Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Confusion Over Who Benefits From "Free Trade"

Actually I think it's delusion. That or wealth worshipping. I'm talking about the following commentary from the Libertarian blogger Willis Hart.

Willis Hart: On the Fact that While We Generally Agree that Most Financial Transactions Are Beneficial to Both Sides, Every Microbe of that Wisdom Seems To Get Jettisoned Out the Window When the Participants Are from Different Countries... Welcome to the new nationalism (which really isn't all that different from the old if the truth was known; Lincoln, Hoover, etc.), Donald Trump style. (7/4/2016 AT 8:35pm).

Actually, no. I don't agree that most financial transactions are beneficial to both sides. Many are, but many are not. Although that isn't the statement I take exception to. "When the participants are from different countries" is what I object to. Willis refers to trade, but most of the time what's going on is labor offshoring. Which is when an American company either (1) builds a factory in a low wage country to manufacture goods for import to the US, or (2) contracts with a factor located in a low wage country to manufacture goods for import into the US. Either way what we're really talking about is sending jobs that used to be done by Americans to a low wage country, and NOT trade.

I suppose you could say that both sides benefit, in that the oligarchs here make more money because their labor costs are reduced dramatically. And their environmental protection compliance costs are often reduced as well (as these regulations are usually weaker in 3rd world countries). And (on the other side) overseas workers get crappy jobs (long hours/low pay) that sometimes leads to their deaths (factories collapsing/suicide). And the higher ups (factory supervisors) probably get paid a little more.

And American consumers get prices that are a little lower. This is the main "benefit" that "free traders" like Willis refer to. Even though American workers are getting screwed. So, regarding this "benefit", the question is if the lower prices are worth the lost jobs (jobs the "free traders" say will be offset by jobs created when we export to our trading partners).

Unfortunately, the facts clearly show the negatives outweigh the positives. All one has to do is look at the growing US trade deficit to debunk this Libertarian BS. If Willis were talking about balanced trade I'd have to agree with me. But he isn't. He's referring to a system under which products that used to be manufactured in the United States no longer are (labor offshoring that results in lost US jobs) and imbalanced trade (we import much more than we export. A fact that blows away the free trader argument that says jobs created in the export sector will offset jobs lost).

Clearly it's the so-called free traders who are jettisoning every microbe of wisdom... or are they? I mean, if you look at who REALLY benefits (the oligarch) then the trade liberalization position makes total sense.

As for Donald Trump's opposition to free trade... this is one area where I think he's right. Although he is playing to the racists with this issue. The "brown people are taking our jobs" meme. But someone can be opposed to labor offshoring and unbalanced corporate managed trade for reasons other than racism. Reasons including the fact that this kind of trade mainly benefits the oligarchs.

The Trump voters don't see who is really benefiting (of course). In their eyes the brown people (and Asian people) are to blame. As opposed to the oligarchs. So, when Willis refers to "the new nationalism:", does he mean standing up to oligarchy? Of course not. But he's a deluded stooge.

Although, apparently he wouldn't have voted YES on Brexit, which doesn't make a lot of sense to me. There were racists who voted YES on Brexit because the wanted the foreigners out of Britain (so those voters were motivated by nationalism). Why express opposition to nationalism in regards to "free trade" but support in regards to the Brexit?

And post Brexit laborers willing to work for less than British citizens can no longer enter the country freely. That being the case, I would have guessed the Hartster would have been opposed to Brexit. The only explanation I can come up with is... man oh man are these Libertarians ever dumb (See OST #155).

OST #155

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