October 01, 2008
Chris Hayes writes in the New Republican on the growing trade revisionist movement in mainstream economicsland, and notes:
It's not just workers in the importing sector that suffer the wage cut" when forced to compete with foreign workers, says Bivens. "It's everyone that looks like them. Landscapers don't get replaced by imports, but their wages are depressed by having to compete with laid-off apparel workers." ...
Just how much the losers have lost is a matter of debate, but most economists agree that the wealth gained from free trade has been redistributed upward, toward the skilled, and that low-skilled workers have suffered the most. They also agree that, as a portion of the total U.S. economy, the overall net benefit of NAFTA and other free-trade deals is too small to find with even the most powerful econometric microscope. What you're left with is a small gain in the nation's net income and a strong, lasting depression of wages that hits exactly the kinds of unskilled workers who had already been falling further and further behind.
The only way we can stop the steady erosion of our U.S. manufacturing base is to restore a trade policy that is centered around tariffs and re-regulation of industry. This approach not only serves to vastly improve the lives of workers but it also ensures protection for consumers as well. We had these policies in place up until President Reagan trampled over worker rights and totally de-regulated industry opening the door for our current trade model that is based upon cheapest is best and no job is worth protecting. As long as business can fatten an already bloated profit margin then they'll keep pressing for more of the same im afraid. The question is....who's going to stop them??? Obama or McCain??? Or will Congress do the right thing for a change?? If we are serious about saving American Manufacturing then we must bring back a trade policy that includes tariffs. Once our industry has been given a clean bill of health then we can scarp our current trade model and replace it with a new "fair trade" policy that places everyone on a level footing.Just a few suggestions for the policy makers...
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