Our devotion to unfettered globalization, under the false pretense of "free trade", is destroying our nation. The United States has been listlessly pursuing economic liberalization and globalization for a generation; at this point it is no longer working in our own best interests.
Our devotion to unfettered globalization, under the false pretense of “free trade”, is destroying our nation. The United States has been listlessly pursuing economic liberalization and globalization for a generation; at this point it is no longer working in our own best interests.
The biggest obstacle to the United States is that our government is not doing what it should to combat the downward pressure. We look at globalization and the internationalization of “free trade” as the greatest possible pursuit. Our leaders think that by tearing down borders and decreasing tariffs we can get new markets for our goods and bring wealth and prosperity back to the United States. The problem is that the United States does not actually produce anything. We can wax poetic about the virtues of an open market system, but open markets only serve the suppliers and this country is not one of them.
Nations that produce goods of material value have prospered from free market dynamics, but the United States is not included among them. Making matters worse is the fact that other countries are not playing by the same rules as we are. In the United States we oppose taxes, tariffs, and regulations which impede the free movement of trade. Other countries oppose our regulations, but they have kept their own in place. When the United States pushed for other countries to reduce their import tariffs they simply replaced the lost tariff protection with the VAT, an import quota, or some other restriction. Americans are so averse to the prospect of taxation that they refused to do the same, even though it is a proven success.
What we are witnessing in the globalized world is an America which is being run by people who cannot fully grasp the situation. They fail to realize that our international competition is playing both sides. Other nations have implemented economic protections to foster stability, and the most successful economies can be described as almost “mercantilist” in their policy approach. They maintain import restrictions and subsidized domestic producers in order to guarantee a constant inflow of cash. They guarantee a balance of trade surplus.
Leaders in the U.S. seem to do everything in their power to guarantee deficits. President Obama has railed against “protectionism” in the United States, but if we are the only ones not “protecting” ourselves we can hardly be expected to prevail.
The most important thing is for everyone in this country to realize that “protectionism” need not be an economic taboo. We need to realize that the “mercantilist” structures of the 16th-18th centuries have not been replaced by open markets. Rather, the old tricks of international trade war have been adapted to fit the modern system. Unfortunately, the United States is not following the leaders.
Craig Harrington is pursuing a degree in History and Political Science at The Ohio State University. He is also a journalist for EconomyInCrisis.org