Since 1994, we have run a trade deficit with Mexico every year. In 2006, it hit a record $60 billion. Grand total: almost $500 billion in trade deficits with Mexico since NAFTA. Mexico now exports more than 900,000 vehicles to the United States every year, while the United States exports fewer than 600,000 cars and trucks to the entire world.
This is success?
Where did Mexico get an auto industry? Is it good that our auto industry is being exported? Has the price of a new car plunged because Mexicans get paid a fraction of what U.S. autoworkers earn?
"In 2006, the U.S. economy grew by an additional 3.4 percent," writes Ikenson. True, and China's economy grew by 10 percent -- and by 140 percent over the last 10 years, tripling the growth in the United States. Not only are we shipping factories, technology, equipment and jobs to China, we are exporting our future to China. Nor should this shock any student of history. For contrary to free-trade mythology, every nation that has risen to pre-eminence and power -- Britain before 1860, the United States from 1860-1914, Germany from 1870-1914, postwar Japan, China today -- has pursued a mercantilist or protectionist trade policy. Economic nationalism is the policy of rising powers, free trade the policy of declining powers. For great powers have ever regarded trade as an arena of struggle in the clash of nations. It is no accident all four presidents who made it to Mount Rushmore were protectionists. "Thank God I am not a free trader," wrote Theodore Roosevelt. "Pernicious indulgence in the doctrine of free trade seems inevitably to produce fatty degeneration of the moral fibre." Think Teddy might have had a point, Mr. Ikenson? Probably not. For libertarianism is an ideology, and evidence that contradicts the dogma of an ideology is to be disregarded or denied. For the dogma cannot be wrong. Indeed, should Ikenson awake from his dogmatic slumber and decide that free trade is failing America, he would not last long as associate director of the Cato Institute's Center for Trade Policy Studies. The folks who fund Cato are not paying to have dogma debated, but defended. For if the dogma be untrue, then the ideology, the whole system of beliefs, the faith itself, is called into question. And we can't have that.