America a while back made a deal with the devil. That deal was accepting the notion that free trade was the answer to all future economic development needs. There was just a couple of details that the devil forgot to tell us about the whole free trade thing; that it won’t be free by any stretch of the imagination, and it will cost millions of jobs. As we opened up our markets, the rest of the world pretty much stayed the same keeping their markets protected with onerous tariffs on our exports.
Basically this started us down the slide to cheaper available goods, but no money to continue to support laborers that made American products. The results were as predictable as a known chemical reaction; jobs would be lost, exports would continue to be dwarfed by imports, demands for social services would go up, and tax revenues would be reduced. So we wake up today with a huge long term unemployment problem and a giant deficit scratching our heads saying “What the heck happened?” Duh!
“Some 42,000 U.S. factories shut down since 2001, and more than 5.4 million good-paying manufacturing jobs were lost in this country, Sanders noted, “In fact, today, the United States currently has fewer manufacturing jobs than it did in April of 1941, about eight months before the attack on Pearl Harbor.” This a quote from a recent email sent by Senator Bernie Sanders (I VT). How’s this whole “free trade” thing working for you? How’s it working out for your neighbor? How’s it working out for your community? How’s it working out for your state? How do you think it’s working out for the country as a whole?
With record national deficits and extremely high unemployment rates across the nation one can only conclude that unless the goal was to bankrupt our governments, throw millions upon millions into abject poverty, and set the stage for more of the worst, this plan has failed. It is time to re-think how best our nation can be served by the capitalistic economic system that we cling to with such voraciousness. Let’s start with fair trade instead of a failed free trade system which has proven to be neither free nor fair. It becomes simple. No markets get to be protected. Put up or shut up. No ticky, no washy. The price of admission is your ability to compete, not your ability to protect. The level playing field becomes low labor rates versus productivity.
America is losing jobs because too many business managers are allowed to take the easy way out. Invest in outsourcing versus investing in infrastructure and productive capacity. America is laying off people that have world class productivity metrics, so do not say that we can’t compete. We can compete, but not on a playing field where we are expected to run uphill while our competitors get to run down hill; with the wind at their backs!
It will take some time to recover, but the first step is to break the deal made with the devil. We are selling our souls trying to keep our end of a bargain that only enriches the rich and already powerful. “Too big to fail” are words right out of the devils mouth. The notion that we cannot hold the rich and powerful responsible for their actions and must bail them out when they fail is a play right out of the devils playbook. Break the deal with the devil. Change our policies to pursue fair trade that makes the simple condition that a 0% tariff on your part equals a 0% tariff on our part, and that a 50% tariff is met with a corresponding 50% tariff. Stop rewarding businesses that invest outside of our communities. Let’s apply a little KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) to this, and maybe, just maybe, we can begin to regenerate the jobs that Bernie Sanders refers to as being lost. If they are lost, then let’s find them!