To understand what is happening to Chrysler, Ford and GM, one need only glance at the trade figures in the auto sector. The United States ran a trade deficit in trucks, autos and auto parts of $144.7 billion.
If America continues on this course, where we have run up $4 trillion in trade deficits in manufactured goods since Bill Clinton took office, the end is predictable.
An eventual collapse of the dollar, making us a poorer nation. The shuttering of every U.S. factory that makes traded goods. A constant hemorrhaging of manufacturing jobs, now down to 10 percent of our labor force. An end of America's pre-eminence as the world's foremost industrial and technological power. An end to the Second American Century, as the Asian Century begins.
Everything some have been warning about for decades -- huge trade deficits, a falling dollar, de-industrialization, a rising dependence on foreigners for the vital necessities of our national life, diminished freedom of action concomitant with that dependency -- has come to pass.
The world is witnessing the passing of the United States as the greatest industrial power and the most self-sufficient republic the world had ever seen. Yet, no one acts. Why?
Ideology is one reason. Free-trade fanatics are like those devout Christians who will not undergo surgery, even if their malady is killing them. Second, there are the obtuse who simply cannot see that our "trade partners" have found a way around the rules and are skinning us alive.
Third, to gain and hold high office, candidates of both parties depend on the contributions of a monied elite, whose salaries, bonuses, stock options and golden parachutes depend on a rising share price, which means constantly cutting costs by moving production out of United States and getting rid of high-wage American workers.
There are rewards for economic treason.
Look for the Democrats to find a way to give Bush -- despite the astonishing record of trade failures documented above -- fast-track authority to negotiate still more such trade deals. Who takes the king's shilling becomes the king's man.