NEW YORK (Real Money) -- What happens if you defy orthodoxy? What happens if you question the love affair with free trade? What happens if you suggest that immigration should be tempered until the U.S.'s own domestic surplus labor pool -- meaning people -- is more employed? What happens if you actually suggest that the U.S. is tacitly supporting the export of jobs to polluting nations like China even as we try to stifle domestic industry with climate controls? What if that last item is taking place even though we could reduce greenhouse gases dramatically by harnessing our own natural gas?
I can tell you: It's a prescription to be laughed at.
Let me go further. What happens if you support a boost in the minimum wage -- even though it hurts the start-up small business more than it does companies like Wal-Mart (WMT) -- but you question what it does to create a highly trained work force or high-skilled jobs?
How about this? You are viewed as some sort of off-the-wall, impractical, apolitical theorist.
That's how I felt when I was trying to parry Gene Sperling, director of the National Economic Council under President Obama, on Meet the Press Sunday. I am not saying there was a feeling of contempt from Gene, whom I have known for a long time and whom I view as a progrowth progressive -- which happens to be the name of his book.
I am simply saying that trying to question the religion of free trade, coupled with actual pragmatism about global warming and immigration, seems to be impractical to this administration.
What exactly do I want the debate to be about?
First, I want a debate. I want to question authority here, for a start. I don't want to be viewed as some sort of kook for wondering if we can protect our own workers instead of issuing visas to foreign students -- and then having no problem with those students going right back to their countries with the skills we taught them. I don't want to be an apostate for wondering if it's good policy to crack down on our employers over global warming when they can simply take those jobs to Mexico or China, where you can pollute pretty much at will.