Instrumental Politics and the Trade Act
Conventional lobbying still exists. . . . But there is also 'high level lobbying.' All over the country the corporate leaders are drawn into the cycle of the high . . . political through personal friendship, trade and professional associations and their various subcommittees, prestige clubs, open political affiliation, and customer relationships.
C. Wright Mills
The final year of the second Voluntary Restraint Agreement witnessed a worldwide boom in the demand for steel that drove profits to a postwar high. In 1974 domestic steel producers collectively returned 16.9 percent on equity. This followed on the heels of a solid return of 9.5 percent on equity for 1973. In fact, by 1973 steel imports had decreased from a 1971 high of 17.9 percent of all domestic consumption to only 12.4 percent of total consumption. 1 The temporary prosperity of 1973 and 1974, however, obscured the fact that steel's productive abilities in relation to foreign producers had declined significantly since the establishment of the first VRA in 1969.
The data reveal the extent of steel's productive decline during the VRA period. For 1969 U.S. steelmakers expended 12.95 worker-hours for every metric ton of steel produced; it took Japanese producers 15.07 worker-hours to make the same amount of steel. By 1975 the relationship had changed. Japanese producers could now produce a metric ton of steel in 10.09 worker-hours, but U.S. steelmakers still needed 12.04 worker-hours to turn out the same amount. 2 This decline in productivity was exacerbated by the high wages of U.S. steel