Quite nice explanation of the economics, one can rarely go too far wrong with Milton Friedman along side. I would add that the Great Depression would be a perfect example of the potential situation you cite. Free and open trade are always the best policies-every time we try otherwise we eventually get bit in the ass. And, as previously cited, the market has a wonderful way of allowing for every man's highest concerns to be addressed, sometimes not exactly as his government might have envisioned.
Have not read the specific gaffe that Mr. Howard is to have committed but if my friend tdw is exercised I'll probably find that I am pleased by it!
This voting thing is vastly over-rated. Or should I say, the desire to get more people to vote is over-rated. One must admit that when viewing MTV and their "rocking the vote" a certain quesiness occurs at the prospect of all those drones casting a vote. If anything, it should perhaps be made harder to vote thereby weeding out those serious about their democracy from those who thought Burger King had opened up another register. Just a thought.