County commissioners “advise” on U.S. trade policy

Thu, Jan 28, 2010


Can there be anything more meaningless than the resolutions that local governments throughout our great land churn out on a daily basis?  Most of them are feel-good thank you notes to worthy citizens, non-profits, retiring employees, and fresh-faced schoolchildren.  Few of us object to such gestures (other than a certain curmudgeonly taxophobe who once served on the county commission).


But there’s another category of resolution, especially those adopted by partisan bodies such as the present commission.  Here’s an excerpt from one such resolution, whooped through the commission yesterday by the five Republicans who serve on that body.


“El Paso County understands the negative impact that current U.S. trade policy has on the citizens of El Paso County and further understands the importance of protecting the economic and business climates in El Paso County by working to protect these economic climates from destructive federal practices.” The resolution also claims that these policies resulted in massive job losses “by way of employment reductions in El Paso County between 2001 and January of 2009, including the loss of 7,200 information technology jobs and 12,600 manufacturing jobs.”


“The Board of County Commissioners call on federal policy makers to:

  1. Support policies that promote American interests by requiring full reciprocity, fairness and transparency in all U.S. trade agreements.
  2. Support actions to combat the illegal, mercantilist practice of prolonger [sic] currency misalignment.
  3. Support the elimination of tax disadvantages, which undermine the competitiveness of U.S. producers both at home and abroad or which discourage investment in America.
  4. Support the aggressive enforcement of U.S. laws to halt illegal trade activities such as dumping, subsidies and intellectual property theft, and call for goods sold here to meet U.S. food and product safety standards.
  5. Support the research, development and production of domestic fuel sources to reduce U.S. reliance on importer energy.”


Well.  That’s fine, I guess, but how do these policies differ from those currently in effect?  And just what are the commissioners calling for, anyway?


Translated, it sounds a lot like an election-year campaign message. Is the economy in bad shape?  Blame trade, tax, and tariff policies! The exodus of manufacturing jobs from Colorado Springs to Asia has nothing to do with comparative advantage, nothing to do with the extraordinary competence of our Chinese and Indian rivals, nothing to do with our own feckless desire to have our cake and eat it too-it’s all someone else’s fault!


The Chinese cheat! They rig their currency, they steal our ideas, they copy our innovative products and they dump defective products on our pitiful, trusting country! And besides, if we could just develop all of those massive energy sources that are right out there waiting to be developed, we’d be right on our way to energy independence!


Subtext: elect Republicans and everything will be just fine!


Nothing the matter with campaigning, but I’d suggest that our elected representatives stick to governing during business hours, and campaign on their own time. And I know that you’ll all be dismayed by this, but I really don’t look to the BoCC for thoughtful and sophisticated analyses of U.S. trade policies.


Like most Americans, I trust ‘The Onion’ on such matters.




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10 Comments For This Post

  1. Rick Wehner Says:

    Sponsored by Amy Lathen?

  2. Liam Says:

    Right on, John!

    I want my elected county reps to actually govern (that’s the least they can do for the salary they’re paid). Leave the partisan politics for the caucuses and assemblies, and keep it out of the commissioner’s chambers and public comments. I, for one, am sick and tired of the perpetual campaining.

  3. David Anderson Says:

    The Trade Resolution is promoted by manufacturing industry survivors in El Paso County, all members of The Coalition for a Prosperous America ( Our efforts are non-partisan and grass roots. Our objectives are to educate, to inform – to support policy change.

    Indeed, our loss of jobs in El Paso County IS due to currency manipulation and adverse foreign value-added tax policy, as well as failure to apply the same standards to what we import as to what we produce. To have a shining city on a hill, we need to understand that we’re truly not competing with San Antonio, but Dalian. We need to be prepared to play the game that they’re playing, not let them play in our markets by different and more favorable rules.

    There are three things to do. They’re really clear, but of course they’re not easy. The question is whether we have the courage to take the steps to avoid having our “Dream City” caught in the nightmare. I believe that we can do what we need to, if people understand exactly what that is.
    David Anderson

  4. Tom Neppl Says:


    In case any of you have not noticed, our industries are being sold to the lowest bidder, good jobs lost and likely not coming back. The apparent absence of leadership at a national level leaves the task of delivering the message to Washington to the grass-roots level. This is far from a partisan issue, the fact is that our county commissioners acted responsibly. Meaningful change will simply not come via Washington.

    On the surface this issue would appear to be out of place at the local (county) level. Where then does it belong? Do you trust our national leadership? Is not our national leadership made up of thousands of communities?

    Democracy works when private citizens on a local level elect officials to represent the collective interests of the majority. Those officials have an obligation to speak out when their constituents are being impacted.

    If anyone does not think we need a local/national strategic plan (which we do not have) for industrial production, energy and agriculture, then by all means continue to criticize those trying to make a difference.

    Our failure to speak out on this issue has already led to the loss of millions (and counting) of jobs. In order for a community like CS to attract business, we must fight with dozens of other communities in America for those jobs, which typically go to the highest bidder.

    And by the way, ‘working class’ Americans have the most to gain should we actually enforce fair trade legislation, regardless of political affiliations.

  5. Frank Says:

    Gee John, why all the anger? The resolution sounds more coherent than your rantings about electioneering, Republicans, and such.

    Quite frankly, I couldn’t tell if you agreed with the resolution or not or just wanted to rant.

    It seems to me that the commissioners are trying to lead on creating jobs and fixing the economy. Are you saying that the principles laid down will have no impact? How much impact will your article have? How effective is ranting? Are you part of the problem or part of the solution? How about showing some leadership and write an article about how to create jobs in America again. Do something positive!

  6. Linda Says:

    It sounds like you agree with the commissioners and want to stop the Asain Tigers protectioism and mercantilism.

    If not, please tell me what if anything needs to be done to restore our economy. What do you suggest? Or do you think that the policies presently in place will eventually lead to a sustainable U.S. economy?

  7. Frank Says:

    Hey John, why all the anger? I can’t tell if you agree or disagree with the commissioners or jus tneed to rant. Do you think that the principles laid out in the resolution won’t help?

    After sorting through the ranting in the article, I don’t see anythng constructive that you add to the debate. Do you have solutions to the economic malaise and lack of jobs? If so, why don’t you write an article about your solutions?

  8. Rick Wehner Says:

    I think the thrust of this article relates to the fact that we have three levels of government each with their own areas of responsibility. We need to be speaking to our Federal Congress Persons and Senators on these matters of trade. While it is encouraging that our local commissioners are concerned with these matters, they perhaps should wait until elected to national office before offering advice or solutions on national matters. There is sufficient work to be done locally, by local elected officials, to make this region competive enough to attract business.

    Are they doing that job well enough?

  9. Duane Jensen Says:

    Having been a small business owner in Colorado Springs I think what the County commissioners did showing support for the Federal Trade Policy statement was appropriate. If our very own El Paso County commissioners don’t get it, how can we expect our community to understand that many things have to change at the National level for our local businesses to prosper and grow.

    I don’t know about you, but I would like to see our community prosper and grow. Wealth creation sounds like a good thing to me. The issues identified in this resolution would move us in that direction.

    My small business would have had increased sales of approximately 50% if China trade had not taken away manufacturing business. Its tough to compete against a currency that is undervalued by 40% and border taxes that benefit Chinese exports and hinder U.S. exports to China. This is pretty rough and tough mercantilism. My business was not match for this competition.

    I appreciate the County commissioners stance on this issue. Its time for Washington to hear from their constituents and take action. ITS ABOUT JOBS.

  10. Asa J. Beck, CPA, PMP Says:

    Three cheers for the County Commissioners for standing up and telling the truth. This is not electioneering, but a statement from elected officials in support of the voters and the businesses that employ them.

    We speak of free trade, but some of our trading partners have rigged the game. Manufacturing in the USA is rather efficient. If you factor in the labor cost of many manufactured products it is not very high, due to substantial automation. The problem comes when a country like China purchases huge amounts of US dollars in the open market to keep the value of their currency and hence the cost of their products artificially low. 35% discount all the time by amassing 2.4 trillion dollars of dollar based securities.

    I am proud of the Commissioners. They are doing their job. I wish you and others in Washington would stop to listen to what they have to say. If we simply level the playing field our companies can compete effectively.