Wednesday, May 27, 2009

• Obama’s Not So Free Money

Government interference has simply never, repeat never, enhanced the efficiencies of markets. While Obama may claim to be a scholar of history, he appears not to heed what he has read, or simply does not believe it. Learning, real learning, is a long process of trial and error. History is full of trials and errors. Why is this not obvious to the current White House resident?

Attaching operational strings to government stimulus money is forcing many companies to take actions they would not otherwise implement. Along the longest and biggest by dollar volume trading border in the world, are endless American and Canadian communities, as well as companies that have co-existed successfully for generations through mutually beneficial trade. Obama’s exigent and rigid imposition of trade restrictions such as provisions requiring that only U.S. made steel, iron, and other manufactured products be purchased for state and local projects funded with stimulus funds, are twisting communities into stagnation and onto the unemployment lines. While in contravention to the free trade agreement between the two countries, such sweeping and misinformed restrictions have generated reaction from both Sellers and Buyers on either side of the 49th. parallel.

The impact on the U.S. side is that Americans are losing jobs. Canada continues to represent a sustaining market for many American companies manufacturing products used in the housing industry, for example, while the U.S. housing market has dried up for the foreseeable future. Why annoy your own marketplace, and propel it to react and to stop buying from you? “Buy American” makes sense where communities have decided where and on what such stance is of benefit. Enforcing such protectionist programs wholesale is being blind to realities and needs of business, trade, and life of communities where the rubber meets the proverbial road.

Government has no business dictating methods or practices to companies. Set laws for the land and punish those who break them, but don’t interfere with the functioning of such a critical element in the successful progress of a society. In particular, don’t interfere when you have no concept of what a business requires to effectively and profitably function. Allow companies to decide for themselves where to source products and services, particularly when such products are not available to them other than going North of the border. When businesses complain of the paperwork mountain required along with endless strings attached, someone should realize that the Obama free money has been rendered too onerous to be accepted.

If government is going to even establish suggested guidelines, first understand the nature of the beast. Canada, for example, is America’s biggest trading partner. Unlike almost every other nation the U.S. trades with, Canada’s standard of living, lifestyles and society in general are very similar to its own. England, Germany, and France don’t come close, and China isn’t remotely in the same ballpark.

Contrary to Obama’s representations to Unions, the reality is that Canada and the U.S. benefit from the NAFTA arrangement. Trade with China, on the other hand isn’t trade on equal footing, since China has imposed endless restrictions on imports. It is supremely idiotic to treat these different trading “partners,” with the same broad brush Obama style protectionism. While he pretends that he now does not wish to renegotiate NAFTA, his actions are not only confused, they are affirmatively ambiguous.

We can expect to find Obama once more make like Gretzky and implement a fast skate backwards down the ice on this front, much as we have seen him skate on almost everything else this administration has acted on. He forgot to do his homework and he will be forced to pull a reversal on the strings attached to the money, as will local and state governments involved in the cash distribution chain.

The financial services industry which came to represent an enormous percentage of the Nation’s total considered productivity output enchanted America into complacency and unreasonable personal debt. A self-serving Congress failed in its oversight of major financial service providers, and we are now enjoying the fruits of the deliberate bungling. America needs to return to creating, developing, building, and manufacturing, instead of being the world’s bean counter and dominant consumer.

Free enterprise did not bring us the current economic disaster, although free enterprise has become a favorite whipping post of many left leaning expectants of an uncurbed welfare state, and of the current administration. Businesses across Middle America should be allowed to function without government interference, and shouldn’t be made to feel that the new Administration has launched a war against them.

Dismembering the system that has produced the economic engine fueling America’s way of life will be detrimental to that standard of living. As he rushes headlong into an unfathomable indebting record $1.8 trillion deficit, Obama should stop long enough between Air Force One cross-Nation hops to listen a little more attentively to those businesses that are now saying, “No Thanks,” to the stimulus free money. He should pay special attention to the “why.” He should also establish for himself what might be defined as “free trade,” and what parameters such trade might entail before his next policy imposition.


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