Jewish World Review Feb. 3, 2004 / 11 Shevat, 5764

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Dangerously dependent | The world's only superpower is becoming increasingly vulnerable to an ever-expanding dependency on other nations for our energy, our capital and even our labor.

Like it or not, globalization and multilateralism are facts of life in the new world that our policymakers have yet to comprehend, let alone confront. Our national policies are leading the United States, at the height of its strength, toward diminished economic and political power and unprecedented vulnerability to external forces that we may, one day, not be able to control.

We are reliant on the rest of the world for our energy supply. U.S. imports of petroleum products have increased by more than 200 percent since 1970, with goods from the Persian Gulf now representing almost one-fifth of the crude oil products we import. Additionally, net imports of petroleum are on track to grow from 55 percent of our demand in 2001 to 68 percent of demand by 2025.

A 1997 White House study found that improvements in the fuel economy of cars and trucks could reduce our oil use in 2030 by 6 million barrels per day. And one estimate from a pro-drilling group found that productions from the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve could replace up to 70 percent of our imports from the Persian Gulf.

But because our political parties view domestic production and conservation in purely partisan terms rather than in the national interest, we have done nothing to reduce our dependency on other nations to meet our energy needs.

Our dependency extends well beyond energy. According to a study conducted by the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University, the United States is more dependent on foreign immigration to meet its labor force requirements than at any time in the last 80 years. This dependency is principally the result of so many businesses being unwilling to pay a fair living wage to our native workforce to fill those jobs.

The rationalization for business, organized labor and open-borders advocates is that aliens perform jobs that native workers don't want. That is the big lie.

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The Commission on Immigration Reform and the joint U.S.-Mexico Bi-National Study on Migration analyzed the prospect of expanding guest-worker initiatives in the mid-1990s and decided against recommending such programs due to their negative effects on pay and work conditions. Illegal immigrants displace more than 700,000 American workers annually. In fact, the total direct cost of illegal immigration to our economy, including social services, is roughly $20 billion per year.

The most striking evidence of our national dependency is the U.S. trade deficit.

The U.S. trade deficit with Japan and China alone will total about $190 billion for 2003. Almost half of the U.S. Treasury bonds are now owned in Asia.

"We are too dependent on foreign capital," says Peter Morici, a professor of logistics, business and public policy at the University of Maryland. "But it is not so much our own actions as much as it is those of the Chinese, Japanese, Korean and other governments."

According to Morici, the increasing foreign ownership of U.S. bonds comes with a steep cost and makes the U.S. economy grow more slowly, not more rapidly.

"U.S. dependence on foreign capital these days is very much a function of foreign government manipulation in currency markets," Morici says. "It's something the Bush administration has been unwilling to take on."

The trend away from national self-reliance is something that the Bush administration has been either unable or unwilling to confront. The Democrats are just as reluctant. The reluctance of both parties to reverse this trend toward dependency should concern all Americans.

Globalization and multilateralism are hallmarks of the 21st century, but both terms are expressions of economic and political cooperation, not a rationale for our policymakers to deny traditional American values of independence and self-reliance, which have been the basis of our prosperity and national strength for more than 200 years.

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Lou Dobbs is the anchor and managing editor of CNN's "Lou Dobbs Moneyline." Comment by clicking here.

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