Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Free Trade: Why Don't You Get a Job?

A coworker sent my department one of those junk emails with crappy jokes today. This one was about a guy looking for a job. It went down a list and mentioned all of the things he was wearing and using and where they were supposedly "made." The punchline was that everything was foreign and he wondered why he couldn't find work.

Welcome to global economics with free, but not fair, trade.

The problem I have with sentiments like those insinuated in the email is that they blame the wrong thing. They blame everyone else, but especially the foreign workers for having the audacity to import their goods.

There is a distinct failure to blame the politicians for opening up free trade without ever imposing the slightest bit of human rights, workers rights, or environmental regulation. More importantly, there is the failure of our mindless consumerism to ever think of the consequence of blind shopping for the lowest price in a category with little actual understanding of how that price is achieved. In short, the reason we don't have manufacturing is because we exported it willingly and then refused to buy local.

So, if its the jobless man's fault that he can't find a manufacturing job, or his father's or his neighbor's, where's the joke? I'll rewrite it for you: All he needs to do is wait for the economy to collapse to the point where he can't afford any of those things and the capitalists will gladly pay him $0.12 per hour to make them instead.

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