As everyone knows, America’s industrial base – or rather, what’s left of it – is in the doldrums. Thanks to successive gullible Administrations and Congresses – Democratic and Republican – who have worshipped on the free trade altar, cheating foreign countries such as China, Japan, South Korea, and Germany have managed to dismantle most of it and to steal millions of American jobs. The decline of America’s industrial base has coincided with a decline of Republican prospects for Congressional and Presidential victories. Recall that, from 1860 to 1924, the Republican Party – then known as the Party of Protection – put 12 Presidents in the White House, versus only two Democrats. Back then, the GOP could always be counted on to defend America’s industry. Not any longer.
But there is hope. The industrial base can be rebuilt and the economy can be turned around – but this will require an 180 degree change of America’s current course. It will require a policy of overt protectionism. It will require Republicans to work with like-minded Democrats. Rebuilding America’s industrial base is not a Republican issue; it’s not a Democratic issue; it’s simply an American issue. Protectionism must not be a dirty word nor a taboo.
So how to do it?
1) Institute the Export-Import Certificates plan proposed by Raymond, Howard, and Jesse Richman. The principle is simple. Every country would be allowed to export only as much to the US as it would import from the US. You want to be able to sell more to the US? You must buy more from the US.
2) Institute strict product quality standards for imported products. Currently, poisoned milk, lead-covered toys, and defective military equipment parts are flooding the US. It’s time to end this completely. No such products should be allowed to make their way to US soil.
3) Institute, by directive, by Executive Order, or preferrably by an Act of Congress, a legal requirement that the government may buy only equipment (and equipment parts) produced in the US. This must include the DOD to prevent defective Chinese parts from making their way to the US.
4) Raise tariffs as necessary.
5) Impose a tariff on imported cars while eliminating all federal, state, and local taxes on American-produced cars. Virginia should abolish its car property tax with respect to American-produced cars but raise it for imported cars.
6) Withdraw from all negotiations of “free trade agreements”, and review all “free trade agreements” already ratified.
7) Do not vote to admit any new countries to the WTO.
8) Designate China (and any other country which plays games with its currency) as a currency manipulator.
9) Sue any countries that cheat on trade in the WTO.
10) Strictly enforce all American patent and copyright laws, and demand that all countries around the world comply with these laws. China is the worst offender in that regard. If China does not comply, sell Taiwan F-16C/Ds, F-35s, and F-22s to show China that the US is serious.
Any of these steps alone will be only a minor improvement and will not, by itself, solve the problem. But if all, or at least most, of these solutions are implemented, America’s industrial base will, over time, be gradually rebuilt.
That’s because, were my plan to be implemented fully, the US government would not be allowed to buy any stuff not produced in the US; buying non-American cars would be unfeasible as American cars would be much cheaper and convenient; no more countries would be admitted to the WTO; and no country would be allowed to export more to the US than it imports from America.
The US would once again become the world’s preeminent industrial might, and products with the label “Made in the USA” would once again become common around the world.
And China? Well, if they don’t stop cheating, manipulating their currency, and violating copyright and patent laws, they’re going to have to start thinking how to defeat Taiwanese F-35 and F-22 squadrons. But somehow, I don’t feel any pity for the Chinese. I’m concerned about the unemployed folks in Martinsville, Detroit, and Allentown.