Mercantilism [emphasis added]: An economic doctrine that flourished in Europe from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries. Mercantilists held that a nation's wealth consisted primarily in the amount of gold and silver in its treasury. Accordingly, mercantilist governments imposed extensive restrictions on their economies to ensure a surplus of exports over imports. In the eighteenth century, mercantilism was challenged by the doctrine of laissez-faire.
When Barack Obama talks—and talks—about the future, does he really mean "back to the future"? You have to wonder after reading the column by one of his economic advisors in today's LA Times. In Renewing America's 'contract with the middle class
, Leo Hindery Jr. explicitly calls for a return to mercantilism, the discredited theory of economics popular during the 17th and 18th centuries. Hindery [emphasis added]:
It is imperative -- way past time, in fact -- for America to be as mercantilist as are our trading partners.
Under the guise of protecting American workers, Hindery even works in a call for destroying their right to a secret ballot in union elections [emphasis added]:
We need to modernize labor laws to give workers more of a voice. To help the 60 million workers who research says would join a union if they could, Congress must pass the proposed Employee Free Choice Act to let workers organize when a majority of them sign union cards.
You "give workers more of a voice" by letting the Johnny Sacs of the union world
stand over their shoulder when workers express that voice inside the ballot booth? That's double-speak that would make the commissars at Orwell's Ministry of Truth blush.
But back to Hindery's call for mercantilism, which largely translates to the advocacy of tariffs. Since tariffs—which of course increase the price Americans pay for foreign goods—are broadly unpopular, Hindery disguises his plan in more nebulous talk:
We must forcefully counter the illegal subsidies, the manipulated currency exchange rates and the unfair labor and environmental practices that some of them are employing to strike at our economy.
Translation: tariffs. Hindery even manages to throw in a central-planning wage control proposal with a populist edge, calling for limits on "excessive" executive compensation. John "Two Americas" Edwards would be proud.
Tariffs, suppression of basic democratic freedoms, and central planning. Is that what we have to hope for if Barack Obama gets to govern our future?