First-time readers, this blog is set in the future (sometime after the year 2020).  Each entry assumes there has been a 5th revolution in the US — the Revenge Revolution.  More about Revenge Revolution and author, Entry #1.  List and general description of entries to date.  Annual assessment whether Revolution plausible.

Note: most characters appear in a number of entries, with many entries building on previous conversations.  Profile of characters.  You’ll catch on quickly.  Thanks for your time and interest…and comments.

Scene: Jordan’s Office, on phone with nephew of long-time friend.  Nephew is taking advanced economics course and been assigned paper to determine if  trade agreements cost US workers jobs.  Conversation begins Entry #214.

092615_2031_Characters7.gifGelly: (answering in-bound call) “Mr. Abel’s office.  May I help you?”

Caller:  “My name is Billy Belleville.  I believe Mr. Abel talked to my aunt.  I also left a voice mail yesterday that I would call back.”

Gelly:  “Yes, Mr. Belleville, we’ve been expecting your call.  And, FYI, please call Mr. Abel, ‘Jordan.’  I know you’ve had good upbringing, but this is a business call.  I’ll patch you through.”

student clip_art_free_-_school_clip_art_free_20121124_1951589029Billy:  “Thanks.”

Gelly:  “Jordan, Billy Belleville is on line #2.”

Jordan:  “Billy, thanks for calling again.  My apologies for having to leave a voice mail yesterday.  Gelly and I were both out of the office.  How may I help you?”

Billy:  “Did my aunt tell you about my assignment?”

Jordan:  “I have some idea but why don’t you assume I know nothing and start over.”

professor4Billy:  “I’m taking an advanced economics class this semester.  A major portion of the grade is a paper to determine if trade agreements help, hurt or have minimal impact on US employment.”

Jordan:  “Any other instructions?”

Billy:  “Not about the problem.”

Jordan:  “Interesting topic.  I like that your professor kept the instructions vague.  Welcome to the real world.”

Billy:  “I was hoping you could give me some guidance.”

TurtleneckJordan:  “Glad to try.  My first question is, ‘What do you think the impact of trade agreements is on US employment – positive, negative or neutral?’”

Billy:  “I really don’t know.  There seems to be a significant difference of opinion in Washington.”

Jordan:  “What have you heard?”

Billy:  “I remember the 2016 presidential election.  Donald Trump kept saying that trade agreements were bad for US workers.  He also said if elected, he donald-trumpwould tear up the agreements and renegotiate them in favor of the US.”

Jordan:  “So based on Trump logic, you’d conclude that trade agreements are bad, right?”

Billy:  “Yes, but that makes no sense.  I mean, why would the US enter into all these agreements if the agreements are always bad?”

Jordan:  “Welcome to Washington hyperbole.  Just for fun let’s discount the figure-thinking-hiDonald’s logic and assume for a minute that maybe not all trade agreements are bad.  What do you think trade agreements are supposed to do?”

Billy:  “Trade agreements should make it easier for two countries, or even a block or countries, to trade with one another.”

Jordan:  “Good fundamental answer.  I would add that ideally the countries involved in the trade agreement have different skill sets or capabilities.”

Billy:  “So, if we take the US, since we’re a very efficient producer of many agricultural products – corn, soybeans and wheat, for example – the US should seek out countries that might need these products but have some products the US doesn’t produce or where the US cost is too high.  Is that right?”

Jordan:  “Yes.  Now let’s take a trade agreement that is in place and see what naftaeach country could or should bring to the table.  Let’s take NAFTA – the North American Free Trade Agreement that includes Canada, the United States and Mexico.  Let’s start with Canada – what does it bring to the table?”

Billy:  “Agriculture, especially wheat, fish products, manufacturing and lots of minerals and timber products.”

Jordan:  “What about the US?”

Billy:  “Agriculture – as I said corn, wheat, soybeans…and I think even rice.  Huge manufacturing base, although a lot fewer people today that say 40-50 years ago.  Lots of oil and gas.  Many minerals – although not as much as Canada, and software, if that counts.”

Jordan:  “Software counts.  What about Mexico?”

Billy:  “Maybe not fair, but I think Mexico as very limited manufacturing, except Mexican Flagon the Rio Grande border, not much agriculture for export.  I guess mostly tourist locations.  Lots of lower-cost labor.”

Jordan:  “What you described for Mexico is a huge untapped market for goods produced in the US and Canada.”

Billy:  “But don’t the Mexican people need more income to buy the goods.  Don’t they need higher-paying jobs?  They just can’t go buy on credit if they don’t have money to pay it back.”

Jordan:  “Where are those jobs going to come from?”

Billy:  “According to what Trump kept saying, the jobs were coming from US workers.  If not US workers – or Canadian workers — where do they come from?”

Jordan:  “The better question is, ‘How can trade agreements create jobs in both countries and…notice I said both countries.  Or for NAFTA, create jobs in all three countries’?”

Billy:  “I understand your question.  For jobs to be created in one country doesn’t that mean jobs are lost in the other country, or countries.  Is that right?”

Jordan:  “Trade between countries is not a zero-sum game.  Trade agreements should create job opportunities.”

RantBilly:  “Then why did Trump and some other politicians keep ranting that trade agreements are bad for the US?”

Jordan:  “I want to add one more issue to think about…and then we’re going to take a short break.  Why are politicians who oppose trade agreements with other countries not opposed to one state in the US recruiting companies from another state?  Such recruiting, especially by southern states, includes huge taxpayer-funded incentives.  Why should North Carolina use taxpayer money to recruit companies located in say Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit, New York City?  Allowing states to use taxpayer funds to recruit companies in other states is worse that zero-sum, it’s negative.  Think about that issue over the break.”

(Continued)      

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