The United States, European Union and Japan have used farm subsidies to enrich large agricultural concerns in their own countries, but at the expense of small farmers from developing countries such as the Philippines. You can gain a greater perspective on this issue by accompanying me on a visit to a poor farmer in Batangas, Philippines, about two hundred kilometers south of Manila.
It was 1981. Upon arriving in Jakarta for the first time nearly twenty-eight years ago I hurriedly checked into one of the city’s most luxurious hotels and headed straight to the concierge to inquire where I could see a live performance of Gamelan (gahm-eh-lon).
A puzzled attendant looked at me for a moment to ensure he heard correctly, then lit up with a contagious smile. He took out a Bahasa-Indonesia language newspaper and approvingly informed me that there was a performance that evening not far away. He warned me it was in a part of town not frequented by foreigners. His voice modulated to seriousness when he strongly suggested I take a hotel car and have the driver wait for me until the performance ended. This was not somewhere I should be strolling around alone.
I vividly remember arriving at Bogotá’s El Dorado International Airport in the mid- 1990s,
clearing immigration, and then heading towards the city. My mind swirled with edginess and
fear knowing I had reached a city with one of the highest homicide rates and kidnapping
incidences in the world. For an American businessman it was a notoriously dangerous place to
For decades a pervasive tension permeated the thin Andean air as a result of the violence that
has relentlessly rocked Colombia. Nearly every Colombian family has been tragically touched
by terror, murder and kidnapping. It leaves haunting memories.
If ever you wanted to see the faces of free traders in Washington pulsate like a lava lamp,
alternating between purple and red, casually drop the name Lou Dobbs over drinks and hors
It is remarkable that these very educated, smartly dressed and well connected folks who have
the facts, moral clarity and plain common sense on their side are being crushed so completely
in the free-trade debate. Sadly, they have yet to figure out one simple truth: you must
connect your vision with the American people. It is not the message but the messenger that
needs to be re-tooled.
Enter Lou Dobbs. He has effectively linked the “evils” of trade to everything wrong with
America. For answers on our economic insecurity, family disintegration and crumbling
infrastructure, Dobbs simply looks no further than to the container ships clogging our ports or
to the tractor trailer trucks heading north in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.
At a time when our country is fixated on a protracted political process passionately promising to cure all our ills, this would be an excellent time for our presidential candidates to put forward their vision to solve the most critical economic issue of our time: our degenerative trade deficit.
Unfortunately they appear to suffer from Trade Vision Deficit Disorder (TVDD), or are simply too fixated on more electability issues. We must take it upon ourselves to provide the remedy. Unlike other seemingly impossible challenges we face, our trade deficit is something we can correct in a relatively short period thus creating millions of well-paying jobs. It is as straightforward as establishing an environment where American exporters are allowed to compete.
Both Richard Roffman and Frank Armstrong, of the Rich Roffman Show, were invited by SouthCom to partake in the Outreach project for the United States Southern Command Headquarters (SouthCom) including the landing, inspection and flying off of the nuclear super carrier, USS George Washington on April 9th, 2008. [Read more…]