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Mr. Martin goes to Washington

New Richmond author J.R. Martin was the featured speaker at a seminar in Washington, D.C., on March 13. His welcome to the nation's capital was almost as cold as Jimmy Stewart's in the movie classic "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington."

The build-up for author J.R. Martin's appearance in Washington, D.C., on March 13 was impressive.

Full page ads in Capitol Hill newspapers, personal invitations to more than 100 members of Congress and commitments from congressional staffers created high hopes for the "Economy In Crisis" seminar at the Phoenix Park Hotel.

But when Martin's two-hour presentation began, not a public official or any staffers were in sight. Turns out many of the staffers had decided to attend a St. Patrick's Day party, with free beer and food, at the same hotel instead.

"I have nothing against people drinking beer," he said. "I'm from Wisconsin. But my view is that work should come before play, but no one showed up."

A few interested citizens attended the event -- about 10 people in all. But Martin, a New Richmond resident, had hoped to grab the attention of members of Congress and their staff members with his message about the U.S. trade deficit. He said he was particularly disappointed that his Wisconsin senators and congressman failed to show up or send a representative to the gathering.

Martin, in his recently published book titled "Selling U.S. Out," contends that the nation's expanding trade deficit is the real reason why the economy remains in the tank.

His book outlines several ideas for changing the trend, and putting American workers back to work in high-paying jobs.

The cornerstone of Martin's presentation is a graphic showing the U.S. trade deficit from 1975 until the present. When superimposed with a graph showing the national debt, Martin claims, it shows there is a serious correlation between the two.

"Nobody wants to talk about trade," he said. "They consider it a settled issue. But no nation that has exported its wealth at this rate has ever survived."

As the political parties grapple over solving the nation's debt crisis, Martin said they fail to look at the root cause of the problem.

At his Capitol Hill speech, Martin was hoping a few people in power would attend and become informed. He said most people who hear his research become believers that the trade deficit holds the key to turning the economy around.

Until the deficit shrinks, U.S. jobs will continue to leave this country and the nation's wealth will be exported to other countries, Martin claims.

"They are just focusing on taxes and spending," he said. "But it's more about the trade deficit."

One positive outcome from Martin's trip was his solidified partnership with the non-profit organization "Economy In Crisis." The Ohio-based group now intends to set up one-on-one meetings with members of Congress and staffers to get the trade message out.

"I'm going to force the issue," he said. "I'm only one voice in 300 million, but I'm going to be a loud voice. We need to get our leaders to stop fighting and start fixing."

Martin admits that his book doesn't have all the answers to fix what ails the country, but elected officials should be listening to all potential solutions while they craft bills.

He said getting the message out is difficult, because too many think trade isn't causing trouble.

"It doesn't matter if you talk to Democrats or Republicans, they don't think there's a problem," he said.

During his visit to Washington, D.C., Martin said he was witness to an economic boom in the nation's capital. He said it's no wonder politicians are so out of touch with the struggles average Americans are facing, he noted.

"It's a fantasy land," he said. "Despite everything happening around the country, they're swimming in money there."

Even if bureaucrats haven't taken notice yet, Martin said many people reading his book become passionate about the topic of trade.

The book has already been nominated for nine national and two regional awards. It's a finalist in the "Forward Reviews" Book of the Year competition.

"The information in this book is gaining traction," he said.

While sales of the book have been strong, Martin said that isn't his primary motivation for promoting "Selling U.S. Out." He said he mainly wants to help turn the national economy around.