Friday, December 12, 2008

Senator Dodd perpetuates
the Big Lie about Korean car imports

During my morning iPod-enhanced jog, I caught the iTunes podcast of NPR's NewsHour. The subject for this particular segment was the Detroit bailout. Speaking in favor of it was Senator Christ Dodd (D-Connecticut), while Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) was steadfastly against it.

Shelby would like to see Chrysler, Ford, and General Motor go into a pre-arranged bankruptcy and reworked. Dodd pointed out that, unlike with an industry such as airlines where the consumer's relationship ends as soon as they pick up their bags at the destination airport, there is a problem with buying a major item like a car from a bankrupt company.

All in all, it was a good summary from both as to what each side of the bailout issue thinks. I even thought of linking to it for that reason alone. But what compelled me to blog about it was when Senator Dodd deflected blame from the Big Three and their supposed mismanagement and put it squarely on the shoulders of South Korea:
The word last Friday was 533,000 jobs were lost in this country in one month. And certainly none of us want to wake up in January and discover that America no longer has a viable automobile industry.

You know, we talk all the time about how well these foreign companies do. Let me just cite one free trade agreement with South Korea. In that one agreement, all we can do is sell 5,000 automobiles in South Korea. They get to sell 600,000 of their automobiles in the United States.

There are a lot of reasons why our domestic companies are not doing as well, a lot of which is their own fault, but there are other factors, as well.
The message is that it's not just mismanagement that caused Detroit's problems, nor a burdensome benefits package for its retirees, nor the drying up of credit which Americans use to buy cars. No, it's also those dastardly South Koreans who angrily wave pitchforks at cargo ships when they bring Cadillacs to Pusan and throw rocks at Chrysler dealerships in Sŏcho-gu. 

The numbers are almost verbatim what President-elect Obama said on the stump and during the debates during his campaign: The trading relationship between South Korea (and Japan) is unfair, and the lopsided car sales numbers are an example. 

Frankly, I wish someone would explain how lopsided trade numbers are a reason to NOT pass a free trade agreement that would eventually remove many of these barriers. 

Anyway, Dodd takes Obama's numbers and suggests that they are not what is the case now, but what would happen if the FTA were to pass: "In that one agreement," he says, these are the numbers.

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