Monday, October 22, 2007

The Drury Sequence: Free Trade

Now that I have finished the Book of James, I'm moving on to Keith Drury's 2004 personal political manifesto How could a Christian vote Democrat? Drury, one of the leaders in American Wesleyan thought, names four political issues where he is closest to Republicans and eighteen others where he is closest to Democrats. For the next twenty-two days, I will outline where I stand on each issue.

Republican affinity #1: Free Trade

I agree with Drury here. Free trade is as much a basic human right as bodily freedom or free speech. Autarky, dictatorship, and peonage go hand in hand. The basic principles of free trade, free choice and variety, are also the building blocks for stable democracy. Besides, one protected industry causes ten more to demand equal treatment. Before long, tit-for-tat retaliation by other advanced economies leaves everybody worse off.

Michiganders have always had a hard time understanding secondary consequences. Of course, the auto economy that built metro Detroit is crumbling. Many Detroiters have turned protectionist out of supposed self-interest. Yet the long-term structural weakness of the Big Three is the United States' lack of comprehensive health insurance and pension plans. The Big Three, especially GM, have closed the quality gap of the 1970's-1990's: their cars are nearly as reliable, sleek, and fuel-efficient as Toyotas and Hondas. Nevertheless, legacy costs are bludgeoning their balance sheets.

When Drury says, "I’m willing to reduce America’s standard of living in order to raise the standard [elsewhere]", I agree. Our 4% of Earth's people consume one-fourth of its resources. Yes, we produce one-fourth of global output, too, but at what cost? Would not we benefit from a Sabbath? Letting low-cost producers "undercut" us benefits poor people and hurts rich people, which is what the Gospel message teaches.

No comments: