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They say that self deprecation can sometimes be worn as a shield. That being said, I will fully admit that I can be economically ignorant. There. I said it first, so it will sting less when someone types it out later, right?
But it’s true. I hated Econ. I often dozed off and my brain just never seemed to work in that mathematical way. I like words, not numbers. So, while I take this time to scribble my contemplations, please keep this disclaimer in mind.
In the past few years, my husband and I have been increasingly cognizant of the products we purchase and where they are made. I would love to say we only buy American – but we do not. We will usually take it into consideration when deciding on a purchase – just as we consider price, color, durability, reviews, etc. And, there have been many times when we have chosen a product soley based on it being made in the USA. But sometimes, the price difference does end up making our decision for us.
Typically, the American produced items do indeed cost more. From sneakers to bikes – finding American made choices that aren’t far more expensive is, most if the time, impossible.
Free Trade = (Almost) Free Labor
Of course it is cheaper to have products manufactured, assembled and produced overseas. When a CEO has the ability to choose between employing a 13 year old at $1.75 an hour or a 23 year old at $10.75 an hour – usually, they’ll chose the cheaper route. Insurance is not an issue, workplace safety is not an issue and labor laws are not an issue. So let’s face it, the exploitation of foreign workers substantially increases the bottom line for companies who chose to this path.
We often hear conservatives rail against regulation. And while I agree that there are likely some laws and rules which need to be revised or even dumped, regulations are a part of what sets us above the countries who allow their citizens to be abused. So sure, American companies can turn a higher profit if they rid the playing field of child labor laws, safely regulations and the EPA. But at what cost? Is our economic reputation and status the only factor in whether the U.S. can claim superiority?
While I may be lacking when it comes to calculations and figures, I still have a fairly intact barometer of right and wrong. And making money at the cost of human degradation, suffering and exploitation is simply not worth it in my book.
So, I get why American made products cost more. Because they are made by people who make a living wage in tolerable conditions while protected by laws which ensure their safety.
Free Trade is Flawed
If China had to pay more to send their trinkets to American stores, the costs would no doubt be placed onto the consumers. And I get that making consumers pay more is usually NOT a good thing when trying to beef up an economy. But perhaps balancing out prices, tariffs and taxes would bring business back to the states and some real U.S. competition could take place, thus eventually lowering the costs. Simply put, perhaps if Chinese coffee cups cost the same as American coffee cups, more people would begin choosing the American products which would in turn create more American jobs.
Instead of trying to keep companies here by lowering our standards, why not encourage the rest of the world to heighten theirs? Instead of giving tax breaks to those who ship jobs away, couldn’t we give tax incentives to corporations who keep them here?
Free trade agreements have cost our country millions of jobs and have helped create an enormous trade deficit. While foreign workers are exploited, American workers are unemployed. It allows for the greediest to seek out the weakest labor pools in countries with little to no human rights.
Yes, consumers would pay more initially, but maybe we would have more to spend in the long run. I think repealing these trade agreements would not only bring back American jobs and boost our economy; but also, it is just the right thing to do.
I don’t know. Like I said, my brain is mathematically challenged. Just something I was thinking about…