Enough Free Trade Nonsense

From Other Words:  http://www.otherwords.org/articles/enough_free_trade_nonsense

A limitless world of sweatshops isn’t good for anyone.

  By William A. Collins
July 11, 2011

Trade sets Wall Street’s
Heart athrob;
While it robs me
Of my job.

Does it matter that no cell phones are made in America? Or scarcely any solar panels? Or that 91 percent of Walmart’s goods come from China? Should we care that our sundry free trade agreements have caused so many of those spiffy products on our shelves to be produced in the world’s grimmest sweatshops?

Maybe not. As the world’s capitalist bulwark we benefit more than most from the resultant cheap prices.

But it turns out that free trade causes a couple problems for us too. One is jobs. They’re gone. This isn’t surprising since we don’t make stuff here anymore. With 9 percent unemployed and another 9 percent underemployed or dropped out, who’s left with money to buy things? Even Walmart is now shifting its focus to overseas markets since our middle class is shrinking so. Median family income is plummeting.

Then there’s the debt. Every month we buy shiploads more stuff from others than they buy from us. Thus our foreign debt piles up faster than nuclear waste.

The only way we can avoid disaster is to stop buying, but that annoys the mostly American corporations who profit from it. They manufacture or subcontract those goods abroad but wield great influence over the government and politicians at home. Thus we watch in awe as President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner propose still more free trade agreements that will make it even more profitable to produce abroad and export back to the U.S. market, tariff-free.

America’s subservient flat-earth economists don’t mind that at all. They visualize all those abused sweatshop workers growing up into consumers one day and buying foreign-made (but U.S.-owned) products wherever they happen to be. Other economists understand the horror of those workplaces and fail to envision those workers ever becoming real consumers.

Continue reading at:  http://www.otherwords.org/articles/enough_free_trade_nonsense

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