Friday, May 17, 2002

Jeffrey Simpson in the Globe and Mail highlighted a new bill before the Senate that would give the U.S. Senate back the ability to pick and choose what parts of a trade agreement it likes; something that it (quite rightly) lost with Fast Track. Since the Senate is just slightly more inclined towards pork barrelling than the presidency usually is, this would pretty much cripple the United States' ability to enact trade agreements with other countries, and kill any desire for other countries to do so.

Ok, let's be honest here. The U.S. has got a dollar that's going to fall any time soon, an expensive war to fight, it's pretty much written itself out of free trade agreements, and its international authority is at an all-time low thanks to this Israel/Palestine brouhaha that I doubt will end anytime soon. I have just one question: are we finally, actually seeing the start of this "decline of the American empire" that people have been predicting for the century, or is this just a blip on the radar?

(I just know somebody is going to read this someday and I'll get a bunch of emails that say something like "America-hater!" It's just a question.)

There's also a point about economics here (and by extension libertarian politics). The U.S. has slapped enough barriers on trade that it's looking mighty protectionist right now. Will other, open economies grow faster in comparison (as the free trade globalization types like to argue) or will it honestly make any difference at all? It tends to be a tenet of economic faith that free-trade in-and-of itself is good whether the other guy bothers or not. Looks like the US is going to be testing that. I can't wait to find out what happens.

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