of survival. Besides the fact that it’s the “law,” what grounds does someone have to disable or restrict one to sell goods and services in a foreign land? The answer is that nobody on Earth has or should have the authority to dictate such a disastrous trading policy.

The verdict on free trade is already in. NAFTA has been a complete success through the last 11 years and with the recent signing of CAFTA, it seems that more countries are beginning to realize the benefits of a liberalized market. Countries that lower barriers for trade enjoy higher economic standards of living. Next time you hear someone blasting the institutions of free trade, ask them if they enjoy cheaper prices of rice, steel, corn, or bananas. America needs to accept free trade and continue its path to more freedom for the world markets. With fewer barriers for trade, countries will become interconnected with one another. The more interconnected countries become the more free and prosperous the world will grow.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Monday, December 19, 2005

The Art of Freedom

"The positive nature of people can be reduced to nothing less than what man could achieve. Through the deep, gloomy stages of humanity, we have embraced a concept which precedes all form of rational and irrational paths to reason and empiricism. What can be done about the growing fear of an eternity without freedom?

As the doctrines flow through our ages, and the philosophical conquests of virtue seem fit to desire, the world sits back and scoffs at ones who seek greatness. The beings of leverage are prominent to mask all of what man has, and what can be attributed to man. This ideal positive nature seems fit to only bargain with some self-worth or some self dignity which can be transformed into the spirit of freedom. Without desperation we find we are lost and our own worth is defeated as we continue to reform the abstract possibilities into the most envied sentiment which has graced this planet. How can we acknowledge man if we cannot acknowledge freedom? Does the infinite possibilities of imagination subdue our inherent drive and recognition of how we live freely amongst one another? If there is hope and there is a pursuant path to travel upon a dangerous journey, then it shall and should be done in the name of the ideals which we hold so close to ourselves and which demonize others with jealousy and hurt. What is a world to live without a world to live within freely?"


Liberals Continue To Fight For Discrimination

It is rather astonishing that 41 years after Congress passed the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which was to “prevent discrimination in federally assisted programs,” that liberals still insist on the government discriminating against certain American citizens. This discrimination is in the form of a federally assisted program, called Affirmative Action, which enables high school students to be admitted into college ahead of other students simply because of their race. Affirmative Action is not only unconstitutional, but it is also harmful to the ideal society founded upon hard work which America prides itself on. The philosophical idea that race or ethnicity can be the determining factor over your credentials is not only absurd but also flat out discriminatory.

The major reason why Affirmative Action (AA) is wrong is because it goes against everything and anything blacks fought for in the 1960s. It is a system based upon letting kids into college because of the color of their skin. At its core, AA is reverse discrimination. The justification of this reverse discrimination is that we need to be lenient on blacks because of their past, because of their history of slavery and segregation. Yet, if we look at blacks in college today, we find that 99.9% of them were born after the Civil Rights Act of 1964. To say that the historical nature of segregation and slavery is cause for discriminating against whites today is unfounded simply because no black in college has been segregated from schooling, or has felt the shackles of slavery.

If we look beyond the obvious discrimination of the policy, we see many other fallacies with this plan. If AA was working, would we not see a greater movement of “institutionalized” blacks from the ghettos and into colleges? Also, this policy implies we should see less conflict between blacks and whites, yet many studies show that this is not the case. Whites have only become increasingly negative about this evident discriminatory policy and it has amplified tensions between the two races, producing exactly the opposite of what the policy proponents of this plan have sought to achieve. It has created more ethnocentricity, and less acceptance and dialogue between races and ethnicities. This is not what society should be advocating.

Another major problem with AA is what it does to those who are benefiting towards the policy. Affirmative Action places a stigma on the race in which it is assisting. For example, blacks or Hispanics at Ivy League schools are sometimes looked upon, unrightfully so, as “second tier” students to most of their colleagues. The reason is because the perception of many whites is that blacks or Hispanics are only at the school because of AA and therefore are not as worthy as the rest of their colleagues. This is a major drawback from what AA is hoping to achieve. Although the belief that someone is inferior because of their race is wrong, and most people should never feel or think that way, it happens because of this program. But why shouldn’t the belief come about from students and others, the people backing this policy are obviously believing that blacks and Hispanics cannot get accepted into college without a racially preferred program like Affirmative Action. It is my assertion that the believers in this policy actively seek to uphold the inferiority gap in which many blacks, through history, have kept in the back of their minds. This gap needs to be broken, and AA only obstructs the process of it being destroyed.

The last reason on why AA is inherently wrong is because of its actual policy. Was America not founded upon the principle of individualism and self-autonomy? The mere fact that I will get turned down from a college of my choice because of race and not actual credentials is downright cruel and unusual punishment. It once again is unconstitutional. The fact that this policy implies the admissions officer for every college is racist is also flat out ignorant. Our society is based upon the belief that hard work will pay off, and since this policy actively seeks to undermine this belief, then I believe motivation and innovation amongst students, will become damaged as well.

Supporting Affirmative Action is an indefensible argument. If you are in fact supporting AA, you are a discriminatory person. If you support AA you are implying that blacks and Hispanics are inferior to whites. If you support AA, you are increasing racial tensions in society. If you support AA you are placing a stigma on blacks and Hispanics. If you support AA you are destroying the fabric of individualism and the belief in merit. Last but not least, if you support AA, you are a hypocrite to the very nature of what America has voiced for the last 41 years.

Illegal Immigration Must Be Fixed

As of 2003, the Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) has estimated that there were 8 million illegal immigrants living in America, a number which has been increasing half a million annually. One would think that this fact alone would compel our federal government to propose solutions and initiatives which would help secure our border more effectively. Unfortunately, our government has been failing us for several years in protecting our borders and in the process hurting the average American citizen. As the Democrats and Republicans argue over what will work, everyone should be clear on one main point: illegal immigration is a major problem, and needs to be fixed.

The National Research Council has calculated that illegal immigrants use approximately twenty-two billion dollars of the American taxpayer’s money a year. Although it is true that most illegal immigrants are not on welfare, they still waste government expenditures through means of education, incarceration, and medical care. The federal Bureau of Prison spent $5.8 billion on incarcerating illegals between 2001 and 2004. The worst part was that $5.8 billion was only 25% of the actual cost; the rest was shouldered by individual states. The expense of illegal immigrants is now on the shoulders of the average American citizen. To eradicate illegal immigration I believe the government should focus on three main areas: 1) to increase border security using the National Guard, 2) to garner international cooperation from Mexico, and 3) to enforce the law on illegal immigrants already inside our country by putting into practice a guest worker program.

There are a number of very important initiatives I believe we should discuss when implementing better policy on the border. First and foremost, we must recognize that we simply do not have enough border patrol agents on the borders to effectively catch all or even the majority of illegal immigrants. President Bush provided the southern border 210 additional border agents this year, despite the fact that Homeland Security was asking for 2,000 more agents. My solution is simple. If we are concerned at all about the safety of our country, and the economic dominance we sustain, then we should use the National Guard to secure the majority of the border. Recently, a congressional report has found that the deployment of 36,000 National Guard troops would "dramatically reduce if not virtually eliminate" illegal immigration. The government has the necessary tools to impede immigration with the US National Guard, yet no lawmaker has the will to engage such a hot button issue.

It also doesn’t help that the Mexican President, Vicente Fox, is calling for a modified version of an “open border.” This kind of international rhetoric is absurd. But what can one expect from someone who claimed that open borders were good because Mexicans “are doing the work that not even blacks want to do in the United States." Fox doesn’t seem to care or realize that these illegal immigrants cost people like you and I money. Fox doesn’t seem to understand that an open border would be a haven for any potential terrorists to enter our country and destroy an entire American city. Yet, the slimiest of motivations may just be that Fox doesn’t want to deal with the extremely high poverty rate (over 40%) in his country. So, as Fox distorts how America benefits from illegal immigrants, he is concealing his true motivations. He doesn’t want to deal with the poor in his country, period. However, we need to get Fox to cooperate and understand why we should place National Guardsmen on the border. Without Fox on our side for these policies, the decline of immigration will not be as great as it could be.

While protecting the border and getting Fox to cooperate is vital for a secure border, we also must address the issue of what to do with all of the illegal immigrants already here in America. As much as I would love to wave a magic wand and deport the 8 or 9 million living here already, it’s simply not plausible. We don’t have the manpower or the money for that kind of an operation. So, my proposal would first create incentives to employers of any business to hire legal immigrants instead of illegal immigrants. There should also be harsher penalties if any employer decides to take on illegals to his payroll. Secondly, my proposal would implement a guest worker program, similar to Bush’s plan, which would allow illegals already inside the US to work for employers who need people for labor. Many of my conservative colleagues disagree with granting the illegal immigrants, who already broke the law, guest worker status in the US simply because it is unfair to the immigrants who legally tried to enter the country, and who are still waiting for citizenship. This position sounds like a good idea, but it lacks a pragmatic approach to address the illegals already in the country. Since we cannot deport them all, why not let them work and pay taxes to the American political system? After three taxpaying, hard-working years, the illegals should have the opportunity to apply for citizenship, granted they had no trouble with the law during their three year stay.

If these three points were executed on a federal level, not only will illegal immigration decline, but also government expenditures will decline, as they begin to pay taxes and pay for their own health care. The longer we wait and avoid enacting policies which could hinder illegal immigration, the bigger the problem will be in the future. If the Bush Administration does not protect the border then I believe the severity the problem could be catastrophic to our nation’s economy and to our national security.