Correcting Harold Meyerson

By April 15, 2008General

Harold Meyerson is to the Washington Post’s editorial page what Steve Pearlstein is to the Washington Post’s business page: A predictable class warrior, down on business and America for failing to live up to his expectations, or at least up to his desired tax rates. We usually skip Meyerson, but since he wrote about trade and U.S. manufacturing in his last column and cited Former Republican Strategist Kevin Phillips so approvingly — and Former Republican Strategist Kevin Phillips was on NPR this morning — it’s worth noting the refutation from Russell Roberts at Cafe Hayek.

[Meyerson] argues that because of foolish free trade policies such as NAFTA and other increases in trade:

…America has gone from being a nation that manufactured things to a nation that manufactures debt. Manufacturing (as Kevin Phillips points out in the forthcoming issue of the American Prospect, which I edit) accounted for 25 percent of America’s gross domestic product in the 1970s but just 12 percent in 2006. Finance, which amounted to 12 percent of GDP in the ’70s, amounted to 20 percent in 2006.

If you read that quickly, it does sound pretty scary. It looks like our manufacturing output has been cut in half! Actually, manufacturing output since 1970 has roughly tripled. TRIPLED. I feel like writing the word again but I’ll refrain. But “TRIPLED” is a good word to remember when you keep hearing that America’s manufacturing sector is being hollowed out and we don’t make anything anymore and soon we’re going to be sitting around doing each other’s laundry.

Much more of value, and since we’re all due to suffer from another pre-election media wave of interviews with Former Republican Strategist Kevin Phillips, it’s worth keeping the Cafe Hayek link handy.

(Hat tip: Pejman Yousefzadeh)

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