Blogs & Comment

U.S. stimulus bill — in blog form

I haven’t read the 400 or so page American stimulus package, but I imagine it’s one dry document. So I was thoroughly amused when I heard, on my favorite podcast, NPR’s On the Medi a, that a New Yorker writer was actually blogging the stimulus package.
Pulitzer Prize winner and New Yorker scribe Steve Coll is reading the enormous paper and distilling all of the technical jargon into easy-to-read, and often humorous, bits of information.
Here’s how his March 23 post, which is particularly pertinent to Canadians, begins:

Canadians might wish to make use of their superior social networking skills to examine whether the stimulus bill violates their rights under the North American Free Trade Agreement. Title VI, Department of Homeland Security, provides the most depressing read of any chapter so far. Partly this is because the entire subject of D.H.S.its Orwellian-nativist conception, its bloated shape, and its many inefficienciesis discouraging.

He continues by outlining the protectionist measures in that part of the bill.

As a result of the global recession, we seem to have arrived at the cusp of an era of revived trade protectionism. Here, in the fine print, we find evidencean array of protectionist clauses to boost the Homelands textile industry. Title VI requires domestic manufacture of all clothing and materials and components thereof, other than sensors, electronics, or other items added to, and not normally associated with clothing purchased with its funds. There may be as much stimulus in that language for trade lawyers who want to challenge where clothing ends and Bluetooth technology begins as there is for North Carolinas benighted textile workers. The made-in-the-U.S.A. restrictions in the bill extend as well to tents, tarpaulins, covers, textile belts, bags, protective equipment (including body armor), sleep systems, load carrying equipment, textile marine equipment, parachutes, or bandages. Sadly, American companies have probably learned to make all of those items to order during our long, recent stretch of expeditionary war. Cotton, yarn and synthetic fibers are also protected, as is any item made with such materials.

It’s all fascinating stuff, and important material no one would ever read if it wasn’t for Coll. Even though the stimulus bill is a U.S. document, everyone interested in the global economy should learn a bit more about it.
Links: Steve Coll’s stimulus blog On the Media’s interview with Coll