–The trade deficit myth

The debt hawks are to economics as the creationists are to biology.

WASHINGTON (AFP) 10/14/10: The US trade deficit ballooned in August as the gap with China hit a fresh record, official data showed Thursday, suggesting further weakness in the economic recovery.

The Commerce Department said the August trade deficit rose nearly nine percent from July to 46.3 billion dollars. That was far worse than economists predictions of a 44.5 billion dollar gap. […] “The ongoing, American job-destroying leakage of national wealth to China confirms the House’s wisdom in passing the anti-currency manipulation bill last month,” said Alan Tonelson, a research fellow at the US Business and Industry Council.

“President Obama finally needs to wake up as well, urge Senate passage, and help American businesses and their employees fight foreign protectionism,” he said.

Look at the pejorative words used to describe the trade deficit: “Ballooned,” “weakness,” “far worse,” “job-destroying,” “leakage of national wealth,” “foreign protectionism.” Sounds like we are one step from financial disaster, and the trade deficit is pushing us there.

But what does “trade deficit” mean? Simple: It means foreign countries send fewer of our dollars to us, than we send to them. Where did the dollars we send to foreign countries come from? We created them out of thin air. And were did the dollars foreign countries send to us come from? We created them too, also out of thin air.

The U.S. is monetarily sovereign, meaning the U.S. federal government has the unlimited ability to create dollars – as many as it wants, whenever it wants. Given that unlimited ability, why would we care how many U.S. dollars foreign governments send us?

Further, our imports help supply us with the world’s best, cheapest, most convenient, most desirable goods and services, else we wouldn’t import them. We get the best of everything, and all we have to do is give the world our dollars, which we create at the touch of a computer key. So what’s the problem?

“But,” you say, “all this importing destroys American jobs.” Oh, really?

First, let’s be honest, it really isn’t jobs we want. We want money. Not that Americans are lazy, but for the vast majority of people in this world, jobs merely are a means to an end, and the end is acquisition ability.

So when we bemoan unemployment, we really bemoan lack of income. Unemployment and employment figures should be replaced with acquisition-ability figures. If domestic unemployment were 90%, but every man, woman and child had the financial ability to acquire everything he/she wanted, we would be a wealthy country. (Think of a nation with all the citizens living on generous, guaranteed pensions, and all the work being done by foreigners – something similar to an extreme Saudi Arabia.)

Today, the problem is not that the economy is starved for jobs. The problem is that the economy is starved for money. Ironic isn’t it, when you consider that our own government can create all the money we need.

Second, the main inhibition of job creation is not foreigners working for low wages and receiving “strong” money. The main problem is taxes. We want our businesses to be more competitive, so what do we do? We tax them.

We want businesses to hire more people, so we make them pay a FICA tax on every single hire. And we make them pay a tax on the profits they otherwise could use for expansion and hiring.

Then we tax the employees, so they have less to spend on goods and services. And we want more investment, so we tax the profits on investment. And when the federal government is finished taxing, the states levy more taxes, and the counties levy even more and the cities levy more, yet.

And when every American is taxed, taxed and taxed again, we blame foreigners for ruining our economy.

Rather than railing against foreign protectionism, our first step should be to cut taxes – especially since the federal government, the unlimited creator of dollars, neither needs nor uses tax money.

If the federal government immediately would eliminate FICA, and support Social Security and Medicare by deficit spending, the recession would end, today. And if the federal government would send each state a flat amount of money according to population – say $10,000 per person – we would have instant prosperity for all states, counties and cities.

Trade deficit merely means sending more dollars overseas than “overseas” sends to us. This leaves us “starved” for dollars, and all the while we are the sole creators of dollars. Does this make sense?

And oh yes, deficit spending has not caused inflation since we went off the gold standard in 1971. Not only are we a long way from inflation, but inflation easily is cured. So let’s not use phony fears of inflation as an excuse for keeping those economy destroyers called “taxes.”

Oh, you don’t believe me about inflation? Well consider this. The effect of exports is to bring dollars into the U.S. economy, which is identical with what federal deficit spending does. So if you like exports, you should like federal deficit spending, for exactly the same reason.

“The fault is not in our foreign neighbors, but in ourselves.”

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

No nation can tax itself into prosperity


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