Timmyscape

Thursday, March 16, 2006

CAFTA, NAFTA, SHAFTA


Every once in a while I spot a bumper sticker that really catches my attention and make me realize how many misguided people there are in our society. Driving back to our condominium in Frisco (CO) after sking in Breckenridge, I was stuck behind a Suburban that had an extremely intelligent sticker reading "CAFTA, NAFTA, SHAFTA". While the goal of freer trade has been promoted by the majority of economists, politicians (Democrats, Republicans) and educated elite, it seems as though public opinion and political actions are moving in the direction of protectionism and antiglobalization. Last summer even with Republican majorities in both Congressional houses, it took a huge push by Bush and Republican leaders to get a very small trade deal passed in CAFTA. This year Schumer and Graham proposed a bill placing tariffs on Chinese imports of 27%. While the antitraders throw out rhetoric about currency valuation, labor standards, environmental standards, etc. , what they really worry about is a neoliberal world in which some American workers and industries might lose their artificial comparative advantage. For instance, one of the main special interests that showed their political strength last summer when CAFTA was up for vote was the Sugar Industry who did not want to lose their artificial advantage (through historic tariffs). They lobbied many house of representatives in southern states into voting against the bill. Sugar tariffs cost the average American family an average of $20 a year and all to benefit an industry of about 38,000 workers ("International Economics" by Krugman). When I wrote my representative Ron Kind in voting in favor of CAFTA, I got a lame response that the deal did not include labor or environmental standards. Does he expect poorer countries such as Honduras or Panama to put in place high air and water quality laws and minimum wage laws when people of these countries simply need jobs in order put food on the table and a roof on their heads? While I clearly wish that developing states were able to put stricter environmental laws in place and had higher average wages, giving them a level playing field especially in terms of the world's largest export market is so much more important to their quality of life and future development. There's also certainly a sense of fear in middle America and the public majority in terms of outsourcing of jobs and Mexican inmigration. It seems that instead of taking the proper actions such as upgrading their job skills, seeking more education, and welcoming hardworking Latinos who keep our economy running, they fear global competition and a larger supply of unskilled workers. This probably should scare the high school drop-outs who fumbled the ball in terms of their education but it should not scare the majority of the American public who have already have a huge advantage in terms of education, language, and skills. The fact is though that overall, these inmigrants are getting paid $8 instead of $1 an hour, have an apartment roof over their head instead of a shack, and are starting to experience the American dream. From a utlitarian perspective, a free global economy with open borders and open trade is clearly the right choice. From an objectivist perspective, for the government to choose favorite industries and constrict people's geographical choices is wrong. Moving the US and the world towards neoliberalism is the fair and ethical choice, contrary to what the America public and paleocons say.

2 Comments:

  • Nice post, glad to see you are blogging again. After a one month disapearence I feared the worse..that timmyscape was no more.

    By Blogger Kellie, at 6:08 PM  

  • Yay! You're back.

    By Blogger Brad V, at 4:41 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home