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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

How about a trade cease fire?

Can I get an "amen" forRobert J. Samuelson's timely economic sermon?

Offshoring is a powerful political symbol, because it seems unpatriotic (helping foreigners at the expense of Americans) and heartless (putting profits over people). But economics is not politics. The success or failure of the next president in reducing unemployment will depend mostly on how much — or how little — his policies influence Americans to spend, hire and shed their present pessimism. This should be the focus of our attention and of the national debate.

We should first of all give him credit for using the more precise term "offshoring" instead of throwing around the less accurate "outsourcing" being used by almost everybody else. That term is more useful if we keep it to mean having a job once done inside a company contrated out to someone outside the company

And let's recap: President Obama says Mitt Romney providedjobs for them damn furriners when he was at Bain. Romney counters that Obama is sending jobs overseas by using tax dollars to buy green energy components like solar panels from other countries (are we ever more xenophobic than during a presidential contest?). So, 1) Both accusations are true, and 2) So what?

Obama is guilty of hypocrisy, since he's accusing Romney of doing something he himself does, and of wasting tax dollars on foolish green projects (never mind where he's wasting them). Romney is guilty of apostasy in berating Obama for something Republicans have always said they believed strongly in. How can Romney now make a coherent and believable free trade argument?

Like it or not, we live in a world economy, and our only option is to participate in it. The jobs will go where they can be most efficiently and profitably used. And the more we trade, the more jobs there will be for everybody everywhere:

The study suggests that freer trade boosts overall productivity, enabling companies to hire more workers. Trade enhances competition which weeds out inefficient firms and allows more productive ones to expand. As the average efficiency of firms in a country increases, they can earn more revenues by boosting production. And that leads to hiring additional workers.

So the both of them should please shut up about outsourcing. Demagoguery is tolerable only in short doses, and it's going to be a looooong four months till November.