West Wing
Talking Points

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Trade (And Intellectual) Deficits

When we get back from the break, the Update Monitors are bleating about the union's claim -- now taken public -- that 17,000 programming jobs are headed for India under the administration's prized agreement. Josh is watching unhappily as he talks to a member of Congress on the phone. He hangs up, and is approached by Will, who asks why he's not in his office. "Donna's not talking to me," Josh says. "Plus, there seem to be unemployed workers camped out in my office." "With tractors, I presume," Will says. "Something like that," Josh mutters. Will asks if the programmers' story is true, and Josh tries the "it's proprietary" line. Will asks if Josh thinks the Republicans will take the opportunity to "squash" the trade deal. Josh suspects so, what with midterm elections coming up. Josh asks how Will became a free-trader, and Will points out that the United States has a quarter of the world's wealth and only 2% of the customers. "You have to sell [something something]." It might be "sell to others." Sigh.

At any rate, Josh asks how you explain that to people who are going to lose their jobs, and Will says something about asking them whether they go to Wal-Mart to buy "cheap cardigans or drill bits." "Drill bits?" Josh asks. "I don't wear cardigans," Will comes back. Will goes on to explain that if you were to keep out the cheap foreign drill bits, then whatever country it is will retaliate by keeping out something that we're really good at turning out on the cheap, like...well, pop music, I guess, but that's a little different. Josh -- assuming as always that he's the only person with a heart just because he's the only person who's acting like the beaten-down dreamer he likes to think he is -- asks Will whether he worries about forgetting "the human face" of the job losses from free trade, or the "blood and muscle," as he puts it. "You have to go with what grows the economy for everyone," Will comments. "There's blood and muscle in India, too." ["Which is true, of course; Indians have a right to raise their standard of living, too." -- Wing Chun] Josh says, "Yeah," but looks unconvinced. After all, how many people can there really be in India? Will talks about Hoynes's having been pretty much against free trade when Josh worked for him, but Josh says that was "mostly politics." Will asks Josh how he became a free-trader. "I came to work for one," Josh says somberly. Oh, brother. So at this point in his political career, Josh is still sad every time he has to put aside his own personal beliefs because the administration has an agenda? I'm telling you, he would have left the business or killed himself long ago if he were still this traumatized by subordinating his personal beliefs to those of his boss. Josh asks Will whether he wanted something, and Will says that the VP will be "distancing himself" from the trade deal. "You did a great job," Will assures Josh. "It's mostly politics." He leaves. Josh stares after him miserably. Oh, the humanity.

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West Wing




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