According to the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis the United States is running a trade deficit of $34.2 billion. This is a decrease from the previous annual period; however, it is still enormously unhealthy for an economy attempting to recover from the blow of 2008.
A country’s trade surplus or deficit speaks mightily about where that country stands in its growth and development. Like a college kid with a credit card, we ran up our deficits at the bar, one of those $300 nights, and expected Mother and Father to foot the bill in the end. Only now, we realize Europe has problems of its own. Yes, we have started to offload some of our debt to Asia. This is why Japan maintains an interest in Montana mines and why our Navy controls their harbors from bases in Yokosuka and Okinawa. This is why China, our much younger sibling, is racing to the top to secure its stake in our debt. And this is why we are attempting to join trade associations like the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership (“TPP”) that has been the source of much criticism from Congress and the public in Washington D.C.
Understanding our goals for international trade are equally important as understanding our role and status. As Europe’s glory faded into ours, their economies relied upon specialty market goods that now find tremendous appeal in burgeoning regions like eastern and southeastern Asia. We, as a nation, have protected our resources well by relying upon others’ gases, textiles, metals and wood. But as our reliance has grown, so has our deficit, and so has our expectancy that a variety of choices will be laid at the Prince’s feet. Growth comes from acceptance to atonement to demand for greater responsibility.
Part of this acceptance results from raising public awareness about our proposed trade agreements like the TPP. Mega corporations have veiled the negotiations and are inhibiting our acceptance, growth and democracy. Their power over governmental processes is such that they can now bargain away our most important choice: the choice in how we will live and carry on. Yet the reason they are so large and have ultimately consumed our government itself is because we allowed our federal government run what our local government should have been dealing with. We centralized authority over the minute details of our lives.
Trade is, undoubtedly a federal issue that requires broad base, uniform dealings. However, when those dealings are skewed to the perspective of the highest orders, the interests protected tend to be those of the highest orders. Increasing exports by lowering tariffs through trade agreements, reducing imports through restricting the processing of our natural resources overseas, and ultimately working towards a trade surplus is one route to restore our “war” chest, that, next time around, will hopefully be used to advance our internal economic mechanisms and sustain our prosperity.
Such an effort requires the highest order of checks and balances. These checks and balances must span not merely between the three branches of our government, but between those three branches’ relationship to the fourth branch: the lobbies that have hijacked our government and are now controlling negotiations overseas. We must impose checks and balances between the public sector and the private sector in the form of simple, straightforward laws, that reveal where our politicians have been bought and paid for, in order, thus, to bring them down from their supposed role as stewards of our society.