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Treasury Secretary Geithner negotiates trade deal with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak 11/11/10 (Jim Young/Reuters)
Both parties are free trade parties. The uniformity about the cost and benefits of free trade are heavily tilted towards the idea that free trade is a "net benefit" to the economy and America generally. Economists of both liberal and conservative bent have praised America's free trade regime, although global trade Nobel laureate Paul Krugman notably says free trade is mostly a wash. Politically, however, the policy of free trade has become increasingly unpopular. Support for free trade policies decline during economic downturns, but that fact makes them no less politically sensitive.

The polls on the matter indicate recent slippage in support for free trade. From an NBC poll conducted last November:

"In general, do you think that free trade between the United States and foreign countries has helped the United States, has hurt the United States, or has not made much of a difference either way?"

Helped - 23%

Hurt - 47%

Not much difference - 23%

Unsure - 7%

A robust plurality believe that free trade has hurt the country, while a paltry 23% agree with the reigning consensus in both parties.

Here is another poll from CNN, conducted around the same time:

"What do you think foreign trade means for America? Do you see foreign trade more as an opportunity for economic growth through increased U.S. exports or a threat to the economy from foreign imports?"

Opportunity- 41%

Threat- 50%

Both- 3%

Neither- 3%

Unsure- 3%

Here's an NBC poll conducted last September that illustrated the public's perception of free trade's effect on jobs:

"From what you know, do you think that free trade agreements between the United States and other countries help to create more jobs in the U.S., or do you think they cost the U.S. jobs?"

Create more jobs- 18%

Cost jobs- 69%

Depends- 2%

Unsure- 11%

Both parties appear to be on the wrong side of the public. There is a large block of the population that feels that free trade hurts the country and an even strong majority that feels it costs jobs. With the small number of Americans who are actually supportive of free trade being so small, it is rather interesting mystery as to how both parties have seem to come to a consensus in favor of it.

It is a funny thing too because both parties also frequently talk out of their faces about how much they cannot stand to "see our jobs shipped overseas." For Democrats, the argument is generally framed as a matter of tax policy. They say that we should give tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas and I agree. However, there is little evidence that ending those breaks will end the offshoring of jobs. Republicans say place the blame on unions and regulations. They say that union wages and the regulatory regime place too many onerous burdens on business, forcing them to seek refuge offshore. But this argument also seems hollow since unionization in America has declined sharply over the last 10 years. Furthermore, years of lax regulation under the Bush Administration did nothing to stop jobs from moving overseas, and neither policy had any effect on reducing America's substantial trade deficit.

It is extremely difficult to find a single policy that both parties agree support, the American public thinks is bad, and that politicians of both parties decry the effects of. Free trade is, when considered against other policies of the government, bizarre.

Perhaps this is just another issue where the influence of multinational corporate executives hold more sway over our politicians than we do. But if Democrats could begin to speak out in ways that draw a contrast with Republicans on the matter of free trade, it is quite possible Democrats could reap political benefits. It is difficult to find an issue so ripe with opportunity to get on the right side of public opinion.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 06:45 PM PDT.

Also republished by ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, Progressive Hippie, and DKOMA.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Did you mean to write this? (12+ / 0-)
    They say that we should give tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas and I agree.

    The context suggests that you mean the opposite.

    •  the tax breaks are a nonissue (16+ / 0-)

      Corporations don't move jobs overseas because they get tax breaks.  They move jobs overseas because they can pay their workers one-tenth what they pay them here, and make boatloads of money doing it.

      The whole "let's end their tax credits !!!!" is a great feel-good line, and it may even help educate people about the realities of offshoring--but the simple fact is that it's a nonissue, and repealing their tax credits is nothing more than a symbolic gesture. The corporados won't even notice it.

      •  I agree... getting tax breaks after outsourcing is (10+ / 0-)

        simply a bonus. It's like a big fat banker style bonus for running your company into the dirt.

        Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

        by k9disc on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 07:32:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The whole point of free trade is to (5+ / 0-)

          outsource our jobs and bring the product back to the US market an increased profits.   They are one and the same.    Which is why I never can understand why the stupid Michigan Democratic Party brings Clinton, the spawn-er of deregulation and outsourcing designed to destroy America's middle class,  to town to rally the troops.    It's akin to bringing a skunk to a picnic.

          Yes we can, but he won't.

          by dkmich on Mon Sep 05, 2011 at 02:54:00 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Actually, both parties have been constructing (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            joe shikspack, j1j2j3j4, k9disc

            the free trade structure since the 1970's. Both GOP and Democratic politicians left office, after advocating Free Trade, and from Wall Street began demolishing every vital company in sight. They would buy them, suck them dry of cash and assets, drain their pension funds and then send them into bankruptcy so the workers had no recourse on their lost pensions.

            One after another, every productive, profitable, stable AMERICAN company after another was treated thus, and the politicians did it as they travelled the revolving doorway from Wall Street to Washington.

            It's bitter that the Solar energy company President Obama visited not long ago is now shutting down because they can't compete with a government-sponsored, government financed solar energy company in China.

            What is needed are Fair Trade tariffs on such companies that recieve subsidies from their governments. Steep tariffs. Of course, the WTO will rule against us; but we need to ask ourselves, do we fight a war over this in another thirty years, when we have nothing left? Or do we stand up against it now?

            And what are we to do with both political parties that are actively working to undermine our country?

            •  Some good thoughts there. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              joe shikspack, VigilantLiberal

              I'd note that the Solar energy company Obama visited had received a $500 million guaranteed loan from the gov't for a new factory, so in that case it wasn't for lack of trying.
              But overall policy the last 20 years has been awful in that regard. On again (Democratic) off-again (Republican) incentives have significantly weakened alternative energy companies because they can't plan effectively.

              George Bush actually tried a steel tarriff, and it turned out that those affected by it could have harmed us more than we could have gained by keeping them in place. What I think we need are free trade agreements only with countries who have basic labor and environmental standards. Pretty radical to pull out of GATT and NAFTA and set up a new treaty along these lines, but eminently reasonable all the same.

              No one ever created a vibrant economy by building houses for each other. Houses are built because there is a vibrant economy.

              by Doug in SF on Mon Sep 05, 2011 at 09:30:04 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  what you advocate is called "Fair Trade" (3+ / 0-)
                What I think we need are free trade agreements only with countries who have basic labor and environmental standards.

                It is already a thriving movement.  It declares that if the WTO and free trade agreements are not going to go away (and they are not), then it's time for us to use them as weapons, by forcing the inclusion of "fair trade" requirements (worker rights, minimum wages, safety and purity standards, environmental protections) into the WTO rules themselves, thereby forcing every company on the planet to follow these standards.

                The US has given lip service to the Fair Trade movement--and not much else.


      •  And Slash Environmental & Safety Costs Too nt (4+ / 0-)

        We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

        by Gooserock on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 07:35:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  They still should not get tax breaks. That is (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TexasTom, Nailbanger, ColoTim, James Allen

        money that does not come into our Treasury.  Thus it adds to the deficit....because letting corporations get the tax break means they pay less taxes if they pay any taxes.  So we get less tax money to pay the deficit.  One more loophole!

        •  they won't even notice. The tax breaks cost less (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          than what the corporations pay for toilet paper in the executive bathrooms.  (shrug)

          •  What they would notice... reciprocal tariffs (8+ / 0-)

            China puts a 25% tariff on all goods we export there... while the US puts a 2.5% tariff in return.

            If you want to see US manufacturing jobs come back that would be a good start.

            Now lets hear it from the "Oh... that would start a trade war" jackasses and their attempt to label what is in reality "self defense."

            Germany levels the playing field with China by using a VAT tax and we should do the same.

            All of this of course says nothing about China's currency manipulation.

            •  we'd notice too, when the WTO charges come down (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              marty marty, HeyMikey

              WTO takes a dim view of trade tariffs of any sort.

              But then it would never happen anyway--the US corporations simply would not allow it.  They don't want to impede the flow of cheap imported goods---they're usually the ones manufacturing them. Look what happened when Obama tried to include a "Buy American" provision in the stimulus bill . . . . . .

              China's currency manipulations are actually an interesting situation, though. They are taking advantage of the fact that WTO currently has no jurisdiction over international finance, and therefore can't do a damned thing about it. The US and Europe have already tried to change that--they began the Dohan Round to try to expand WTO's authority into areas including international finance, which would indeed give them the tool to stop China's shenanigans.  Alas, the Dohan Process was stopped dead in its tracks by the G20+ bloc, who objected to unrelated provisions concerning agricultural subsidies. But it's a near-certainty that Obama will try to re-start the stalled Dohan talks and gain WTO jurisdiction over finance.  And then China's manipulations will come to an abrupt halt.

              Interestingly, China is also one of the nations calling for the establishment of a universal global currency. . . .

              •  Doesn't seem to bother the Chinese at all... (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                J Orygun, j1j2j3j4
                How we pay Chinese taxes. 20% of their government revenue from import taxes


                The biggest difference in the way the Chinese and American governments raise revenue is that Beijing relies much more heavily on import taxes. More than 20% of Chinese central government revenue in 2009 was generated from import taxes, while the comparable figure for the US was just 1.4%.

                The Chinese impose three major taxes on most imported products: a value-added tax of 17% on imported goods destined for domestic consumption, a variety of consumption taxes and also tariffs which vary by import category and are generally higher on manufactured goods. For example, there is a 45% tariff on motorcycle imports, which is particularly damaging for the US given that the US consistently enjoys a large trade surplus in motorcycles.  Chinese value added tax and consumption taxes are typically waived for imported raw materials and inputs destined for goods to be exported.

                China’s import taxes generate a tremendous amount of revenue for Beijing, almost 825 billion RMB in 2009 (US $126 billion at current exchange rates). This was the equivalent of about 13.5% of the value of Chinese imports in 2009. If the US had imposed a comparable level of taxes on its $1.6 trillion worth of imports in 2009, the federal government would have raised $216 billion in customs revenue rather than the paltry $29.1 billion it did raise. For Washington to have depended on border taxes for 22% of its revenue in 2009, it would have had to raise $463 billion in import taxes, which could have reduced payroll and income taxes by almost a quarter.

                The difference in border taxation between the US and China is a major reason why American companies have difficulty competing. Chinese border taxes make it more difficult for American manufacturers to export to the Chinese market, even as Chinese companies enter into the US market essentially tax-free.

                Neo-classical economists in particular should champion reforming the US system of border taxes to match those of our trading partners, especially China. From the perspective of orthodox economics, the lack of US border taxes significantly distorts private sector incentives. A long-standing principle of public finance holds that differing tax rates on close substitutes, say different sales taxes on varieties of beer, introduce efficiency-damaging distortions to the free market. If one brand of beer is taxed at twice the rate of another variety, consumers may switch to the cheaper, more lightly taxed beer — conceivably, even if they thought the heavily taxed alternative tasted somewhat better. This difference in taxation creates major market inefficiencies. In this context, efficiency can be improved by equalizing the tax rates applied to both kinds of beer.

                More... (including comparative tax tables)


                •  those are taxes. they're not trade tariffs. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  Everybody pays them--us, the Germans the Japanese, and even the Chinese.

                  That is quite a different thing than a tariff.

                  •  Okay... reciprocal taxes then. (0+ / 0-)

                    Call'em what you want and Obama is calling for tax reform which makes me wonder what he has in mind.

                  •  BS Lenny (0+ / 0-)

                    you seem to gloss right over this statement in the article above:

                    For example, there is a 45% tariff on motorcycle imports, which is particularly damaging for the US given that the US consistently enjoys a large trade surplus in motorcycles.

                    China uses tariffs and internal tax policy to inflate the costs of US imports into China to protect domestic production.

                    Senators urge China to reduce trade barriers for US products

                    Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Finance ranking member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) cited findings in a U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) report they requested, outlining the tariff-based and non-tariff barriers that China puts on U.S. agricultural products, reducing exports between an estimated $3.9 billion and $5.2 billion.

                    “China is our number one market for U.S. agricultural product exports, but China’s unjustified trade barriers are blocking some of our goods such as wheat and beef and hurting job growth in the U.S,” Baucus said in a statement. “We need to hold China accountable to its international agreements so American ranchers and farmers can compete on a level playing with their world-class, safe agricultural products.”

                    The ITC report found that U.S. exports to China are concentrated in just a few commodities — primarily soybeans and cotton.

                    The report found that Chinese government support for the agriculture sector boosts the competitiveness of Chinese agricultural products relative to U.S. products, putting restrictions on exports including pork, beef and corn.  

                    That and other non-tariff barriers effectively prohibit imports of certain products, including meat products along with strawberries, apples and fresh potatoes.  


                    Yet China’s restrictive and non-transparent tariff rate quotas significantly limit imports of U.S. rice, wheat and other products.

                    “In joining the World Trade Organization, China committed to adhering to international trade rules,” Grassley said. “These rules include eliminating non-tariff trade barriers that have no basis in science or that exist just to prop up a domestic industry at the exclusion of trade partners."


                    Whether you call it a tariff or a tax and apply it unfairly so it functions as what is known in financial circles as a "non-transparent tariff" makes little difference.

                    It still gives that Chinese domestic producers an unfair price advantage... a tariff by any other name is still a tariff.

                    •  PS... you'll love this one (0+ / 0-)
                      The Real Problem With China


                      For the United States, the No. 1 problem with China’s economy is probably intellectual property theft. Technology companies, for example, continue to notice Chinese government agencies downloading software updates for programs they have never bought, at least not legally.

                      No wonder China has become the world’s second-largest market for computer hardware sales — but is only the eighth-largest for software sales.

                      Next on the list, say people who work in China or do business there, is the myriad protectionist barriers China has put up. These barriers make this country’s recent efforts at “buy American” protectionism look minor league. In some cases, Beijing has insisted that products sold in China must not only be made there but be conceived and designed there. The policy goes by the name “indigenous innovation.”


                      I love it... "indigenous innovation" of products that can be sold into China.

                      •  If you want to see the full list... (0+ / 0-)

                        The list of Chinese trade barrier abuses is quite extensive and ranges from outright intellectual property theft... unequal application of the VAT tax making it a defacto tariff... to non-compliance with WTO rulings against China and their refusal to verify compliance.

                        15 April 2011

                        Annual Trade Barrier Reports Detail Complaints Against China

                        The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative issued three reports on 30 March that highlight the administration’s efforts in addressing key trade barriers to U.S. exports.

                        The first report, entitled 2011 National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers, documents foreign restrictions on U.S. exports of goods and services, foreign direct investment and protection of intellectual property rights in 62 major trading partners in each region of the world.

                        Issues raised in the NTE report are usually brought up during bi-lateral talks with concerned countries and may serve as the basis for future investigations of unfair trade practices. The second report, 2011 Report on Technical Barriers to Trade, focuses on non-tariff barriers to U.S. exports such as product standards, testing requirements and other technical requirements.

                        Lastly, the 2011 Report on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures identifies SPS barriers to U.S. agricultural exports and outlines on-going efforts to remove those barriers.

            •  Just an FYI, (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              There is no one import duty rate for goods that are made in China.

              If you look through the Harmonized Tariff Scheule of the U.S., you'll see China is a MFN country, and the tariffs of Chinese goods range from duty free to ... whatever.

              One of my clients import manganese flakes from China, and they pay 14% of the entered value (fob value).

              Furthermore, German VAT was not imposed as a punitive measure against China.  VAT is a consumer tax assessed on all goods, domestic and foreign (regardless of country of origin).  It's used as sort of a sales tax throughout the EU, not just Germany.  I have a client who manufactures automotive sprockets in Arkansas that I ship to Italy on a DDP basis (shipper pays all costs to door), and they pay a VAT rate in Italy of 20%.

              This same client sent a replacement shipment of sprockets to China, and they paid 8% rate there.  There was also Chinese VAT, if I'm remembering correctly, at 17%.  That's for all imports, regardless of origin.

              •  as I note elsewhere, WTO has no objection to taxes (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                HeyMikey, j1j2j3j4

                that fall on both imports and domestics.

                What it DOES object to are taxes solely on imports--especially if they are directed at particular countries.

                •  A closer look at their taxes... (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  HeyMikey, j1j2j3j4

                  Shows that they seem to apply the taxes to all imports and domestic products but then give reductions of those taxes or offsetting tax benefits to their domestic products.

                  Both China and Germany have been playing the same game.

                  The question is will the US do the same thing or continue to get bled dry and let what remains of their manufacturing sector die?

                •  Only if the US is the actor. It visciously protect (0+ / 0-)

                  the import duties other countries levy on imported American products, and does not recognize state controlled or supported companies as different from ordinary commercial companies.

                  The WTO is so slanted against the US that I consider it a corrupt and criminal organization. It's said that the US was a leading instigator in its formation.

                  One thing the US can do unilaterally is suspend China's most favored nation status until its exports are no longer subsidized by the government.

                  "Free Trade" is another of those ideals that's great in theory but lousy in the real world. and it only enjoys the support of our politicians because their class benefits, while 98% of Americans suffer for it.

                  •  not really. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    The US is both the nation with the largest number of complaints filed against it, and the nation with the largest number of complaints it itself has filed. Like other nations, we have won about 85% of our complaints.

                    I've not seen any indication anywhere that the US is discriminated against in any way in WTO rulings, nor have I seen any indication that the WTO is protecting anyone's tariffs or trade barriers; quite the opposite, in fact--nobody's tariffs or trade barriers are safe, and they have been ruled against in a wide variety of nations including China.

                    •  Winning against China in the WTO means little (0+ / 0-)

                      Since China has continued to ignore WTO requirements that they verify compliance after losing a complaint made against them.

                      They just go happily on their way applying a VAT tax to US imports but not their Chinese competitors making it a defacto tariff... as detailed in the full list of complaints by the Office of US Trade representative in 2011:

                      Annual Trade Barrier Reports Detail Complaints Against China


                      •  we shall see (0+ / 0-)

                        Every other nation that has attempted to defy the WTO has surrendered abjectly--including the US. I doubt China will be any different.

                        But I'm a little puzzled why you seem to expect me to defend either the WTO or China.  Are you under the delusion that I am a fan of either one?

                        •  I wouldn't hold your breath (0+ / 0-)
                          Every other nation that has attempted to defy the WTO has surrendered abjectly--including the US. I doubt China will be any different.

                          I worked in China for many years and I know how their system works. I love the Chinese people and culture, but doing business there is extremely difficult and agreements are etched in jello.

                          Further, they have economic leverage now and they know it. The US economy is stalling and so is Europe, which makes them the only game in town... I would bet on the WTO being to aggressive about their non-compliance with their rulings. They will only go around them anyway.

                          But I'm a little puzzled why you seem to expect me to defend either the WTO or China.  Are you under the delusion that I am a fan of either one?

                          Actually I am responding to the content of your posts, although various industries and countries have been known to send employees to this site to shape arguments and frame debates through their posts.

                          You never know who you are talking to on this site and as a matter of attitude it is best to assume nothing.

                          •  typo (0+ / 0-)

                            I meant to say:

                            I would Not bet on the WTO being to aggressive about their non-compliance with their rulings.
                          •  one advantage China has (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:

                            is that no matter how much economic pain the WTO inflicts, China's police-state government doesn't care.  It's not like the EU or US, where the WTO simply ratcheted up the pain level until they gave in and cried uncle.

                            And another advantage that China has is that it has an internal market that is large enough to support its own economy, and unlike the USSR or North Korea, China CAN successfully cut itself off economically from the rest of the world and depend solely on its own internal economic resources. whether that would be politically survivable may be debatable.

                            But in the end, I am still of the view that China can hold out longer than most, but in the end they will not want to piss off their global market any more than anyone else does, and they'll do what they have to do to accomodate. They may be a national corporation with an army, but they are not stupid.

                            The international trade system is set up deliberately to make it impossible for any single country to defy it forever (which is why both the EU and US tried and failed).  China will inevitably be forced to either surrender like everyone else did, or break completely and go it alone.

                            I think only one of those options is viable in the long term, and I think the police state is smart enough to see that too.

              •  Germany and China (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                VigilantLiberal, HeyMikey

                Use a mix of border taxation and consumption taxes to discourage imports.

                How Did Germany Keep Position as the World’s Top Exporter for so Long?


                Germany’s tax structure contributes to their success as an exporter and puts a barrier on imports. Germany’s corporate tax rate is 15 %, but they also have a solidarity surcharge (5.5 % of corporate tax) and a trade tax charged by local authorities.  As of 2008, the rate averaged 14 % of profits subject to trade tax.   In addition, all services and products generated in Germany by a business entity are subject to value-added tax (VAT) of 19%. Certain goods and services are exempted from value-added tax by law.  Value-added taxes are added in paid for all along the supply chain, and then are rebated for exports. A VAT is added at the border to imports as a balancing trade strategy to discourage imports.

                I had heard a rumor that one of the factors in Germany’s success is that they don’t tax revenue on exports, but was unable to confirm this by diligent research.  I did learn that Germany practices a “national jurisdiction” on taxes wherein they tax national consumption in contrast to the “unitary jurisdiction” of the United States wherein companies are taxed on revenues from worldwide sales (with a deduction for taxes paid to foreign countries).  This taxing practice may be the source of the rumor or the source may be confusing it with the value-added taxes that are rebated for exports.

                In a June 28, 2010, economist Ian Fletcher, commented, “Germany, like the U. S., is nominally a free-trading country.  The difference is that while the U. S. genuinely believes n free trade, Germany quietly follows a contrary tradition that goes back to the 19th-century Germany economist Friedrich List… So despite Germany’s nominal policy of free trade, in reality a huge key to its trading success is a vast and half-hidden thicket of de facto non-tariff trade barriers.”



            •  I Thought The Oligarchs Likes Wars! :-) nt (0+ / 0-)

              "The problem with posting quotes off the Internet is you never know if they're genuine."--Gen. George Washington at the Battle of Gettysburg, February 30, 1908

              by Aspe4 on Mon Sep 05, 2011 at 04:10:42 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  The Oligarchs like money best of all... (0+ / 0-)

                Wars make millionaires and billionaires but once they have their stack wars in major industrialized nations gets messy and is bad for business... they do so like to supply arms to emerging nations willing to bleed their people dry to get the latest killing toy but having little impact on the much larger international finance scene.

      •  However, GTPinNJ's question was ... (0+ / 0-)

        ... whether there was a typo or not, and I think there was. No matter whether someone believes the argument or not, it is clear that the argument that is posed is that "They say we should NOT give tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas ...".

        Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

        by BruceMcF on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 09:30:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  So why have them? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        If tax credits for things like corporate jets, oil companies, and corporations outsourcing jobs overseas mean nothing to them, why do they spend hundreds of millions of dollars on lobbyists every year?  They clearly do care, on a return on investment basis for lobbying, and also to promote their failed ideologies.

    •  I am sure that the intent was as you suppose (6+ / 0-)

      I read it and had the same reaction.  What was meant was either "no tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas" -- or "tax breaks for companies that do NOT ship jobs overseas."  Better yet - both carrots and sticks.

      And this is certainly something the Ross Perot got right.... the "sucking sound" was jobs getting shipped out of the country.  I think that Robert Reich had some comments about this in his NYT article - essentially arguing that there should have been some real quid pro quo for changing our tariff and import laws - and not just allowing them to go to countries with paltry (if any) minimum wage laws, worker protection laws and environmental protection laws.

      The Elephant. The Rider. The Path. Figure those out and change will come.

      by Denver11 on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 07:09:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Instead of tax breaks or... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ...eliminating tax breaks -- how about imposing a job tax?

      For every job offshored by a company -- tax them the equivalent salary lost.

      That would get their attention.

  •  Free trade is one thing (12+ / 0-)

    While fair trade is quite another.

    Trade should be free AND fair.

    The devil is ALWAYS in the details.

    " ... or a baby's arm holding an apple!"

    by Lavocat on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 06:54:03 PM PDT

  •  My cynicism is showing (12+ / 0-)

    I'm astonished the typical voter (or a plurality of them, anyway) knows enough about free trade to know that it's a problem.

    Of course, that surprising level of awareness is all for nought because, as you mention, both parties are content to forge ahead with their thinly veiled race to the bottom. Thank you, "soft money" and corporate personhood!

    •  All for nothin'...the voters have no say (11+ / 0-)

      if it comes to corporate persons vs joe citizen we lose.

      Media wants to keep us separated cause if the right, left, and middle ever come together change might really happen...

      Nothing astonishes men so much as common sense and plain dealing.Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1841

      by SallyCat on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 06:57:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  the voters have no say, but not for the reason (5+ / 0-)

        most think . . .

        The WTO already exists, and it already has jurisdiction over nearly all world trade. The bilateral treaties no longer matter very much. WTO sets the real rules, and WTO doesn't have to care what any voters think because WTO is not elected--and has legal veto power over any act carried out by any elected government.

      •  The Center will always be corporate. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SallyCat, Mr Robert, joedemocrat, Aspe4

        The Right and the Left are fighting for the Center.

        That's the political lay of the land these days.

        The Center is decidedly corporate and it will remain so as long as we allow corporate to inform our population.


        Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

        by k9disc on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 07:35:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  It really is "divide and conquer" (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SallyCat, Aspe4

        It's one reason everything is presented as polarized right from the get-go. And they hire experts at stirring emotions, and muddying the discussion, all in a polarized atmosphere.

        Came across a conservative/libertarian blogger. He said "Hey, you tell me global warming, I don't believe you. We're too tiny to have an effect, and the Sun is huge. You tell me soot, well, I see that, I can tell how that's bad, I don't want my town to have that."

        I think that's a bit of genius there. We're fed stock phrases, and then have debates about non-existent categories. We're reduced to a political "discourse" which amounts to, as old-timers used to say, "blah blah about tra tra."

        Breaking Media Central is really the very first task of a serious rebellion against the existing corrupt order.

        "Whatever you do, don't mention The War." Basil Fawlty, while mentally impaired.

        by Jim P on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 09:06:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I do that with conservative friends... (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Jim P, Johnnythebandit, Aspe4, Eric Nelson

          Currently CA One Care...all I need to do is flip the topic to their health insurance premiums and co-pays. I can instantly convert them to the issue. Did the same with some folks on SSI / Medicaid...totally understood the need for single payer.

          We take the political parties out of it and get to 'kitchen table' issues we can win. Just need to do more one on one...

          Nothing astonishes men so much as common sense and plain dealing.Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1841

          by SallyCat on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 09:24:30 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Free Trade Issue Doesn't Fit Neatly Into (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        VigilantLiberal, SallyCat, j1j2j3j4

        the MSM's right v. left, Republican v. Democrat prism like culture war issues such as gay marriage or abortion do. Both parties largely support free trade so there's no conflict for the media to cover as if it were a baseball game.

        "The problem with posting quotes off the Internet is you never know if they're genuine."--Gen. George Washington at the Battle of Gettysburg, February 30, 1908

        by Aspe4 on Mon Sep 05, 2011 at 04:23:45 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  people don't know jack. (11+ / 0-)

      for years i tried to get people to boycott the big box china stores along with me so mom/pops on our main street could survive.
      that went over great.
      my most liberal friends "the tv's are so cheap!" "i want my cheap (insert cheap thing here) and too bad...".
      most of america is like this. they demand cheap goods.
      and support the stores/companies that put our american companies out of business.
      then they cry when they get hurt but it's too late.

      just so frustrating.
      and if everything were made here we would have to pay decent living wages.
      which they claim they are for but they want cheap products.

      so their answers to the pollsters are like old pancakes.

      everything bad we have done, and supported, has come home to roost.
      period. in every sector.
      in every way.
      we're all paying the piper now.

      even companies who shipped all the jobs overseas are hurting now because people aren't buying.
      what a mess.

      i don't expect this to be fixed by either party in my lifetime.
      the damage that was done is humoungously huge.
      and will require a radical fix.

      but hell - it's all good.
      perry the raptured tongue speaking lunatic from H  is running even with BO.
      so whatever.

      You are not an Environmentalist if you support the brutal, cruel, inhuman life and slaughter of animals in Factory Farms which produce 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.

      by Christin on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 07:12:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You (6+ / 0-)

        nailed it on the head.  People don't understand much of anything about trade or how its massive imbalance directly affects them negatively.

        However, a switch back to a gold standard would end the globalization ponzi scheme very quickly because balance of trade payments would have to be made in gold ... unless, of course the politicians are so corrupt they are willing to bankrupt the only true national treasure we have, our gold reserves.  But as corrupt as they are, who knows, they may have already dug America's burial plot for a few dollars more (in their pockets after office).

        "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws." Mayer Amschel Rothschild, 1790

        by FreeTradeIsYourEpitaph on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 07:36:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Happy to rec your comment, Christin... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Christin, joedemocrat, Mr Robert

        We rarely see eye to eye.

        I have to say that this comment is hard for me to swallow from you given your kneejerk defense of the Administration...

        And please don't get pissed about that comment and tune me out!

        I see you as a straight up 'free trader', 'art of the possible' 'pragmatist' and it's hard to hear your talk about buying local in a serious way.

        Perhaps you are just more 'realpolitik' than I or you have not become jaded enough to advocate scrapping this corporate sponsored government we have... not sure...

        I really do appreciate the comment and it will color all of our correspondence in the future.


        Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

        by k9disc on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 07:39:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think a lot of us who support Obama (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          are for fair trade, not free trade.

          I've also been a supporter of President Obama on this site. And I'm somebody who feels NAFTA was one of the worst bills passed the last 30 years. That and welfare reform.

          I support him because free trade isn't the only issue and because Republicans are even worse on the issue.

          I don't view free trade as pragmatic. First, it doesn't work. Second, look at public opinion. Third, the jobs exodus has contributed to the deficit and our inability to fund needed programs.

          I can't prove this. But I believe the tide is slowly turning on this issue. I think its sunk so low there's no place to go but up. Think about it - it doesn't work, more economists, more politicians, even a few business leaders question it. And if you consider public opinion, political opportunity, and our unemployment crisis, well isn't it all a recipe for things to change?

          •  i ♥ you joe (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            you are always the optimist.
             i think we're heading for a total meltdown.
            and no one will stop it.
            until we come crawling out of the wreckage.
             but that's jus me. :-)

            You are not an Environmentalist if you support the brutal, cruel, inhuman life and slaughter of animals in Factory Farms which produce 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.

            by Christin on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 08:47:41 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Well, I could be wrong... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              I don't think my batting average is any better than yours or anyone else around here...

              There are days I feel really gloomy too. The Republicans seem to get so much of what they want. The public just doesn't seem to wake up. The corporations seem to have so much power given to them the last 30 years.

              But there are other days I remember what this country has done. No political era lasts forever. Bad as it seems now and long as we've been in it, the conservative era that began with the 1980 election will end just like every other political era. And it will be replaced with something else -

              Think about it. Didn't the robber baron era of the late 1800s and early 1900s end with the Depression?  Didn't British economist John Maynard Keynes come along?  Didn't FDR? And the New Deal era came to an end and was replaced with the current one.

              Well, we got problems. And the one thing that assures us is that eventually somebody is going to come along with solutions. That has to happen.

              In regard to trade, I've just often felt we've gone so low we can't go any place but up.

              But maybe I've been reading too much on political cycles

              Sorry - it is late and I'm not writing very clearly. And I do appreciate you too. I consider you one of my friends on daily kos :)  Hugs!!

              •  sigh...well. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                you are right about the robber baron era. and the new deal.
                but what gives you hope?
                is what makes me feel not good.
                we're slipping backwards again.
                and the fact that we came out of those horrendous times, and are now backsliding?
                horrifies me to no end.
                and the people on top laugh.
                the people on the bottom are split into those who can't stop the slide even though they know it's happening.
                and those who chose to remain willfully ignorant and deny what's being done to them and hate the wrong party even more.

                i dunno.
                i was feeling ok about things up until this year.
                now i thinking what i first wrote.
                we're in a for a whole lotta hurt.


                i'm a huge LOTR's fan.
                i thought the ring was lost in 2004.
                then i thought no! it was not. i.e. 2008.
                now i think it really was.

                holy crap. maybe i need to drink a glass of wine or something.

                You are not an Environmentalist if you support the brutal, cruel, inhuman life and slaughter of animals in Factory Farms which produce 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.

                by Christin on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 09:15:29 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Hey. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  I get hopeful when I think about history and political eras- that's when I'm most positive. That's because history would teach political eras always end.

                  And look how fast things can change.

                  I thought/hoped the 2008 election was the start of a new era. But I'm not always sure anymore - it still may be.

                  One thing that's gotten me down is Obama's poll #'s. Also, how right wing populism is on the rise and we don't seem able to combat it. Hard times give rise to populism, and what if the right wing populism wins??

                  •  my brother went to a seminary (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    PhilJD, joedemocrat

                    years and years ago.
                    his friend told him that is was risky.
                    your faith comes out stronger.
                    or you come out an atheist. you learn some stuff.
                    that may be better off not being learned.

                    the fork in the road in 2008 was going in such opposite directions.
                    i was afraid of the darker side of the road.
                    and that's the one we took.
                    we were not ready to change.
                    it took europe a damn long time.
                    we're still in our dark ages.

                    but his poll numbers are what i'd expect them to be with this economy going where it is.
                    we'll see next year...when the true lunatic is on the podium next to him  debating...
                    oh god forget it. can't even go there.

                    You are not an Environmentalist if you support the brutal, cruel, inhuman life and slaughter of animals in Factory Farms which produce 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.

                    by Christin on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 10:22:10 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

        •  i know. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          i've said this before.
          the like of BO, and dislike of BO, have done strange things to people who see things the same way on other issues.
          i have my theories.
          i know why i hang onto him.
          you have to work with animal rights issues to undertand how you make do with scraps sometimes.
          that sounds strange but it truly colors my life in every way.
          but i know why others gave up on him.

          i'm a pragmatist only in certain areas.
          you would not dislike me if you knew how very very very very liberal i am as i live in the real world - outside of blog world.
          my SO can't take my world.
          my boycott list is 3984938 pages long.
          i have rules where we can buy food.
          gas. clothes. housing products.
          lawn products. it takes us hours to get things done and purchased with my "i accept buying from them " lists.  
          i pay more for fair trade products.
          i pay more for a lot of things - because in the end i can't take anything with me and the world is so freaking heartbreaking as it is,  i can't contribute to any more of the pain by how i live.

          you don't sound so shabby yourself. :-)
          at all.
          thank you for what you wrote.
          it was very kind.  

          you are like the sixth person who i disagree with on BO - but who i  just know i would like, respect and admire outside of that.

          You are not an Environmentalist if you support the brutal, cruel, inhuman life and slaughter of animals in Factory Farms which produce 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.

          by Christin on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 08:40:13 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  that's an incredibly elitist view (0+ / 0-)

        and one that isn't backed up by the data BBB presents above.  The people are smart.  They know what's good for them.  Individually, though, we don't make the best decisions.

        I changed by not changing at all, small town predicts my fate, perhaps that's what no one wants to see. -6.38, -4.15

        by James Allen on Mon Sep 05, 2011 at 01:50:24 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Dem schizophrenia on "free trade" (4+ / 0-)

    From my diary series on the history of multinational corporations:

    The Democratic Party And Fair Trade

    The Democratic Party had always been ambivalent about free trade agreements. The party leadership has, since the days of George HW Bush, been enthusiastic supporters of the New World Order, including globalized free trade. It was, after all, President Bill Clinton who passed NAFTA and who helped form the WTO framework.

    There was, however, some Democratic resistance to NAFTA and, subsequently, to new free trade deals. This opposition usually took one of two forms; one group of Democratic legislators objected to free trade agreements on protectionist grounds. Most often these were from districts where industries were located that depended heavily upon being shielded from cheap imported products, such as automobiles, textiles, steel or agriculture—or legislators who received heavy funding from labor unions that shared the protectionist views of their corporate “partners”. Another group of Democrats, who often referred to themselves as “fair traders”, were not protectionists and didn’t object to free trade agreements in principle, but were opposed to the lack of environmental and worker safeguards in these agreements, and wanted stronger regulations written into the treaties before they would accept them.

    By 2006, moreover, the actual effects of NAFTA on both American workers and on the country of Mexico had become painfully apparent, and many political candidates found it to be good politics to speak out against trade agreements. In the 2006 elections (in which the Democrats won big), no incumbents lost who campaigned against expanded free trade agreements, while in 7 Senate races and 28 House races, “fair trade” candidates either beat “free trade” incumbents or won open seats formerly held by free-traders.

    Yet the Democratic Party’s approach to trade pacts remained schizophrenic. In 2004, the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) was opposed by both Republicans and Democrats. The treaty barely squeaked through the House of Representatives on a 217-215 vote. In 2006, however, Congress refused to ratify an agreement with Vietnam which would have granted Permanent Normal Trade Relations to that country, and would have led to a bilateral free trade pact and endorsement of Vietnam’s entry into the WTO. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and much of the party leadership voted in favor of the agreement.

    When the Bush administration began a new series of bilateral trade negotiations with a number of countries, the Democratic party leadership announced in May 2007 that it would support those efforts—despite the apparent lack of enthusiasm for such agreements on the part of many Democratic legislators. And when the free trade agreement with Peru came to a vote in 2007, it passed with bipartisan backing, despite active lobbying against it by environmental and labor groups.

    Obama Administration and Trade Policy

    When Barack Obama assumed office in 2009, the schism within the Democratic Party over trade policy was forced into the open. Obama had himself, as a Senator, been a “fair trade” supporter, and had criticized the existing free trade agreements for their lack of worker and environmental protections. As a candidate he said, “It is absolutely critical that we engage in trade, but it has to be viewed not just through the lens of Wall Street, but also Main Street, which means we’ve got strong labor standards and strong environmental standards and safety standards, so we don’t have toys being shipped in the US with lead paint on them.”

    As President, however, Obama surrounded himself with advisors who were former Clinton officials and who, along with the          supra-national corporations, viewed the end of protectionism and the expansion of the free trade network as an absolute necessity. And Obama himself had supported this view during the campaign: “There are some who believe that we must try to turn back the clock on this new world; that the only chance to maintain our living standards is to build a fortress around America; to stop trading with other countries, shut down immigration, and rely on old industries. I disagree. Not only is it impossible to turn back the tide of globalization, but efforts to do so can make us worse off.”

    In addition, a number of conservative supporters of the globalist corporate framework, who had been driven away from the Republican Party by the neocon agenda of unilateral American nationalism, had now turned to the Democratic Party instead. Obama had received far more corporate campaign funding in 2008 than the Republican candidate; they now expected that he would support their rules-based free-trade agenda just as Clinton had. And since the resistance of the G20+ bloc to the Dohan Round had made it politically impossible (at least for now) to expand the multilateral WTO framework, the only remaining option was to continue the neocon strategy of pursuing bilateral free trade pacts between the US and individual nations.

    The other alternative—dropping free trade agreements altogether—was utterly unacceptable to nearly everyone. The corporations wanted to avoid, at nearly any cost, the lethal trade wars that had characterized the 1980’s, and nothing was more to their interests than a stable uniform set of global trade rules that everyone played by. Even critics of the WTO framework realized that international trade rules were a vital necessity. Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim pointed out that simply repealing trade agreements would lead to “the law of the jungle” in which the economically powerful countries would simply run roughshod over the weaker, with impunity. This sentiment was echoed by British economics writer George Monbiot, who noted, “The only thing worse than a world with the wrong international trade rules is a world with no trade rules at all.”

    At the same time, Obama signaled that both new and         already-existing trade agreements needed to be modified along “fair trade” ideals, and that under his administration progressives would have at least some input on trade policy. When the Advisory Committee on International Economic Policy selected a subcommittee to look at the portions of trade agreements dealing with the investment market, the group was co-chaired by the AFL-CIO’s Policy Director, and included Sarah Anderson of the Institute for Policy Studies. Although the opinions of the private sector lobbyists carried the most weight, Anderson noted, her own presence was “one of many signs of the new opportunities for advocates of progressive change in Washington.”

    But in many cases, the Obama administration has not gone further than talk. During the campaign, Obama pointed out “NAFTA’s shortcomings were evident when signed”, promising that he would reopen the treaty to add “binding obligations to protect the right to collective bargaining [and] binding environmental standards so that companies from one country cannot gain an economic advantage by destroying the environment.” But by the midterm elections in 2010, no attempt had been made to resubmit either NAFTA or CAFTA with strengthened labor or environmental protections.

    In January 2010, Obama announced that he planned to move forward on three of the Bush bilateral free trade agreements, with South Korea, Panama and Colombia. During the 2008 campaign, Obama had criticized some provisions of the South Korea agreement, and in a June 2010 meeting with South Korean President Lee Myuk Bak, Obama asked that the renegotiations be finished by the time of the November G20 meeting in Seoul. Two of the acknowledged sticking points were South Korea’s strict emissions standards, which make it hard for US automobiles to enter the market, and its restrictions on American beef, imposed after the 2003 mad-cow disease outbreak. In December 2010, it was announced that a       newly-tweaked agreement was reached, and the treaty would be submitted to Congress for approval.

    The reaction was swift. The changes being accepted by Obama were minor, and while they benefited the politically-powerful auto workers union and a few large American industries, the altered proposals did nothing to strengthen the agreement’s treatment of labor or environmental protections, and the enforcement procedures continued to give unelected trade officials, meeting in secret, unilateral power over democratically-elected governments. In other words, the new agreement contained none of the “fair trade” improvements that Obama had pledged himself to obtaining, and was substantially the same agreement presented by Bush back in 2007. The Public Citizen Global Trade Watch group noted, “The current text includes the extraordinary investor rights that promote offshoring and expose domestic financial, environmental and health laws to attack in foreign tribunals. Signed before the financial crisis, the pact calls for financial services deregulation that is at odds with the lessons we’ve learned from the economic crisis and that may conflict with recent reforms made by both the U.S. and Korea. The pact also explicitly forbids reference to the International Labor Organization’s conventions that establish internationally recognized core labor standards. During the 2008 presidential campaign, candidate Obama pledged to chart a new course for American trade policy that could create jobs. In speeches, town hall meetings, questionnaires, mailings and paid advertisements in key swing states, Obama said that he would exclude from the pact language the damaging foreign investor rights and their private enforcement that threaten public interest safeguards and promote job-offshoring. He also said he would include strong, enforceable labor and environmental protections. The Korea pact fails on all these scores.”

    Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown, the sponsor of the proposed TRADE Act (which would re-examine all existing trade agreements to strengthen them according to “fair trade” principles), also rejected the Korea deal, calling it another “NAFTA-style” agreement: “I continue to believe it is a dangerous mistake to pursue the same kind of trade deals that ballooned our deficit and led to massive job loss. We simply cannot keep barking up this tree as American companies fold and American workers face prolonged unemployment.” Democratic Congressman Mike Michaud, Chairman of the House Trade Working Group and sponsor of the House version of the TRADE Act, also condemned the agreement: “We had what I thought was a productive meeting just a few weeks ago at the White House on changes we’d like to see in the agreement. At the time, we told the President that we believe the agreement as it exists now has several fundamental problems that go beyond the issues with beef and autos. But after talking to Ambassador Kirk today, I learned that these concerns were not addressed. I had hoped for more from this White House, which campaigned on a need to change the way we negotiate trade agreements so that they truly benefit American workers and businesses. The deal reached today, while beneficial to the auto industry, falls far short of that goal.”

    Significantly, neither the White House nor the Democratic Congressional leadership had, by the time of the midterm elections, supported the TRADE Act (“Trade Reform, Accountability, Development and Employment Act”). According to some reports, however, Obama did express support at the G20 meeting for restarting the stalled Dohan Process talks to expand WTO’s authority.

  •  Just because something would be popular (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cryonaut, divineorder, jessical

    Does not make it good policy.

    That said, so-called "free-trade" agreements are anything but; a real free-trade agreement would not need to be thousands of pages long. But I generally don't see anybody criticizing them on this basis; unions and other worker advocates lobby to protect their rents by opposing them, corporations lobby to extract new rents by supporting them.

    It would be nice to see a party supporting an actual free-trade regime (including more open borders), but obviously that is not coming anytime soon.

  •  just because a majority of the public thinks (4+ / 0-)

    something is bad, doesn't mean that it is. Majority of the public thought gay marriage was bad for quite some time, and probably still does. Public opposition is not a reason for informed leaders to drop a policy. There has to be real and obvious causation shown between free trade and detrimental effects on our economy.

    If we governed based on polls we would have a lot of bad shit implemented.

    •  We already have bad shit implemented (0+ / 0-)

      Wars, bailouts, tax cuts for the rich, teacher layoffs, etc. These are all horrible policies that are opposed by most people but continue to be implemented. Can people be wrong, misguided, and stupid? Sure, but they are well intentioned. The "informed leaders" you speak of know they are doing things that result in poverty, murder, and extreme suffering, but they continue these policies anyway because it allows them to  maintain and expand their wealth and power.

      "Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of overcoming it" Helen Keller

      by Johnnythebandit on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 11:35:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Only comment I'll make on this (4+ / 0-)

    1. I support free trade as a matter of fairness to all people, not just Americans--though it's good for us too;

    2. Democratic-leaning voters support free trade.

    We're just going to have to disagree about this one. But you're in accord with most people here. that happens.

    Ok, so I read the polls.

    by andgarden on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 06:56:10 PM PDT

    •  "free trade" is here whether we like it or not (6+ / 0-)

      But since it is here and it's not going away (whether we want it to or not), we should at least use it as a weapon.  The "Fair Trade" movement seeks to use the WTO rulebook to our own advantage, by forcing the inclusion of worker rights, environmental protections, consumer protections, safety and purity standards, and lots of other civilized things, into the WTO rules themselves.

      It's time WE got to write some of the rules.

    •  I think this is a difficult issue and really (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mightymouse, Mr Robert, PrahaPartizan

      points out that our concept of economics may be outdated.  In the mid-1980's, all I studied was about how international free trade would be generally beneficial for most people, as tariffs and subsidies distorted the "natural" competitive advantages of nations.

      When one inquired about how to help the people whose jobs may be lost as a result of free trade policies, the economists talked about job training for displaced workers, but still argued that, on the whole, free trade would be good.

      I don't think those economists anticipated the extent to which multinational companies would exploit the regulatory and tax gaps of nations such as ours.  So I think the theoretical prediction and the actual experience are worlds apart (no pun intended).  And I think the economic models may need revamping as a result.

      Hey, Republicans, the whole world is watching.

      by TAH from SLC on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 07:10:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  hmmm ... economists miss the human element (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TAH from SLC

        ... hmmm.

        Actually I took some of those econ classes too. They were quite confident.

        Here I am! I'm up here! Where are you? - the Red-eyed Vireo

        by mightymouse on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 07:50:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Exactly. But my professors were pretty (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mightymouse, Mr Robert, j1j2j3j4

          good - Robert Reich, Dani Rodrik.  I really meant the comment in all seriousness - the model is not working.  Just like many of the neoliberal models are failing.  In very simplistic terms, they tried to impose microeconomic principles onto macro concepts, and the two are not the same.  Friedman versus Keynes.  Oil and water.

          We need something new now.  

          Hey, Republicans, the whole world is watching.

          by TAH from SLC on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 08:12:06 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  you had better professors! (0+ / 0-)

            Here I am! I'm up here! Where are you? - the Red-eyed Vireo

            by mightymouse on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 08:30:22 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  of course the models don't work. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            denise b

            They assume that countries have natural or inherent comparative advantages.  I was taught that Japan has a natural advantage at making cars and the US does at growing rice, so we trade them rice for cars.  Well, we might have more land for growing crops than Japan, but Japan had no natural advantage in making cars before Toyota and Honda and Nissan became among the biggest car companies in the world.  They cultivated those companies and protected them until they were dominant, just like all the east and SE Asian nations who've become more successful have done.  They don't thrive through free trade, they make their own advantage through subsidies and protection.

            I changed by not changing at all, small town predicts my fate, perhaps that's what no one wants to see. -6.38, -4.15

            by James Allen on Mon Sep 05, 2011 at 01:57:39 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  If you live inside a universe in which ... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        James Allen, TAH from SLC

        ... trade naturally balances if left to its own devices, then in that universe, the people who lose their jobs in the industries who lose to imports can take up the new jobs in the industries who gain exports.

        That universe is, sadly, not the universe in which we live. But if we did live in that alternative universe, actual free trade would be a great thing.

        Even in that universe, the idea that whatever is labeled as "free trade" would automatically be good no matter what the actual content of the agreement ... that would remain dubious.

        Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

        by BruceMcF on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 09:40:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  one thing free trade agreements do is undermine (0+ / 0-)

          national borders and immigration policies.  It is, after all, impossible for jobs to move freely across borders unless workers are also able to move freely where the jobs are.

          •  The hypthetical real free trade agreements ... (0+ / 0-)

            ... or the actual agreements reached under the label of "free trade agreements"?

            Actual FTA's tend to rely upon existing national borders and immigration policies, since without them, the special treatment on specified products in the FTA trade schedule is much less attractive and much less reason to dismantle controls on cross-border flows of corporation financial wealth.

            Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

            by BruceMcF on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 10:22:15 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Academia Missed Most of the Real World (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TAH from SLC

        The academic arguments advanced on free trade actually make quite a bit of sense.  The whole process unraveled because the corporations were able to buy off the politicians and game the system.  For example, you cited the economists understanding that job training for displaced workers would be needed in order to equalize the pain being experienced in the society and those benefiting from the free trade would help fund those training programs.  That never happened.  Instead, only one thin slice of our society has enabled to enrich itself from the free trade regimes put into place.  The same can be said for the agreements required to equalize environmental and worker safety concerns.  Nothing has been done to force those issues, once the agreement was signed and implemented.  All concerns swirled down the memory hole.  The economic models work fine.  The economic reality needs to be changed to fit the models.

        "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

        by PrahaPartizan on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 10:00:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Well I mean (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TAH from SLC

        The issue really is, in my mind, that the government really did not come through and fulfill the promises that were made in terms of job training and such. Also, the trade deals of the 90s were about Mexico, and that wound up not mattering because in spite of the competition the cheap goods didn't come from within NAFTA -- they came from the Far East.

        •  Mexico actually ended up getting screwed (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          TAH from SLC

          worse than us.

          Under "free trade", entire cities sprang up overnight in the maquiladora, bringing thousands of jobs to Mexicans who flocked there for them.

          And then, just as quickly, the corporados pulled up stakes and departed for China, leaving northern Mexico a string of now-empty ghost towns where people once had jobs.

    •  wrong, unfree trade is bad for workers (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mr Robert

      It certainly isn't "fair" to people who work for a living but I suupose you mean it's helps some of the worlds superpoor get jobs. But even that is false in that they are trapped in low wage dead end jobs that only last until another superpoor nation undercuts them. What you and the oligarchs call "free trade" is actually a way to distrioy unions and make developed countries workers compete with the superpoor of third world countries, hurting the working classes of all nations. Only the very brainwashed can't understand that and subscribe to the freetrade bullshit they are fed.

      America could have chosen to be the worlds doctor, or grocer. We choose instead to be her policeman. pity

      by cacamp on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 07:59:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yes, the freedom to be taken to the cleaners ... (0+ / 0-)

      ... by large transnational corporations: oh! joy!

      Remembering that so-called "free trade" is only free trade as a marketing label.

      Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

      by BruceMcF on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 09:37:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  yes --- (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joedemocrat, cacamp, Stwriley
    Perhaps this is just another issue where the influence of multinational corporate executives hold more sway over our politicians than we do.

    -- and???

    The failure of so many here to adequately address the implications of WTO membership/rules on our national; political- economy is well......Stunning

    •  more about the WTO than most people want to know . (4+ / 0-)

      here in this section of my diary series on the history of multinational corporations:

      •  Lenny what do you think (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        about THIS BOOK

        I have the book and have read part of it....

        •  I've not read that book, but I can certainly tell (4+ / 0-)

          you why "protectionism" (and particularly tariffs) won't work:

          From my diary series:

          A favorite tactic utilized by protectionists is the punitive tariff. Tariffs are surcharges that are added to the price of cheap imports in order to artificially raise their selling price to match those of more expensive domestic products.

          As the global economy declined in 2008-2010, calls for protective tariffs became increasingly common from both Democrats and Republicans, even those who had formerly supported tariff-free “free trade”, as a measure to “help the American economy”. In 2009, Obama, bowing to pressure from the United Auto Workers union, imposed a 35% tariff on imported Chinese tires, which had captured about 17% of the US market. Some American tariffs actually double or even triple the price of particular imported products; the American synthetic-textile clothing industry is protected by a 32% tariff, most imported automobile parts have a 25% surcharge, imported sneakers and sport shoes pay a 48% tariff, some European meats and cheeses pay a 100% import tax, and the American tobacco industry is protected by a whopping 350% tariff. In 2010, the House passed, with heavy bipartisan support, a bill empowering the Commerce Department to impose a new round of tariffs as retaliation for China’s policy of manipulating its currency to keep the value of the yuan artificially low and thereby make Chinese imports cheaper for other nations.

          The whole intent of the WTO’s free trade framework is, of course, to eliminate tariffs and other trade barriers, and WTO has the authority to unilaterally invalidate protective tariffs passed by any member nation. The WTO agreement, however, does not cover all areas of trade, and the WTO does not have any jurisdiction over tariffs in economic areas that fall outside of those covered by GATT.

          Even in areas where the WTO cannot invalidate a trade barrier, however, it is unlikely that protective tariffs will actually play any effective role.

          Tariffs can be justified in certain cases. For decades, small nations in the developing world suffered as predatory corporations, most of them American, dominated their economy, crushed domestic industries, and turned the country into a virtual economic colony—and tariffs were seen as one weapon to gain economic independence. The “Asian Tigers” (Singapore, Korea, Taiwan), for instance, used tariffs to protect their infant industries until they were strong enough to compete in the world market and become economic powers in their own right. Developing nations in particular are still anxious to utilize protective tariffs to protect their small-scale farmers who are incapable of competing with the heavily-subsidized American and European agribusinesses (though the developing nations would prefer instead that the wealthy economies stop subsidizing large agribusinesses and drop their own protective tariffs against the small farmers in poorer countries). In cases where smaller and weaker economies are protecting themselves from larger and wealthier ones, tariffs may indeed have a progressive role to play.

          Most tariffs, however, have the purpose of protecting those large wealthy industries from competition by cheaper products in developing nations—not of protecting the weak from the strong, but of protecting the strong from the weak. The American industries with the loudest calls for protective tariffs—steel, textiles and auto parts—are formerly-huge rich industries who now face the stiffest competition from younger foreign companies. I.e., they are industries who are desperate to protect their formerly privileged position. Not coincidentally, they are also industries who still have large and politically-powerful labor unions.

           As the furor over the “Buy American” provision in the Stimulus Bill demonstrated, however, most corporations still reject protectionism and embrace the free-trade framework, making it difficult for the US to pass protective trade barriers. American corporations opposed tariffs not only because they did not want to  re-ignite the destructive trade wars of the 80’s, but also because most American corporations now had large portions of their productive capacity located overseas. For instance, at least 60% of all the products exported to other countries from China actually came from companies that are owned by Americans, Europeans or Japanese. Critics point out that tariffs to keep out cheap imported Chinese products are pointless when it is American companies themselves who are making and importing them. The American corporations do not want tariff “protection” from low-wage unregulated Chinese products—they are the ones who have been flocking to China to make them, and they want to be able to continue importing them back into the US as cheaply as possible.

          Other critics point out that measures to “protect American industry” are useless in a global economy where there are no “American industries” anymore. As American-based corporations move productive capacity overseas, the “foreign” corporations are locating more and more of their factories in the US. When the US used tariffs and import quotas in the 1980’s to try to keep Japanese cars out of the American market, Toyota and Honda responded by simply moving their factories here—today, most of the Japanese cars sold in America are actually manufactured within the US. In 2009, the German steel industry responded similarly to protectionist sentiments in the US by building a huge production plant in Alabama.

          Finally, progressive critics point out that protective tariffs don’t help American workers, and don’t help workers in developing countries either. Although tariffs raise the prices of imported goods, they don’t raise anyone’s wages, including those of the American workers they are supposed to be “protecting”. Indeed, by artificially raising prices and denying consumers access to cheaper imported products, tariffs actually hurt American workers by forcing them to pay more for products that they could otherwise get less expensively, thereby pushing their purchasing power even lower and decreasing their real wages. And, since the indigenous workers in developing countries do not get any of the money from the increased price of their product, they continue in the same low-wage poverty as before. The situation helps no one except the particular American corporations whose profits are being artificially protected.

  •  Not free, not trade. (6+ / 0-)
    Both parties are free trade parties.

    Both parties adopt the rhetoric of free trade to support neoliberal policies that are not usefully described as free trade. What they are about is 1) making it easier for American finance to make money in other countries without restraint (which isn't about trade) and 2) making it easier for American corporations to produce goods in other countries. But those policies do leave all sorts of trade restraints in place - for example, Dean Baker has noted that this only pits American blue collar workers against workers in other countries, but protects more highly paid professionals from competition. So these policies aren't just about trade and not really free.

    Often we hear talk of competition, but that isn't quite right either. The firms are the same whether they operate in the US or other countries, and most of the competition between workers is more about lower cost of living in other countries that make their workers cheaper.  (This suggests part of the solution is to raise the standard of living elsewhere.  Neoliberal deals tend to do the reverse).

    The uniformity about the cost and benefits of free trade are heavily tilted towards the idea that free trade is a "net benefit" to the economy and America generally. Economists of both liberal and conservative bent have praised America's free trade regime, although global trade Nobel laureate Paul Krugman notably says free trade is mostly a wash.

    Other economists have agreed it was a wash or harmful - for example, Galbraith and Baker. Interestingly, this list includes many who have been right over the past few years.  The argument for it is usually a highly formalist one about comparative advantage that ignores the possibility that each country can change its efficiency with respect to production (i.e. it takes current technology for granted).  

    Politics is the art of the possible, but that means you have to think about changing what is possible, not that you have to accept it in perpetuity.

    by David Kaib on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 07:01:17 PM PDT

  •  The American issue remains (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shaharazade, mightymouse, Mr Robert

    that we don't make the goods we consume.  Democrats decry many things but need Fair Trade to put an emphasis on putting Americans back to work with good jobs and benefits.  The 2012 election should be about business practices that would make possible the American Dream focusing on Fair Trade to get people back to real work.

    Free trade is about making it easier to get the imported goods and less about a thriving job market in America.  The emphasis on the financial services sector because of their lobbying budget, economic impact and global pervasiveness underscores a (narrow) knowledge based economy that puts anybody who makes something at a unique disadvantage because workers here are "expensive" with "expensive" benefits that horrify the financial folks as much as the rules that make safer workplaces that have responsibilities to the environment.

    Democrats would need to make Fair Trade arguments that value people, their contributions and the Common Good with more jobs as a central theme.  We need to make things invented here for the short term good and long term.  Off shoring provides too many tax havens for corporate bottomfeeders.

    Every time history repeats itself, the price goes up...East Wing Rules

    by Pithy Cherub on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 07:03:50 PM PDT

    •  here's the problem with "Buy American": (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mr Robert

      From my diary series on the history of multinational corporations:

      Nearly all of the protectionist “solutions” offered by the labor movement appeal, in one way or another, to someone’s patriotism, whether it’s asking employers to voluntarily pay higher wages to American workers and patriotically refuse to relocate their jobs to low-wage havens like China, or asking American consumers to voluntarily pay higher prices for American-manufactured products than for cheaper imports. As President Obama summed up the argument, “Look, people don’t want a cheaper T-shirt if they’re losing a job in the process. They would rather have the job and pay a little bit more for a T-shirt. And I think that’s something that all Americans could agree to.” Reality, however, demonstrates conclusively that Obama is wrong—people do indeed want the cheaper T-shirt. Any time that either employers or consumers have been asked to choose between their wallet and their patriotism, the wallet always wins.

      There are many reasons why “Buy American” campaigns that appeal to patriotic nationalism have failed every time they have been attempted.

      In the United States, real wages have declined steadily for the past 30 years, the wealth held by the lowest 80% of the population has decreased drastically, and unemployment levels are at their highest in many decades. Under those conditions, consumers are forced to stretch as much value as they can out of every scarce dollar—and asking them to patriotically (and voluntarily) pay higher prices to protect someone else’s job, is unrealistic at best.

      Any attempt to appeal to the “patriotism” of the multinational corporations is also unrealistic. They have no patriotism; they belong to no country.

      It was, after all, American-owned corporations who began the global rush to relocate their plants to Mexico and China, and the reason for that is simple—the corporations will always go where the costs are lowest. It was not the Chinese or Mexican or American governments who forced all those corporations to move their plants or outsource their jobs—the American business owners did that all by themselves, for their own selfish motives. The corporate owners don’t care about patriotism or national interest—all they care about is their bank account, and their bank account likes being able to pay workers in Mexico one-tenth as much as workers in the US. American corporations don’t mind putting thousands of workers out of work by moving their jobs overseas; they don’t even mind relocating their factories inside a single-party Communist police state like China, as long as they can make a ton of money doing it.

      And of course there is the simple fact that there is no “American” to buy anymore.  It is no longer the 1970’s, when Hondas were all made in Japan and Fords were all made in Detroit. All of the large corporations are now global, and none of them have any loyalty whatsoever to any national government anywhere. General Motors is no more or less “American” than BP or Toyota. Which is the “American” car?—the GM (which is partially foreign-owned) that is made in Canada, or the Toyota (which is partially American-owned) that is made in Tennessee? What happens when you have an electronics device that is made from material mined in South Africa and plastic from Germany, using semiconductors from Ireland that were designed in Costa Rica, whose parts were shipped here on a Swedish ship that's financed by an Icelandic bank, then assembled in Mexico and sold in an electronics chain store in Boston that is owned by the Japanese?

      In one surreal scene, US Steel and the Steelworkers Union jointly organized a “Rally to Restore American Manufacturing” in Illinois to protest the use of “foreign steel” to build a Canadian-American oil pipeline—while at the very same time US Steel itself owned manufacturing plants in England, China, Mexico, Canada, Slovakia, Brazil and Serbia. Even as US corporations were busily outsourcing American jobs all over the globe, unions were appealing to the patriotism of those same corporate bosses: at a meeting to discuss AT&T’s outsourcing of jobs to India, one American union official declared, “In this time of high unemployment, the company could be a leader and bring these jobs back here and be patriotic.” The steel company Nucor helped form the Domestic Manufacturing Group, which, in partnership with the Steelworkers Union, lobbies for trade sanctions and tariffs against China to “protect American jobs”—while at the same time Nucor itself negotiated a deal with the Chinese Shougang steel company to build a joint operation in Australia.

      That is why “Buy American” campaigns always fail. There is simply no way to force business owners to continue to pay workers in America higher wages when they can easily move the entire plant somewhere else and make lots more money—and any attempt to entice the boss to voluntarily keep his factory in places where wages are higher, out of pure benevolent patriotism, is the height of idiocy.

      When Obama tried to introduce a "Buy American" provision into the stimulus bill, it provoked near-universal opposition from American corporations, and was quickly gutted. The American corporations simply don't want "Buy American".  It costs them money.

      •  Go look at "Made in America Forever" the guy (0+ / 0-)

        has all kinds of companies that do Made in America.  Use that as your resource.  Ed Schultz has the guy that founded the group on at least once a week on XM-127,  The guy even has or will have a book coming out.  His business is thriving.  He has a conglomerate of companies that sell through his Madeinamericaforever. - not sure whether com or org.  Look them up.  

      •  of course.... (0+ / 0-)

        ...and of course buy American provisions should still be enacted anyway.

        But strictly speaking, the easiest Buy American provisions should affect the government.   Simply stated:  the US government should be required to purchase only goods manufactured with the US.

        •  well, here's what happened when they tried that: (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mr Robert
          The Obama Stimulus Plan

          When the $900 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the “Stimulus Bill”) was passed in 2009, it contained this provision:


          (a) None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used for a project for the construction, alteration, maintenance or repair of a public building or public work unless all of the iron, steel and manufactured goods used in the project are produced in the United States.

          (b) Subsection (a) shall not apply in any case or category of cases in which the head of the federal department or agency involved finds that—

          (1) applying subsection (a) would be inconsistent with the public interest;

          (2) iron, steel and the relevant manufactured goods are not produced in the United States in sufficient and reasonably available quantities and of a satisfactory quality; or

          (3) inclusion of iron, steel and manufactured goods produced in the United States will increase the cost of the overall project by more than 25%.

          (c) If the head of a federal department or agency determines that it is necessary to waive the application of subsection (a) based on a finding under subsection (b), the head of the department or agency shall publish in the Federal Register a detailed written justification as to why the provision is being waived.

          (d) This section shall be applied in a manner consistent with United States obligations under international agreements.”

          The Stimulus plan’s “Buy American” provisions were painted by supporters as a way to insure that the economic benefits of the bill would stay in the US. The Alliance for American Manufacturing argued, “If we're going to try to create American jobs, we need to direct stimulus money to American firms. . . When we're investing hundreds of billions of dollars, tax dollars, into infrastructure, into economic recovery, we want to make sure we're creating jobs in the United States and not in China.”

          In reality, of course, the provision was intended as a protectionist aid for the politically powerful steel industry, and particularly the Steelworkers Union, a key Democratic constituency. American steel factories were running at less than half of capacity, with 40% of their workforce laid off. “What we’re already seeing is that demand is going down,” explained a spokesman for the American Iron and Steel Institute, “but imports of Chinese finished steel is going up because they are subsidizing it. What we’re saying is that this is a stimulus package to promote American jobs. We ought to maximize every dollar in that bill toward that end. If you were building a bridge in West Virginia, you wouldn’t bring in German workers to do it. Materials should be no different.” The Steelworkers Union also sent its members on a series of talks with legislators to win support for the provision. In Ohio, one Union official declared, “Buy American, the whole ideal is that we’re rebuilding the infrastructure of the United States with tax dollars, American tax dollars and the idea is that is going to create American jobs, they’re predicting that's going to create 133,000 jobs for Ohio with the stimulus money.”

          Outside of the industries that would benefit from the protectionism, however, the Stimulus Bill’s “Buy American” requirement met instant opposition from American corporations and their political supporters. The president of the US Chamber of Commerce issued a statement against the provision: “If we refuse to buy foreign-made goods, then our trading partners will refuse to buy from us. And since we are the world’s largest exporter, who will be hurt more?” A number of American-based corporations joined in the opposition. One of these was Caterpillar, which actually stood to reap windfall profits from the proposal. During the Multinational Wars in the 1980’s, Caterpillar had faced crippling competition from Komatsu, and was one of the chief proponents of protectionist trade policies. Now, however, times had changed—like most other American corporations, Caterpillar now made over half its profits through foreign sales, and was moving an increasing portion of its manufacturing capacity overseas. As a result, the corporation was now an enthusiastic supporter of the rules-based WTO framework, and spoke out strongly against the “Buy American” bill: “There is no company that is going to benefit more from the stimulus package than Caterpillar, but I am telling you that by embracing Buy American you are undermining our ability to export U.S. produced products overseas.”

          A measure to delete the “Buy American” provision was introduced by Senator John McCain, and failed 31-65. But by pointing out that the provision violated WTO rules, critics did force Congress to adopt modifying language that allowed for exceptions to the provision, and that explicitly stated that the provision could not be utilized to violate WTO rules.

          •  yes, I understand. Congress should still... (0+ / 0-)

            ...enact these provisions into law anway- and not just on stimulus funding- on all government agency procurements.

            The sad fact is that congress and the president care more about the WTO than they do their own country.  It is sad, but true- and they laugh behind the public's back about how we just don't understand how the real world works.

            If our nation's politicians really wanted to get out of the WTO, they would.  But they like it.

    •  Good Pithy comment , Cherub (0+ / 0-)
  •  I agree with you BBB (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    k9disc, j1j2j3j4


    It is difficult to find an issue so ripe with opportunity to get on the right side of public opinion.

    Actually, starting in 2002 candidates from both parties who opposed free trade have been more likely to get elected.

    As you point out, the disconnect between the mainstream of both political parties and public opinion creates a huge political opportunity for challengers.

    I personally think we are getting near the end of the free trade era...

    •  Hmmm. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Actually, starting in 2002 candidates from both parties who opposed free trade have been more likely to get elected.

      As were candidates who felt torture was a necessary evil.  Look, I can appreciate leveraging public opinion to win Congressional majorities and maintain a given policy agenda.  But using it as a justification to follow a given policy prescription isn't necessarily the right thing to do.

      No need to squabble girls. There's plenty of me to go around. - Pam from True Blood

      by fou on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 07:22:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Well yeah. (4+ / 0-)

    It's hardly surprising that the public mood is increasing isolationist.  People understandably want jobs, and increasingly associate free trade agreements with an exodus of jobs.  That's perfectly reasonable.

    But this is the same "public" that rewarded obstructionists who wish to export their jobs overseas.  The so-called "public" doesn't know its ass from a whole in whatever.  What side this public is on doesn't really help us understand what is good policy versus what isn't.  At all.

    No need to squabble girls. There's plenty of me to go around. - Pam from True Blood

    by fou on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 07:09:23 PM PDT

    •  How Could They, Immersed Inside the Greatest (6+ / 0-)

      propaganda machine in human history, the direct creation of our prehistoric formulations of speech and press freedom which are the biggest disaster in the history of democratic governance.

      Give global corporate warlords carte blanche to fight the people and rationality and civilization at every turn. I don't think anybody could've foreseen there'd be a problem with that.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 07:39:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  What? (0+ / 0-)
        How Could They, Immersed Inside the Greatest (6+ / 0-)
        propaganda machine in human history, the direct creation of our prehistoric formulations of speech and press freedom which are the biggest disaster in the history of democratic governance.

        I see.  So you think all that has to happen is for someone to pull back the curtain, expose the little man, and turn off the propaganda machine?!  Then, in your view, people will act in their own best interests?!

        Thanks for the laugh!

        No need to squabble girls. There's plenty of me to go around. - Pam from True Blood

        by fou on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 11:13:29 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I think your penchant for distrusting the public (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      joedemocrat, Mr Robert, BruceMcF

      is not entirely bad...

      But when it flies in the face of the onslaught of corporate propaganda - meaning that it stems from personal experience and 'kitchen table' kind of shit - I think it should be heeded.

      I might be getting entirely the wrong vibe from you on this thread, but it seems to me that you are saying that popular opinion, absent corporate approval or paying off the current crop of gatekeepers, is a moot point.

      Personally, when the public attacks or berates corporate - despite the massive propaganda campaign - that it is a fairly representative feeling of the populace.

      Tacking against Free Trade Cheap Labor economics should be the definition of a Democrat in the 21st century.


      Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

      by k9disc on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 07:50:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  more and more mainstream Democrats are coming (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        around on this issue.

        The final chapter in this book is called "The End of the Free Trade Coalition" and it talks about that.

        I think in 5-10 years, almost all Democrats will be against free trade and support fair trade.

        It wouldn't surprise me if some Republicans came around on this issue.

        There are also more CEO's who have come to question free trade - among them is GE's Jeffrey Immelt.

        I think the tide is turning faster than many people realize partly because it doesn't work and because there is such a huge political opening and partly because we have to get jobs back to this country.

        I'm normally not this optimistic but on this issue I think we've seen the bottom.

        •  you're conflating two different things . . . . (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          "Fair trade" does NOT mean the end of "free trade"--it does not mean the end of WTO, it does not mean that nation-states will be able to impose protectionist economic policies again--indeed it does not mean that any nation will be able to set any of its own trade policies again.

          What "fair trade" DOES mean is that the existing free trade structure will be modified to include things like workers rights, environmental protections, consumer protections, safety and health regulations, etc, within the trade rules themselves.  In theory, that means every corporation, everywhere, will have to follow the same rules regarding minimum wages, workplace safety, product purity and safety, etc.

          The corporados are of course absolutely opposed to any such thing, so there will be two huge fights--first to impose meaningful rules, and then to make sure they get enforced.

          That fight will go far beyond US politics--it will be a global fight.

          •  Thank you for explaining. (0+ / 0-)

            I hope my optimistic feelings aren't misplaced. I've just often felt with our economic situation combined with polls, things could only slowly improve.

            Can I ask you this?

            Would it be possible to put a VAT on manufactured goods with the tax based on where the value was added?  If the value was added in the U.S. the tax would be very low. If added overseas, it would be high.

            Or would the WTO strike this down?

            •  they probably would. (0+ / 0-)

              The general trend of WTO is to simply strike down anything that someone ASKS them to strike down.  Nations who file charges with WTO win about 85% of the time. WTO's inclination seems to be simply to strike down everything.

              One thing WTO rules are very clear about, though, is that one cannot discriminate based on the origin of a product--one cannot, for instance, have a tax of A on products coming from country X, and have a tax of twice A coming from country Y. So I think your idea of a VAT valued according to origin, wouldn't survive ten minutes at WTO.

          •  There are, however, ... (0+ / 0-)

            ... simpler, less intrusive approaches to Fair Trade, which prevents countries from pursuing a race to the bottom in pursuit of a trade surplus by establishing a balanced trade system.

            Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

            by BruceMcF on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 09:46:34 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  It's raining or we'd take the Kawasaki (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Americans tell pollsters that they are against NAFTA, GATT, free trade and imported goods.

    Then, they get in the Hyundais, drive down to Walmart and buy a bunch of crap made in Chinese prison labor camps.

    •  their wallet gives them no choice. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      David Kaib, mightymouse, bitpyr8

      It's simply silly to ask Americans who have seen their real wages go down every year since the 70's, who have almost ten percent unemployment, and who don't know if they will still have a job next week, to voluntarily pay higher prices for the things they need. They buy as cheaply as they can to stretch their meager paychecks as far as possible---and I can't fault them at all for doing that.

      If we want Americans to buy American stuff, we need to pay them enough to do so.

  •  I heard on Thom Hartmann's show that for (5+ / 0-)

    the first 100 or so years of the government, tariffs on imports paid for the government, no federal income tax. Tariffs might help with creating American jobs, and lowering taxes. Win-win.

    Where are all the jobs, Boehner?

    by Dirtandiron on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 07:19:33 PM PDT

    •  No social security, no medicare, no AFDC (4+ / 0-)

      During the first 100+ years of this country, the only thing that could be considered a "social service" was that you could join the army and kill Confederates and/or Native Americans.

      And our illegal wars (the Mexican-American War) lasted 6 months, not 10 years.

      It was easy to run the government from what we generated on tariffs because the government wasn't spending any money to speak of.

      And we had unlimited immigration, slave labor and no minimum wage or regulation; so manufacturers did not have much in the way of labor costs.

      Do we want to go back to that?

    •  alas, tariffs are a non-option. (3+ / 0-)

      WTO says they are a no-no, and WTO makes the rules, not us.

      Of course the good Merkan Patriots will swell out their chest and proclaim "fuck the WTO--we can take 'em". The reality is that we can't---every nation that has tried to defy the WTO (including the US) has surrendered abjectly shortly afterwards. No nation, not even the big bad US of A, is strong enough to stand against the entire world economy--particularly when our own "American" corporations will not support us in that fight.

      Like it or not, we no longer set our own trade policies. No nation does.

      •  WTO is Opt-Out (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        willie2011, Dirtandiron

        We are not forever bound by our membership, we can leave at any time and for any reason. Or simply use that leverage to renegotiate the terms.

        •  riiiggghhhhtttttttt. (0+ / 0-)

          Good luck with that. I'd love to watch the reaction against any politician from either party who makes such a proposal--it will make the furor against the "Buy American" provisions in the stimulus bill look like a Sunday dinner party. The corporados will squash him or her like a bug.

          We will no more leave WTO than we will leave the UN.

          •  I could convince any random voter (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Dirtandiron, j1j2j3j4

            that "Free trade" is bad for the country.  Hell, I wouldn't even need to, look at the polling data in the diary, the American voters already know the truth.

            Are you saying we are no longer a democracy?  That we don't control the policy agenda of our own government? The first party that clearly differentiates itself by taking the people's position on trade will have an enormous advantage.  The only reason it won't happen is because people like you say it can't.  It can, all we have to do is demand it.

            You could challenge both parties effectively as a third party on this issue alone.  Perot made waves on this issue and the downsides of "free trade" hadn't even been felt yet.  With Unemployment where it is, defending the status quo would destroy any party that opposed significant change on trade policy.

      •  We have the option of taxing crude oil imports ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        ... even inside the WTO framework.

        To the extent that the WTO is built broken in subservience to the neoliberal economic fantasies, it may require rebuilding.

        And balanced trade institutions for reciprocal trade in finished goods with, eg, Latin America and Africa could be established that would step sideways through WTO regulations ~ not being presently forbidden, so long as the US and its balanced trade partners opposed new rules to undermine them, then they would continue to be allowed.

        Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

        by BruceMcF on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 09:52:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I doubt any of that would pass the corporados (0+ / 0-)

          without a fight, which would pretty much make it a political impossibility.

          And as a matter of pure practicality, I think the best option is to force Fair Trade provisions right at the center--into the WTO rules themselves.  After all, the G20+ bloc has already demonstrated that the WTO can be beaten from within.

          I doubt the US is really all that interested in lots of bilateral treaties--the only reason most of them were negotiated to begin with was because the nationalist neocons didn't like the WTO and preferred to try and go it alone.

    •  True But Look At What the Founders Actually Built: (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mightymouse, j1j2j3j4
      The Panic of 1819
      Panic and Depression 1832
      Panic and Depression 1836
      Six Year Depression 1837-1843
      The Panic of 1857
      Panic and Depression 1869-1871
      The Panic of 1873
      The Panic of 1893
      The Panic of 1901
      Panic, Global Crash and Depression of 1929

      The Constitutional system was prehistoric before the ink ever dried, and it gave us a profoundly dangerous economic and information environment for our entire history except for the brief FDR-LBJ exception.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 07:41:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  1/3 of China's Public Money Is From Tariffs. 1/3. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      If we did the same, goodbye deficits, goodbye unemployment.

  •  The only way it could be a wash is (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bob B, Gooserock, willie2011

    if the savings from imported goods were passed on to the consumer. But they’re not, imported products are marked up as much as 500% (or more). The fact that Krugman is a professor of economics at Princeton demonstrates that amount of corporate curriculum-control that exists within the economics departments of Ivy League schools.
    All that ‘free’ trade does is transfer wealth from the world’s working classes to multinational corporations (that’s why the leaderships of both parties like it).

    •  As a Manufacturer/Exporter Myself, My Competition (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mightymouse, Mike Taylor, BruceMcF

      in my particular niche are little barefoot girls working on dirt floors in Pakistan.

      Lemme tell you about markups.

      I go to the retailer of my Paki competition and in to their application to be a retail reseller.

      I can buy the Paki import IN LOTS OF ONE for the cost of raw materials plus a US minimum wage covering the time for myself to assemble them. They don't compare in quality, so while I do have buyers, I can't charge any more than what keeps me in a house at half the national median price even today, and no benes or health care of course other than what we can arrange from previous careers.

      Nobody in Pakistan is buying my product; but they are in Germany, the British Isles, Scandinavia, Japan and China.

      China. My Chinese customers pay duty to import my product because they protect their labor and production. My American customers pay no duty to import the Chinese knockoffs of my product.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 07:53:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Tariffs are 11% on bicycles (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    2.7% on Ferraris.

    Both parties aren't exactly in favor of free trade per se.

    Both parties are in favor of big campaign donations and 3-week long factfinding missions to Tahiti to study trade policy on Bora Bora.

    So bicycle importers, which don't give much money to politicians, have to pay 11%,

    If you give a lot of money to politicians, your tariff rate is pretty low.

    •  that's no longer true . . . (0+ / 0-)
      If you give a lot of money to politicians, your tariff rate is pretty low.

      National governments no longer set tariff rates---WTO does. And WTO doesn't care about camapign contributors.

      The tariffs that still exist are only temporary, and they will eventually go away. Most of them still remain because WTO gave them a timetable for withdrawal and their time hasn't run out yet. A few tariffs exist because they happen in areas of the economy that WTO doesn't have jurisdiction over (yet).

      But within a few decades, virtually all tariffs and protectionist quotas will be gone.  That, after all, is the raison d'etre for the WTO.

  •  There is no alternative (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mightymouse, phonegery, BruceMcF, j1j2j3j4

    At least that's how this issue is treated in the media.

    Really, there's a much bigger story here than just the political upside for Democrats.

    There's something bizarre about the lack of discussion of globalization, at a time when unemployment is on everyone's minds, and it is clearly a driver of unemployment.

    •  it a driver of unemployment for us, but (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      it must at the same time be acknowledged that it has created millions of jobs in places like China and India where there would otherwise be no jobs, and has pulled millions of people out of a grinding poverty that would never have happened otherwise.  That of course was not the aim of the corporados and they didn't do this deliberately, nor did they do it out of the goodness of their hearts.  But nevertheless that is one of the effects of it.

      The corporados will jump unendingly from one-low wage haven to the next, and they will leave behind a trail of countries with improved wages and enough internal market to finance their own economic growth. Whether intentional or not (and of course it's not), that is a tremendous benefit to millions of people all over the world. It is something the US would never have done on its own.

      Inevitably, of course, the corporados will run out of low-wage havens--and then they're fucked.

      •  Of course, the majority of jobs ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        ... created in China were created in the domestic economy.

        Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

        by BruceMcF on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 09:58:38 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  indeed, as i noted, as the corporados jump from (0+ / 0-)

          one low-wage haven to the next, they will leave behind economies with enough higher wages and internal market to finance their own economic growth.  As I'm sure you know, China has already reached that point---the low-wage jobs that the corporados originally flocked there for are already disappearing to Vietnam and Cambodia; partly because of strikes--STRIKES--that raised wages in China significantly, and partly because the Chinese government has already written off those low-wage jobs and is focusing on building higher value-added domestic industries with better pay, to keep political stability as well as to further increase China's growth.

          Could China have produced that growth without the initial wave of corporados seeking low-wage havens? Perhaps, but it certainly would have been much harder and taken lots longer.

          •  Of course they could have ... (0+ / 0-)

            ... as they did.

            The problem with your thesis that there is no economy outside of the corporate sphere is that, since "the economy" is just an abstraction for the economic dimensions of society, it implies that there is no society outside the corporate sphere. It implies that all natural resources, all productive tools, and most particularly all human skills and effort are under the control of transnational corporations.

            Which is a load of bollocks.

            Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

            by BruceMcF on Mon Sep 05, 2011 at 03:28:19 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  How much you wanna bet... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    That 23% neatly corresponds to the upper 23% of wage earners in this country?

    Free trade is great, as long as yer rich.

    http: My little wiseass review show.

    by detroitmechworks on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 07:29:53 PM PDT

    •  it doesn't. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mr Robert

      Most of the Americans who have gotten jobs through "free trade" work at Japanese, British or German factories in the US, where they are paid a small fraction of the wages and benefits that their counterparts in Europe or Japan get.  Indeed, the reason why the factories are put here in the first place is because we are a non-union low-wage unregulated economy where costs are far lower than they are in Europe and Japan.

      In essence, they are doing to us what we did to Mexico and China.

  •  Whatever you fucking do, don't go after corporate (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:


    After all, they are our livelihood - our benevolent protectors saving us from job killing taxes and meddlesome government.


    I've been beating this drum for more than a decade... it's coming around - I am no longer the freakshow I used to be.

    People agree with me - Right and Left - the Center is still ambivalent, but Right and Left are with me.

    Democrats are total morans for chasing corporate sponsorship.

    Thanks for the pulse of society, BBB...


    Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

    by k9disc on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 07:31:44 PM PDT

  •  Oh well, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mr Robert
    Both parties appear to be on the wrong side of the public.

    Yes, the right wing side.

    But if Democrats could begin to speak out in ways that draw a contrast with Republicans on the matter of free trade, it is quite possible Democrats could reap political benefits.

    We all know what will happen.  (crickets)

    The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell

    by accumbens on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 07:34:05 PM PDT

  •  The Obama administration is using fraudulent (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mike Taylor, willie2011, j1j2j3j4

    accounting practices to promote his Korea and Columbia trade deals.

    The Administration is boasting about the increase in exports that will result from the trade deals.

    But the Administration ignores the fact that these deals will also increase imports to the U.S. by the same, or an even larger amount.  The result is a net loss for our overall trade deficit!

    This is like telling keeping track of "imports" of money into your bank account while ignoring the "exports".  When the flow of money in and out of the country is at issue, it is the net that matters.  It is dishonest accounting to simply ignore one side of the ledger, as the Obama administration is doing.

    The U. S. International Trade Commission has detailed reports on the likely effects of these trade deals.  The Korea report is here:

    Page 2-13 of that report says:
    "The last row in table 2.3 [on page 2-14] reports the simulated changes in total U.S. trade in sectors analyzed in this simulation. Total U.S. exports of these commodities is expected to be higher by $4.8–5.3 billion, and total imports of commodities in this analysis is expected to be higher by $5.1–5.7 billion, an increase of about 0.4 percent for exports and 0.3 percent for imports."

    This is either a net of nothing, or is a small net loss!

    The report on the Columbia deal is here:

    Page 2-12 says:
    "Aggregate U.S. trade with the world may increase by a small amount as a result of the increased market access under the TPA. The last row in appendix table G-4 [pages G-12 and 13] reports the simulated changes in total U.S. trade in sectors analyzed in this simulation. Total U.S. exports of these commodities are estimated to increase by $645 million, and total U.S. imports of these commodities in this analysis are estimated to increase by $711 million, an increase of less than 0.05 percent increase in both cases."

    In view of this, both trade agreements should be defeated.

    Please write to your congresspeople and ask them to oppose these agreements.

    •  alas, it doesn't matter if they are defeated or no (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mr Robert

      WTO already regulates trade between the US and Panama, Korea, Colombia and everywhere else in the world. "Free trade" between all these nations is already a fait accompli. The bilateral agreements were only negotiated in the first place because the Dubya neocons didn't like the WTO and wanted their own agreements where the US had the advantage. Alas for the neocons, their attempt to end-run WTO failed, and now their bilateral agreements don't mean dick. There is already 'free trade" between Korea and the US, whether these agreements pass or not. The bilateral agreements only make a few tweaks in US favor, which the Koreans probably won't follow anyway--they'll argue to WTO that the tweaks are an "unfair trade advantage".

      What COULD have made them worthwhile is if Obama had kept his campaign promise to renegotiate the treaties to insert "fair trade" provisions to make them tougher and better than the WTO standards.  Alas, that never happened.

  •  Krugman is So Wrong About Trade That It Doesn't (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mike Taylor, JC from IA

    matter what he's right about.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 07:42:02 PM PDT

    •  yea, you're going to have to go with a little more (0+ / 0-)

      detail than that.

      and even if he is wrong on trade, saying that makes him wrong on everything else is just stupid.

      big badda boom : GRB 080913

      by squarewheel on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 09:20:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  What about the fact that Gooserock did ... (0+ / 0-)

        ... not actually say "that makes him wrong on everything else"?

        Is this an inability to read what Gooserock said, or a deliberate straw horse argument?

        I assume that its a misreading, because who would think they could convince some other reader that "he's so wrong on trade that it doesn't matter what he's right on" ...

        ... means the same thing as "he's so wrong on trade that it makes him wrong on everything else as well" ...

        ... when the two statements are so obviously different when set side by side?

        Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

        by BruceMcF on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 10:03:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  you are correct (0+ / 0-)

          but it's still a ridiculous statement and a strawman in and of itself.

          it's kind of the definition of a strawman, isn't it ?

          he's wrong about one thing so it doesn't matter what he's right about ?

          and really, that's what you think elevates the discussion, defending that statement ?

          how about actual examples of where Krugman's errors as opposed to going after me over some alleged plot to spew propaganda.

          big badda boom : GRB 080913

          by squarewheel on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 11:50:23 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Democrats taking issue with "Free Trade"?? Why (0+ / 0-)

    would any person, or political party bite the hand that feeds them?

    Think about it, but not to long....

    "You can't always get what you want; but if you try sometimes...." - Rolling Stones

    by LamontCranston on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 07:42:17 PM PDT

  •  NAFTA was a job (7+ / 0-)

    killer. It killed my career as a craftsman it did not help the Tunisian artist's I had to compete with as the got pennies for their beautiful work. . Free trade does not do anything for workers anywhere. Even cheap toxic stuff is unaffordable if you have no way earn a decent living. I doubt this administration is going to do anything that refutes their 'inevitable' world as we find it. Nothing is inevitable especially if it doesn't pay. The raising all boats myth is just like the touting of the too big to fail mantra. Free Trade/Market needs to go as neither of them are free they cost the people too much globally.. Workers are not stupid they know where their decent paying jobs are going and why.    

  •  "Both parties appear to be on the wrong side... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mightymouse, Mr Robert, BruceMcF

    "...of the public."

    Seems like that's a reoccuring theme lately.

  •  Or, as gets pointed out when FOX puts up (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JC from IA

    a poll like this:

    A robust plurality believe that free trade has hurt the country, while a paltry 23% agree with the reigning consensus in both parties.

    53% do not believe that free trade hurts the economy, if you include the unsure, or 46% do not, well within any margin of error.  

    Most American's also believe Obama raised their taxes.  

    It's not free trade that has hurt things here, it's the Republican party.

  •  Are you arguing for doing what is politically (0+ / 0-)

    convenient (ie popular) over throwing what liberal economists like Krugman say is "a wash" into a deal to create jobs with public money?

    That sounds like a very establishment way of thinking.

    Rather than doing the hard thing to help people, you're arguing for an attitude where Dems choose things that might keep them in their cushy jobs rather than create policies and legislation that are Progressive.

    Progressives need to decide whether they want action or they want Dems to do what is politically convenient.

    Action will require at least throwing some meaningless bones ("a wash") to some rural Democrats, that's part of the game.

    I want negotiation, action, solutions.

    From 2008 to 2010 the stimulus bill relied more on supply side than stimulus, but the stimulus did create private sector jobs over that period.

    That's a fact.

  •  China (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mike Taylor, mightymouse, joedemocrat

    charges a 17% VAT (value added tax) on imports.  As much as 34% on automobile imports.

    India a 13.5% VAT.

    America's trade policy is so stupid that they won't even print it.

    Tell the other countries about the 'benefits' of so-called 'free trade' and how 'isolationism' is so evil.  Free trade .. yeah for who?  Only in the US is this a 'debate'

    "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws." Mayer Amschel Rothschild, 1790

    by FreeTradeIsYourEpitaph on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 07:51:35 PM PDT

    •  you are quite wrong on several counts (0+ / 0-)

      China's tariffs are only temporary (as are ours)--they exist only as a condition of her entry into WTO and they will disappear when the timetable runs out.

      America doesn't set our own trade policy---WTO sets it for everybody.

      And the most robust debate over 'free trade" happened in . . .  Costa Rica, where it passed a referendum by the slightest of slim margins.

    •  VAT's are charged ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ... on both imports and domestic production alike. India has a 13.5% VAT on imports, and a 13.5% VAT on domestic production.

      Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

      by BruceMcF on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 10:07:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  yep--WTO has no objection to taxes on both (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        imports and domestics.  What it will object to is taxes on imports alone.

        •  On schedule products and ... (0+ / 0-)

          ... beyond the agreed schedule rates.

          Its not as if the WTO sets the schedule on its own ~ that is done by consensus of WTO member states.

          Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

          by BruceMcF on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 10:27:48 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  more specifically it is usually done by Green Room (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            deals that are cut by a handful of members, then presented to the rest as a fait accompli.Or at least that's how everything was done until the G20+ bloc tossed their monkey wrench.

            But I'm not sure what is the distinction you are making--WTO is, after all, just a meeting of all the various member representatives. So saying that a decision is made by WTO's members rather than by WTO is rather like saying that laws are passed by members of Congress rather than by Congress. . . .

            •  of course, if one really wanted to be technical (0+ / 0-)

              about it, one could say that all of the various trade policies are set by GATT, and WTO's job is simply to enforce the GATT provisions.  But since the two are inseperable in practice (GATT is after all produced by WTO members), I'm not sure what is gained by that distinction. Clarification, please? I'm not sure I'm getting the point . . .

  •  It's Our Fault As Shitty Democrats (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    k9disc, Mike Taylor, willie2011, j1j2j3j4

    We let our party- who should be for protecting the interests and livelihoods of American workers get taken over by corporate vultures who stand in line to take bribes to sell our interests out.

    Do you support the mainstream Democrats, from the Oval office to the DNC?  Are you the ones who instead of refusing to hold your leaders accountable, point at the the other side and preach fear by saying "Well those other guys are worse!" or "What about the Supreme Court?". News flash: you are the ones who let this happen.  By unconditionally supporting the very people who sell you out.  By voting for them and encouraging other Democrats to vote for them.  As long as they can get away with doing the bidding of the plutocrats and being well compensated for it, guess what?  They will.

    Here's what to do: refuse to be motivated by fear mongering designed to make you submit and be complicit in their evil. Don't support politicians who are working against your interests. Ever. Ever, ever, ever. Tell anyone who will listen that you won't donate to, work for, vote for or encourage others to donate to, work for, vote for or encourage others to vote for politicians that are in a very real sense your enemies- who are bent on destroying the country in exchange for bribes and lucrative careers post-office.  In other words hold your party bigs accountable.

    If you work in the interests of people working against yours and those of your children then you are a fool.  I don't care how bad the "other guys" are.  That's how this crap happens.  Defend it and you are defending evil, defending the deliberate and obscenely profitable destruction of our country. You are the problem just as surely as those selling you out.  And you're not even getting paid, hell some of you are giving them money to get your interests sold out!

    The Supreme Court?  Fuck you. The other guys are worse?  Fucking fuck you.  They need you, don't enable them.  This doesn't get fixed until we grow a pair and say, "Enough"! And then walk our own talk.  

  •  Free trade is good for farmers, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Utahrd, j1j2j3j4

    for farm state economies, and ag exports help our balance of trade. That's a small segment of the U.S. population, but it's politically powerful.

    •  actually there is no free trade for farmers. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mr Robert, j1j2j3j4

      The WTO only has jurisdiction over a very small portion of the agricultural trade, leaving the industrial nations like the US and Europe to massively subsidize their agribusinesses (a typical cow in Europe gets a subsidy of $3-4 a day---which is more than one-third of the planet's HUMAN population gets).

      The WTO, in its Dohan Round of negotiations, did try to expand its jurisdiction over agribusiness --the US and Europe both fought to keep their agricultural subsidies, leading to the formation of the G20+ bloc, composed of small agrarian countries who wanted to end the subsidies completely. When the US and Europe refused to budge, G20+ bloc shut down the entire negotiations, and they remain dead today.  There are persistent rumors that Obama plans to try to re-start the talks (the US wants to expand WTO's authority to cover things like intellectual property and international finance, but can't do that as long as the G20+ keeps holding out).

    •  Multinational corpoprations need US farm exports (0+ / 0-)

      to feed the human-livestock workforces (i.e. no freedom, no civil liberties, no worker-protections etc.) of our trading partners.
      The only reason basic healthcare is provided for workers in China is based on the same rationale used by US livestock producers who provide it for their animals, it makes economic sense.

    •  free trade my ass - the subsidies they get (0+ / 0-)

      completely invalidate the idea that our agricultural sector participates in "free" trade.

      big badda boom : GRB 080913

      by squarewheel on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 09:21:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  of course the politicians support free trade... (0+ / 0-)

    ...but free trade is ridiculous because there is never an even playing field between nations...

    and... also surrenders our ability to make democratic decisions here at home to corporations and foreign governments.

      I understand why all the politicians like it- it lines their pockets...but how in the world "free trade" became the convential wisdom is beyond me.

  •  So now we will accept what the pluralty (0+ / 0-)

    wants?  I'm sure there are many issues the plurality or even majority favor that we are opposed to.  Nothing wrong with using polls to our advantage though.  If it fits our agenda then it's good.  

    Preemptive war is like committing suicide for fear of death

    by thestructureguy on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 08:03:29 PM PDT

  •  These (0+ / 0-)

    corporations are treasonous to this country.

    Revoke their charters and let their CEOs run them from China. Let them see if China approves of treasonous actions against their state. I'm guessing there will be a lot of dead CEOS.

  •  You're wrong on Krugman. (4+ / 0-)

    From Wikipedia:

    Krugman's views on free trade have provoked considerable ire from the anti-globalism movement. He once famously quipped that, "If there were an Economist's Creed, it would surely contain the affirmations 'I understand the Principle of Comparative Advantage' and 'I advocate Free Trade'."

    You cite him saying that free trade qua free trade doesn't create jobs. That doesn't mean he's against it, or even that he has neutral feelings toward it. Krugman supports free trade.

    Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter:

    by JackinStL on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 08:09:06 PM PDT

  •  I'm all for free trade, and while I understand (0+ / 0-)

    that the US will never be able to compete with 2nd, 3rd, and 4th world nations regarding labor costs, I insist that "free trade" be "fair trade":

    Food products and manufactured goods that are to be imported into the US must be grown, raised, or manufactured in ways that meet or exceed US health, safety, and environmental laws and regulations. If they don't - they will be turned back.

    Workers performing service jobs that have been offshored to foreign nations must work in environments that meet US health, safety, and environmental laws and regulations.

    You get the idea.

    Not only which such import prohibitions help keep jobs here in the US, they will also raise the bar for workers and the natural environment in other nations.

    Form follows function -- Louis Sullivan

    by Spud1 on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 08:09:50 PM PDT

    •  whether we support free trade or not is (0+ / 0-)

      utterly irrelevant---it's there and it's not going away.  It's like arguing whether or not we support the UN. Pointless.

      What we CAN do, though, is precisely what you suggest---force the free trade structure to include global standards for minimum wages, workplace safety, product purity and safety, environmental protections, etc.  Such a movement already exists--it's called the "Fair Trade Movement", and it is something that deserves every progressive's support.

  •  All it takes is common sense. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mr Robert, jessical

    If it’s illegal to operate Chinese-style sweatshops in the US, then there’s no legitimate rationale for allowing products from other countries produced in that manner to be sold in the US (at least without serious restrictions). All that does is punish US producers/manufacturers who play by the rules, and by extension their employees.
    Our trading partners must raise their standards, or 'free' trade will continue to lower ours, it's as simple as that.

  •  Yeah, but... (0+ / 0-)

    That's the problem we have from our very own Dem "Leadership."
    "Yeah, but... "
    "Yeah, yeah, we've seen your polls, but our friends across the aisle say... and the conventional wisdom is... and, besides, we're beholden to free trade interests."
    Yeah, we know. We know you have no spine.

    •  Obama's been burned before (0+ / 0-)

      He rather naively tried to insert a "Buy American" provision into the stimulus bill, apparently expecting that all the American corporados would shower him with love for it.  Instead, they all opposed it loudly and harshly, and quickly forced changes in it that effectively gutted it.

      To the American corporations, the international WTO structure is far far more important than any American national interest.

      The Dems learned their lesson, and they will never oppose American corporate interests in WTO again.

  •  Somebody let Obama's advisers know. n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
  •  Triple-B: This is a touching display (0+ / 0-)

    of trying to be, what they call, "realistic."

    But if Democrats could begin to speak out in ways that draw a contrast with Republicans on the matter of free trade, it is quite possible Democrats could reap political benefits. It is difficult to find an issue so ripe with opportunity to get on the right side of public opinion.

    I interpret that as you mean to be fair-minded. Still, the case described -- a policy both Parties excoriate, in tune with the public; yet both Parties make Law based on that policy -- proves the larger point. Which is...

    Our political class is wholly out of touch with the American people.

    We have a chance there will be a Ned Lamont (who made it safe for Democrats to be against staying in Iraq) just pushing to get out of these deals, but whoever pays, er, contributes to the Democratic Party ain't going to like them much.

    There was that book years back "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus." Our political class is from insanity. And I'm not using that word as invective, but in precisely the sense that expecting radishes to teleport you to Centauri Prime is insane.

    We'll fight wars around the planet with a military that's the wrong tool for the job, and do it at permanent cost to hundreds of thousands of our soldiers, more of local innocents, and spending a fortune we don't have which will cause the general population to suffer more. This, to protect the nation.

    A body could come up with a bunch of other examples of sheer lunacy. The Fair Trade Laws, the Wars... All clearly not in touch with reality. Or worse, a shared reality among our political class which largely excludes the interests of the general population.

    "Whatever you do, don't mention The War." Basil Fawlty, while mentally impaired.

    by Jim P on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 08:55:10 PM PDT

  •  There's actually a lot less protectionism in the (0+ / 0-)

    US than I thought there would be, given where we are. Arguably in 2005 there was more protectionism. Back then Chuck Schumer was threatening to a slap a 27.5 percent tariff on Chinese imports, whereas today no one talks about that any more. It's the opposite of what you would think where a bad economy actually leads to less protectionism.

    "It is, it seems, politically impossible to organize expenditure on the scale necessary to prove my case -- except in war conditions."--JM Keynes, 1940

    by randomfacts on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 09:35:04 PM PDT

  •  The Tea Party (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jessical, cordobes

    will be delighted to have you on board on this question.

    We can have change for the better.

    by phillies on Sun Sep 04, 2011 at 09:36:03 PM PDT

  •  What about global warming? (0+ / 0-)

    Isn't a plurality of the public sceptical about anthropogenic global warming too?

    Ignorance and obscurantism everywhere.

    •  Climate change vs global warming (0+ / 0-)

      I think there's a difference in people's belief with regard to climate change vs their belief on global warming.  

      We here know the two are intertwined, of course, but the masses seem to differentiate.  I don't know if I can actually prove that with a study or report or anything...just a feeling I get in general conversations "all around town" :-).

      - If you don't like gay marriage, blame straight people. They're the ones who keep having gay babies.

      by r2did2 on Mon Sep 05, 2011 at 04:52:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Government belief on free trade (0+ / 0-)

    Well, this may or may not have anything to do with "free trade" per se....but, one requirement that existed initially to receive "extended" unemployment benefits was that a person lost their job because it went overseas.

    I know this for an absolute fact because of my son's experience with the ESC in our state.

    So, looks like there is at least an acknowledgement that our trade with other countries isn't all it was cracked up to be.

    - If you don't like gay marriage, blame straight people. They're the ones who keep having gay babies.

    by r2did2 on Mon Sep 05, 2011 at 04:22:35 AM PDT

  •  why wonder that is there is high unemployment (0+ / 0-)

    when both parties believe in what is truly a job killing policy.

    "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

    by noofsh on Mon Sep 05, 2011 at 04:23:36 AM PDT

  •  End Free Trade Agreements is a start (0+ / 0-)

    If we cant get out of WTO rules anytime soon. We can start by ending all free trade treaties such as NAFTA. Hate to say it but Ross Perot was right, and Bill Clinton et al were totally wrong.

    •  that won't help us. (0+ / 0-)

      The American economy already proved in the 1980's that it cannot stand alone as an independent economy---we need the global market just as much as it needs us. We simply cannot go back to the 80's--economic nationalism is simply not a viable option. So the whole global trade structure will not ever go away, because American corporations depend upon it for their very lives.

      What we CAN do, however, is use the international free trade structure as a weapon, by forcing it to include all of the environmental, labor, consumer, and safety standards that will protect not only us but the rest of the world too. And that is the aim of the Fair Trade Movement.

      That is where our efforts should go.

  •  Irrespective of whether free trade (0+ / 0-)

    is a good idea or not, it would be a good political issue for the Dems.  However, it appears corporate control is so total that even kabuki is no longer allowed.  Exactly like saying anything negative about the banks.

    You must always swear fealty to the overlords or else.

  •  I love (sarc) the "net" benefit framing. True, BUT (0+ / 0-)

    as usual (or SOP these days) the benefits are overwhelmingly concentrated at the top and the costs (oh yeah, that part of "net") are overwhelmingly concentrated in the (formerly known as) middle.

    Statistical mush of mushes.

    I digress, but heathlander wrote a great diary on this a bit ago.  Elites use this pseudo-empirical "rationalist" (facts don't lie) bs as a control method - not a enlightened decision-making method.  I mean how can you argue with a statistically true "net" benefit?  It's all so scientific, and we mere mortals aren't really equipped to understand the science, are we?

    Anyway, diary here.

    Sumud muqawim. Unadikum. Salaam.

    by Terra Mystica on Mon Sep 05, 2011 at 06:28:07 AM PDT

  •  majority in pubic have no idea what free trade is (0+ / 0-)

    or what the agreements say. There has been no clear evidence on what jobs have been created vs. taken away. Are you all willing to pay higher prices for goods to bring those jobs back? Besides more jobs have been lost to technology than out sourcing. And  the U.S. has a public that is under educated.

    All I can say is the tech help coming from India is  much better than when hen it came from those employed in the U.S. I remember before tech help was out sourced having to deal with surly people who  appeared to resent their job, and had no idea what they were doing. The techs in India are pleasant, patient, and know what they are doing.

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