09 March 2013

It’s A Little Late


It appears that Americans are now realizing the fundamental flaw of so-called free trade:

Walmart (WMT), the nation's largest retailer, earlier this year announced it will boost sourcing of U.S. products by $50 billion during the next 10 years. General Electric (GE) is investing $1 billion through 2014 to revitalize its U.S. appliances business and create more than 1,500 U.S. jobs.
Mom-and-pops are also engineering entire business strategies devoted to locally made goods - everything from toys to housewares. And it's not simply patriotism and desire for perceived safer products which are altering shopping habits.
The recession, and still flat recovery for many Americans, have created a painful realization. All those cheap goods made in China and elsewhere come at a price -- lost U.S. manufacturing jobs. A growing pocket of consumers, in fact, are connecting the economic dots between their shopping carts - brimming with foreign-made stuff -- and America's future.  [Emphasis added.]

To be perfectly honest, the fundamental problem with free trade is not that the federal government allowed foreign companies to sell their goods in the US, but that the federal government imposed a massive regulatory regime on domestic producers, as well as costly taxes, and generally onerous labor laws.  The US government basically hamstrung domestic businesses, than invited their less-restricted foreign competitors to compete in the US market.  The results are not surprising.

Americans should be livid at the federal government for destroying economic prospects and transferring their wealth to elitist corporate overlords.  The fact of the matter is that major corporations have benefitted from this massive betrayal of the American people as it has allowed them to gut American wages by hiring poor people in third-world countries to the jobs that American workers are essentially legally prevented from doing (or at least competing on price).  As a consequence, the unemployment rate is extremely high, wages are low, and now the benefits of free trade have disappeared as prices of food and energy continue to rise.  But at least the corporate elites have enjoyed billions in profits as well as multimillion dollar bonus checks.  This particularly insidious form of crony capitalism has ensured that future generations of Americans will seeing their standards of living erode while the corporate elites who betrayed and brainwashed, with help from elected politicians and corrupt bureaucrats, live high on the hog.

I hope it is not too late to right the course, but I suspect that it is.  America’s wealth has been transferred from the middle class to the 1% and their overseas compatriots, with healthy kickbacks for complicit government officials, of course.  The lesson to be learned in all this is that businessmen are as untrustworthy as the politicians they bribe, and that it is therefore quite foolish to implement their self-interested policies for, at the end of the day, they don’t actually care about anyone other than themselves.  There really is no point in foregoing your self-interest in favor of someone else’s, especially if they are more than willing to sell you out later on.