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Re: Great Structural Note regarding Structural Steel Detailing

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On Mar 15, 2005, at 7:03 AM, Ken Peoples wrote:

Bethlehem Steel site, if we have another "big one", we will have to drop
quarters on the enemy.
This therad kind of hops back and forth between personal economic consequences and the national interest issues of our so-called 'free trade policy.' We ought to try to distinguish one from the other, because they're not the same

Maybe no one remembers, but the original excuse for all this concern over free trade was not a better life for all people everywhere, but the fact that Asian markets were pretty much closed to American products. Bush 41 went to Japan and got some concessions despite barfing on the Japanese prime minister, and despite the fact that even with the concessions not many Japanese actually wanted Chryslers anywhere near as much as Americans want Hondas. The big target, if memory serves was Chinese markets--2 billion people lusting after all the stuff we can sell them. But it hasn't worked out like that, has it folks? We're still carrying record trade deficits, and the largest is with China. Instead of greater access to US goods, it's the Chinese who are selling stuff here, and aggravated matters with currency control to keep prices artificially lower.

Interesting story came up in the Minneapolis paper a couple of weeks ago, to the effect that the US only has two surviving domestic boot manufacturers, Red Wing here in Minnesota and one other. Almost all ouf our every day clothing and shoes come from China. The personal economics of it all is that I can buy serviceable sneakers in Target or Kohls that are cheap enough to replace every few months. I wear my Red Wing boots wherever it cold or wet or I'm tramping through snow or shelled corn, and I think it's fair to say that they're the best boots I've ever worn. But I'm sure I've spent more money on cheap imported sneakers over the time I've owned the Red Wings.

OTOH I don't think it is in our national interest to be so dependent on potentially hostile offshore sources for manufactured goods of any kind. If as Ken says, we start butting heads with the China over Taiwan or North Korea, we stand to lose access to a lot of the manufactures we depend on. Not only sneakers and blue jeans, but electronic items and car parts: we don't make these any more. The Wintel computers that help run aircraft carriers are made in Asia--so is my Mac.

And it does make me wonder who's making the boots and uniforms and combat fatigues our military requires. Or whether China might be able to back us into a corner over manufactured goods like we backed the Japanese into a corner over supplies of oil for the Imperial Navy in 1941.

Christopher Wright P.E. |"They couldn't hit an elephant at
chrisw(--nospam--at)   | this distance" (last words of Gen.
.......................................| John Sedgwick, Spotsylvania 1864)

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