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Saturday, March 10, 2018

"To consume things, you have to produce things"

Glenn Reynolds linked a story about Leo Gerard, the United Steel Workers union president, praising Trump. The re-opening of steel mills won't soon be forgotten. And Trump spared Canada and Mexico from his tariffs on imported aluminum and steel, which means Canada's mills run by USW members will remain open.

What struck me about Gerard in my who-the-hell-is-he research was his job title.

Gerard is International President of the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Services Workers International Union. That title shows a series of mergers over the years that reflects on the decline in those industries.

I remember when the United Rubber Workers union was huge. I grew up in Cleveland, just north of Akron. Rubber City.

Now we import tires from China, South Korea, and elsewhere. America has more cars than ever and too few tire makers.

Gerard represents 1.2 million workers and retirees. My guess is the retirees outnumber the workers.

The trade agreements have created millions of jobs -- elsewhere.

On April 12, 2016, Gerard testified about the plight of steelworkers.

"Over the next two days, you will be barraged with an enormous set of statistics on trade flows, domestic shipments, investments and a variety of other data. All of this, of course, is critical to understanding the problems in the steel sector here and globally," Gerard said.

"I don’t need to add to those statistics. Because, for me, behind those statistics is the most important thing: People. Today, more than 13,500 steelworkers across the country are holding layoff notices that they received from their employers. Statistics and an academic discussion of free trade can’t be allowed to mask the pain that has been inflicted on too many hard-working Americans and their families by unfair trade practices and trade policies that have essentially ignored the impact of trade on real people.

"When I submitted my pre-hearing brief two weeks ago, I said that 12,800 steelworkers had received those layoff notices. That number has risen by another 770 people in that short time."

That was under Obama.

This week, U.S. Steel and Republic Steel announced they are re-opening plants, which will add 1,500 jobs.

Now then, the role of the unions is large in the decline of American industry, but trade agreements that favor China and other countries were just as large. The third element was environmentalism that, after meeting its goals in pollution control, changed its mission to the goofy pursuit of a carbon-free world.

The argument for not tinkering with the trade agrements is free trade.

That's always the argument. Free trade.

If America loses jobs, it is not because China or some other country is cheating. It's America's fault. Free trade.

Free trade. Free trade. Free trade.

Free trade is a lot like supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. If you say it loud enough, you'll always sound precocious.

But the free trade argument is hollow because while we opened our countries to imports, the exporters have not opened their countries as completely to our exports. They are free to trade here, but we are not free to trade there.

Nobel economist Paul Krugman said we produce 9% of the world's exports, and consume 14% of them.

As Gerard said in 2016, "To consume things, you have to produce things. That’s a basic fact of economics that our competitors seem to grasp better than we do. Yes, the digital economy is important. And, selling people insurance products and derivative financial instruments creates some jobs. But, manufacturing creates real value."

President Trump ran afoul of the Washington Establishment in imposing tariffs on aluminum and steel. If you are siding with Bill Kristol against Trump, you are doing it wrong.

Gerard is fascinating. Only the second Canadian to head the USW, Gerard studied economics at Sudbury University. That was after working for Inco. His job was to unclog the tuyeres (the pipes that blast air into the fire) at Inco.

With a sledgehammer.

But he knows American politics.

"Let me say this, that Donald Trump was able to see the steelworker agenda, what he did is what we've been fighting for for more than 30 years. And I think what happened is that he's going to have a major impact on our members. It's going to make it very hard for our members to ignore what he just did and what makes me sad is we've been trying to get Democrats to this for more than 30 years," Gerard told Chuck Todd in a hostile interview.

The Forgotten American drove by the closed plants twice a day to his new job at the warehouse of Chinese goods. Obama told him those jobs aren't coming back.

Trump gave the Forgotten American new hope. And Trump is delivering on that promise. And if that is not free trade, then free trade needs to get its act together.


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  1. A hostile interview with MSNBC? Well, of course! It's MSNBC! They hate half of America.

    1. Nah, they hate all of America. The half they don't hate to their faces are simply the useful idiots.

  2. Saw that-think it was Gateway Pundit.
    Chuck the Toad looked like he just swallowed a stinkbug..TG


  3. What good are lower prices if nobody in America has a job?

  4. Speaking of Sudbury:

  5. The left -- and by extension the "conservatives" who want to stay besties with them -- have a bizarre, deep hatred for anyone who produced anything real and useful. They hate farming, mining, fishing, lumber, and the processing of any of the above. I really don't understand where it comes from, except possibly a class issue. But it goes beyond "I don't want to do this" to "I don't want this to even be done" -- to the point they try to destroy farmers and fishers and miners.

    1. It is odd, isn't it?

      The soy-betas are calling for a second civil war with increasing frequency that would undoubtedly be centered in their own urban hives. Those same areas would be the ones that would immediately come under siege with all interstates and infrastructure rendered inoperative from actions of the "rural stupid" insurgents.

      They also deny the possibility of their losses without considering the fact that a lone ex-cop named Christopher Dorner terrorized the entire state California for 9 straight days until he decided to end the chase.

      So, let the hipsters be smug and work their social media timelines. Three minutes without air, three days without water, three weeks without food are rules to live by.

  6. "Yes, the digital economy is important. And, selling people insurance products and derivative financial instruments creates some jobs. But, manufacturing creates real value."

    Amen to that. The elites who run the Democrat party have nelected manufacturing in favor of the "knowledge industry," as if they could build an economy around the fiction of calling everyone an intellectual, then giving them a job in academia, while outsourcing to other countries the jobs that make real "stuff". Well, that just ain't so.