Trans Pacific Partnership
by ecarey on January 4, 2016 - 11:06am
Free trade is indisputably the most powerful force driving globalization. Historically trade has always been a beneficial force, bringing goods from afar where they are needed and exporting goods that are in abundance. Countries who did not trade were often not wealthy, but now in the 19th and 21st century, particularly wealthy and resource abundant countries could do better by withholding some aspects of their market from free trade. Countries such as the United States of America and Russia improved and improve their domestic economies through placing trade barriers such as tariffs to benefit their own populace.
While free trade is good for many countries that require jobs where are there none, (i.e. India and China,) it can be detrimental to countries like the U.S.A. and Russia. In my personal opinion as a citizen of America free trade can be a good thing, but for the nation I live in it weakens our economy and the overall quality of life for thousands of people.
Free trade has many benefits, for one, it makes some merchandise cheaper for day to day people, but it also destroys local businesses that were producing the same product. While quality is a factor, it’s mainly a question of which is cheaper. A hard question that comes up for many people is, whose lives do you care for more? The people of your own nation, or the people that will be receiving the outsourced jobs?
Seeing how NAFTA has affected old mill towns, virtually turning them into slums for the poor, I can’t say with certainty that the benefits of free trade are worth the cost. I believe that as a country of the world, our ports should be open, but trade barriers are important with such a huge rise in population over the last hundred years. People around the world are willing to work for pennies to produce the same pair of shoes that an American citizen would make for nine to ten dollars an hour. Quality is usually an argument brought forward to defend domestic protection, but who really cares where their knock-around Nike’s are made? The real thing to worry about is that the U.S. cannot compete with countries that would violate human rights to produce a shoe, and as such we should not encourage it by opening our markets to the companies that would exploit their population to make money.
If I could delegate the T.P.P. I would ensure that American interests were put first, because we cannot help anyone (or even ourselves) if we are financially burdened as a whole by the overwhelming amount of cheap labor outside of the U.S.A.. I believe that trade barriers on certain goods are important: steel, textiles, clothing, and food. While many Americans could not afford these goods if we were to go full on protectionism, the main flaw is not with protectionism itself but with the overall deterioration in standards as a mentioned before. Private companies that refuse to pay their workers livable wages make free trade seem like a really good idea. If things were the same everywhere, free trade would be undoubtedly the best option, but things are not the same in different countries, and because of this we cannot compete without hurting the people that make their livelihoods off these items.