Factory workers in the old Soviet Union had a cynical joke: “We pretend to work. They [the bosses] pretend to pay us.” Similar logic applies in the world trading system. Washington pretends to write the rules; other nations pretend to obey them.
[Eamonn Fingleton| February, 1 2016 | Forbes]
For two generations already, increasingly pathetic American trade officials have turned a blind eye to the blatant barriers facing American exports in key foreign markets. The result has been a tragic roll-call of factory closures in the American heartland.
As today is the day of the Iowa caucuses, it is worth recalling that in Iowa alone – and Iowa is one of America’s less populous states – hundreds of thousands of jobs have been sacrificed on the altar of a doctrinaire free trade theory that overlooks the reality of how other nations run their economies.
Iowa’s employment numbers tell the story. In the 1940s, 31 percent of Iowa’s workforce was engaged in manufacturing. The ratio had declined to 20 percent by the early 1990s and as of last year languished below 10 percent. Hundreds of major factories have closed, many of them producing goods that in their day were considered America’s – and in many cases the world’s – best: Sheaffer pens, Maytag washing machines, Rubbermaid food containers…. Meanwhile the workers who once earned good money in these factories are now in far too many cases washed up among the long-term unemployed.
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