In his article today on the demise of unions Pat Buchanan decries the end of what he calls “economic patriotism.” By this he means protectionism, which is anything but patriotic. Ask yourself this: I you were to learn that the reason you had to pay $10,000 more for your latest new car is because the “economic patriots” at the United Autoworkers Union successfully lobbied Congress to impose high tariffs on the importation of foreign cars, would that motivate you to: a) Go out and buy an American flag and fly it on your porch; or b) Cuss out the damned unions and their equally greedy corporate employers for conspiring with government to rip you off?
I’m betting that the average person would choose option “b.” Pat Buchanan likes to refer to such “economic patriots” as “our neighbors” but this is a very poor analogy. A more accurate one would be a roving gang of burglars who break into the homes in your neighborhood to steal from you and your neighbors. Such theft is illegal if it is done privately but is praised as “patriotic” if government is involved in it.
It is the policies of crony capitalism, such as Buchananite protectionism, that are a main cause of one of Buchanan’s complaints — the “enrichment of corporate and financial elites.” He advocates some of the very policies that lead to such a situation.
Pat Buchanan’s main problem with economics is that he is a proud Hamiltonian. He once said to me (on MSNBC) that “Alexander Hamilton is my hero.” Well, Alexander Hamilton was an economic ignoramus who was never anything more than a paid mouthpiece for Northern mercantilist business interests. His “economics” was drawn entirely from propaganda pamphlets written on behalf of British mercantilists in defense of the rotten, corrupt, and impoverishing system of European mercantilism that was thoroughly debunked by Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations. Hamilton spent much of his life trying to bring that system — against which the American Revolution was fought — to America. It was impoverishing to the public in general, but it was always popular with the statist plutocratic elites who ran governments for their own personal benefit. That of course is why it is still popular today. When it comes to economics Pat Buchanan is blinded by 200-year-old Hamiltonian superstitions.