The View From 1776

Free-Trade Hypocrisy

Is liberal self-contradiction deliberate, or the result of ignorance?

Liberal labor union supporters speak of promoting human welfare by opposing free trade.  But the evidence shows that free trade has greatly improved the lot of citizens in countries exporting to the United States. 

The problem within the United States is not loss of jobs in total, but the loss of jobs in heavily unionized, therefore over-paid sectors of the economy that were able to free-load on the rest of the nation before foreign competition became a reality.

Liberals have hooked the free-trade issue into opposition to globalization, the latter being only indirectly related to the former.  Globalization ? the dispersion of a corporation’s activities around the globe to optimize economic efficiency ? is not a necessary implication of free trade.  Globalization is rather a phenomenon of instantaneous satellite communications systems and the transition of human activity into a more heavily technological age.

Labor unions deliberately conflate the two as a way to deflect full scrutiny from their purely selfish desire to increase union membership, no matter what the cost to everyone else.  If free-trade can be tarred as a new form of colonialism that oppresses people for no motive other than corporate profits, then labor unions can climb upon the pseudo “moral” high ground of liberal-Progressive-socialism. 

In liberal-Progressive-socialistic doctrine, of course, profit is an evil word.  The very idea that someone would expect to make a profit as an incentive to risk his own savings and livelihood in entrepreneurial activity is unconscionable greed to liberals.

The seamy underbelly of anti-globalism is typified by mass protests that illogically attempt to link globalization with political oppression.  A few examples: 

From an article by David Horowitz and John Perazzo in the April 13, 2005, edition of

Grassroots International (GRI) .... formed a partnership with the Advocacy Project (AP), an NGO with a strong political agenda and an anti-Israel ideological emphasis. The AP draws a moral equivalence between Palestinian terrorism and Israeli counter-terror measures, and accuses Israel of practicing “apartheid” and “racism.” .... GRI was also a signatory to a May 30, 2000 document denouncing globalization, big business in general, and the World Trade Organization (WTO) in particular. Members affiliated with some of the signatories actively participated in the November 1999 riots in which some 50,000 protesters did millions of dollars worth of property damage in their effort to shut down the WTO Conference in Seattle.

Another example, from

“Food Not Bombs”?is an anti-war organization composed of?more than 200 independent chapters ....Since the 9/11 attacks, Food Not Bombs has denounced all U.S. military actions aimed at stopping the global threat of terrorism. The group condemns the ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, and impugns the United States for bringing about “the globalization of the economy,” imposing “restrictions to the movements of people,” and contributing to “the destruction of the earth.”.... FNB works in coalition with such groups as Earth First; the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee; and the Anarchist Black Cross, which seeks to abolish the penal system and has called for “direct resistance to achieve a stateless and classless society.”?FNB?also has ties to the Communist organization Industrial Workers Of The World, a neo-Marxist group that embraces a radical form of socioeconomic anarchism.  The Rochester, New York?chapter of Food Not Bombs was a signatory to a May 30, 2000 document denouncing globalization and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

It is particularly appealing to liberal-Progressive-socialists that the globalization aspect resonates with the internationalism of socialism.  The Marxian paradigm is one of a worldwide brotherhood within an abstraction called “the workers.”  Such abstractions are used to separate consideration of the putative virtues of socialism from the reality of everyday life for those afflicted with socialist regimes. 

An example of such thinking is What Real Globalization Would Mean by David Graeber, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Yale University.

Consider for a moment what real globalization [as opposed to “corporate” globalism]—the genuine unification of our planet—might entail.

“Free Immigration: The globe today is divided up by invisible walls called “borders,” maintained by hundreds of thousands of soldiers and police….

[The traditional term for this is nations, an outmoded concept to socialist internationalists]

Proponents of corporate globalization ..... want to maintain the invisible walls, and keep the poor trapped behind them, so as to allow Nike and The Gap to reap the profits of their desperation….

“The Global Rule of Law: Real globalization would also mean creating the backbone of worldwide legal institutions: for instance, permanent tribunals to prosecute war criminals, enforce labor rights, and protect the global ecosystem….

[We shouldn’t imprison terrorists, but American Presidents and Cabinet officers are fair game; the Supreme Court should forget about the Constitution]

The Free Movement of Knowledge, Cultural Products and Ideas:... Instead, the U.S. government…. even going so far as to threaten a trade war with China to preserve Warner Brothers’ right to charge workers who make sixteen cents a day $15.95 for a Michael Jackson CD, or trying to tighten patent restrictions on pharmaceutical production to prevent Indian companies from continuing to manufacture medicine that Indian people can actually afford…

[How does Warner Brothers compel Chinese to buy Michael Jackson CDs?  Why should Indian pharmaceutical companies be permitted to steal the billions of dollars of research work of American and European Pharmaceutical companies?]

A Market Principles in Banking: One near universal demand among the protesters in Washington was forgiveness for Third World debt.  Really this is just a demand to apply normal market discipline to international bankers. When a banker makes a loan, he is supposed to be taking a risk….

[A banker is also a fiduciary charged with protecting depositors’ funds; simply giving them away to Third World countries is criminal activity]

Corporate globalization means reducing restrictions on those who are already rich and powerful, and strengthening the walls which imprison the poorest and most vulnerable.

[Try to convince unions that immigration law reducing the ratio of workers to jobs is a bad idea]

It is plainly immoral. That’s why so many thousands of America’s young people having been mobilizing to protest it, and demanding a form of globalization which will actually benefit the vast majority of people with whom we share this earth.

[Here we have the scientific, socialistic reason for the anti-Americanism of our college students]

It’s easy for liberals to talk passionately about benefiting “the people” as long as they don’t have to deal in specifics. Liberal-Progressive-socialists gloss over the necessity for tyrannical governments to implement the global uniformity they desire for socialism and abhor for capitalism.

The German movie “The Lives of Others” pictures with clinical lack of emotion the horror of living in a “good socialist” society under the Stasi (the Ministry for State Security, East Germany’s version of the Gestapo), one in which most people are equally poor.  Stasi officials spoke always in terms of benefiting society, but individual Stasi leaders inevitably came to equate their personal career advancement, via spying and intimidation, with the common good. 

In the same vein, union leaders, enjoying huge salaries and perks many times greater than their members, talk about universal human values to justify forcing unionism upon workers who, in secret ballots, consistently reject unionism.

Costs to the nation of anti-free-trade unionism are substantial.  First, union efforts to shut off foreign competition and restrict American production to over-paid union workers would penalize poor citizens in the United States, who, because of inexpensive imports, now can buy a variety of products far beyond the reach of their parents and grandparents.  Second, we have only to look at areas like New England and New York State, once major manufacturing centers that have been crippled by pro-union regulations and mandatory medical and other benefits demanded by unions.  Costs and restrictions on corporate flexibility have driven business to more friendly locales, in the United States and overseas, leaving high unemployment and stagnant economies in labor union-friendly states. 

Lest there linger any doubt about the true nature and aim of labor unionism, let Karl Marx’s colleague Friedrich Engels describe it in specific terms (in The Condition of the Working Class in England, 1844):

The sovereign power of property must come to an end….Wages have come to depend upon the law of supply and demand and upon the state of the labor market at any particular moment….Necessity will force the trade unions to bring to an end not merely one aspect of competition, but all competition.

In a nutshell you have the essence of labor unionism: the sort of tyranny and isolationism that played a major role in the 1930s Depression. 

From one side of their mouths liberal-Progressive-socialists and their labor union cohort speak in grandiloquent terms of human values.  But from the other side of their mouths they champion exactly the same economic policies as Hitler’s National Socialism: walling off the United States from the world economy to create a tightly regulated, socialized political economy.

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