The most recent statements coming from Ford and General Motors, demanding massive cuts in the benefits paid to auto workers or those companies will move their factories to low-wage countries, demonstrates the complete failure of current government economic policies. The automobile manufacturers should not be able to make such threats nor should they need to make such demands. The failures of current government economic policy makes both a reality. Changes in government economic policies can quickly correct the situation.
Our falsely named "free trade" policy craze is simply crazy. The very idea that American workers should be forced to compete in our own domestic market with the poorest of the poor workers from all over the world is a recipe for long-term economic decline for America. It undermines the entire economic and political structure of the American nation.
We are seeing a sharp decline in the quality of life for much of the American Middle Class. Our government is losing billions upon billions of dollars in taxes that would have been paid by American workers if good American jobs had not been sent out of the country. Globalization of our economy is not inevitable to the degree that currently exists. It is the result of deliberate changes in trade policy and taxes. It is time to reverse course.
Junk NAFTA, the WTO, CAFTA and all other "Free Trade agreements signed since the 1980’s immediately. They are not benefiting the nation. Replace them with a Wage Equalization Import Tax.
A Wage Equalization Import Tax should impose duties on imported goods and services to increase their price to American standards. We can give other nations the choice of paying their workers high enough wages that they could afford American goods and services or pay the difference into the federal government treasury.
Wage Equalization Import Tax could help replace the taxes that American workers would have paid to the federal government if their jobs had not been exported. The revenue generated could be used for several specific purposes including (1) reducing the massive government debt accumulated under Reagan and both Bushes, (2) national health insurance, (3) rebuilding our economic infrastructure, (4) college scholarships and (5) job training.
In economics, everything is related to everything else. Economic government policies can have unexpected results. This is very true when it comes to defense and national security. Economic globalization is a two-fold threat to our national security. It is draining the federal treasury of money that we need to fund our number one military status in the long-run. We are becoming increasingly dependent on foreign manufacturing to supply essential elements needed to fight wars.
It is vital that our manufacturing base in America remain sufficiently healthy that we need no imported goods to fight wars if forced to do so. Our current trade policy does not meet this common sense goal and should be changed. Exporting our manufacturing base is military suicide for the short-term profit of a few giant corporations and their CEO’s.
American companies should not be forced to provide for the healthcare needs of their employees. No other industrialized nation requires their companies to meet these needs. Out of the top 75 industrialized nations, only the United States does not have government provided, universal healthcare. Companies like Ford and General Motors would be very profitable if the government provided for the healthcare of the employees, retirees and their families. There would be no need to threaten to move manufacturing jobs out of the country. The auto makers should join with their workers to push for an immediate expansion of Medicare to cover all American citizens as the first step. Every other business in America should join them.
American businesses should not be put at a competitive disadvantage by poorly designed government healthcare policies. American citizens should not suffer from poorer health because of poor government policy. Americans should not be losing good jobs because of badly designed government trade policies. We should not be undermining our national security and military strength because of a insane, ideological belief in a false god, called "free trade." Our national debt should not be growing because of crazy "free trade." It is not really free, if it costs our nation so dearly, in so many ways!
Written by Stephen Crockett (co-host of Democratic Talk Radio (www.democratictalkradio.com) and Editor of Mid-Atlantic Labor (www.midatlanticlabor.com)