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Requiem to Roger Milliken and red-lentil stew
Howard Richman, 1/6/2011

Patrick J. Buchanan's latest commentary (Requiem for a Patriot) is a tribute to Roger Milliken who just died at the age of 95. Buchanan begins:

Conservative Tycoon … Dies at 95,” said the New York Times headline on New Year’s Eve about the death of Roger Milliken.

Clearly, the headline writer did not know the man.

For Roger Milliken exemplified the finest in American free enterprise. He cared about his workers. He cared about his industry. He cared about his community. He cared about his country.

Into his 90s, Roger was holding strategy sessions in Washington and walking the halls of Congress to convince free-traders half his age that, Esau-like, they were swapping the manufacturing base of their nation for a mess of Chinese-made pottage down at the mall.

Buchanan's reference to "Chinese-made pottage" suggests that either he or Milliken have read our writing. The title of our 2008 book, Trading Away Our Future, appears once within the text of the book, we wrote:

By ignoring strategic manipulation of the terms of trade by our more mercantilist trading partners, the United States may create conditions in which strategic trade and mercantilism rather than free trade are in equilibrium for those countries. We are trading away our future for a mess of mercantilist produced pottage! (p. 18)

Like Buchanan, we were referring to the Jacob and Esau history in the Bible, which we quoted at the beginning of the chapter:

Once when Jacob was cooking a stew, Esau came in from the open, famished. And Esau said to Jacob, “Give me some of that red stuff to gulp down, for I am famished.”... Jacob said, “First sell me your birthright.” And Esau said, “I am at the point of death, so what use is my birthright to me?” But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. Jacob then gave Esau bread and lentil stew; he ate and drank, and he rose and went away. Thus did Esau spurn his birthright. -- Genesis, Chapter 25, JPS translation

Esau was the epitome of someone who acted rashly without planning or thinking through the consequences. The pottage that he wanted right away was red lentil stew, which only takes about 20 minutes to cook. Like Esau, we the American people are trading away our future.

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  • [An] extensive argument for balanced trade, and a program to achieve balanced trade is presented in Trading Away Our Future, by Raymond Richman, Howard Richman and Jesse Richman. “A minimum standard for ensuring that trade does benefit all is that trade should be relatively in balance.” [Balanced Trade entry]

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  • [Trading Away Our Future] Examines the costs and benefits of U.S. trade and tax policies. Discusses why trade deficits matter; root of the trade deficit; the “ostrich” and “eagles” attitudes; how to balance trade; taxation of capital gains; the real estate tax; the corporate income tax; solving the low savings problem; how to protect one’s assets; and a program for a strong America....

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  • In Trading Away Our Future   Richman ... advocates the immediate adoption of a set of public policy proposal designed to reduce the trade deficit and increase domestic savings.... the set of public policy proposals is a wake-up call... [February 17, 2009 review by T.H. Cate]