Say it ain't so, Joe -- that you oppose free trade
Joe the Plumber -- a.k.a. Samuel Wurzelbacher -- is running for Congress from Ohio. His platform seems to be in tune with the Republican Party under whose banner he wants to run -- with one exception. He opposes free-trade agreements.
It's an article of faith in blue-collar America that free-trade agreements cost American jobs and that the solution is to boycott foreign goods. As a bumper sticker I remember from my days in Pittsburgh put it: "Be American. Buy American." ABC News must have that sticker in its control room. Periodically it runs a feature lamenting the lack of "Made in America" products.
The problem with this view of the world is that free-trade agreements help U.S. industries by opening up the export market. Yet the workers in those industries never show up in the popular accounting of the advantages and disadvantages of open markets. Maybe Joe will meet some of them on the campaign trail.
-- Michael McGough
Photo: Samuel Wurzelbacher, who during the 2008 campaign became known as Joe the Plumber, speaks to reporters after announcing his candidacy for the House seat representing Ohio's 9th District. Credit: Madalyn Ruggiero / Associated Press