The Global Trade Watch report argues, "One need look no further than the massively successful fair trade campaigns in key presidential states-Florida (Tim Mahoney), Iowa (Bruce Braley, Dave Loebsack), New Hampshire (Paul Hodes, Carol Porter Shea), and Ohio (Sherrod Brown, Ted Strickland)-to understand that the electoral and political impact of trade is huge... and will have serious implications for both the 2008 presidential race and the future course of U.S. trade policy."(1)If you thought Pundita was just trying to scare the daylights out of you when she warned last year that social dumping was heading our way from Europe, it's too late now to avoid your awful fate if you're in the Free Trade camp.
If you tell me you haven't seen any headlines about social dumping arriving in the USA -- yes you have; it's just that the bastards have cleverly re-named social dumping so you won't flee in terror. They're calling it "Fair Trade."
Now what is the difference between Fair Trade and Free Trade? (I am capitalizing the terms because they've come to have very specific connotations in relationship to each other.)
Free Trade is that horribly unfair process whereby people trade freely with each other and try to get as rich as they can from doing it at the expense of everyone else. Fair Trade is -- I'll allow Sherrod Brown, the Democrat Senate winner from Ohio, to explain it his way:
"We're going to see a different direction in trade policy," said Brown in a conference call after the elections. "Not just the defeat of these job-killing trade agreements. We're going to see real trade policy written in both houses with environmental protections, labor protections, food safety provisions and all of that, that will lift workers in both our country and the countries we're trading with."(2)In short, free trade has been redefined by viewing it from the concept of fairness. Thus, Free Trade, by its very nature, destroys civilization.
If you ask what Mr Brown means exactly by "all of that" -- he means making trade agreements that are specifically designed to prevent you from doing social dumping in the effort to get ahead in life.
You are not supposed to get ahead if it means having to dump comforts you've obtained thus far. If you now want to get up at 4 AM and work until 8 PM instead of 4 PM, you have no right to be so hard on yourself. Why? Because if you do it, everyone else will have to do it to keep up with your standard of labor. And that's not fair. It's so unfair that countries must start working criteria for fairness into their trade agreements.
If you think Pundita has been chewing peyote, re-read the post on social dumping, and this time pay attention.
For the two sides of the Free Trade vs. Fair Trade debate (yes, the Fair Trade idea has gone far enough to require debate) read Robert J. Samuelson's 'Fair Trade' Foolishness and Mark Engler's Slowing the free-trade bulldozer.
Samuelson can't quite bring himself to discuss the full import of Fair Trade, and Engler dodges the jackboot aspect of Fair Trade agreements. But between them they get the reader in the ballpark.
By the way, if you're sitting in a small, poor country and thinking smugly that you don't have to run for your life if social dumping has landed in America -- you haven't yet grasped the situation. China's economy has so much clout that they can afford to scoff at insane Fair Trade stipulations worked into US trade agreements. But your country isn't China, is it!
If you tell me that you don't want to be constrained from social dumping in your effort to get ahead, that's not very fair of you. My country is now poised to write trade agreements that will make you a fairer person.
1) Quote from Mark Engler's essay.
2) From the Miami Herald's Democrats won big by opposing free-trade agreements.