Yet, I have always hoped that my positions on issues are not mere partisan hack-ary. There are reasonable and intelligent conservative people and ideas that I respect, admire, and agree with. I have conservative friends that I enjoy talking issues with because they are thoughtful, they recognize nuance, and they are as willing to consider ideas that don't come from their "side" as I feel I am.
So, after railing against the Logic (or lack thereof) of the Conservative in my last post, here I am to promote the reasoned commentary, and yes - logic - of a conservative, David Brooks. In his NY Times op-ed column yesterday, Follow the Fundamentals, Brooks made some excellent points that I agree with - yet are conservative in nature. Exerpts follow:
Once upon a time, the fact that hundreds of millions of people around the world are rising out of poverty would have been a source of pride and optimism. But if you listen to the presidential candidates, improvements in the developing world are menacing. Their speeches constitute a symphony of woe about lead-painted toys, manipulated currencies and stolen jobs.Absolutely. Whether it is on the right or left, Demoratic or Republican presidential hopefuls - there is an irrational fear being preached of America's ability to compete in a world market. We can compete anywhere, anytime, in any arena - and politicians and commentators shouldn't grasp for the low-hanging fruit in order to scare people into votes. We don't need to be reactionary - we need to be leading.
In the first place, despite the ups and downs of the business cycle, the United States still possesses the most potent economy on earth.
Second, America’s fundamental economic strength is rooted in the most stable of assets — its values. The U.S. is still an astonishing assimilation machine. It has successfully absorbed more than 20 million legal immigrants over the past quarter-century, an extraordinary influx of human capital. Americans are remarkably fertile. Birthrates are relatively high, meaning that in 2050, the average American will be under 40, while the average European, Chinese and Japanese will be more than a decade older.
The American economy benefits from low levels of corruption. American culture still transmits some ineffable spirit of adventure.
Third, not every economic dislocation has been caused by trade and the Chinese. Between 1991 and 2007, the U.S. trade deficit exploded to $818 billion from $31 billion. Yet as Robert Samuelson has pointed out, during that time the U.S. created 28 million jobs and the unemployment rate dipped to 4.6 percent from 6.8 percent.
That’s because, as Robert Lawrence of Harvard and Martin Baily of McKinsey have calculated, 90 percent of manufacturing job losses are due to domestic forces. As companies become more technologically advanced, they shed workers (the Chinese shed 25 million manufacturing jobs between 1994 and 2004).
Are there perils and downsides to globalization? Absolutely. But nothing that America cannot deal with - especially if we deal with it in a prudent, progressive way. But to bury our head in the sand and scream "It's Mexico's fault" or "It's China's fault" is no answer. As Brooks closes:
I’m writing this column from Beijing. I can look out the window and see the explosive growth. But as the Chinese will be the first to tell you, their dazzling prosperity is built on fragile foundations. In the United States, the situation is the reverse. We have obvious problems. But the foundations of American prosperity are strong. The U.S. still has much more to gain than to lose from openness, trade and globalization.