Both this issue’s cover story on Gillette and our feature on the delicate future of
Nonetheless, there is a growing paradox. Amid increasing globalization of business and economic activity, there is a rising tide of isolationism. To a degree, such a tendency is understandable after a long Cold War in which foreign affairs dominated political life. A return to domestic priorities is one thing, but Pat Buchanan’s protectionist rhetoric is mining deep sympathy. Buchanan is not likely to become president, much less the Republican nominee, but his message is being enthusiastically received-and putting other contenders on the defensive.
Few can compete with the TV-presenter oratory of Buchanan, who would have the
As Murray Weidenbaum, chairman of the Center for the Study of American Business, said in a speech last November, “isolationism amid globalization is simply unachievable.” Total trade turnover as a percent of GDP has doubled over the last several decades.
The problem is that most politicians preaching about the virtues of a free and open trading system are seen as bloodless and boring. Even workers at companies such as Caterpillar and Boeing, which depend upon international contracts, see their jobs threatened. Yet, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, every $1 billion of exports supports about 20,000 jobs. In 1994, more than 3 million new jobs-twice as many as in 1985-depended on exports to
It’s an open question as to which, if any, of the presidential contenders will take the high road in defending an open world trading system. Certainly, business leaders should point out that present and future jobs-