Freedom Folks

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Cheap Shirts & Globalization?

Source: The Salt Lake Tribune
Cheap shirts and the false promises of globalization
Robyn Blumner

When I go into a store to buy a new shirt I am as sensitive to price as the next guy. But when I get a real deal on that Chinese-made shirt it will be goodie for me and not so goodie for us.
My cheap shirt is a real problem for America.
We may regularly talk about the irresponsibility of budget deficits, but what gets far less attention is America’s trade deficit, which now stands at more than $800 billion a year. That we buy so much more from abroad than we sell cannot continue if Americans are going to enjoy a secure economic future.
I don’t want to be able to buy a cheap shirt from China if it means my country loses good jobs, has to sell off national assets and is put further in debt to foreign nations and banks. And if our national leaders were more responsible on trade issues they wouldn’t be putting me in a predicament where the rational choice I make for myself is irrational for the common good.
‘’Free trade'’ is not the glorious win-win-win-even-bigger economic miracle that so many economists and politicians trumpet. There are demonstrable downsides for American workers, even skilled workers, and our continued record trade imbalances threaten a sharp decline in the average American’s living standards. Our debt will one day lose its luster for our trading partners. Then, watch out.
In a 2004 op-ed column in The New York Times titled ‘’The Broken Promise of NAFTA,'’ Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz looked back on 10 years of the continental free trade agreement and found many of the promotional claims were empty promises. Mexico didn’t expand its economy to bolster a middle class. Its paltry 1 percent per capita growth was far poorer than in earlier years. Income disparities between Mexico and the United States grew by 10.6 percent; and real wages for Mexican workers fell annually.
President Clinton told us that NAFTA would mean ‘’less illegal immigration because more Mexicans will be able to support their children by staying home.'’ But the opposite came to pass. In 1995 there were estimated to be just 2.5 million illegal immigrants here, a number that now stands at about 11 million. *snip*

Bush wants fast-track trade authority reauthorized before it expires at the end of June so he can continue the free trade excesses. A few courageous senators, led by Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., are insisting on fair and reciprocal trade agreements that protect American labor and environmental standards.
They should stand tough. I have more than enough cheap shirts. What I really need is a country that cares about its workers and economic fundamentals as much as its corporate investors.
Read the whole

H/T immigration watchdog

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