Byron Dorgan is the biggest threat to our economy

July 27, 2006

Byron Dorgan represents the largest threat to our economy. Not terrorists, not multi-national companies, not even outsourcing, but economic protectionists like Dorgan. He has a new book out and had an interview on the Michael Medved show in just a half-hour he demonstrated that there is no subject of economics he isn’t 300 years out of date on. Also he demonstrated a shocking amount of arrogance and short-sighted thinking. I felt that the best way to demonstrate this stupidity would be to examine his website.

The website’s home page is a ‘clever’ parody on oil prices with a meter showing how much profits the oil companies have made during your visit. He continues with his windfall tax proposal. His tax is one half of all the cost of a barrel over $40. His tax excludes profits put back into oil exploration and refinery development or research into renewable resources. It isn’t clear to me if he wants 10 Enrons a year or if he is too stupid to see that the obvious course of action is to overpay your subsidiaries for these exploration and research jobs. Also he thinks that they will stay in America because they love it so much they’ll pay tens of billions to stay here.

The rest is divided into 3 major issue categories: Building North Dakota, Improving the Quality of Life for our Families, and Strengthening our Economy.

His major program in, Helping North Dakota, is 3.9 billion dollars of pork spending to help farmers hit by a drought. The idea that the government should protect against bad weather is one only a farmer could support.

As I go through these proposals one by one I am continually surprised by each one’s increasing stupidity. The New Homestead Act is a bill for the government to give money to people who are willing to move to places so lousy that nobody wants to live there anymore. Why our country is threatened by a lack of North Dakotans is beyond me.

After a standard wind energy pork proposal. He comes up with a plan to put price controls on pesticides. Of course, he frames it as levelling the playing field with Canada. This is a farm version of the prescription drugs from Canada idea. The thing is that pesticides aren’t life savers so the only possible (not to say good) rationale is removed. Of course, he is also in favor of that plan.

In his section on strengthening our economy he starts with a plan to make trade relations with China renewable every year by the Senate. This will probably be an opportunity for some of his stupider ideas. He favors a seal on the trade deficit to be enforced by ever increasing tariffs. The costs of this plan are largely ignored by him as well as the incursion of freedom it imposes. Also he favors demanding that China should adopt all of our labor laws (including presumably our minimum wage laws) ignoring the Chinese deaths his plan would cause which would probably be numbered in the millions. Also when asked about how it would affect the quality of life if trade from China was curtailed, he made a surprisingly arrogant statement, “Does it really matter if people can buy multiple pairs of underwear for a low price.” How very plebeian of you Mr. Dorgan, I’m sure you earn enough to buy off your conscience by buying overpriced American goods.

Senator Dorgan show that his ignorance doesn’t stop at economics. He talks about the monopoly power the railroads have over farmers. His world is one of Rockfellers and Carnegies and Potters controlling the poor George Bailey until he contemplates suicide. Mr. Dorgan, around 80 years ago the truck was invented. His proposal to make prices fair is to have a government commission. Yes, that proposal was tried until the 80s and the elimination of the commission just happened to coincide with the end of their monopoly.

I support expanded foreign trade, but only if it is fair and mutually beneficial trade. This sentence alone demonstrates how incredibly misunderstanding of the economy he is. Why any two people would make a trade which each didn’t believe benefited him is beyond me. Also he deals with tariffs as if our tariffs benefit us but theirs hurt us. He’s half right. Our tariffs hurt us severely as our farm subsidies demonstrate. Also the fake humanitarianism of these anti-sweatshop crusaders sickens me. Their morality is so skewed that they would rather let the poor in Africa starve instead of letting them do labor which requires little skill and pays well by their standards.

His next program is to increase hydrogen fuel-cell research. My criticism of this isn’t directed at Dorgan specifically. Even if you agree, which I don’t, that the government should fund research hydrogen fuel-cells are a worthless technology without good nuclear fission or fusion technology. To provide the electricity needed by burning coal would cost around as much as oil eventually and would release more pollution. So hydrogen is viable but only with cheap energy.

He also has the traditional, ending waste is government section. Some of the proposals are good but consider his attack on the Pentagon terrorism betting website. This was an 8 million dollar a year program which could have been better at coordinating intelligence than the intelligence overlord. It had a low chance of success but at 8 million dollars it was relatively inexpensive. This plan could have provided a great way of evaluating threat levels and could have been a valuable tool. Of course Dorgan voted 453 million for the ‘bridge to nowhere’ so he loses a bit of credibility.

Does anybody else think the country would be better off if economics were taughtin schools instead of foreign languages.