Originally posted on Red Virginia:
When we saw the Ohio Primary come around for the Democrats there was a large movement for renegotiating NAFTA. It was believed that U.S. jobs were being shipped over seas and it was making us worse off. This was an important political move because Ohio, like Michigan is known to be full of factory union workers.
The idea of Protectionism is as about as old as nations. The very first bill that came through Congress was a tariff on imported goods. Many Conservatives do not know where they stand on Free Trade vs. Protectionism. John McCain claims to be a free trader but also claims to not understand Economics. Pat Buchanan is a Protectionist because he doesn’t understand Economics. It was Adam Smith, the father of Economics, that first believed without a doubt that trade is good.
This is a challenge that we as conservatives face with the current recession and the Democrat’s and some Republican’s move to Protectionism. If we allow a President to close the country off to trade, like we did in 1930 with the Smoot-Hawley Tariff, we could find ourselves falling deeper into a recession. We are seeing an economic crisis that looks a lot like the Great Depression but what is saving us is the diversification of our industries due to global trade.
As Conservatives we should support free trade because it not only helps us but helps countries across the world. It allows African farmers to compete in a fair market, when food and growth is a matter of survival. It allows our farmers to train their children to be engineers, scientists, and other high skilled workers. Think of this as a household and as people become more rich they outsource other things so that they have more time to work on higher skilled things. We pay Chinese and Vietnamese to build and assemble the plastic CDs because we are the ones creating the new programs for computers and music that will be put on that CD. It is all about letting the area that can make the good more efficient do it efficiently without barriers. This also happens with technology just substitute Chinese and Vietnamese with GM, Honda, and Toyota and CDs with cars. Now the horse and buggy maker is going out of business. Do we need a tax on the car companies to save this job? I don’t think so.
Most Conservatives get bombarded with the question of “What about sweatshops and holding these poorer countries to the same labor standards we have?” The answer to this is you get paid for how efficient you are. Since most people in poor countries have very little education and experience they aren’t worth as much as a technician at Microsoft. If you were to require these businesses overseas to increase the wages at the factories, it would make the businesses hire less people. What happens to those people? They starve.
You don’t have to be pro-sweat shop. You are anti-starvation. People are working their because it brings them more income than if they were to work in something else (assuming other jobs exist. Eventually, they will do like what we did in the U.S. and lift themselves out of poverty. We had sweatshops and those workers where low skilled because they came from farms where tractors “put them out of a job.” As they raise their wages, it will then become more cost effective to send their kids to school and not into the workforce.
Until then to require them to have the same standards of labor that we have is unfair and will do nothing but allow some to starve. And remember to be against trade is like being against technology.