Free Trade and Globalization

The Stokes Kith and Kin Community Blog cites a David Brooks article extolling the merits of free trade. While generally agreeing with the principle of free trade, I have some reservations. I put my 2 cents in the comments.


Sean said…
did you really mean to post anonymously over there? if so, i'm sorry i outed you.

my comments:

'Anonymous' pointed me here from his website [] to his comment, so i assume he doesn't really want to be anonymous.

Eric, i used to think this way about free trade, but i have begun to question my assumptions. Barnett would say that every industrializing country goes through these kinds of stresses: too-low wages, child labor, environmental damage. the examples can be multiplied.

is it possible for this stage to be skipped? i don't know. it can certainly be ameliorated. but i think we need to be careful about being paternalistic and saying 'you can't exploit your environment/resources/labor/people the way we did ours to pull ourselves up to this position.' this is the thing that makes me open to drilling in ANWR: the people who live there want to make money off of it.

free trade cannot be kept even. i don't even think this is a desirable goal anymore. tax breaks for companies who keep (some) jobs here might be a good fix. transitioning our industries, services, and workforce to something less outsourceable is another one. what do you think?

i think i'll republish this over on interact.
unlawflcombatnt said…
In reading some of the posts on "free trade" I think many of the posters can't separate the forest from the trees. Or maybe they're doing so well financially that they have lost interest in how their fellow Americans are doing. Free trade is bad for the United States. That should be everyone's concern here. We Americans should be a lot more worried about an unemployed worker in Detroit than an "exploited" worker in China.

Trade agreements have been detrimental to our economy. In addition to permitting the U.S. market to be flooded with cheap foreign goods, they have helped facilitate outsourcing of American jobs to foreign countries.Outsourcing may well be our ultimate demise. Many people (including myself until recently) weren't aware of the REAL "benefits" of NAFTA, the WTO, and international trade organizations. The "benefit" is that they allow US companies to shop globally for the cheapest labor. Which obviously reduces the overall wages of American workers. Companies don't move overseas or outsource for tax benefits. And they don't do it because of lack of skilled US labor. They do it for the cheap labor. So that allows them to make their products cheaper. And make much bigger profits. So they sell their foreign made goods for a little less. But their costs are a lot less. Does anyone really think the US benefits from this?The largest market for US goods is the good old USA. And if US workers have to compete globally for wages, their wages will fall. And the previously huge US consumer market for goods and services will decrease. Because those US wages are what finance the US consumer market and consumer spending. And this spending will continue to decrease. Because American workers, who provide the consumer spending that drives our economy, will have progressively less income to spend. The benefits that US outsourcers achieve by using cheap foreign labor will be short-lived. Those benfits will eventually be overwhelmed by a long-term drop in US demand. Because when they outsourced those jobs, they also outsourced consumer income. They may have saved money on production, but they still have to sell their products to someone. And that is currently our biggest economic problem. Flat consumer spending. Lack of increase in DEMAND. And it will continue to get worse, unless this administration changes its supply-side economic agenda.
unlawflcombatnt said…
Thanks for posting my comment. I greatly appreciate it. I'd like to do this with other writers' comments on my blog site. You stated using "interact." Could you tell me how I can use that feature. Thanks.

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