To the editor:
Our congressional leaders are outraged! Boeing and Wichita have lost a juicy defense contract. My sources tell me that Boeing gave it away, and Northrop worked the proposal. Perhaps the real issue is why a European consortium is bidding on U.S. defense contracts!
What is the buzzword? Free trade? As I recall, this was a bipartisan solution to our aspiration to work with the international environment. Thousands of good high-paying blue-collar jobs have been sent overseas and the jobholders essentially forgotten. Now it is our turn. Now we complain! Are we serious?
If we are, it is time to rethink the notion of free trade. As a large, diverse and powerful country, are there not some things that for our own survival should be designed and built here? Should our skilled workers be forced into continual competition with workers in the Third World?
I would be much more receptive to this outcry if our congressional leadership advocated for an industrial policy that protects our country by ensuring we can acquire domestically all that we need for our survival. I do not mean that we walk away from free trade, but I do mean that we manage it to our interests (as our international competitors do).
We are doing a very poor job of understanding history. Perhaps we should reflect on the late 1930s, when "Lend Lease" bought us the lead time to be successful in World War II. How does that old quote go? "Those who fail to learn from history are bound to repeat it"? Shall we?