Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Free Trade

A lot of people are bloviating about the evils of free trade.  Not me.  I'm not against free trade — just the agreements, with particular emphasis on those who negotiate the agreements.

The negotiators for the TPP and TTIP are overwhelmingly drawn from the corporate sector, and the regulations they negotiate overwhelmingly favor large corporations.  Usually there are a few pages about "labor standards" in the encyclopedic final documents, but benefits for workers are minimal and, even to the extent they exist, rarely enforced.

Workers guaranteed a living wage in Asia or Latin America or Africa do not offer the same degree of unfair competition to American workers as the quasi-slave labor forces that make out-migration of American jobs so lucrative for the world's plutocrats.  Opposition to the TTIP agreement comes primarily from European labor unions, who fear that the trade agreement could drag European labor standards down to the significantly inferior North American level.

Globalization has proceeded to a point where it cannot be undone, and moving away from greater world trade would have severe economic consequences across the globe.  What is lacking, though, is any genuine effort to use trade for the benefit of ordinary human beings, not just big business.

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