Is it no wonder why we are in the midst of a huge economic crisis? Of course, no one is really talking about it either. But read this:
“Free trade…invites the product of cheaper labor to this market to destroy the domestic product representing our high and better paid labor. It destroys our factories or reduces our labor to the level of his [foreign markets]. It increases foreign production but diminishes home production…Open competition between high paid American labor and poorly paid ____ labor will either drive out of existence American industry or lower American wages, either of which is unwise.”
Now, I placed the blank in the quote on purpose. Two reasons: 1) it might help identify the quote or at least date it, and 2) the absence of the identity is more startling when revealed.
Here’s why: this is a quote from William McKinley who was on his presidential campaign trail in 1892 boasting about his McKinley tariff which he passed in Congress in 1890. (Thanks to E. Christian Kopff’s exquisite book, The Devil Knows Latin – exhorting us all to the study of classics, which I obviously support as well.)
Does it still sound relevant today? And when you fill in the blank with the rest of McKinley’s quote – Europe – then it becomes even more relevant. Anyone who has traveled to Europe, or is simply trying to make ends meet here and listens to the business portion of their favorite 24 hour news channels, will echo how the Euro has surpassed the dollar in its buying power. And since the US economic policy since Woodrow Wilson (if I get this correct) has been to diminish the tariff placed on foreign products in favor of free trade, we can see why we are faced with the crisis of outsourcing today.
All it took to avoid this mess was simply to know our history. That the US was at its strongest economically when it protected its market with tariffs (a Republican idea, for those of you keeping score at home) on foreign goods. Could be a way to get us back on track again, too.