Drummed again

Kevin Drum claims that NAFTA is not really a big deal.

Not really a big deal — unless your job was shipped off or you were forced to work for starvation-level wages.

And read all of this, but particularly the middle section about the effects of NAFTA on Mexican farmers.

Contrary to what you might believe from reading what I write here, I am for trade deals and open trade — but only in the rubric of full protection of worker’s rights, the environment (NAFTA also caused devastation here) and quite a lot of redistribution of the shared gains. Without this, all “free” trade does is to make some corporations and individual richer and impoverishes everyone else.

By the way, these treaties are designed to do this. It’s not some side effect.

Drum’s typical blithe dismissal of the fortunes of millions of Americans’ and Mexicans’ plights angers me to no end.

The problem — or at least the main one — with Drum’s “not really a big deal” is that he’s looking at a spreadsheet. Some numbers on a graph.

The real world does not give a fuck about a graph produced in some think tank from bogus data provided by an economist trained to cogitate exactly in the prescribed ways that guarantees his or her salary gets paid.

Don’t get me wrong — having real data is important. What Drum cites probably is not, most of the time. But the data doesn’t actually tell you in many cases what you need to know even if it is accurate. Drum seems to think that having some numbers is as good as knowing the truth, when the truth is is a completely separate entity. (The liberal version of truthiness or “alternative facts” if you will is that the numbers work out, the math looks good.)

As I observed the other day, one in the chamber during Russian roulette. On average, I am alive. This is Kevin Drum’s spreadsheet reality. It is also completely beside the point.