Rick Snyder, the governor of Michigan, seemingly describes himself as an advocate for his state's workers and their liberties. Recently, Michigan passed a "right-to-work" law, which Gov. Snyder ardently supported, giving workers the option of opting out of a union. Gov. Snyder stated, "When you talk about giving workers the freedom to choose, isn't that something we all should be behind?"
Workers also should have the freedom to choose how their taxes are spent. In the case of the autoworkers in Michigan, they should be able to stop the federal government's practice of spending money to benefit countries that export cars to the United States.
In 2011, the United States ran a trade deficit of $137 billion with Germany, Japan and South Korea alone, yet we spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year to protect them when they could spend more for their own defense. U.S. taxpayers fund more than 20 percent of the cost to operate NATO, of which Germany is a member. Each year more than $700 million is given to NATO, and more than $200 billion is spent to maintain our military bases abroad.
If countries did not rely so heavily on the generosity of the U.S. taxpayers for protection, they likely would be forced to raise taxes, whereas ours could be reduced. The net result would be to make manufacturing goods more competitive here in the United States.
Curiously, those who clamor for free trade have been silent on these matters. If Gov. Snyder wants to be described by his state's workers as an authentic advocate for labor, he will plead their case on the national stage.
STEPHEN J. VEROTSKY