You have to maintain a sense of humor when you read the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal. Though I tip my hat to the quality of the writing, the writers come up just short of self-parody. Today, the wing-nuts have two hand-wringing editorials about trade.
The first deals with the tariffs slapped down on Chinese coated paper products. The editorial page is, to put it mildly, not happy with these awful "protectionist" measures. One interesting nugget in the editorial, though:
The White House also hopes that a show of "toughness" on trade will make it easier for Democrats to support an extension of trade promotion authority.
That may, in fact, have some truth to it. The real game is the effort to ram through the renewal of "fact track." Actually, you'd almost wonder if the Journal and The White House are planning this little propaganda push together. After all, why get so ripped over something that has a small economic impact, in relative terms? White House does something small, right-wing goes ballistic...presto, "fast track" gets renewed. It's not going to be that easy, let me tell you, even as the Journal ends its editorial with a comical slam of "Big Labor."
Rather than be appeased by these China tariffs, Congress, Big Labor and various business interests are far more likely to claim policy vindication and demand more. The Bush Administration is playing with matches, and we hope the economy doesn't get burned.
The "economy" is getting "burned" not because of "protectionism" but because people can't find jobs that pay them enough money.
Not content to end the heavy breathing with China, the editorial goes on to slam the Teamsters for working to block access to U.S. roads by Mexican long-haul truckers, who were going to get access to U.S. highways under a provision included in NAFTA. The Journal claims that "...Mexican long-haul truck record is as good as America's..." but it ain't so.
The fact is that Mexico has virtually no enforceable safety requirements for tractor-trailers and almost no inspection program, which is rife with corruption. Uh, and who will make sure the truckers are up to code? I gather U.S. inspectors at the border. Does that make you break out in laughter? The border is so porous and inspectors so over-worked simply trying to check U.S. trucks that it would be impossible to have a serious inspection program for Mexican trucks.
But, I wait for tomorrow because it will bring another round of amusing editorials to read.