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Poll: Free Trade

Answer our poll question, then debate the topic below.


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"Free Trade" allows capital to move to the least expensive workforce areas.

The only people who benefit from "Free Trade" are those who have always benefited from slavery. In the 21st Century the labor is not literally in chains, it is disposable.

I'LL TELL YOU WHAT FREE TRADE HAS DONE TO MY FAMILY. MY HUSNAMD IS NEARLY 64 YRS OLD AND HAS TO WORK TWO VWRY LOW PAYING JOBS JUST TO PAY THE RENT. I LOST MY JOB BECAUSE OF A COMPANY BUYOUT IN NOV., 07 BECAUSE MY NEW BOSS DIDN'T LIKE THAT I AM SEVERLEY HEARING IMPAIRED. NY UNEMPLOYMENT CHECK, $196/WK, IS DUE TO RUN OUT IN A FEW WEEKS. WE STILL HAVE THREE MINOR CHILDREN AT HOME. WHERE ARE THE SAFTEY NETS? HE MAKES 1,700/MONTH. WE ARE UNELIGABLE FOR HEALTH CARE {ALTHOUGH HE IS A VETERAN} OR FOOD STAMPS OR RENTAL ASSISTANCE. THAT'S WHAT FREE TRADE HAS DONE FOR THIS COUNTRY. 25 YRS AGO I MADE TRIPLE THAN WHAT I WAS MAKING IN MY LAST JOB.

The reason unemployment statistics do not reflect the reality around us is that 40% of our workforce (See report on PBS NOW about consultant's union) now consists of self-employed contractors and temporary positions. Some are ineligible and others find filing difficult. Having once been a government surveyor and statistician I do not doubt the numbers are manipulated. The benefit level is so low as to be laughable for many laid-off skilled and professional. They won't humiliate themselves by filing. It's like surrendering. Yes, and there are many whose benefits have run out after 26 weeks in a nation without a safety net. Also, the informal or underground economy my be as high as 20%, excluding the 10% who work primarily in fields considered criminal (drugs, prostitution, sports gambling, fraud). Drugs and illegal sex probably provide 25% of our true economic gross. People are eager to work. 25% over age 65 are employed in some manner, but maybe 30 million have dropped out of the workforce and are no longer looking. Some haven't the means to look. Education is then out of the question, and would not solve the problem anyway with the finite number of positions decreasing.

Education is not like it was in the 70s or early 80s where you could live low and work part time for book money. Real wages are lower now and the employment requirements more stringent. Tuition is also much higher and there are a finite number of scholarship and grant recipients. There has always been age discrimination for older workers returning to college. I left my job teaching out of conscience because my proprietary school was turning out graduates with high loan debt and few prospects.Talking to new graduates has made me believe the education product they achieve is inferior to that of the past. Education can be a racket! I tell young people,"Don't enroll in school without a sweetheart deal."

I laughed when I heard a mortgage salvager say he advises couples to both take a second job. What planet does he live on? You could lose your biscuit scratching for margarine. Wages are lower and home equity in the speculators' pockets. Most jobs are very specific, oppressive and exploitive if not fraudulent and the lower waged jobs are not for slackers. My old mentor, Miles Horton, told me in 1990 that I would live to see parents competing for employment with their own children, and that the children would underbid parents for wages and benefits. I thought him wrong, but now I've seen everything! He knew "trickle down" pretty well.
He defined free trade as a subset of voodoo economics.

Free Trade is back in the news this week because of delay in fast-tracking trade with Colombia. Aren't our military and intelligence agencies able to import their kilos easily and cheaply enough already? The erupting cocaino down there is also a great opportunity for wage slavery I guess. It sounds so much like Chinese policy that big old U.S. gonna "lose face" in awakening South America if bill not pass 0-0-0-0-0-0-0, I so sad!

"Free trade" is inefficient under present circumstances of fuel scarcity and the increasing need for locally grown and wholesome food around the world. I recently ran out of decent pants and foolishly bought three slave-made brands for about $25 a pair. They varied greatly in size, were asymetrical and cut oddly; one pair had pockets liners to the knees. How wonderful these low prices from a regional department store: I returned them. Now I'm wearing shorts, but I have a pattern and am searching hopefully for suitable cloth to sew myself. Free trade is making it impossible for Americans to repair, invent or be self-sufficient. I consider this a diminishment of our freedom. Who shares my experience?

Free trade is not free: It is a structured outcome in which the wealthy and the ruthless rob the rest of us, and produce a world of unpunished repression. You free traders can proceed to your oar in the belly of the gallion, with short rations of tripe and vinegar until you are jettisoned for a fresh motor-boy. You'll die understanding how a neo-liberal/neo-con economy works.

The reason unemployment statistics do not reflect the reality around us is that 40% of our workforce (See report on PBS NOW about consultant's union) now consists of self-employed contractors and temporary positions. Some are ineligible and others find filing difficult. Having once been a government surveyor and statistician I do not doubt the numbers are manipulated. The benefit level is so low as to be laughable for many laid-off skilled and professional. They won't humiliate themselves by filing. It's like surrendering. Yes, and there are many whose benefits have run out after 26 weeks in a nation without a safety net. Also, the informal or underground economy my be as high as 20%, excluding the 10% who work primarily in fields considered criminal (drugs, prostitution, sports gambling, fraud). Drugs and illegal sex probably provide 25% of our true economic gross. People are eager to work. 25% over age 65 are employed in some manner, but maybe 30 million have dropped out of the workforce and are no longer looking. Some haven't the means to look. Education is then out of the question, and would not solve the problem anyway with the finite number of positions decreasing.

Education is not like it was in the 70s or early 80s where you could live low and work part time for book money. Real wages are lower now and the employment requirements more stringent. Tuition is also much higher and there are a finite number of scholarship and grant recipients. There has always been age discrimination for older workers returning to college. I left my job teaching out of conscience because my proprietary school was turning out graduates with high loan debt and few prospects.Talking to new graduates has made me believe the education product they achieve is inferior to that of the past. Education can be a racket! I tell young people,"Don't enroll in school without a sweetheart deal."

I laughed when I heard a mortgage salvager say he advises couples to both take a second job. What planet does he live on? You could lose your biscuit scratching for margarine. Wages are lower and home equity in the speculators' pockets. Most jobs are very specific, oppressive and exploitive if not fraudulent and the lower waged jobs are not for slackers. My old mentor, Miles Horton, told me in 1990 that I would live to see parents competing for employment with their own children, and that the children would underbid parents for wages and benefits. I thought him wrong, but now I've seen everything! He knew "trickle down" pretty well.

Free Trade is back in the news this week because of delay in fast-tracking trade with Colombia. The erupting cocaino down there is also a great opportunity for wage slavery I guess. It sounds so much like Chinese policy that big old U.S. gonna "lose face" in awakening South America if bill not pass 0-0-0-0-0-0-0, I so sad!

"Free trade" is inefficient under present circumstances of fuel scarcity and the increasing need for locally grown and wholesome food around the world. I recently ran out of decent pants and foolishly bought three slave-made brands for about $25 a pair. They varied greatly in size, were asymetrical and cut oddly; one pair had pockets liners to the knees. How wonderful these low prices from a regional department store: I returned them. Now I'm earing shorts, but I have a pattern and am looking hopefully for suitable cloth. Free trade is making it impossible for Americans to repair, invent or be self-sufficient. I consider this a diminishment of our freedom. Who shares my experience?

Free trade is not free: It is a structured outcome in which the wealthy and the ruthless rob the rest of us, and produce a world of unpunished repression. You free traders can proceed to your oar in the belly of the gallien, with short rations of tripe and vinegar until you are jettisoned for a fresh motor-boy.

I'm a high school math teacher so I know a little bit about what numbers can and cannot say. One thing that we're not told often is the number of people who have lost their jobs and are not longer eligible for unemployment. I'm not up-to-date on all of the rules, but I think a person can 'sign-up' for unemployment for six months. After that, they are no longer eligible for those benefits. So eventually, all of the people who have lost their jobs will rotate off of that list.

ps dear al, whatever you were reading that said unemployment low,economy great and future looks rosy
is pure propaganda based on nothing. As in the freetrade controversy, the facts belie statements by those pushing this down our
throats.

Just finished mcarthurs book EXCELLENT. I was surprised that after catching him on AMY that his book was written in 2000. It seems like two decades ago....Its been a long nasty road since the corrupt supreme court derailed our elections with
James bakers help. Where did I hear that story about baker botts...I think
it was an unfinished question on that redfreak connies booknotes. No matter how much she tried to cut off callers who wanted to discuss current reality with Harpers lewis lapham, callers all but one wanted a reality check on their disgust and fear of this fascist federalist conspiracy we have begun to see exposed. They are pedaling furiously to stay ahead of the surge of citizen revolt. of course
we wont get the investigations that impeachment trials would entail, the socalled opposition party has long been in collusion. Of cvourse, what wannabe writer
connie wanted to talk about was ,what do you wear when you write? Do you use a pencil or a computer? y'know, important stuff like that

I have been undecided about free trade until I read an article that stated that unemployment is exceptionally low, the economy is running great and the future looks rosy. Yes, some people have lost their jobs and to them free trade is awful; manufacturing has disolved since the free trade laws went into effect, but the service jobs have gone through the roof. For the past 40 years the advice has been to get a college education because that's the only way to succeed. It is even truer now. Those without a college degree will be left behind and the gap between the haves & have nots will get wider. That is terrible, but I'm not sure what can be done to alleviate the trend. It can only get worse. Read what Graeme Milligan wrote above because he made the most sense to me.
Have a nice day, Al

I'm opposed to free trade agreements as they currently exist, but I'd like to see Mr. MacArthur's evidence that the Democratic leadership are doing this solely to hustle Wall Street for cash. That seems a hell of an accusation, coming as it does without a shred of documentation. I guess I'll have to read the book.

I am from Australia and have just watched the segment with John R. MacArthur on Free Trade. I have recently completed a Masters thesis on a history of U.S. Trade Policy and Multilateralism since 1934. Its kind of a misnomer to say that the Democratic Party is the party of protectionist interests and the Republicans the party of free trade. Until the 1960s it was the Republicans who were generally the party of protectionism, much as you describe Buchanan's position. The free trade philosophy of people like Adam Smith is supposed to lift people out of poverty. Obviously things are much more complicated than Smith's philosophy. In trade agreements some people will win and some will lose, its a matter of equipping and compensating the losers to the degree to which they can find themselves in a position able to attain employment that at the least enables them to maintain the standard of living to which they are accustomed, which could happen if trade adjustment assistance was funded and targeted adequately.

Author and journalist, John R. MacArthur said,

I realize that every time somebody says, "We're helping the poor" or "We're helping the foreigners" or "the poor foreigners," what they really mean is, "We're going to exploit the hell out of them. This is a way we're going to lock in cheap labor in any country you can think of and exploit them." And it's a union killing movement in the United States. You cannot form an union in the United States anymore without risking your plant being closed, sent overseas, or other kinds of intimidation. That's why union membership and private union membership has now fallen to eight percent of the workforce. As an American, as a citizen, I don't want to see the big money keep winning the way it's been winning over and over and over again.

What is most telling about the Free Trade discussion and the American worker is the idea of exploitation, a concept that is all but disappeared for public discourse, in regards to foreign economic relationships and in the United States itself. What seems clear enough is the total abandonment of social conscious toward others whether in or outside of the U.S.. An author I read wrote that we have embraced "asocial individualism". The lack of public discussion over worker rights and just treatment of peoples everywhere shows the hegemony of a culture placated by consumerism. We give our rights away like a person waiving their rights to an attorney. For those that "have" do not think of the troubles of others until they can?t get what they want or at worse what they need to survive. The poor, the mentally ill, and the disenfranchised are ignored with ever-greater regularity while a country that has such wealth and power does only one thing with. Work to get more at the expense of those who have no access or means to help their place in the work. We exploit the masses and make sure they get cheap DVD?s so the politician?s can say, "Why are you complaining you have DVD?s, X-Box?s, and Hi-Def Televisions?" I am complaining because my children aren?t getting a proper education. I am complaining because my county values greed more than social responsibility. I am complaining because my people are not fighting for balance and justice. I am complaining because I have good reason.

The answer to multinational corporations exploiting foreign workers is an international minimum wage. Corporations should have to pay foreign workers no less than the minimum wage of the country of incorporation. This is the only moral and ethical thing to do which means it doesn't have a chance.

"Free trade" "agreements" (free for whom and who has agreed?) benefit American and global corporations at the expense of the Americamn worker and the workers abroad, along with complete disregard for the environment there as well. there are provisions written into WTO doctrine which specifically eliminate any protection of workers' rights, human rights, or environmental regulation. I hope Bill Moyers follows up on this story and gets Dennis Kucinich in on the discussion as he has stated time and time again that, as president, he will cancel our affiliation with the WTO, cancel NAFTA and CAFTA, and return to bilateral trade agreements based upon workers rights, human rights, and the environment. Kucinich has also challenged each of his fellow candidates to do the same yet not one has mustered up the courage and creativity to commit to this level of humanity.

As a "lunch pail liberal", ala Henry Jackson, HHH, ... I've been anti free-trade for > 15 years. Taking a page from the capitalist proponents, this should be easy to finance: If you're for free trade, check a box on your tax form. If you've suffered economic dislocation (euphemisms for "fired"), check another box.

Then, those people who check the "dislocation" box, shall have their loss of income, prorated to cost-of-living, made up by proportionate surtax on those advocates. This solution is either too simple or too populist. Free trade either sinks or swims based on the amount of real commitment ($$) people are willing to support it with.

I've been advocating this figure-out-a-way-to-pay policy ever since NAFTA was first proposed in the early '90s.

I am 46, I just graduated with an associates degree, in Mechanical Design.
I just learned how to think. Untill now, I would take what ever our leaders said as gospel. Now I wish I had never learned how to think.
Tell me, does the popular vote count in the presidential election?
My class mates here in Janesville seem to think thats the way it works. They do not know much about the electoral college.
No one takes Civics anymore, in fact I do not even know if its offered. So how does the younger generation learn about our government? They tell me they vote for a candidate based on looks.
Boy were screwed.

"Once more the Democratic leadership has shown it to be captive to the corporate interests represented by the Democratic Leadership Council."

If we are ever to have elected public servants who truly represent their constituents, we are going to have to remove corporate funding of elections and allow candidates to run on public funded campaigns.

After that we can work on the law that allows corporations to claim rights of "free speech" for every dollar they spend on advertising. That would entail changing the statute that gives them "personhood" under the law. Otherwise our personal rights will never be able to compete with the rights of corporations.

Fast Track agreements are undemocratic, unamerican and the vast majority of workers understand that. But they also generate other undemocratic home rule consequences that most are not aware of: The international arbitration court that supercedes any federal, state or local authority on labor or environmental standards of citizens here. Interests who claim absolute rights for compensation for damages if they are in any way denied access of their capital interests have to be compensated by the taxpayers. The extra-legal indemnity and punitary threat is a tremendous tool against localized fights to protect workers and industries against outside usurpation of land use, the environment as well as the decimation of localized economies. This is the fine print in NAFTA that no one will mention as THE threat to every principle of democracy of the people. Outrageous doesn't begin to describe the hypocrisy of both parties in providing the launch pad for an international oligarchy of pirates who will operate in this no man's land of disfranchised rule of law.
To use Federal law formulated in a illegitimate process of collusion over democratic institutions to enable capital to trump legitimate law formed under principles of state's rights and local perogitive (always a hallmark of the American system) is the travesty of this epoch. Will it lead to civil unrest? History will have to weigh in at some point or another.

Once more the Democratic leadership has shown it to be captive to the corporate interests represented by the Democratic Leadership Council.

Yes, worry for the survival of this party if the leadership continues to work against the interests of the working people of our country and sell out to Wall Street and Walmart.

Nancy, FAST TRACK is NOT ON OUR TABLE. But, impeachment is. Listen to the grassroots of your party, or lose it.///

Max Kaehn hit the nail on the head: A major part of many coporations profits come from externalizing costs in one way or another.

A rational and humanistic trade system would strive to remove all externalization strategies.

A truly fair and free trade system would probably have an negative short term impact on the U.S. since much of our wealth is derived from neo-imperialist behavior (e.g. unocal in burma).

I think in the long run fair and free trade would be a powerful force for improving the standard of living for the entire world and combating injustice.

Graeme, in the last ten years Canada's balance of trade with the US has tripled. The US's has decreased 500%. It's not Canada that's getting raped.

Davis, it's really not that complicated at all, making it so only undermines potential solutions to unfair trade.

We (90% of Americans)have needlessly sacrificed our standard of living and quality of life the last thirty years on the altar of "free" trade that primarily benefits corporations, wealthy investors, and to a lesser degree enough of the upper middle class catching relative crumbs to give the top .1 per cent electoral power beyond their numbers.

My factory co-workers from twenty years ago, making $ 25-35,000 yearly, and deducting interest for rental properties until Reagan took that away in 86', still make $ 25-35,000 (if they're lucky)while everything is much more expensive.

Before "free trade" there were no $ 150 sneakers for sale that were made in China by $ 1.00 a day exploited workers, being paid by American companies dumping toxins into China's rivers.

The results from the rapacious corporate greed that drives "free trade" as we know it today, is best exemplified by the mass exodus of the underclass from Mexico to the U.S. since NAFTA was enacted, right into the waiting arms of some of the same corporations that decimated their economy.

It took us better than thirty years to screw up a good economy for the majority of Americans, and it may take us thirty more to straighten it out.

It's not complicated, though, it's just going to be very difficult, especially until we take our Democracy back and take the money out of politics completely.

Wall Street won't collapse if we start practicing "Trickle Up Economics", they'll just squeal and yell and then go about making money under in new paradigm.

You do NOT think free trade helped the US?

I'm a Canadian and we are getting RAPED over free trade - not just lumber and salmon and the like, though those especially in B.C.!

I can only imagine what Mexico is suffering under such a deal - slave labour is abolished in the empirial state, but all others MUST bow to it!!!

Ever wonder why the Mexicans kill each other to sell body parts to your people as replacements? Imagine what it would take to put YOU in that position. Now think: YOU put other people there EVERY DAY OF THEIR LIVES.

Still proud?

I'm enjoying reading everyone's perspective on trade in this blog (well done Journal team on choosing a very interesting subject), but I think something needs to be said on Mr. Moyer's performance in the interview. I don't think he was fair to the other side in this debate and allowed Mr. MacArthur implie some very untrue things about trade.

I have no reason not to believe MacArthur's assertion that the Democrats are trying to get some corporate funding (they are politicians). But he is completely misrepresenting trade and trade policy, and Mr. Moyers didn't question his assertions outside of asking a few typical (and somewhat weak) questions (like, 'Isn't trade good for American consumers'?)

Probably the most obviously untrue thing Mr. MacArthur said was that trade was beneficial only when it was between rich nations. I'm sorry but this false, and the reason why goes beyond the usual argument that trade with poor nations lowers the cost of the imported goods. We also export goods to these countries. Trade allows us to specialize in making the things we are good at and over time we become even better at making them).

And despite Mr. MacArthur's claim of 'exploitation,' many workers in these developing nations are much better off now because of trade. Mr. Moyers failed to raise any of this evidence, which is unfortunate because Mr. MacArthur may even have a rebuttal which would be nice to hear. Vietnam, China, India, and many other countries are so much better now, and very much so because of their trade policies. And so are their workers. We continue to hear reports of the growing shortage of Chinese low-skill workers, that international businesses have to look elsewhere for cheap labor. That's because wages in China are increasing. The poor are doing better in China and millions are being lifted out of poverty. Now, trade isn't the only reason why this development is happening; their governments have made some good policy choices, but trade has allowed for some incredible growth.

Despite what one blogger wrote, the problems with trade DO NOT balance out in the end. This is untrue also. Governments need to make good policies that use the new resources from international trade to assist the people who get hurt. Health care, earn income tax credit, trade adjustment assistance, affordable housing, education... our government can improve these areas while supporting trade.

These issues are never as black and white as the typical debate allows, and the Bill Moyers Journal should be a place where viewers can learn how complicated these issues really are. Come on, Bill, raise the level of debate on TV!

I think that the realities posed by Peak Oil, Climate Change AND the economic and cultural conflicts created by globalization all point to an end to the globalized model of an economy. I'm really not so sure if globalization has done much good for anybody, especially the developing or undeveloped world. I've the argument a million times that globalization, led by the United States of course, provides a livilihood and a means to survive to lots and lots of people in Africa, Asia and South America, and that very well may be true. And then people at this point usually say how 'snobby' or 'elitist' it is to criticize the globalized economy that is giving these people jobs. Well I would strongly counter that by saying that's its actually very snobby and elitist to say THAT; that somehow people in the developing world should be happy and grateful for this wonderful bounty we've brought upon them. This ignores child labor in South Asia and South America, making toys for McDonalds for American children. This ignores the fact that in many African countries, in areas that are already ecologically and agriculturally precarious, many people there are barely scraping by growing food, usually rice or grain, for OUR consumption, and they might get to see a little money out of it if they're lucky. How is this good or noble? How is this really a workable model? Is it simply because we've been told, over and over and ove and over, by each other and by the media, that "Globalization is here to stay" or "Well, the idea of local ecnomies was nice for your grandparents, but there's nothing we can do about how things are now".
Can we? Or is that just a lie we tell to ourselves because we're in serious denial?
Again, because of the FACTS of Peak Oil, Climate Change, and all the problems beset by globalization, I think more and more people, both in the industrialized world, and in the non-industrialized world, will began walking away from economic globalization. Those realities I mentioned are going to FORCE us to do this anyway, so we might as well learn how to do that now.
And as for all the bullshit about "don't criticize Wal-Mart because poor people shop there", I have NO patience for that cock-and-bull story. Just because in a lot of poor black neighborhoods, sometimes the only option for a place to buy food is a gas station/convenience store, with cheap, processed, high-fat and high-sugar items being their only choice, leading to real health problems in these areas- should we not criticize those convenience stores, which are almost always chains and take most of their money out of the neighborhoods, not to mention all the horrible food they sell to people, often at considerably higher prices than in wealthier, whiter neighborhoods? Because of that should we assume that those people in those neighborhoods WANT to shop there and ONLY there, that if given a choice between that convenience store and a healthy food cooperative that was owned and operated from the neighborhood, they would still go to the convenience store, because "they don't know any better?" What UTTER bullshit. THAT'S some arrogant, elitist idiocy if I've ever seen it! I live in Knoxville, Tennessee, and I can tell you straight out that every person I've known who's worked at Wal-Mart, and I've known and liked a number of them, has generally HATED working there. Every time Wal-Mart moves in, whether in a rural area, small town or urban area, it destroys the local economy, and sucks people into the corporate maelstrom that literally takes away the Soul and uniqueness of who they are and of the place where they live. Wal-Mart doesn't care about black people, Latinos, Native Americans, or anybody else, no matter how much t hey may shop there. As a corporation they care about one thing: Profit. Nothing else. Don't try to delude yourself into thinking these sorts of corporations can be noble or good or have any caring for people's communities. The whole CONCEPT of corporate, globalized economies is that of Homegenization, Power, and Greed. The second Wal-Mart of any other similar store finds that one of their locations is no longer profitable or "viable", they skiddaddle out as soon as they can. Take the money and run. Or more properly, Rape the Local economy as well as the local people of their pride, and then run. I know this because I've seen it where I live, again and again and again and again. And I'm really sick of it. That is NOT a healthy economy. That's a cancer economy, because the only thing in nature, besides us and our growth-directed economy, that has endless growth as its primary purpose is the Cancer cell. But of course, cancer eventually kills its host. As we will too, if we remain mindlessly addicted and fixated on this Globalized economic model.
You're probably saying that economic relocalization could never happen, right? Well, first off, it HAS to happen, because of the current situation we find ourselves in (Peak Oil, etc.), secondly, for about 90% of its history human beings lived in very local economies, and thought that was simply the best and most likely only way to go. Thirdly, a supportive, neighborly, cooperative and interdependent local economy would make our lives far happier and more enjoyable than they are now- wandering lost among the strip malls, interstates, parking lots and curbcuts, living in Nowhere.
Can't we have another way? I say we can.

Re: Free Trade

Much of the anti free trade argument comes from an elitist perspective, presumably a liberal one. These folks give limited consideration to the fact that free trade creates as many jobs as it eliminates, if not more, albeit in different occupations and geographical locations. One only need see the mile long trains grinding across the New Mexico desert to see the enormous impact of international trade.Just yesterday, I sought high tech technical assistance and talked to agents in India and Salt Lake City. What's the difference here?

The U.S has always had a changing and sometimes a volatile economy. Current dynamics can be looked upon as an extension of a long time economic history and some people win and others lose, depending on the issues. Life in the U.S. can be difficult but it can also offer hope. A major question centers on the desirability of protecting obsolete economic activity.

On the other hand, I also know that we do protect many industries, particularly in agriculture. To be entirely consistent on the matter, these barriers must be subjected to the same scrutiny as those in heavy industry, the needle and thread industries, etc.

One issue that gets very limited discussion is the relationship between trade and international relations. Trade creates and fosters a range of relationships having significance for everyone's welfare. For example, would it really be wise to erect barriers against Chinese goods?

Wal Mart frequently comes up in discussions of free trade, and so I'll end my commentary with some notes on Wal Mart. My wife and I frequently shop at Wal Mart, not because we love the place, but because WM offers variety at low cost.

We are now retired and live reasonably comfortable lives. But we came from underpaid professions in education and became quite accustomed to penny pinching as a way of life. Early in our careers we had many hot dog and beans dinners. Stores such as WM often fit our our learned lifestyles.

On this last point, I must point out that significant numbers of our local WM customers are Native Americans, Hispanics of Mexican descent, afew African Americans and some obvious examples of poor folks stocking up on basic needs. It is not uncommon to see people count pennies to make a grocery bill. I don't hear the "antis" comment much on this aspect of free trade.

Wal Mart is not without significant warts, but much of what Wal Mart has done has come under legal scrutiny and the company has shown some willingness to deal (In order to fortify my "credentials" on WM, I must add that I did take part in a successful community effort to stop construction of a new store nearby.)

In the final analysis, I would urge commentators to explore more fully the issues and nuances of international trade and its related economic structures affecting our day-to-day lives. This may not be as interesting as the regular "crime-a-night" 10 PM news, but the consequences of national policies do have consequences for us all.

Sincerely,

Bill Kline
Corrales, NM

I live in Vermont & here there is an effort to promote the idea of being a 'localvore'...buying & consuming goods & products made and/or grown locally. It's good for the local economy, sustaining jobs, creating a sense of pride & it gives Vermonters the peace of mind knowing that the goods they buy have a quality unmatched by the cheap, shoddy & sometimes dangerous goods shipped in from China & elsewhere.
The things we buy locally may in some cases be more expensive, but the added cost benefits all of us here in the state, rather then sending those profits far afield.
Another part of this discussion should also involve the rampant consumerism in this country. Citizens should question whether or not, they honestly NEED all the goods that are advertised as vital to a better life. Will another TV, IPOD, cell phone, or vehicle, really make everything better in their lives, really fill that emptiness?
Americans need to learn to just say no to the 'latest & greatest' & discover that 'less really is more'.

Well, I'm a Berkeleyite so we are well schooled (esp. in the progressive relgious and social justice communities) on the Free Trade scam. I think some creative, heavy, on the spot reporting on how NAFTA, CAFTA, etc.have hurt labor here and screwed people in our countries would be welcome.

The solution is not in tearing down corporations or corporate power. Most of us survive by the grace of corporate benevolence.

We need to understand that we have faced these problems before. Akido Morita, the founder of Sony, once told Peter Jennings that "Nations are a dying industry, corporations are the structures of the future". The problem is that corporations are 300 to 1,000 years behind governments on the evolutionary scale. We have barely reach 1215 A.D. and the Magna Carta.

Corporations are structured at a lower form of human evolution and yet are increasing in power and influence -- but remember the price of liberty.

We can learn from the founding of these United States and bring to bear all the lessons we learned in civics class and come together to form more perfect economic unions. The democratization of capital is the great movement of our generation -- if we do not succeed our children face a tenuous future.

On 7/7/7 in a pristine mountain resort in the Sierra Nevada of California a small group of concerned citizens, founding parents if you will, is coming together to hold the First Intercontinental Congress to draft a constitution and a Plan of Union for the United Economic States of Earth, a democratic economic nation. We are forming an incorporation with checks and balances on power to insure that it has strong, accountable leadership, able to pursue aggressively opportunities and of which no one can ever become king. It is an effort to engage in an Economic Evolution.

Imagine for a moment that the CEO of Walmart was up for a vote every two years by the people who have dedicated their lives to that incorporation. Change nothing else and it would change everything.

It is a bold step, an uncertain journey, and we may well fail . . . but we want to be able to tell our children that we at least tried.

"We have it in our power to begin the world over again"
-- Thomas Paine
www.uese.org

I wish Omar were correct when he says that free trade is about lifting the developing world out of poverty. In fact, the developing word is being devastated by free trade and the requirements of the World Bank and the IMF that impoverished nations open their countries to outside investment (read, the U.S.) For all the talk of 'free' trade, the U.S. is actually quite protectionist of many of its goods. Where these goods are the same as, or similar to, goods produced in the developing country, the developing country can't compete with U.S. prices. It's sort of the Walmart effect at the national and international level.

John MacArthur and Greg Palast are in agreement about tariffs. American workers will have to demand them.I look forward to reading John's new book. Thank you for another great program Bill!

When I was younger, I remember thinking grand liberal thoughts about how hiring poor workers in poor countries would lift them out of poverty. Now that I am in my 40s and I am seeing Americans working service jobs without union help to insure them a working wage, I have become very nationalistic. I care less now about the people in poor countries who are seeking merely to feed their families and am concerned instead about the American service worker seeking to feed his family better. That nuance is at once slight and huge.

Free trade has not helped America. As one post I read cites, those Nikes still break the piggy bank. Corporate America really does have the best of both worlds right now. It sells to us for ridiculously inflated prices while creating new markets abroad. If the American market collapsed for them ten years from now, they would still be developing huge markets overseas that are today in some respects like America was in the late 1940s. Coming out of WW2, we had little in creature comforts as we would come to know them. But by putting money into our pockets, corporate America built the consumer giant that we would become by issuing one paycheck at a time. They are doing that now in China, a nation with four times our population. It seems that it is in the corporate interest to build that market, even if it risks letting the U.S. market slowly fade in signficance.

I had a hard time responding to the question because I'm Canadian. I know that relative to some other countries, the U.S. has not benefitted from free trade. However, in the free trade agreement with Canada, U.S. business has benefitted big time--and Canada has not. It all depends on who has the power, doesn't it? Also, just because American business might benefit doesn't mean that American workers benefit.

Only big multinational corp.
benefits from free trade. American middle class is struggling to stay afloat.but exxonbobil reporting 10billion profit per quarter.prisons are full and children growing without parent in foster home. 10billion cannot be accounted in Iraq reconstruction fund while tution fees and student loans are growing.

Thank you, Bill for a really good segment with John MacArthur. The secrecy of the negotiations is not reassuring. Please have him on again.

Whose United States?

Whenever a person or corporation claims that jobs are being sent overseas in order to benefit the consumer, they are lying. If that claim is true, then why do Nike basketball shoes still cost $120? If those companies are using cheap overseas labor in order to benefit the consumer, then shouldn't those Nike's cost $30 or $40. The shoes that I wear, Saucony's, used to be made in Pennsylvania since some time in the late 1800's, but now they're made in China. I used to pay $50 for a pair, and I used to enjoy purchasing those shoes because I knew that an American was being paid a fair wage to make a good product that I liked. How has free trade benefited me, the consumer? I still pay $50 for the same pair of shoes that are made for pennies on the dollar in China, and now some American worker no longer has a job with a fair wage. Unfortunately, I am forced to purchase goods made in China because none of them are made in the USA anymore, and I am now complicit in the virtual enslavement of someone else on the other side of the world. The U.S. can claim zero moral high ground on any matter while this type of "free trade" continues to exist.

I was terribly saddened by this evening's program segment on so-called "free trade". I expected it to be a real wake-up call for people, based on the fact that reading transcripts of your recent speeches helped open my eyes to the nature of recent "elite plunder" in our society and around the world. Based on my own background as a journalist, I realize that you were injecting objectivity into the interview you conducted, but the approach seemed weirdly adversarial, given that your views on the subject are otherwise well-known. I regret having asked my son and some other younger people to tune in for a badly needed education on how unfettered transnational corporatism is ruining us, since you didn't go there. They'll only be more confused, as a result. Alas.

So-called "free" trade is absolutely an elitist concept.
Currently, there is no political party that represents the interests of working Americans.
Once upon a time the Democrats were for labor, the Republicans were for Business. Today, both parties pander to the big money lobbiests.
It wasn't just those opposed to the Iraq conflict who voted Democratic in '06. We also voted for a voice with the shrinking middle class.
If the Democrats can't figure this out, we will, once again, allow the big business interests to select a pro business president.

I think it has made prices cheaper for Americans, but it has made our jobs a lot less secure. And it has been very bad for the environment.

I think it has made prices cheaper for Americans, but it has made our jobs a lot less secure. And it has been very bad for the environment.

Most of my friends have lost their jobs since the fall of the Berlin Wall and have had to take new jobs paying less than half their previous salaries and have never recovered due to the NAFTA and the other Free Trade Agreements. We are on a spiral down into domestic public servant and customer service jobs

This is not only about losing jobs. It's about losing our freedom. Campaign financing of both parties by the same big money industries and million dollar lobbies, have left the voters with no representation. We are back to 1775 when the battle cry of our Founding Fathers was, "Taxation without representation is tyranny".

We the people must take control of BOTH PARTIES. We can dictate their platforms before the next election. Your vote has no power in the election because both parties are controlled by the corporatocracy. The election makes almost no difference.

The time to act is before the election. Now is the time to sieze control. Now is when your vote has power. The Lincoln Initiative is a grassroots movement that uses the tactics of the labor unions. Make demands and give an "or else". to both parties. Visit http://www.lincolninitiative.org Join us and make "government of the people, by the people, and for the people" a reality.
Bob Reichenbach,
Director, The Lincoln Initiative.

What about Walmart? Its operations are the closest thing to communism that this country has ever seen with their nickel and dime approach to American manufacturers and their sustaining threat that they will take their business elsewhere, ie. overseas. And then they do. What they did to Rubbermaid is a perfect example.

The working people of the United States are in the midst of a race to the bottom.

When NAFTA was scooted through Congress under the nose of the American People, we weren't sure what it would constitute. The polls at the time said so, and there was no clear consensus for America to go through with it.

Washington did anyway. They garnished it with the promises for a better future for American and Mexican workers. At the time, government estimates of illegal aliens from Mexico were in the 4-5 million range.

Ten years later, we have estimates between 14 and 20 million. These folks didn't leave Mexico because they wanted to live near to their investment properties. They left because they needed to eat.

Meanwhile, manufacturing in the US has disappeared. Farms can only survive if they are large and sufficiently subsidized. And people in the labor market now have to compete with other people who were guaranteed decent wages and working conditions, never got them, and now will work for the minimum of food and shelter.

This race to the bottom as the result of trade agreements is not restricted to traditional labor markets. Millions of technical and science jobs have been shipped away and jobs on American soil have been guaranteed to foreigners, at discount rates, through the likes of the H1-B visa program.

Corporations complained that there weren't enough Americans to fill the jobs. What they meant was there weren't enough Americans who would work for salaries commensurate with foreigners from countries with widespread poverty.

So, the American worker built the common wealth and prosperity of this nation. For that we have been rewarded with NAFTA and its destructive brothers.

"Free trade" was the first of a long line of an Orwellian twist of words to obfuscate intention upon the Americans.

It was never about trade.

It was about cheap labor.


How many people out there have been chased out of their industry?

How many people out there are longtime unemployed, or severely underemployed? Therefore, not showing up in the statistics of this "booming economy".

We have had the world pulled over our eyes, and it is time to put an end to anymore of Washington's machinations.

Helped the United States in what way(s)? If you're a worker with job skills that are easily deported to a developing country, then no. If you're a businessperson bringing U.S. products into developing nations, or out of developing nations and into the U.S., then yes.

This is where we went wrong with free trade: At the same time we opened our commerce borders, we should have spent money on our educational infrastructure, to make it easier for American workers and businesspeople to adapt to a worldwide economy.

We need to develop a comprehensive, effective public K-12 education policy, and then support it with federal tax dollars. We need to make post-secondary education more affordable for the low to middle classes. And we need to stop ripping off our college-aged children with student loan rates that can only be characterized as usurious.

We also have to stop thinking that the only way to be successful is to be on a college track when you're in high school, or that post-secondary education opportunities should be almost entirely in the area of a 4-year baccalaureate degree. Whatever happened to all those skills that American workers had years ago, that made it possible for them to go out into our society, open a shop or other business that provides a service or product that's marketable, and then settle in and be a productive asset to a community?

There's way too much emphasis today on preparing our citizens to work for corporations or to be lower-paid workers in a service-based industry. This doesn't work for our citizens, as we cannot compete with the lower wages that workers in developing countries find appealing. The educations that produce either of these workers do not necessarily translate into a society of people with the skills we like to think of as American: self-starting, independent, engaged, optimistic about the future, and so on.

I don't specialize in economics, and am not claiming to be an expert.

From what I can see, free trade does help the United States. It creates trading partners, and trading partners are a lot less likely to engage in hostilities against you.

Now, there are plenty of problems this causes in other countries. Our so called free trade agreement with Mexico still allows us to subsidize all of our corn production, which destroyed the Mexican agriculture economy. Hence the influx of immigration.

Regarding the sweatshop / child labor issue, I would love to see some regulation come into play that makes American companies provide a better wage / benefits to those overseas. You can make it relative to their local economy, and still have cheaper labor. Might that boost the American economy abroad, as more and more people would rather word for an American company that provides benefits vs. a local one?

Just some thoughts. Look forward to seeing them torn apart ;-)

Free trade is less about helping Americans and more about lifting the developing world out of poverty. This will temporarily hurt wages and jobs here at home, but eventually things will even out. The problem is how bad things will have to get before they improve. In that light, the Democrats' recent passage of labor and environmental protections in regards to free trade agreements was encouraging, but only a first step.

Free Trade is a rip-off on a grand scale. There can never be free trade between nations with vast differences in ethical, social, natural resources and economic standards.

Labour - people - are not a commodity! Equality of Trade is what's needed.

It's hypocritical for any country to buy goods (from another country) which are produced by slave/child labour or other employment practices that it bans within its own borders.

Free trade has ultimately hurt the US economy due to the fact that many of our trading partners do not have the expense of environmental policies to insure a minimum quality of life for there citizens.

The lack of a national health care system further incumbers our exporters who are responsible for shouldering a large portion of private healthcare expenses for their employees. Most of our trading partners have national systems where pools share cost so that employers are only responsible for a small portion of the overall expense.

Sen. Byron Dorgan (D,ND) was being interviewed last December and he mentioned that we were losing a lot in our trade negotiations that were being conducted by the Bush State Department. Sen. Dorgan said, "Trade negotiations have historically been conducted by the Commerce Department and their prime objective was to insure that American manufacturers and exporters received fair treatment. The State Department's objectives are not compatible with what is best for American business and workers."

A Fair Trade policy is the only path to follow if we want this country to continue as a major economic force on this planet.

I think free trade agreements have been a net benefit, but they have considerable down sides. Trade will only be truly free when transactions bear the cost of all the negative externalities involved; right now the economy is distorted by corporations getting free rides from government on pollution, health care for workers, and much more.

The question is really what has it done to the other countries involved in the 'free trade' with the US; and they have not faired well.
Free trade is not Fair trade; it is only a device to open markets for the corporate oligarchy, and usually benefits only the US multinationals who get concessions from foreign governments plus tax incentives and underwriting from the US government; this invariably gives them an unfair advantage in any trade situation.

The Chinese Yuan Renminbi remains to be fixed to the dollar. If it was allowed to float Chinese products would increase in price and make Mexico easier to compete. This would make many new jobs in Mexico (and in the USA). It would take much pressure off the problem of illlegal immigration. It also would benefit China by making it cheaper to import products from Boing and Catapillar.

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