This morning's New York Times edition supplied readers with a shallow, late-in-the-game endorsement of three Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with South Korea, Colombia and Panama that the labor movement and other progressive outfits have fought tooth and nail against on behalf of not only the American worker, but American enterprise as a whole.
Falling back on the bland, issueless argument that the FTAs represent compromise and bi-partisanship, the NYT writes:
Trade is good for the economy and for employment. It opens new markets for businesses and allows access to cheaper, often better products from abroad. But it also has a dark side for workers displaced by foreign competition.
So it is good to hear that Congressional Republicans and the White House have finally reached an agreement to pass both the long-delayed trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama and an expanded package of benefits for displaced workers. We hope this rare moment of cooperation â and the deal â will hold.
This introduction misleads, suggesting that job loss for Americans resulting from trade is the only facet of dark sidedness resulting from deals. In truth, the dark side of these deals for workers goes beyond job loss. There is an element of worker safety, not just on the job, but when they go to sleep at night, that requires mention. This is especially true with respect to Colombia, where 15 trade union leaders have been killed since April. NYT's argument that "Colombia promised new protections for its union workers" in exchange for this FTA recklessly glosses over the matter, ignoring the fact that the country has made this promise on multiple occasions to no avail.
Not mentioned, of course, is that the Colombia deal alone could cost the U.S. 55,000 jobs.
The only explanation for the NYT's omission of any true dissenting opinions on this matter may be that the list of grievances from labor and other esteemed progressive voices is too long to parse. Better to simply deploy the ThoughtBots of Acquiescence on this one, I suppose.
The South Korea deal, by some estimations, will cost the U.S. 159,000 jobs. This, combined with the 50,000+ from the Colombian deal, will make for an unmanageable TAA task.
The job losses, of course, could not come at a worse time. Countless sectors have either bottomed out or are in drastic decline with respect to employment. Manufacturing his its 20-month low this summer and technology lost over 100,000 jobs in 2010. We are not only outsourcing previously held American jobs, we are simply creating jobs overseas outright. If our trade history with China -- where we currently have a deficit in the trillions -- is any indication, nothing good can come of an FTA.
New York Times readers, in my estimation, expect more from a paper of record, the outfit that many view as the authority on matters of U.S. center-to-left opinion. This morning's op-ed was not "fit to print."
And this, a Free Trade drawing too good not to share...