Third Party & Independents Archives

Free trade: Is it ever a bad Idea?

First off, I am not an economist. On the other hand I am not an idiot either. I have worked for decades in the physical science field and can smell bad logic a mile away.

But the question is free trade not science.

The history of this country is the history of change. We started as agrarian then evolved into old style industry (rail roads, mining and steel). Then we abandoned the iron horse for the automobile. WWII made us the arsenal of democracy. After WWII we did electronics and we were the gods of international trade. The world shopped at our doorstep and life was good.

Then things went horribly wrong (or good depending on your view point). The Japanese showed up at the party. It turned out that our heavy industry was bloated, greedy and inefficient. We fell like wheat before a scythe. My hometown had been a heavy industry center for over 100 years, and then the two main employers closed their doors. Mining, smelting and milling metal was the force that created the town, now it was gone. Life was no longer good. The area will never experience the same level of prosperity again. The years of mining and heavy industry have left the area with a legacy of pollution and cancer. Over the last 30 years the area has recovered some what (a large medical center is now the main employer).

The history of my home town is the history of this country. We went from heavy industry to a service economy. The only thing we make now is food. But productivity gains in agriculture means there is little employment in the agribusiness.

So if the service industry starts to telecommute from India, what are we supposed to do for a living. Is a downward spiraling life style all that is left for us. There are to many of us to return to subsistence farming.

What I would like from the free trade proponents is a straight answer to a couple of question. And I do mean a real answers not a party line quote and not the mindless mantra chant of “protectionism is bad”

Question #1: If you don’t make anything and you don’t service anything how am I supposed to avoid become a starving homeless derelict.

Question #2: If china uses poverty stricken peasants (with dollar a day wage) and political prisoners to manufacture the goods (then denies them basic human rights) how can I possibly compete?

Question #3: If china dumps raw sewage and toxic waste into their rivers, how am I supposed to compete fairly (with out killing my self).

Question #4: If china keeps their currency artificially pegged low (relative to the dollar) won’t their products always be cheaper?

Question#5: If productivity keeps increasing and you need fewer and fewer people to supply the goods to the rest of us what can the rest of us do but become wards of the state.

Believe it or not I am NOT in favor of protectionism. But unless I can get a serious set of answers to my serious questions I am going to switch sides!

Posted by at March 19, 2004 11:06 AM