by Glen Boudreaux
Jolie Vue Farms
El Presidente recently accused us of being addicted to cheap oil. Well, that may be true, except it ain't cheap anymore.
I didn't like it when he said it, and I don't like it now, because he is one of a large class of politicians that have ignored - and continue to ignore - our energy dependency for a long, long time. But my real question is, why did the president stop at oil. "Free trade" agreements have made us dependent on Cheap, period. He just didn't go far enough, because to do so would further indict his entire profession on policies that go well beyond oil. We exist on cheap food, cheap toys, cheap clothes, cheap bedsheets. Cheap is everywhere we look - otherwise, how could a WalMart come to dominate our shopping? (Not mine, by the way. I'm from a family of too many blue collar workers to be able to suppress my inbred sense of support for the American worker. WalMart, and its imitators, is an awful place where grandmothers greet you at the door because they can't subsist on their pension. The place reeks of cheap. I can't get poor enough to shop there. Sorry if that offends you.)
If you ask a free-trader crowd why "cheap" is good, you will be told that it actually raises the living standards of America's working class by making their necessities less expensive. That might have been true at the very first, when they were making a middle class wage. But now their middle class jobs have been exported to third world countries and their income has been cut in half or more, if they have a job at all. So they go to WalMart because they have no choice but to find the cheapest that they can find, which happens to include poisoned food and leaded toys. This is smart policy? Run that by me again...
I've always loved the Andy Rooney line, "Most of us are not trying to get rich, we're just trying to not get poor."
It's getting harder and harder, Andy.
Yours in the local harvest,