A number of years ago I read a book by present U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, titled “The myth of free trade.” He showed that so-called free trade was nothing more than the exploitation of foreign manufacturing workers in order to benefit a small segment of the higher ups in society: manufacturing owners and executives, shippers, retailers, lobbyists, etc.
The premise has not changed in recent years. Manufacturers, such as Carrier, are still closing U.S. plants and sending jobs to places like Mexico, where the average hourly worker’s total pay benefit is only about $6 an hour. Workers in America are called protectionists, nationalists, racists, xenophobic and other names. What workers want is a fair, level playing field. They shouldn’t be concerned about losing their jobs to a Mexican worker making $6 an hour, or a Chinese or Vietnamese worker earning even less.
Unfortunately, American moral values haven’t been extended to our trade policy. Many leaders in manufacturing and retailing search for the lowest wages, no matter what a country’s record has been on human rights. Even Mexico in the 21st century does not have viable, independent unions representing their workers. If it did, their workers would earn a livable wage and they wouldn’t be coming across the border.
As Sherrod Brown suggested, our trade policy should reflect high moral values: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Deny human rights and take your manufactured goods elsewhere.
Someone recently wrote that America is a leader in trade. How can that be if we annually run a $500 billion trade deficit? I must be missing something. A more fitting cognomen is that we’re nothing more than “the black hole of consumerism.”
GARY H. KNIGHT
Old State Road