Few people benefit from ‘free trade’ when ‘free trade’ is defined as laissez-faire for multi-corporations that can afford to take root wherever they will most benefit. Ordinary people do not have the option of simply moving to wherever the good jobs are.
But opponents of protectionism do not see the problem. If jobs are moved to Mexico, learn Spanish and pack your bags. If jobs are moved to India, brush up on Hinduism and buy a plane ticket. Never mind the communities that make America what it is. Never mind the families that go back generations. Never mind the friends and colleagues and ties to culture and heritage. Take a picture, store it on cell phone and move on. There’s work to be done for the almighty corporation.
Multi-national corporations that take advantage of third world conditions to lower their ‘labor costs’ are morally bankrupt. Equally, any business that views the people that perform the work of the business as a ‘cost’, are fools.
Yes, there are efficient and inefficient models of getting work accomplished. However, the number one priority of any business should be to find ways to optimize workforce performance and treating the people who do the work as an investment, not a cost. Yes, there is a price to pay for investing, but the idea is that, by investing, you multiply your investment over and over again so that the price is irrelevant. You make the money back and then some.
But that’s not good enough for multi-national corporations. They don’t just want laissez-faire, they want carte blanche to do as they please with not just minimum government interference, but no government interference at all.
Let’s face it, nobody wants to be told what to do. But I think it is prudent to follow certain rules that help society function. Traffic lights are important so that people can get around with running into each other. Equally, living in an area and paying taxes that help pay for the proper functioning of that society is part of being a citizen. Just as much, it is important that corporations operating within the jurisdiction of a certain country give back to that country in the form of taxes, jobs, or some type of corporate stewardship that makes that country a better place to live due to the economic activity occurring. It is a fair give and take. The government provides access to infrastructure, a labor pool, etc. The corporations feeds into the infrastructure and labor pool by providing jobs, products, etc. It’s a happy cycle.
No, that’s not what multinationals want. They want to pollute with no remorse. They want the closest to slave labor as they can get. They want to live like kings and answer to no one. They want raw, unadulterated power to operate in whatever way they see fit. They do not want to provide for anyone but themselves. This is a happy situation for them. It is hell for everyone else. And they’re laughing all the way to the secret, offshore bank.
But, American prices would skyrocket if we didn’t use cheap foreign labor, these corporations will say. So? Let the prices rise to their true cost. And let the market adjust. American workers are already underpaid. Corporate executives are grossly overpaid. Even out the difference and maybe ordinary workers could pay the higher prices to keep jobs in America. Also, if more Americans had jobs, more Americans could afford to buy things that companies make, which would create demand for more products, which would create even more jobs. Then, you have an upward spiral of economic success, rather than a downward spiral of rampant consumerism with no consumers.
Protectionism simply means that a country defends its borders economically. Any entity that wants to set up shop or trade with my country, would face rules that would be designed to protect the citizens of my country. Avoiding competition is not the answer. Annihilating competition is the answer. You simply don’t compete with my country’s citizens. Imports would be things we don’t make or can’t make. Exports would be things that other countries don’t make or can’t make. Imports would be raw materials we don’t have.
The global marketplace has always been in existence. The idea that we now live in a ‘global’ economy and therefore have to have global rule by multinationals who decide who lives and who dies by fiat in a board room somewhere is utterly stupid.
The U.S. has the power to go after criminal corporations who usurp our national resources for their own gain and provide nothing in return but empty theories and promises of prosperity. These multinationals are no different from pirates who hijack ships in the ocean, answerable to no one and holding what they capture for ransom.
Anti-protectionism is the last plank of George W. Bush’s failed economic policies. His ideas of a North American Union that effectively dissolves our country’s political structure in favor of a transcontinental, corporate fiefdom needs to be thrown overboard to sink with Davy Jones’ locker.