February 20, 2004

Protectionism in America

So this is depressing. The only thing that John Edwards can think of to differentiate himself from John Kerry (hell, they even have the same first name) is that he is more protectionist. Kerry, deciding that the best way to beat your opponent is to join him, has moved more or less entirely into the Edwards camp on trade issues now, going on the record as saying "We have the same policy on trade." And what policy would that be?

Mr. Edwards also voted against smaller trade deals for African and Caribbean nations, while Mr. Kerry supported them. Even though these agreements opened up the American market to some of the poorest nations, Mr. Edwards said they would have hurt the textile mills and workers in his home state, North Carolina.

Better millions of Africans starve than a single textile worker lose his job in North Carolina, it would seem. Meanwhile, South Dakota is recruiting for UK dairy farmers: according to the BBC, "the US state says it needs an extra 65,000 cows to meet the milk demands of its expanding dairy industry."

Did it maybe occur to the state of South Dakota that the reason its dairy industry is expanding is that the US subsidises every cow in the country to the tune of $151.63 per year? (In contrast, the US gives $2.04 in foreign aid per sub-Saharan African per year.)

And I thought the Bush Administration was bad on trade. At this rate, if Bush loses, things will get even worse.

Posted by Felix at 05:29 AM GMT

Of course you're right, Felix. But how much of this is rhetoric, and how much is likely policy change? The Bush administration has been so poor on this issue that the differences between the two parties is not very great. And the failure of Richard Gephardt's presidential bid shows there is not always support for blatent protectionism. In fact once in office, a president would have to balance the realities of trade and the benefits it brings to businesses and consumers. It is likely that America's commitment to free trade is going to suffer, but that's the case already, not a future possibility. The weightier issues this election is supposed to be about will, one hopes, deflect this race to the bottom on trade once we get beyond the primaries.

Posted by: Jame on February 20, 2004 10:36 AM

I wonder. It does not seem likely that Bush is going to go under for Iraq, but it does seem possible he will go under for everything else, and the economy is the largest part of this. And trade is a large part of that.

If the perception holds that foreign trade benefits the rich (companies, stockholders, city dwellers) and not the working class, then I can see both democratic candidates trying to make this Bush's achilles heel (CEOs exporting jobs under his watch).

Posted by: Stefan Geens on February 20, 2004 11:08 AM

You're all very good at making this a simple, cut and dried issue. But it's not. Yes, sure, free trade in theory is a great idea. In practice it's a goddam mess. And an elected official in congress or a parliament is surely nothing other than negligent if he or she doesn't vote in the best interests of the voters in his or her jurisdiction that put him or her there in the first place. That is why elected politicians are often described as representatives, after all. Assuming he's not in hock to the textile lobby, then Edwards' stand, given his role in the political process, was hardly wrong.
Jame's got the right end of the stick here: a president ought to be in the position to take a broader view than a district or a state. Unless, of course, electoral politics take hold, as they in part did with Bush's steel tariffs.

Posted by: murray on February 20, 2004 03:11 PM

Murray, these are presidential candidates. John Edwards is not stupid: he knows that many more Americans are consumers than mill-workers. But he's chosen his rhetoric carefully, which means that if he -- or, now, Kerry -- becomes president, then there can't be any accusations of hypocrisy if and when he adopts a Bush-like trade policy. Clearly, the Democratic party has abandoned Clinton's positions on this, and I'm disappointed: after eight years of Clinton and three of Bush, I honestly believed that the Democrats were the party of free trade. Evidently, I was wrong.

Posted by: Felix on February 20, 2004 04:17 PM

Felix-- I'm in favor of giving all of those starving Africans in the Caribbean access to US markets. But I'm not sure if I were a US President, acting in the best (economic and therefore utilitarian) interest of the US, I would be.

Imagine that becoming unemployed with little chance of a new job makes you very, very unhappy. Imagine the equivalent of earning a couple of extra cents a year makes no difference to your happiness at all. Then steel tariffs are a good idea for the US.

Or imagine we have to fork over lots of social security to the unemployed steel worker.

Or imagine the time wasted on futile discussions of trade theory outweigh any potential possible benefit of actual free trade...

Eurofista arguments that free trade is a rights and freedoms issue are far more persuasive than the economic ones.

Posted by: charles on February 20, 2004 05:42 PM

There is no doubt in my mind that free trade is in the best economic interests of the US. For one thing, there is no evidence at all that it increases unemployment -- quite the reverse, actually, if you look at what happened to the payroll numbers after Nafta went through. I don't know for sure that any free trade agreement will, net-net, increase the number of jobs in America, but I certainly believe that to be the case.

The problem is, of course, that voters are much more concerned about the jobs they have and might lose than they are about the jobs that don't yet exist and probably never will if the US keeps on this protectionist path.

You're simply wrong about steel tariffs: for every job that they subsidise in the US steel industry, they destroy two or three times as many jobs in, say, the US car industry, as well as directly hurting all US consumers. It's called the law of unintended consequences: actions taken to preserve anachronistic jobs generally work only very temporarily, and at enormous opportunity cost in terms of non-anachronistic job creation.

Posted by: Felix on February 20, 2004 06:09 PM

Felix old chap, I am unsurprisingly aware that these boys are presidential candidates.

And guess what! As such they will stomp around saying whatever they can in the hope of more votes. Which won't stop them at all from doing the exact opposite once in office, as Bush did on tariffs, and several other things as well. As so many of them do. Hypocrisy is a politician's daily bread.

My point was simply that Edwards, as a senator, voted in the interests of his voters and potential voters. Which is his job. Now, if he takes the exact same attitude with him, should he get there, to the Oval office, then yes, there are indeed unintended consequences. But as a senator these are less his concern.

Posted by: murray on February 20, 2004 07:38 PM


(1) presumably you think that removing US steel tariffs might cost jobs in the US steel industry.

(2) if more trade increased overall employment levels, why has nearly every country in Europe and North America seen growing unemployment since the 60s while trade barriers have been crashing and overall trade levels have shot up? (I would say *every* country, but then someone
would point out that Andorra saw falling unemployment or some such).

If you accept (1), and you have to accept the problem presented by (2), there are strong grounds for believing that steel tariffs may protect jobs.

The law of unintended consequences tends to apply to the idiot application to real life issues of theoretical arguments with almost no grounding in the real world.

Posted by: Charles on February 20, 2004 07:39 PM

Charles, Eurof-IST arguments taken as a given, the utilitarian argument in favour of protection that you refer to falls down cos the utility gained from e.g. steel tariffs by the unproductive steelworker is less than the utility lost by the trading country as a whole. Also, while, as you point out, the pain is mostly spread about and thus diluted and less publicised, there are also points in the economy and society where that pain is felt more keenly, for instance the many businesses producing life size statues made entirely from stainless steel will be penalised, as will Zimmer frame makers, the people who make steel filings for magnets to pick up in schoolroom experiments, and of course, the coathangers for fat people industry (where aluminium just won't do). On the consumer side, steel fetishists will also suffer disproportionately, as will impersonators of "Jaws" from the Bond movies, who have yet to buy their own steel teeth. A black market in cold rolled steel may develop, leading to an upsurge in murderous gangsterism and organised crime and eventually the DESTRUCTION OF SOCIETY ITSELF.

The thing is, the administration makes a calculation that these points in the economy are not electorally sensitive, or otherwise have less political clout. It's nothing to do with an application of utilitarianism as we know it, but an "agency" phenomenon that creates widespread Pareto sub-optimality, yes indeed lets just repeat that in case you missed it, Pareto sub-optimality.

However, I have just wasted loads of time debating this, which validates everything you were saying in the first place.

Posted by: eurof on February 20, 2004 07:52 PM

i'm sorry, i started that comment before i read charles', felix's and murray's comments, none of which are interesting or relevant at all, and am happy to say the time spent re-arguing all the above all over again proves charles right a thousand-fold.

Posted by: eurof on February 20, 2004 08:24 PM

Hard to argue with that. But why would that stop me. I'm really quite happy to suggest that the sum of the disutitliy to steelworkers is greater than the sum of utility gains to zimmer frame makers etc etc (even though there are many more zimmer frame makers, etc etc than there are steel workers). Being out of a job really sucks. Being able to make a zimmer frame for half a cent less is just lost in the noise.

If you believe that there is a declining marginal utility to income (a dollar is worth less to Bill Gates than it is to you) and that for whatever reason there isn't redistribution after trade agreements, its easy to see how Bill Gates might do well out of free trade, and it doesn't seem to make him smile more, while steel workers get socked by it and they all start crying.

But what I really think is that the whole free trade argument is pretty much a side show --what causes change in the economy is much more about technology than trade. If people don't like being thrown out of steel-worker jobs they should go mug a scientist.

Posted by: Charles on February 20, 2004 09:16 PM

OK, I actually went and looked this up. The US International Trade Commission did a big survey on the impact of steel tariffs on steel-consuming industries, and found:

The public data on employment indicate declines in most industries between 2000/01 and 2001/02, and between 2001/02 and 2002/03. The sectors with the largest declines included metal working machinery and electrical equipment, both with over 21 percent reductions in employment over the 3-year period. For the 3-year period, only one sector, construction, did not show employment declining by 10 percent or more; employment in the construction sector fell by about 6 percent.
According to this PBS story, industry officials "claim that the number of jobs lost from factories that use steel, because of the higher prices, is greater than the number of jobs that have been saved in steel production." Of course, it's up to you which lobbyists you're going to believe. But it's far from obvious that US steel tariffs actually help US employment.

Posted by: Felix on February 20, 2004 10:29 PM

Oh, Eurof-IST. Thank God Eurof helped out with the typographical emphasis. I thought Charles was talking about Eurofist. And I worried that I was mising out on something, having never heard of one of those, whatever it was I thought they were. At the time, I had visions of painful new European sex acts.

Posted by: Matthew on February 20, 2004 10:41 PM

charles, i may be in full agreement with you except (always a problem when arguing with you) i have no idea what you're actually saying. i think i understand the point about bill gates (though fail to see the relevance) but otherwise i will impute an argument that i disagree with and say you are wrong

the disutility (or disutitliy) of the steelworker in para 1 of your comment #11: what's that all about? is that disutility caused by the imposition of free trade? in which case you cart is well afore yer horse, deep-down-scargillite pond life that you are. free trade reflects the immaculateness of the garden of eden, the pure state from whence we came. is what you really mean to say is imposing tariffs on competing steel gives the thick, lazy, overpaid but politically powerful american steelworker so much utility in that it allows him to live off my back to keep his sinecure of producing something no-one wants for much more than it's worth much longer than he should, that it's better for the country than letting the market clear? what illiberal, outdated claptrap. trying to cloak youself in the aura of the objective --yet amusingly urbane and iconoclastic -- economist might have worked up until that point, but you're not fooling me any more, you nasty trot.

the real insidiousness and the real disutility of these steel tariffs, as i suppose you mentioned that you might grudgingly agree, is that you create a precedent which damages the rule of law in your open society, indeed, the very moral fibre of your political economy, goddamit, man. if steelworkers, why not every other threatened economic sector too, and suddenly your market doesn't clear and you get into an awful mess.

Posted by: eurof on February 21, 2004 01:08 AM

Felix, Charles - trade does not have a significant impact on overall employment levels, at least not in a big market like the US. Rather, trade determines the nature of that employment.

Steel tariffs will certainly help keep the number of jobs in that industry up, though at a cost to job creation in other industries. Charles argues that a company shaving some cents off doesn't compare to the misery of the laid-off steelworker. But add these losses up across the economy, and they become substantial, and yes they do add up to jobs that could have, but do not, exist.

Similarly, relatively open trade creates huge numbers of jobs in, say, retailing, or banking, or technology. In fairness to Charles, trade policy is, well, a political choice. Societies can make a choice about what kind of jobs they want to promote.

France, for example, promotes agricultural and film subsidies not just to keep employment up in politically aware sectors, but also to preserve the countryside and protect the national culture. I would argue that this could be done more efficiently in other ways, but it is a real choice.

Representatives are easily roused when a large constituency is negatively affected, and have few incentives to consider the other side of the coin.

But in the big picture, suppressing competition for the sake of a small group's current employment structure is a bad idea, one that weakens society overall. If the government wants to protect workers' livelihoods, a less bad solution would be to simply pay them living subsidies, rather than support uncompetitive businesses. But even though this makes far more sense, and allows all the other good things about trade to carry on, it smacks of the dole or of handouts, and is resented by recipients and taxpayers alike. The politician who figures out how to package this and sell it will do the whole world a favor.

Posted by: Jame on February 21, 2004 08:08 AM

Jame, Eurof, Felix:

In technical terms, free trade is only pareto efficient if there is equality of income. There isn't, of course. And because it is plausible to imagine a declining marginal utility of income (a dollar to a poor man is 'worth' more to him in increased utility than is a dollar to a rich man), it is easy to imagine a number of circumstances where more trade, while benefiting the rich in terms of absolute dollar gain more than it costs the poor in absolute dollar loss, is utility reducing.

Theory aside (please, theory aside), let's look at the evidence. Growth rates and employment levels were higher in the 1960s when trade was relatively closed than they are now. Numerous cross-country attempts to show that trade leads to economic growth have shown that it doesn't, particularly. If trade was key to jobs, given the massive increase in world trade levels over time, we'd all have three jobs by now.

Trade is largely irrelevant compared to technology change, but in some cases may have a marginal impact one way or the other on employment and economic performance. Given that, saying 'anyone who is not always for free trade is evil' is silly -at least on economic grounds.

Which leaves the Eurofist argument on moral-political grounds (free trade is part of freedom to do stuff in general, which is (in general) good). That is a far more compelling argument than one based on an economic theory with no application in the real world.

Posted by: charles on February 23, 2004 05:48 PM

Charles -- you say it's "easy to imagine a number of circumstances where more trade, while benefiting the rich in terms of absolute dollar gain more than it costs the poor in absolute dollar loss, is utility reducing." Care to give a hypothetical example?

It seems to me that when a high-paid steelworker in the US loses his job to a low-paid steelworker in Brazil, the low-paid steelworker in Brazil, by your calculus, gains a huge amount of utility. Meanwhile, of course, US consumers all gain utility because of the low price of steel. The only person losing utilit is the US steelworker, who could be more productively used elsewhere in the economy. Or did you have a different example in mind?

Posted by: Felix on February 23, 2004 06:50 PM

Felix-- I'm talking purely about the US. You will remember I was arguing that "I'm not sure if... a US President, acting in the best (economic and therefore utilitarian) interest of the US" would want to remove tariffs on steel.

Imagine rich Americans are the larger beneficiaries of lower steel prices (because their stocks in auto companies become more valuable, as it might be), and that the steelworker who becomes unemployed doesn't immediately get an equally-well paying job somewhere else --both plausible.

In that case, even if the wealth of the rich Americans goes up more than the discounted future earnings of the steel workers go down, because of the declining marginal utility of income, the ultility of the country as a whole would go down.

If I was arguing more broadly about global welfare (rather than just US welfare), I would be a little more likely to support free (US) trade on purely economic grounds, while noting that I doubt it would make much difference anyway. The UK's imperial preference didn't seem to do much for the growth prospects of India and Africa during the Empire and, again, the more recent cross-country evidence suggests there's not much of a trade to growth link.

Posted by: Charles on February 23, 2004 09:25 PM

first you attack me by saying if free trade worked we'd all have three times more jobs now. But my argument was that trade has little impact on overall employment and a big impact on the nature or structure of that employment.

I also disagree with your argument that total utility is reduced in free trade because the relative loss to the steelworker is greater than the relative gain of the wealthy consumer. Because EVERYONE is a consumer, including the poor, the average, the rich, and the laid-off. If only rich people were consuming, you might have an argument, but in the US, at least, everyone is blissfully materialist and consuming like mad.

So there. I give you my Bronx salute, brother.


Posted by: Jame on February 25, 2004 05:00 AM

Jame-- the superiority of a WalMart job over a steel job is not clear to me, so I'm not sure what difference it makes to the broader argument (will summed utility go up or down) that the nature of the jobs in the economy would change.

And I think you can agree that the steel worker will be consuming less if he doesn't have a job. If consumption makes you happy, less of it presumably makes you a little sadder. (Of course I don't buy that more consumption in the US makes people happier, but one argument at a time...).

Posted by: Charles on February 25, 2004 01:34 PM

For some workers, losing a unionized job is going to suck. But not for others. Besides, I once visited a steel mill. I definitely would not want to work there. It's horrible. The union is nice but who wants to operate a friggin' lathe?

Unemployment in the US is quite low, and always has been. The laid-off steel worker will find a new job. So your consumerist argument is not very compelling.

If we lived in France or Germany, where the government protects incumbent workers and screws the rest, then you might have an argument. But I thank my lucky stars that I don't.

As for whether consumption leads to increased happiness or just a lot of stress...it depends. But I'd rather have the opportunity to spend like a fiend and maybe exercise wisdom, than not have the chance to be an idiot in the first place.

And US consumption certainly has kept the global economy from derailing, so I wouldn't get so snide about our gross materialist suburban cultureless nativist obese rich neighbors. They're doing more than the World Bank for employment in developing countries.

Posted by: jame on February 26, 2004 03:10 AM

Jame --I think you maight find that unemployment in some (former) steel towns is high and persistent. Easier to say 'oh he'll find a new job' than it is to actually find him one. The US official unemployment rate (not all that low) misses people working part time who want to wark full time, people who have given up looking, and people who have got such miserable jobs that they are working poor. Add them all together and the picture doesn't look as glass-half-full.

But thank you for the tip about helping the developing world. As a Mother-Theresa wannabe, I should have realized long ago that gross materialist suburban cultureless nativist obese richness was what would help the poor into the Kingdom of Heaven. Where do I sign up?

Posted by: Charles on February 26, 2004 01:39 PM

A formal request to Senator Kerry to direct his delegates to General Clark. Seriously.
The following letter will be a full page ad in the NY Times (assuming that the money is donated for it). This letter has
NOT been endorsed by General Wesley Clark or his supporters; in fact, MOST supporters decry its circulation in the
most strenuous ways imaginable because they believe the Republicans/media will twist it to undermine the future political
viability of Clark. (A few folks really liked it and didn�t understand why all the fuss.) Be that is it may�.

�Let no man imagine that he has no influence. Whoever he may be, and wherever he may be placed, the man who thinks
becomes a light and a power.� �Henry George

Dear Senator Kerry, We Respectfully Request Your Input:

We, the undersigned, are dissatisfied with how money, politics and media caused undue influence in determining the
Democratic nominee. And, as you know if you saw Wes Clark on Charlie Rose the night before he endorsed you, Wes
has, in effect, mirrored the sentiments that the process did not unfold purely democratically. To that end, we cordially
request you to indulge us in debating the merits of why your nomination better suits the nation than General Clark's;
because the process of finding the best man for the job should not come down to a game of who is better at running a
campaign, raising money and circumventing the media bias.

It is our contention that Wes Clark is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the man most capable of recapturing for the Nation
the ideals that the Democratic Party was founded upon. We don't necessarily doubt that you would make us proud to
have you as our Commander in Chief, but we believe wholeheartedly that Wes will be more capable in fulfilling those
duties, as well as being much, much more likely to fetch the potential Bush defector voters.

Though you must already be fully aware of just what a national treasure General Clark is, suppose that a genie offered
to create the ideal presidential candidate from your imagination. The fact is that your imagination would fall short�.
because who would think to throw in that the man spent a month in a junkyard rebuilding a car because, despite being
a commander in the army at age 41, he simply did not have the money to do otherwise when he needed two cars for his
family and military duties. Talk about �a man�s man�!

In the spirit of the unity which we all share in recognizing that Nothing Is More Imperative Than Removing President
Magoo, and recognizing that this means that every vote counts more than ever, and that, moreover, the swing voters are
going to decide this election, we implore you to consider directing your delegates to Wesley K. Clark. Aside from our belief
that he will both be better for the Nation and more likely to beat the incumbent Embarrassing Insult (bless his heart ;) we
also feel that if you publicly retract your vie for the White House--on account of recognizing that some of your words and
votes could be considered unbecoming of a political leader--you would be doing your duty of illustrating to the electorate
that Democrats do, indeed, expect to be held accountable for how we act on the people's behalf. In light of the current
administration's complete lack of living up to any such standard (i.e., Bush�s quips of �What�s the difference?� and �I don�t
want to get into a word contest.�) we could really go for some actual examples of what that means. (We could also really
go for an example of basing decisions on facts rather than wishful thinking.)

Senator Kerry, the reservations which we list below are not meant with disrespect towards you. We believe that your intent
to serve your constituency has been sincere, and that, overall, you share our vision of how much potential America has if
guided by the right leadership. However, it serves the best interest of the nation if voters are aware of certain occasions
when you did not use the proper discretion when acting on behalf of the American public; or are, at least, strongly perceived
to have either used poor discretion or were inconsistent. Conversely, the democratic voters should have a fuller appreciation
of what makes Wesley Clark so deserving of the responsibility, the trust, and the authority that comes with being the
Commander In Chief. If the following does not deter you from claiming the mantle of the presidency, please, out of respect for
the first amendment and the democratic process, engage us in debate on why it is that, despite the very legitimate concerns
laid out here, you still think you�re best suited to defeat Flyboy, as well as being better able than Clark to foster the spirit of
unity so desperately needed right now. Because surely you must concede that the simple and obvious strategy for the
Democrats to win the election is for us to put our best face forward.

1. Your voting record on national security. As you must already be aware, the right wing media, including Libertarian Neil
Boortz, are having a field day with it. Even if we give you the benefit of the doubt that you could justify every one of those
votes, that will not change the fact that those potential Bush defectors are going to perceive you as weak and wishy-washy
on national security, as well as simply being an opportunist. There is also much contention on your post-Vietnam protests.
(To those Clark detractors such as Mr. Boortz who purport that �weasel Clark� is against the Iraq war, we suggest you
read the actual testimony General Clark gave before Congress in September of 2002 so you can see for yourself that he is
against the timing and pacing of the war, not the actual intent of neutralizing the threat of Saddam Hussein; http://armedservices.house.gov/openingstatementsandpressreleases/107thco )

2. You said on St. Patrick's Day: "I may not be Irish, but at least I'm not French." In hindsight you must concede that such
comments alienate our allies (not to mention foster the atmosphere to do so). You must further concede that it doesn't
serve our best interest to alienate our allies since the more allied forces we have in Iraq, the less of our troops will be in
harm�s way. ( Even Joe Biden used the example of �Freedom Fries� on Air Force One as an example of Mr. Bush�s backward
diplomacy tactics.)

3. You neglected to show up for the vote on the omnibus bill (which we lost by 8 votes) because you were campaigning.
That is to say, you were seeking to gain the people's trust that you would act on our behalf, yet failed to do so because
you were trying to convince us that that's what you are committed to. (Meanwhile, Clark took off time from campaigning
to testify against Milosivich.)

4. You have the greatest amount of questionable ties to corporate interests. So great, in fact, that most people privy to an
advanced copy of this letter all agree with the sentiment that �Kerry will never acquiesce to this plea no matter how clear
cut the argument is because he is just too beholden to mega-corporate money, so they wouldn�t allow him to.�

5. You undoubtedly have a firm grasp of foreign policy and national security matters, but no one can dispute that Wes
Clark commands that arena like no one else. Moreover, he brings to the table the Invaluable asset of already-established
personal relationships with essentially all of our �ex-� allies. (And Clark�s command of economic issues is also on par with
the best of them.) Did you know that fifty-five ambassadors endorsed him!?

6. Wesley Clark's financial, regional, and spiritual background will garner him much more empathy votes than your
background will.

7. We have encountered, either first hand or through second hand accounts, countless examples of potential swing
voters who are quite comfortable with abandoning Bush or a third party candidate for Clark, but are less likely to defect
for you. (And we�re stating this very, very mildly, sir.)

8. Due to the media bias and the average constituent�s lack of motivation to become informed most people either
never heard of Clark or just know that he was a general. Invariably, however, once these folks learn of General
Clark's distinguished record of accomplishments, his unmitigated dedication, his fundamental grasp of both domestic
and foreign affairs, and an utter absence of ulterior motive, then they are quite convinced that you couldn�t ask for more
in a President (nor have a better chance of beating Bush). Conversely, most primary voters were not quite aware of the
shortcomings that make you vulnerable to the machinations of the Republican campaign team. (And it must be noted
that in most primaries Republicans were allowed to vote; think about that.) A successful democratic process is
predicated on voters making informed choices.

9. You called your secret service protection agent�a man sworn to risk his life to protect yours--a �son of a bitch�
after he accidentally knocked you down while skiing; and this was after the fact, not in the heat of the moment when
it happened. It�s hard to find a way to politely rebuke such decorum, particularly in someone seeking to convey presidentiality.

10. The last one is bigger than all of the others combined: YOU WERE AMONG THOSE WHO VOTED TO GIVE AWAY
CONGRESS� AUTHORITY TO VETO WAR. Do we even need to elaborate on how that was the most foolish and
dangerous decision in the history of decisions? Someone said to me today that we couldn�t run the nation purely by letting
everything come down to referendums for each person to vote on instead of just letting the elected officials act on our behalf
because, after all, the people aren�t intelligent enough to understand what they�re voting for. Right! We�re mostly very blind
folk and we�re especially driven irrational by fear, particularly after events like September 11. So we rely on our elected
officials to be the voice of reason, not to be subservient to our fickle, exaggerated fears. If the Democrats really wanted to
set a good example, they would all resign over having given the so-called commander in chief carte blanche pass to wage
war. It�s not like he hadn�t already proven that he�s The World�s Biggest Schmuck.

We�re talking about people who applaud him even when he fugging does a running gag about the failure to find WMDs.
Republicans don�t care that he read to children after being told �we�re under attack� and they think it�s perfectly hunky
SEPTEMBER 4, 2001, let alone that he did not consult with either Sr. Bush or Powell on war with Iraq�BECAUSE HE
So if that doesn�t wake you up to the fact that we cannot take anything for granted with swing voters then you're in as much
denial as the other side of the aisle.

You becoming the Democratic nominee couldn't please the dastardly Karl Rove any greater. He�s jumping up and down,
salivating at the thought of taking you out at the knees. In fact, the media did their part to have things go in your and
Edwards' favor because they believed that Clark would be their greatest threat to Mr. Bush�s tenure. Wouldn't it be doubly
glorious to turn the tables on their own game? Conversely, it would be catastrophic enough if Mr. Bush was put back in
charge, but especially demoralizing if the Republicans could revel in how they successfully manipulated the public through
their control of the media. How smug we could all feel to make all the attack commercials they�ve paid for in the months
leading up to the Democratic convention completely moot.

�.Senator Kerry, sir, even if you believe in your heart that you are not any more likely to be defeated by President
Magoo than General Clark, and you also believe that, despite Wes� proven administrative and political prowess within
the military, you have more direct legislative experience to implement a Democratic agenda, please, please, please,
look beyond the mere necessity for us to reclaim the helm from our Republican adversaries. Sure, any Democrat will
serve us better pretty much by just doing the opposite of what Mr. Bush is told to do, but bear in mind that between the
highly contentious 2000 election, the horror of September 11, the debacle of Iraq, and the thorough ability of the Bush
administration to polarize us both within our borders and beyond, Our Nation is in deep need of healing and reconciliation.

Simply put, Wesley is the only man suited to give us the Comfort we so desperately need because he�s the one ultra-
qualified person whom the most people will be comfortable with. Not to mention that he�s an inspiring guy. (Seriously, did
you not see that killer Flash Gordon parody of Wes saving us from the evil Bush administration?)

If we are going to truly begin anew with a genuine Spirit of Dedication and Unity�-between Americans and Americans,
and between Americans and the rest of the world Community�-we need to bend over backwards to embrace, and to
reflect, that Spirit of Unity and Reconciliation so direly lacking right now. If you are elected President most of us will
breathe a much needed sigh of relief as we watch the Bush administration leave on the horse they rode in on. But your
election will still harbor much contention, among both diehard Republicans and the Anybody But Bush contingent. There
needs to be the most highly charged atmosphere of inclusion and teamwork possible�-and a palpable feeling that we
can still have faith in the democratic process. Imagine the tone such a magnanimous gesture would set.

Obviously this kind of request goes beyond tilting at windmills, as they say; and to believe that a person in your position
would pass up the opportunity to hold the highest office in the land verges on pure fantasy. But, in light of the contrast
between the ultimate nightmare administration (as well as the ultimate nightmare of 9/11), and the ultimate dream nominee
showing up at our door at the most opportune and critical time in history, it doesn�t seem so farfetched to believe that a man
in your position would be capable of making such an unprecedented sacrifice. To pass up having your own chapter in
American history books will certainly be a hard pill to swallow�but such a pill will certainly go down a lot easier knowing
that the opening chapter to President Clark�s legacy will be preceded by the statement: There but for the grace of John
Kerry went the finest leader America and the world has ever been so privileged to have serve on our behalf.

P.S. One of the primary signatories of this letter declared that �Wesley Clark is not going to lose this thing on my watch!
�.and if he does, then I�ll just have to have my Underdog tattoo surgically removed.� So, Senator Kerry, sir, it will be on
your head if a perfectly good Underdog tattoo gets destroyed.

P.P.S. As Thomas Paine said when he anonymously authored Common Sense: �Who the author of this production is, is
wholly unnecessary to the Public, as the Object for Attention is the Doctrine itself, not the Man. Yet it may not be
unnecessary to say, That he is unconnected with any Party, and under no sort of Influence public or private, but the
influence of reason and principle.�

P.P.P.S. The more protests I get on this letter the more emboldened I get to circulate it since everyone�s concerns simply
show that this idea has the potential to back Kerry into a corner and acquiesce in recognition that his electability is very
flimsy. So, until someone simply addresses the question as to why it would be a bad idea for Kerry to defer his delegates
to Clark this letter will continue to be circulated as far and wide as possible.

Posted by: Silence Dogooder on June 6, 2004 02:52 AM

I woudl like to know how the technitians calculate the protectionism rate. Could you help me?
Tks a lot
E. P. Luna

Posted by: E.P. Luna on January 20, 2005 06:31 PM