Against the Globalization of Trade
This post comes from my evil twin, Kabuki. While I think of myself as a progressive with an appreciation for the libertarian critique of modern American liberalism; he is a strong social conservative and Tea Party member.
Needless to say we don’t agree on much. I asked him to share his feelings on free trade since it’s one of those areas where you’d think we might have some common ground, but not as you can see, not at all.
Hi there, I’m Plinko’s twin, Kabuki. He refers to me as the “evil” one, but all evidence clearly points the other way. He’s the one with a moral worldview dominated by jealousy and resentment. He thinks himself as reasonable and skeptical, but in reality he’s unwilling to acknowledge the exceptional nature of America or, most importantly, the critical importance of traditional values to navigating the modern world.
I’m writing here today today to debunk his obsession with “free trade” (as he calls it) as a moral good. ‘Free Trade’ is a vile lie perpetrated by neoliberal elites and crony capitalists to give themselves power and control without moral obligation or accountability. They have already sold out the American working-class families to socialist dictatorships and kleptocrats and are in the process of selling our security and sovereignty. I learned this, just as my brother was opening his eyes to the value of economic freedom. Ironically, it was his transformation here that exposed me to the truth that I share with you today.
It wasn’t all that long ago that I was a free trader myself. I admit it took me a little while to see the light on this. If I can blame a weakness here on my part it would be my natural distrust of liberals – their constant panics about “globalization” had me reacting to support things like NAFTA, and upon a cursory review I found a lot of hope for. The problem with ‘Free’ trade is not what the hippies, bleeding hearts and union thugs would have believe. It is not about the exploitation of workers overseas, it’s not about a global race to the bottom – that’s just typical demagoguery to salve liberal guilt while protecting union interests.
Even Red China’s admittance to the WTO didn’t faze me. I figured it was only a matter of years before the wool would fall from their eyes and their government would reform or be overthrown once the citizenry had a taste of freedom of opportunity.
But in the years since, none of these things have come to pass and I should have seen it all along. The reality is while government and academic elites like to call it ‘Free Trade’, what they’ve instituted is a stronger and less accountable bureaucracy. The oppressive anti-American regimes that we keep getting told are going to embrace reforms do no such thing. Today, China remains a Communist-run command economy that crushes any movement toward democracy – all trade ‘liberalization’ has done is allow enough money to flow in for the regime to maintain the necessary bribery to keep popular uprisings at bay. To godless neoliberals this might seem like a fair trade, but a little prosperity is nothing without real liberty.
And at what price have we won the entrenchment of that Chinese regime? We’ve allowed good American jobs to move overseas to be replaced with third-rate junk from China. Many of my conservative friends have a blind spot on this subject because so many of the jobs lost were lost because of irresponsible union leadership that had priced many of those workers out of a job. To them, this is a temporary situation as union members start to realize their excesses and learn to earn their livings again. I don’t dispute that unions haven’t been chewing away at the heart of American manufacturing, but the solution is not to ship our jobs off to wage slaves in China, it’s to bust the unions, re-settle wages and work incentives without union extortion and make American manufacturing competitive again. Without that crucial re-balancing, millions of American families will lose access to the necessary hard work that is crucial to the realization of the American Dream.
And as far as ‘free’ trade goes, let me tell you, it’s a total joke. My brother showed me the book of customs codes for clothes he keeps for work , it’s four inches thick and that’s just the listing of categories and applicable duties, not a word on how you even know what goes under which code or how you actually use them to get your goods through customs (note from Plinko – he’s referring to the Chapter XI of the U.S. Harmonized Tariff Schedule). No, to actually use it you need lawyers and expert consultants – just further ways crony corporate elites create hurdles for small business. Almost as bad is how the paperwork requirements just further enable corrupt bureaucracies to siphon money away from American businesses. You want a trade stamp this month, better grease five palms to see the official and then he’s going to require a real bribe if you want him to help you out. The dirty secret of big business outsourcing to foreign-owned factories isn’t wages or working conditions that get hippies in a lather, it’s that the kleptocracies are so corrupt that you can’t operate legitimately, so everyone needs a foreign owner to act as the fence and protect American executives from charges of bribery at home or abroad. To any honest American, the complicity in these regimes that “free trade” has brought is is outrageous.
But these prices aren’t even the most dear one we’ve paid. No, in selling out working class families, global elites have their sights on something even greater, our national sovereignty. In creating a multi-national body that governs trade relations, Washington insiders have turned over our ability to control our own destiny in international affairs. Out national sovereignty is one of our most precious assets, not something to be blithely given away in exchange for cheap plastic toys.
Just as they have with the International Criminal Court, the body exists largely to give cover to unaccountable global elites to dictate policy to prosperous, successful nations. You never see them going after China for all the piracy they tolerate if not directly subsidize, but they’re more than willing to go after Americans for choosing tax policies to keep our food and energy supplies strong. The proof of the insidiousness of it all is simple.If all the egghead liberal economists agree that trade restrictions or industrial subsidies supposedly mainly hurt the nation that engages in them, why do we need to punish nations that enact them? It’s not to keep them from hurting themselves, it’s to keep us from putting our own national interests above those of the global elite.
Like many of you, I used to believe in the power of free trade. What I’ve learned is that it’s just another sales job and the price is just way too high.