Listening to Lincoln

After listening to both President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech and the Republican response, it is obvious both major political parties are courting the middle class.

More than courting, all sides want to see the middle class grow. There is only one problem – one major obstacle – that keeps the United States from re-creating the boom years after World War II: The United States is no longer a manufacturing nation. That limits the growth of the middle class to service jobs.

Very simply, we have outsourced our manufacturing jobs to countries where labor is cheap. We have done so under the guise of “free trade.”

It is impossible for America to compete with nations where people will work for a dollar or two per day.

So, what is the answer? Since this appears to be the year of Abraham Lincoln, studying his views of the economy are instructive. According to historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, Lincoln would introduce his ideas thusly:

“My politics are short and sweet, like the old woman’s dance. I am in favor of a national bank . . . in favor of the internal improvements system and a high protective tariff.”

In other words, he favored a central bank, spending on capital improvements – and huge tariffs to protect American jobs!

It is hard to imagine manufacturing jobs returning to American shores without the protection of tariffs. Revisiting our “free-trade” policy will cause an uproar, but isn’t “fair trade” a more reasonable goal?

Shouldn’t we at least consider the ideas of our greatest president?

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.