Why Is Moving A Factory Called “Trade”?

Dave Johnson

I have a simple question: Why is moving a factory across a border called “trade”?

The process of building up a country is long and difficult. People over time unite and engage in a long, hard struggle to form a democratic government for themselves and build strong public structures — a system of laws, environmental protections, wage and hour rules, worker protections, product safety standards, etc. — all of which work to raise the standard of living for everyone. These strong public structures enable economic growth and empower the people and companies to prosper while protecting the investment that built it all. So people return a portion of the resulting prosperity as taxes to invest in building and maintaining this infrastructure.

That is how good, solid self-government should work. The people build the public structures that enable each other to prosper and that protect the investment. And it worked for us.

But then, along come the quick-buck artists, looking to grab what they can for themselves, as fast as they can, without doing their part or sharing their gains or leaving anything but a mess behind. And they found a way to accomplish this. They found places outside of our borders where the people had not yet built up the solid, democratic governmental institutions that protect people and the environment as ours do. They fired the workers who had built up the companies and communities, packed up the machines that made the products, closed the factories, and opened factories on the other side of those borders.

Moving factories across borders is just a way of evading our laws and our protections, that we have fought so hard to get in place. So why do we let them bring the same products that we used to make here, back across those borders to sell in the prosperous market that our hard-won public structures enabled?

People fought and died so we could maintain our own strong government that protected us and enabled our prosperity. We built up our prosperity over time and with many hard fights, and that is what has made our county the market that everyone wants access to. We should use that market power to set the terms of what can be brought in to this country. We should help the people in countries that have not yet build up the kind of strong, democratic governments that can protect them from the quick-buck artists and exploiters instead of letting those manipulative consters wipe out our jobs and tear down our own government and rules. We should say that before products get access into our market the workers that make them should be paid well, and the environment they are made in is protected. Maybe we shouldn’t allow goods from undemocratic countries in at all. What do you think?

We worked hard to build what we have, and we are letting that be taken away from us. It is time to stop allowing our factories to be closed and moved across borders as a way to get around the rules and standards we fought so hard to put in place.

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