Mailbag:<br>Is Free Trade Fair?
Concerning your editorial, "Saving U.S. Jobs" (July 2001, p. 8), I must say this. It is not the moral duty of American manufacturing to bear the cross of "free trade" to demonstrate the theory that we are all somehow better off when we are losing manufacturing base to third world countries. Anyone trying to come to terms with current market realities soon sees the difficulties of competing with offshore, slave-wage, producers.
The current "free trade" policies championed by the present and past administrations are an open drain for American manufacturing jobs--no matter how much training is invested. And everyone on the shop floor knows it.
"Free trade" is a theory that did not have its origin in the manufacturing sector. It would be interesting to see how academics would fare in a "free trade" education economy. Suppose domestic professors' jobs depended on meeting the wages of offshore teachers. What would the support for "free trade" be then? As in the poem, the critics watch the bullfight, but there is one who knows, and he is the one who faces the bull. Those of us in manufacturing daily face the bull of "free trade."
One hundred-fifty years ago, the greatest manufacturing economy was Great Britain. Their economy was lured by the academic sirens of "free trade" onto the rocks of decline, as we hollowed out their manufacturing base from behind the walls of our tariff protection. The same thing has been visited upon us for many years by the incumbents of both parties who have allowed the undermining of our manufacturing base. Pat Buchanan, a convert from free trade was right. "Free trade" must be replaced with Fair Trade.
American companies and workers spend much time in training and re-education to become competitive. Then they are told they should accept the presence of millions of illegals who somehow have a "right" to take their jobs at a lower wage simply because they are here. What good does that training do then?
Americans are also not only losing current business, but also the future talent of our young people who see the difficulty in manufacturing and are lured by the charms of "dot-com." Manufacturing is the bedrock of any economy. Tamper with that foundation, and your economy will come tumbling down to crush your standard of living.