The Case for Colombia

Free trade with our best ally in South America is, in caps, A GOOD THING. I can think of at least three reasons for that statement.

1) Free trade with Colombia opens up new and currently growing markets for American goods and services. This country has about 45 million or so people living within its borders. Living, working, raising their families, and planning for their futures, just like we do here in America. If the United States made it easier for goods and services to cross our borders, those 45 million people would be able to plan those futures with the inclusion of things and ideas that raised their standard of living while at the same time providing jobs to American workers to provide those things and ideas. Both sides win. Which leads to point two.

2) If the fathers of Colombia figured out that they could better provide for their families by entering into business deals with American companies, and do legitimate business without the need to strap on an AK just to go to the office, they certainly would. No father wants his business affairs to have the spectre of corrupt government officials (which are fewer every day), a communist revolution by terrorists (such as the DEAD Raul Reyes), or even a poor education for himself or his children to stand in the way. Honest capitalism is a wonderful device for stabilizing a region. These fathers will want to ensure that his children are ever better educated, that his government is even less corrupt, that the narco-terrorists lose ground. If the fathers of Colombia knew that his children could grow up healthy and educated and employed, they would better protect their daughters from the ills of the narcotic cartels, not sell them out for the afternoon for a Zippo lighter. If the fathers of Colombia knew that they had a chance to raise their sons to be honorable men, leaders in the community from force of mind rather than force of arms, they would better be able to resist the paths of corruption for themselves and guide their sons to the paths of honorable trades. If the fathers of Colombia knew that their wives and children had futures bright, rather than shadowed over by the black clouds of Chavez in Venezuela and the APRA Party in Peru, they would grasp it to their chests and stand in the streets to defend that future. Capitalism gives the fathers of Colombia a reason to want stability. want a legitimate voice in his government, and gives them hope that all they have worked for their entire lives will not disappear when they are gone, but rather pass on to the hands of their educated, healthy, and competent children and grandchildren. Which brings us finally to point three.

3) Given that the 45 million people of Colombia will benefit in untold ways, they will certainly want to preserve what they have gained economically. With unstable currencies and governments all around them, with FARC and Shining Path still operating and destabilizing the continent, and with leftist dictators as neighbors, the people of Colombia will have no choice but to stand in the face of the communist tide: to be a bulwark against the falling of dominoes as it were. In order for the Colombian people to achieve the first world standing they deserve, to have economic growth, and to become a true Nation, rather than lines on a map, they will have to form a society of fairness and equity, opportunity and law. They will need to have businesses in place to employ people; legitimate businesses that treat their employees as people, not chattels. (These they have, free trade with the U.S. will help increase the numbers and the quality.) They will need a government in place that is in actual fact a popular democracy or representative republic that listens to and answers to the will of the majority of the people, not just a powerful few. (They have that as well, and getting better with time. This also will improve with the influence of American capitalism, since no one wants to do business in a place where the law and the enforcers of the law are not trustworthy.) Perhaps this willingness to protect what is theirs would translate to true stability against the forces of the narcotics cartels, the communist neighbors, and the terrorist revolutionaries.

Those are just three reasons I came up with this morning, chatting with Jose and Guillermo at work this morning. They are both former citizens of Colombia, now US citizens.

Is it selling out to the Nortamericanos for Colombians to want a government of laws, not of men? No. Are we bribing them with shiny beads so we can take their resources and force them to fight the eventual proxy war with Hugo Chavez? No. Some American protectionists are even wondering what we get out of the deal; why should Americans work to help the economy of a South American country they will never visit nor do business with? The answer could be as simple as the Monroe Doctrine or as complex as any macro economics class you ever failed in college. But the truth is something simple and basic:

The people of Colombia are our friends in an unfriendly part of the world. The people of Colombia are, on the whole, smart, honest, hard working, religious, and decent. For people like that, for neighbors, you do what you can to help. The literal slavery some are held under is an abomination before Man, and economic prosperity that undermines the slave trade as well as the corrupt people who use slave labor will put an end to the practice. When a brother or a father or a mother has to stand in impotent rage because some drug kingpin has decided to take away their little girl, every human being alive should weep and cry out “NO! THE LINE IS HERE! NO MORE SHALL WE SUFFER THUS!” When honorable men like the two I work with, see that the future can be as bright back in their homeland as it is here, they want to be there to see it happen.

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6 Responses to “The Case for Colombia”

  1. Trovos Says:
    May 14th, 2008

    Let me add a fourth reason :

    4) The women of Colombia have nice round booties too. That, in addition to the first 3 points, is a reason to support Colombia.

    ReplyReply
  2. Trovos Says:
    May 14th, 2008

    Shakira, Shakira……

    Need I say more?

    ReplyReply
  3. Nate Says:
    May 14th, 2008

    Very well said, Theodore.
    Inspiring, even.

    ReplyReply
  4. Ted Says:
    May 14th, 2008

    Thank you, Nate.

    ReplyReply
  5. Steve D Says:
    May 14th, 2008

    So, lets trade – what should we import? Great summary but the endless discussions get little done. I’m serious – what can we import to support them and at least break even on? The US side of tariffs is already pretty limited so most goods can come into the country with little added cost. Services are pretty much non tariffed anyway. Surly Jose and Guillermo can come up with something here? The marketing potential is great – from screw Hugo, help Columbia, to buy Columbian “product x” not cocaine etc. Let me know.

    ReplyReply
  6. Ted Bronson Says:
    May 14th, 2008

    Steve, the question isn’t what we can import from them or export to them, it what can’t we?

    Colombia offers these (via infoplease.com)

    Agriculture: coffee, cut flowers, bananas, rice, tobacco, corn, sugarcane, cocoa beans, oilseed, vegetables; forest products; shrimp.

    Labor force: 20.81 million (2006); agriculture 22.7%, industry 18.7%, services 58.5% (2000 est.).

    Industries: textiles, food processing, oil, clothing and footwear, beverages, chemicals, cement; gold, coal, emeralds.

    Natural resources: petroleum, natural gas, coal, iron ore, nickel, gold, copper, emeralds, hydropower.

    Exports: $24.86 billion f.o.b. (2006 est.): petroleum, coffee, coal, apparel, bananas, cut flowers.

    Imports: $24.33 billion f.o.b. (2006 est.): industrial equipment, transportation equipment, consumer goods, chemicals, paper products, fuels, electricity.

    Only about 2 percent of the country is currently being farmed. With the rich volcanic soil, the weather variations, and the labor force available, agriculture alone is a huge resource. And they need tractors and irrigation equipment, etc. To make that exchange alone would net both parties vast sums, improve the standard of living for both countries in the form of better paying or more plentiful jobs, and of course, MORE FOOD.

    I think you can probably figure out other markets, products, or services just from that little list up there. And that is the great thing about capitalism: find a need, fill a need, get rich if the obstacles are taken from your path. If you or I can figure out a way to make a profit, surely some enterprising Colombian can. Or an American who can think up a product to sell to them, or something to manufacture there that benefits both countries, or whatever.

    The point is, opportunity is standing at the door, and we gotta take off the Ipod hear the knocking.

    ReplyReply

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