The left's success in denying President Obama fast-track authority to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership is ugly to behold. The case put forth by a showboating Sen. Elizabeth Warren — that Obama cannot be trusted to make a deal in the interests of American workers — is almost worse than wrong. It is irrelevant.
The Senate Democrats who turned on Obama are playing a 78 rpm record in the age of digital downloads.
Did you hear their ally, AFL-CIO head Richard Trumka, the day after the Senate vote? He denounced TPP for being "patterned after CAFTA and NAFTA." That's not so, but never mind.
There's this skip on the vinyl record that the North American Free Trade Agreement destroyed American manufacturing. To see how wrong that is, simply walk through any Wal-Mart or Target and look for all those "made in Mexico" labels. You won't find many. But you'll see "made in China" everywhere.
Many of the jobs that did go to Mexico would have otherwise left for low-wage Asian countries. Even Mexico lost manufacturing work to China.
And what can you say about the close-to-insane obsession with CAFTA? The partners in the 2005 Central American Free Trade Agreement — five mostly impoverished Central American countries plus the Dominican Republic — had a combined economy equal to that of New Haven, Connecticut.
(By the way, less than 10 percent of the AFL-CIO's membership is now in manufacturing.)
It's undeniable that American manufacturing workers have suffered terrible job losses. We could never compete with pennies-an-hour wages. Those low-skilled jobs are not coming back. But we have other things to sell in the global marketplace.
In Washington state, for example, exports of everything from apples to airplanes have soared 40 percent over four years, to total nearly $91 billion in 2014, according to The Seattle Times. About 2 in 5 jobs there are now tied to trade. Small wonder that Sen. Ron Wyden, a liberal Democrat from neighboring Oregon, has strongly supported fast-track authority.
Some liberals oddly complain that American efforts to strengthen intellectual property laws in trade deals protect the profits of U.S. entertainment and tech companies. What's wrong with that? Should the fruits of America's creativity (that's labor, too) be open to plundering and piracy?
One of TPP's main goals is to help the higher-wage partners compete with China. (The 12 countries taking part include the likes of Japan, Australia, Canada, Chile, Mexico and New Zealand.) In any case, Congress would get to vote the finished product up or down, so it isn't as if the public wouldn't get a say.
But then we have Warren stating with a straight face that handing negotiating authority to Obama would "give Republicans the very tool they need to dismantle Dodd-Frank."
Huh? Obama swatted down the remark as wild, hypothetical speculation, noting he engaged in a "massive" fight with Wall Street to get the reforms passed. "And then I sign a provision that would unravel it?" he told political writer Matt Bai.
"This is not a partisan issue," Warren insisted. Yes, in a twisted way, the hard left's fixation over big corporations has joined the right's determination to undermine Obama at every pass.
Trade agreements have a thousand moving parts. The U.S. can't negotiate with the other countries if various domestic interests are pouncing on the details. That's why every president has been given fast-track authority over the past 80 years or so. Except Obama.
It sure is hard to be an intelligent leader in this country.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 May 2015 08:05
In the first quarter of 2015, in the sixth year of the historic Obama recovery, the U.S. economy grew by two-tenths of 1 percent. And that probably sugarcoats it. For trade deficits subtract from the growth of GDP, and the U.S. trade deficit that just came in was a monster.
As the AP's Martin Crutsinger writes, "The U.S. trade deficit in March swelled to the highest level in more than six years, propelled by a flood of imports that may have sapped the U.S. economy of any growth in the first quarter."
The March deficit was $51.2 billion, largest of any month since 2008. In goods alone, the trade deficit hit $64 billion.
As Crutsinger writes, a surge in imports to $239 billion in March, "reflected greater shipments of foreign-made industrial machinery, autos, mobile phones, clothing and furniture."
What does this flood of imports of things we once made here mean for a city like, say, Baltimore? Writes columnist Allan Brownfeld: "Baltimore was once a city where tens of thousands of blue collar employees earned a good living in industries building cars, airplanes and making steel. ... In 1970, about a third of the labor force in Baltimore was employed in manufacturing. By 2000, only 7 percent of city residents had manufacturing jobs."
Put down blue-collar Baltimore alongside Motor City, Detroit, as another fatality of free-trade fanaticism. For as imports substitute for U.S. production and kill U.S. jobs, trade deficits reduce a nation's GDP. And since Bill Clinton took office, the U.S. trade deficits have totaled $11.2 trillion. An astronomical figure.
It translates not only into millions of manufacturing jobs lost and tens of thousands of factories closed, but also millions of manufacturing jobs that were never created, and tens of thousands of factories that did not open here, but did open in Mexico, China and other Asian countries.
In importing all those trillions in foreign-made goods, we exported the future of America's young. Our political and corporate elites sold out working- and middle-class America — to enrich the monied class. And they sure succeeded.
Yet, remarkably, Republicans who wail over Obama's budget deficits ignore the more ruinous trade deficits that leech away the industrial base upon which America's self-reliance and military might have always depended.
Last month, the U.S. trade deficit with the People's Republic of China reached $31.2 billion, the largest in history between two nations. Over 25 years, China has amassed $4 trillion in trade surpluses at our expense. And where are the Republicans? Talking tough about building new fleets of planes and ships and carriers to defend Asia from the rising threat of China, which those same Republicans did more than anyone else to create.
Now this GOP Congress is preparing to vote for "fast track" and surrender its right to amend any Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal that Obama brings home. But consider that TPP. While the propaganda is all about a deal to cover 40 percent of world trade, what are we really talking about?
First, TPP will cover 37 percent of world trade. But 80 percent of that is trade between the U.S. and nations with which we already have trade deals. As for the last 20 percent, our new partners will be New Zealand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and Japan.
Query: Who benefits more if we get access to Vietnam's market, which is 1 percent of ours, while Hanoi gets access to a U.S. market that is 100 times the size of theirs?
The core of the TPP is the deal with Japan. But do decades of Japanese trade surpluses at our expense, achieved through the manipulation of Japan's currency and hidden restrictions on U.S. imports, justify a Congressional surrender to Barack Obama of all rights to amend any Japan deal he produces?
Columnist Robert Samuelson writes that a TPP failure "could produce a historic watershed. ... rejection could mean the end of an era. ... So, when opponents criticize the Trans-Pacific Partnership, they need to answer a simple question: Compared to what?"
Valid points, and a fair question.
And yes, an era is ending, a post-Cold War era where the United States threw open her markets to nations all over the world, as they sheltered their own. The end of an era where America volunteered to defend nations and fight wars having nothing to do with her own vital interests or national security.
The bankruptcy of a U.S. trade and foreign policy, which has led to the transparent decline of the United States and the astonishing rise of China, is apparent now virtually everywhere. And America is not immune to the rising tide of nationalism. Though, like the alcoholic who does not realize his condition until he is lying face down in the gutter, it may be a while before we get out of the empire business and start looking out again, as our fathers did, for the American republic first. But that day is coming.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 May 2015 08:14
It is with great sadness that I write about the passing of Dr. Bruce D. Heald, a well known Lakes Region personality, New Hampshire historian, teacher and mentor for many employees of the Winnipesaukee Flagship Corporation. His tenure with the company dates back to 1965.
I've known Bruce for over 30 years. He was my deck officer when I was a young, naive deckhand aboard the M/S Mount Washington back in my college days. Growing up as a fourth generation island resident of Bear Island, I thought I knew a lot about the "Big Lake" back then. After all, I grew up hearing great stories about the early days of boating and island living from my father, uncles and cousins. Bruce, however, educated me far beyond my provincial wisdom and opened my eyes to just how big this lake was. As a history minor in college I was fascinated with all the information being fed to me back then.
Dr. Heald has been the chief purser for the Winnipesaukee Flagship Company for over 50 years. His early associations with fellow employees such as Ed LaVallee, Brian Avery and Bob Murphy, afforded him the most fortunate opportunity to interview these people and bridge a divide between yesteryear and today. By so doing he was able to pass on a very interesting recording of facts, figures, folklore and legend about not only the islands' mail service history but also the history of the Winnipesaukee Flagship Company and the area it serves. His many books about the Lakes Region area capture the Yankee genuineness of longtime summer traditions and impart the significance of what it means to be a summer visitor or resident. His books are a most enjoyable read for anyone who wants to know about many of the islands' history and lake's folklore.
Bruce's personality was inspiring. He welcomed our passengers aboard with a robust "All Aboard" and then personally greeted everyone who boarded. His interaction with the passengers always left them with a memorable impression; so much so that many would come back year after year looking specifically for him.
How do you say goodbye to such an admirable person who touched so many lives with his wit, charm and compassion; taught many in a way that made that person want to learn more and exuded such a positive outlook on life? I'm not sure I can find the exact words. All I can simply say is, "Farewell my friend and thanks for being part of my life."
(Captain Jim Morash is Chief Operating Officer of the Winnipesaukee Flagship Company.)
Last Updated on Friday, 08 May 2015 09:09
Skeptics about democracy in the 18th and 19th centuries argued that the enfranchised masses would use their votes to seize the property of the relatively few rich. What could be more natural?
But it hasn't happened, in this country or abroad, to anything like the extent that those would-be Cassandras feared. Nonetheless, we continue to hear calls for economic redistribution, the clinical term for public policies transferring money from the relatively few rich to the much more numerous non-rich.
We also hear cries of frustration from advocates of such polices. The latest example is Thomas Edsall, the longtime Washington Post reporter now writing for the New York Times. Unlike most other liberal reporters, who are optimistic cheerleaders for their team, Edsall has long been alert to signs of liberalism's weakness.
In a long blog post, Edsall notes "a steady decline in support for redistributive government." He cites a study by Berkeley economist Emmanuel Saez, another ardent redistributionist, that "as inequality increases, so does ideological conservatism in the electorate."
Edsall cites evidence that support for health care "as a government-protected right" has fallen off from 69 percent in a 2006 Gallup poll, replaced by a 52 percent majority for the proposition that health care is not a federal responsibility.
Those poll numbers should not be taken too literally. Many respondents were surely hazy about what it means to say that a service like health care is a "right". And after passage of Obamacare, talk of a federal responsibility tends to evoke partisan responses in a country split just about evenly between two ideologically distinct parties.
That said, Edsall is right to conclude that there has been a diminution of faith in government as an instrumentality. The reasons are not hard to find. Atop the list: the Obamacare mess. The rollout of healthcare.gov — which the government had 42 months to prepare for — was a disaster. In contrast, there were 42 months between Pearl Harbor and V-E Day. Government performed a lot better then.
Things will get even messier if the Supreme Court reads the Obamacare statute as written in the King v. Burwell case expected to be decided in June. In Edsall's words, "public and private health care would be disrupted, to put it mildly."
It's hard to avoid the conclusion that Yale Law Professor Peter Schuck highlights in the title of his 2014 book, "Why Government Fails So Often". As I put it in a column then, gummint don't work good.
But can't government at least shuffle money around? After all, it does something like that in taxing payroll earnings and paying Social Security benefits to the elderly. Yes, the checks go out, but the program is on an unsustainable trajectory. And when you look at the policies redistributionists advance, you see either things with trivial effects or things that are politically inconceivable.
Consider some redistributive policies often advocated. Increasing the minimum wage and expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit — the latter supported by some Republicans — would redistribute income, a little. Rewriting labor laws to show more favor to private sector unions is a political nonstarter and likely wouldn't restore unions to anywhere near their 1950s peak.
What about higher taxes on the rich, the recommendation of French economist Thomas Piketty in his ballyhooed book, "Capital in the Twenty-First Century"? When actor Will Smith was interviewed on French television, he supported the idea in general. But when told that France's top rate was 75 percent, he exclaimed, "Seventy-five! That's different. Well, God bless America." France's socialist government has since lowered the rate.
British Labour party leader Ed Miliband is calling for higher taxes on high earners and "mansions". But again, the redistributive effect looks marginal — unless these measures choke economic growth. You do get more income equality when you destroy wealth. Everyone is worse off.
The fact is, America already has a redistributionist income tax: the top 20 percent of earners pay 84 percent of income tax revenues, and the top 1 percent, with 17 percent of income, pay 46 percent.
Americans have an innate sense that it's a mistake to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. They seem to understand that, if taxes are too high, the affluent will figure out ways to shelter income. In other words, they doubt that a government incapable of building a working website can effectively redistribute income and wealth.
(Syndicated columnist Michael Barone is senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner, is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and co-author of The Almanac of American Politics.)
Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 December 1969 07:00
What do you think of when you hear the number "99?" It is a fairly significant number and I usually think of going to the 99 Restaurant for a steak and some libations. It also is the number of Carl Edward's stock car in NASCAR, it was Charlie Sheen's uniform number in the movie Major League, Wayne Gretzky's real number, and of course we had Agent 99 in the old TV show "Get Smart." There is also the song "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall," but maybe we shouldn't go there. One website I was on said "The meaning or symbolism of recurring 99 in your life or in dreams signifies effort must be put forth to complete the current cycle or path" and "The number 99 is also influenced by the vibrational energy of 9 (9 + 9 = 18, 1 + 8 = 9) making it an urgent message from the nonphysical urging you to complete the tasks at hand." Whereas, in real estate, the number $99,000, $199,000, $299,000, or even $399,000 sounds like a deal compared to the next incremental choice. We are really just trying to get someone's attention. In other words, we are urging you to buy this house!
So what can you buy at these price points. Well, I didn't find much at $99,000 as you might expect, but take a look at these great listings and see if you have the urge to complete the task at hand.
My $199,000 choice is at 461 Elm Street in Laconia. This home was built in 1890 and has 1,934 square feet of living space, three bedrooms including the master suite, two and a half baths, a remodeled kitchen, mud room, formal dining room, living room, sun room, and a large screened porch. It also features natural woodwork with a mixture of hardwood, softwood, and carpeted floors. It also has a newer roof and fresh interior paint. Is this light and sunny home urging you to come take a look?
At $299,000 there is a very nice reproduction cape at 46 Willowgrass Lane in Gilmanton. This charming 1,880 square foot residence has a wonderful open floor plan. The living room features a fireplace, lots of built-ins, and hardwood floors. The eat-in country kitchen has tasteful white cabinetry, a center island, stainless appliances, and a French door that leads out to an expansive back deck that's perfect for entertaining and taking in the amazing mountain views. There's also a den with cathedral ceilings that makes a great place to watch a ball game or read a book. This home has a first floor master suite and two bedrooms and a full bath upstairs. This house sits on a 2.48 acre lot but has 253 acres of conservation land beside it so you won't feel crowded.
At $399,000 you could own a classic circa 1790 center chimney colonial and attached cape on 27 acres of grounds with perennial gardens, brooks, and even your own private pond. If you like classic older homes with character and charm, you will love the home at 16 Lily Pond Road in Alton. The main home has the typical four fireplaces associated with the center chimney style, wide pine floors, plaster walls, gunstock corners, and a captain's staircase. The cape addition houses a fully modern kitchen built tastefully to blend to the period and there's also a great room with cathedral ceilings, exposed beams, and wood stove. This 2,600 square foot home has four bedrooms, two full baths, and a sleeping loft accessed by a ladder. That could be fun for the little ones. Outside you'll find a two car garage and workshop for all the blacksmithing work.
Stepping up to $499,000, you can have a 4,680 square foot colonial built in 2006 on a two acre hillside lot with panoramic mountain views that will keep you mesmerized. Located at 56 Carter Mountain Road in New Hampton, this home should be a must see for anyone looking for peace, tranquility, and privacy. You'll find a large, 27' x 19' living room with cathedral ceilings and fireplace, country kitchen with hardwood floors, a first floor master suite and three bedrooms up, five baths, a theater room, formal dining room, exercise area, and a great front porch to take in the views. The views might be even better from the in ground heated pool, especially with a cool drink in your hand. An attached heated two car garage makes a great space to store your sleds. The extensive exterior stonework and old stone walls add to the mountaintop elegance of this home. If I could put my two cents worth in, this house is easily worth $499,000.02. That might really get someone's attention...
There were 990 homes for sale as of May 1, 2015 in the twelve towns covered in this Lakes Region Real Estate Market Report. The average asking price comes in at $622,856 and the median price point stood at $272,400. This inventory level represents an 11.8 month supply of homes on the market in these towns.
Pease feel free to visitwww.lakesregionhome.comto learn more about the Lakes Region real estate market and comment on this article and others.
Data compiled using the NNEREN MLS system as of 5/1/15.
Roy Sanborn is a sales associate at Four Seasons Sotheby's International Realty and can be reached at603-677-7012
Last Updated on Friday, 08 May 2015 07:14