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View Diary: We can choose that workers not die in horrific mass accidents (26 comments)

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  •  We don't need (3+ / 0-)
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    Reepicheep, a2nite, Late Again

    no effin' treaties.  All we need is a simple, categorical, outright BAN on imports from nations that don't provide basic human rights for workers and protections for the environment.  End of sentence.  End of law.  The idea that America as a whole profits from unregulated world trade is specious.  A very, VERY small segment of Americans -- the less than 1% involved as owners and CEOs of international corporations -- profits from driving down all wages and costs of production to the absolute lowest monetary value without reference to other values treated as "externalities": human life, dignity, happiness, environmental quality, depletion of worldwide natural resources, etc.  Everyone else suffers.  

    America is a huge nation, and more capable of self-sufficiency than any other nation on earth.  During the wars of the 20th century we easily fell back on our own production and exported it all over the world while importing virtually nothing but IOUs.  Our labor force includes some of the most intelligent and well-trained individuals on the planet in virtually every field.  This isn't to say that other nations don't produce and create, but that we are perfectly capable of independence.  The only reason for our massive imports is the capitalist greed to seek low cost inputs in order to generate more profit.  Such greed can be controlled through law.  It is not necessary to run the economy, and does not benefit the people in general, only a very few profit-takers and rent-seekers.

    The modern bias against "protectionism" is a meme invented and pushed by those very wealthy profit-seekers.  There are a lot of things in the world worthy of protection.  What was protected when the British Empire declared a moratorium on the slave trade?  That dampened a LOT of profit, let me tell you.  According to "free-marketeer" theology, it was wrong, wrong, wrong to squash a booming commerce in human beings.  It violated the very spirit of Free Enterprise.  And it raised labor prices dramatically in a number of key industries and locations.  Funny how the world survived, isn't it?

    •  An excellent observation. (0+ / 0-)

      One of the main reasons slavery and slave trade persisted for nearly a century after the Revolution is because something like 60% of the economy was dependent on it.  Family fortunes were built on it.  

      My son came home from school during Black history month to tell me about Harriet Tubman and Sojurner Truth. How do you discuss slavery with a 3rd grader? 3rd graders don't operate on free market rules. They say things like, "But that was WRONG. But that isn't FAIR. How could that have happened?"

      And the much jaded adult looks on in sorrow and tries to figure out how to tell a child that grown-ups can be wrong and unfair, and that we often let bad people get away with doing very bad things.

      "YOPP!" --Horton Hears a Who

      by Reepicheep on Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 12:10:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  that only applies to us (0+ / 0-)

      We're a big part of global demand, but not the whole thing. The ban must be international.

      •  ERROR. (0+ / 0-)

        This is the old, "it only works if everybody does it, so there's no point in doing it until we can get everyone to agree" dodge.  When Britain banned the slave trade, other countries continued to practice it -- some even do to this day.  But it had an immediate, significant effect on the practice as a whole, because Britain had a significant share of the market for both slaves and commodities produced by slaves. And they didn't even ban import of such commodities as I am suggesting here.

        America comprises an extremely significant fraction of the market, both as end consumers and just as importantly, as corporate buyers which then re-export to other nations.  Cut out the American participation, which dominates much of world trade, from an industry which exists primarily as a "feeder" for American-labelled goods, and you put such pressure on the nations that compete for lack of worker protections as to reverse that competition and provide an incentive to their governments to pass and enforce an international standard that would be created by our laws.  Legal competition in this manner tends to follow the strictest laws, just as many products in the US are universally produced to comply with California codes because it's cheaper than having multiple products and California represents a huge segment of the market.

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