Corsi should be on the right side of the battle to defend economic freedom. Before the 2008 election, he wrote a popular book with a great title, The Obama Nation, warning that Barack Obama was not the man we needed in the White House. But in his latest book, America for Sale: Fighting the New World Order, Surviving a Global Depression, and Preserving USA Sovereignty, he sounds a lot more like Obama than like Ronald Reagan, the former president he professes to admire.
While Corsi takes passing shots at government spending and climate‐change legislation, his real target is “free trade,” “globalism,” and international agreements such as NAFTA and the World Trade Organization. The villains in his book are trade agreements, trade deficits, growing Chinese foreign‐currency reserves, and oil imports, all of which threaten to undermine the U.S. dollar, American independence, and the middle class. Orchestrating our decline is a cast of characters from around the globe, both familiar and obscure, working in public and in secret.
Boosted by a friendly Fox News interview with Sean Hannity in October, the book has been selling reasonably well. The people buying it are presumably the same conservative‐leaning folks who opposed Obama’s election and are now fueling the Tea Party movement. Libertarians and conservatives who value free markets and limited government, however, should keep their distance from this bestselling prophet.
Coming from an author who claims to be a friend of free enterprise, and who earned a Ph.D. in political science from Harvard in 1972, the book is striking in its economic ignorance. It would fail an economics course at a community college. It repeats just about every anti‐trade cliché that has been uttered by the AFL-CIO, Public Citizen, and Sen. Bernie Sanders (Socialist, Vt.).
The only “invisible hand” to be found in this book is that of an international conspiracy to sell off our national assets, sell out our sovereignty, and abolish the dollar. The “globalists” behind this movement are mostly academics and former officials who don’t run in current circles of power, such as Peter Drucker, Benn Steil, Herbert Grubel, Nouriel Roubini, Robert Mundell, George Soros, Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and David Rockefeller. Of course, former officials and academics are putting forward all sorts of ideas every week, some sensible, others far‐fetched. A string of quotes from secondary players doesn’t prove that an idea is about to be foisted upon us.
Of special interest to Corsi is the plan to construct a NAFTA transportation corridor from Texas through the nation’s midsection. To demonstrate that such a scheme exists, he simply describes various plans to improve infrastructure in North America to accommodate increased freight traffic caused by expanding trade. As evidence that something nefarious is going on, he quotes an official with the Canadian National Railroad, who lets slip that his company is “now positioned to provide shippers with a seamless door‐to‐door transportation solution and to ensure the safe and secure flow of goods throughout the North American continent.” Isn’t that exactly what transportation companies should be doing?
Corsi tries to tarnish NAFTA further with arguments that sound like they could have come from Dennis Kucinich. Corsi cites a recent study by the North American Center for Transborder Studies that claims that 40 million jobs were created in the United States, Canada, and Mexico between 1993 (the year NAFTA passed) and 2007. Expressing skepticism, he writes, “Typically, the study failed to articulate the methodology by which these job estimates were derived, nor did it indicate whether the job creation was a net 40 million, after taking into account the jobs lost from NAFTA or other free‐trade agreements such as those under the World Trade Organization.”
There is nothing mysterious about the methodology. The figure comes from comparing the number of people employed in each country in 2007 to the number employed in 1993. Those numbers are readily available on the Internet from public sources. From 1993 to 2007, employment in the United States grew from 120 to 146 million, in Mexico from 31 to 42 million, and in Canada from 13 to 17 million. Simple subtraction will tell us that the net number of jobs added in the United States after NAFTA was 26 million, in Mexico 11 million, and in Canada 4 million, and simple addition will give us the total of 41 million.
Instead of performing basic arithmetic, Corsi cites the growth in America’s bilateral trade deficits with both Canada and Mexico since NAFTA. He uncritically swallows the formula of the labor‐union Left that trade deficits by definition mean net job losses, even though this is clearly not the case. This faulty premise leads Corsi to conclude, “What these data suggest is that the net new jobs created under NAFTA in North America are likely being created in Mexico and Canada, not the United States.” In fact, as the real employment numbers show, the United States accounted for the large majority of the net new jobs created in North America since NAFTA.
Corsi often gets even simple facts wrong. Take, for example, this passage: