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Over at NationalReview.com, Scott Lincicome posted “On ‘Supply-Chain Repatriation,’ It’s Buyer (and Nation) Beware.” Lincicome claims to be an expert on trade policy and is affiliated with Cato and Duke University. But, as far as I am concerned, he is just an interchangeable part in the chorus of Econ 101 theorists who have advocated for free trade and global supply chains for the past 50 years. For convenience, I will call Lincicome and his like-minded confreres, the FTGSCs.
Lincicome cited a bunch of numbers intended to demonstrate that the apparent grip of China on our oxygen line is not a real problem. Fortunately, Lt. Gen. (USAr Ret.) H.R. McMaster and Scott Atlas, M.D., who are far smarter, far more accomplished, and far more experienced than Mr. Lincicome, wrote in today’s Wall Street Journal:
“While U.S. pharmaceutical companies may preserve redundancy in their sources for patented drugs, the generic drug business, which accounts for more than 90% of all U.S. prescriptions, prioritizes low cost over supply-chain resiliency. Most generics, including antibiotics, are imported from India—and India imports some 70% of its active ingredients from China. America needs to understand and diversify sources of supply, as well as maintain a strategic reserve of antibiotics and the key drugs for the most prevalent serious diseases.”
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“Beyond scale and complexity, details on drug manufacturing are opaque and complex. The Food and Drug Administration requires country-of-origin markings, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled in February that processing ingredients into tablets in the U.S. is enough to constitute “manufacturing.” A drug made into tablets in the U.S. with active ingredients from India may list only the U.S. as “principal place of business” for FDA purposes.”
The FTGSCs have claimed that if we followed their recommendations of universal free trade and global supply chains, we would grow rich and suffer not a bit. Their world is one described by John Lennon: “Imagine there’s no Countries.” The China Virus has been a slap in the face. It turns out the world was not the way Lennon thought it was. It was the world described by Niccolo Machiavelli and Thomas Hobbes.
We now know that we live in a world in which our bitter enemies hold the keys to our health and welfare. Not only that but in the last two months, we have burned every nickle that the FTGSC’s free trade fetish has saved in the last 50 years. By the time this catastrophe has passed, we will be in a $20 trillion hole that will take generations to dig out of.
The FTGSCs also promised us that if we opened up trade with China, it would change them and make them open, liberal, and friendly. Instead, China has grown more repressive, racist, tyrannical, imperialistic, and arrogant. They are now a far worse and far more dangerous enemy than the Soviet Union ever was. In fact, the FTGSCs were so spectacularly wrong about China that all the rest of their advice has been rendered simply incredible.
Slowly, the Capitol has wakened to the problem and has begun to propose legislation to reverse the tide. My only problem with the proposals coming from the Capitol is that they are not nearly tough enough. The Trump tariffs were just a down payment. Anything that we import directly from China should be taxed at 100 percent. The parts or ingredients from China used in things imported from other places should also be taxed at 100 percent.
We also need to conduct an inquisition (word chosen deliberately) of all importers as to the composition and origin of the things they import. The results of the inquisition should be a public record. Trade secrets be damned.
I am not an opponent of trade. I think we should trade freely with those nations that are friendly and well-disposed toward us. I back NAFTA/USMC fully. I think we should enter into free trade agreements with many other friendly democratic nations, like the UK and Japan.
But, our enemies should get the back of our hand.
Incidentally, by not enumerating a comprehensive program for stamping out the virus of Chinese aggression in the United States, I am not saying we don’t need one. We do. Ban the Confucius Institutes from our college campuses. Require American trustees for any purchase of property or businesses by Chinese persons. Do not allow Chinese students into the US unless they can prove they have no link to the Communist Party, the Chinese Regime, or its military. And on and on. If the Chinese retaliate by excluding Americans from China, so much the better. I don’t need to see the NBA apologize for their murderous tyranny.Published in