Free trade, xenophobia & Geico

Last night, Erie County's tax revolt was featured on Lou Dobbs' CNN program. Dobbs really really very incredibly is against NAFTA and the WTO. A continuing theme on his program is "exporting America", dealing with outsourcing and the loss of manufacturing from our economy. Dobbs has warmed to 2004 26th Cong. District candidate Jack Davis, who runs a factory in Clarence. The big theme in Davis' campaign against too-cool-for-WNY Tom Reynolds was outsourcing and its harm to WNY's economy. There's a dilemma in running an anti-free-trade campaign: you have to avoid turning into a xenophobic crusade. Unfortunately, I heard some reports that Davis' campaign became just that in its waning weeks. Personally, rather than looking back with nostalgia at our steel-producing heyday, I'd prefer our leaders and candidates to explain what they'll do to lurch WNY into a proper, productive, profitable 21st century economy. I think the bioinformatics program downtown is a good step in that direction, and we have Pataki and the taxpayers of NYS to thank for that. As for free trade, it's a two-way street. Literally. We can lament the loss of production jobs all we want, but on the consumer side, free trade's a blessing. It ain't 1955 anymore, and WNY has to stop acting like nothing's changed. It's changed. Deal with it. Do something about it. We now have a post-industrial economy. It's service-oriented. The GEICO announcement was the single best piece of news this region has had since Bethlehem Steel closed.

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