Moral Authority in Globalization

by Stan Sorscher

Stan Sorscher

Stan Sorscher

I took part in a “fair trade” study session at a synagogue recently, looking at moral authority in the global economy. We considered four historical examples.

In Exodus, Moses leads the children of Israel out of Egypt, creating a new nation in the midst of established tribes and nations. After finding food and water, Moses gets excellent advice from his father in-law, Jethro: Appoint judges.

“… thou shalt provide, out of all the people, able men such as fear God, men of truth, hating unjust gain, and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. And let them judge the people at all seasons.”

This judicial system was a foundational institution of civil society, giving legitimacy and credibility to Moses’ leadership. The Old Testament served as a moral, social and civil document. It determined how life would be organized for many generations.

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Rejecting TPP, AFL-CIO’s Trumka Calls for ‘Global New Deal’

by Bruce Vail

Trumka_Center_for_American_Progress_TPP_TTIP_Global_New_DealAt a March 25 Center for American Progress event, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka had sharp words about backroom trade deals such as the TPP.   (CAP)

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka today called for a “Global New Deal” to fundamentally rethink U.S. foreign trade policies, especially so-called “free trade agreements” such as the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

These treaties in the works are examples of  “a failed model of global economic policies” based on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) of the mid-1990s, Trumka said. “We cannot enact new trade agreements modeled on NAFTA. … NAFTA put corporations in charge of America’s economic strategy with the goal of shipping jobs off shore to lower labor costs,” he told an audience at the Washington, D.C., offices of the Center for America Progress, an advocacy group closely associated with the Democratic Party. Echoing common progressive criticisms of the trade deals, Trumka called NAFTA, TPP and TTIP “thinly disguised tools to increase corporate profits by poisoning workers, polluting the environment and hiding information from consumers.” Continue reading

Lessons from 20 Years of NAFTA: Replace Failed Model with Good Trade Policy

by Stan Sorscher

Stan Sorscher

Stan Sorscher

The NAFTA model has failed.

When NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement) took effect 20 years ago, we were promised mutual gain.

To be clear, everyone I know wants good trade policies that raise living standards at home and abroad. The question is not trade versus protectionism. It’s good trade policy versus bad trade policy.

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9 Things You Didn’t Know About Our Trade Deficit with China

Photo courtesy bitzcelt

In 2001, China joined the World Trade Organization (WTO). America’s workers have felt the consequences ever since.

A new report from the Economic Policy Institute examines the primary result in the United States of China’s entry into the WTO, a massive increase in the trade deficit between the two countries, favoring China. The report’s author, Robert E. Scott, concludes that the trade deficit with China drives down wages and benefits in the United States and eliminates good jobs for U.S. workers.

Here are nine facts from the study you might not know about.

‘Free Trade’ Was Never Really About Trade

by Stan Sorscher

Stan Sorscher

Stan Sorscher

We need to think differently about trade.

First, let me say that I am 100% in favor of trade. Trade is when we do what we do best, they do what they do best, and we trade. Trade, done right, will raise living standards.

If trade is good, then free trade must be better, right? So consider this old joke about “free trade.”

  • It’s not free.
  • It’s not trade.

Twenty years after NAFTA we can add that it doesn’t work. It’s bad for millions of workers, families and communities around the world.

“Free trade” is not free. Our free trade policy encourages production to leave the country. We’ve lost millions of manufacturing jobs. More than 60,000 manufacturing plants were closed between 2000 and 2010 as production moved overseas. These costs are real.

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Trade was sleeper issue in Senate wins

Public Citizen

WASHINGTON, D.C. – An analysis of the 2012 election reveals a bipartisan race to align campaign positions with the American public’s opposition to current U.S. trade policies and the job offshoring they cause. Over the course of the past three months, a wave of ads focused mainly on job offshoring and secondarily on trade with China, has spotlighted the damage caused by current U.S. trade policies, fueling transpartisan expectations for reform and further complicating the path for the massive Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) “free trade” pact that is slated for completion in 2013, Public Citizen said today.

The presidential race featured more than three times as many trade-themed ads as in 2008, creating a trade-reform-is-urgently-needed narrative that reinforces the majority position of the U.S. public. Following this trend, congressional candidates across 30 states deployed more than 125 ads criticizing the economic fallout of status quo trade policy.

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We don’t know, exactly, what the Trans-Pacific Partnership is, but I’m against it

by Stan Sorscher

Stan Sorscher

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is probably the most important trade agreement you’ve never heard of. Sometimes described as our “21st Century trade agreement,” its terms are being negotiated in secret by 11 countries, big and small, arranged around the Pacific Ocean.

As the TPP takes shape, we see that it’s really the old NAFTA model, built from the ground up to shield global businesses from public debate, public policy, and public regulation. The 14th round of talks took place in September, in Leesburg VA.

At the meeting, Pat Ranald, a researcher from the University of Sydney in Australia, told a remarkable story about cigarette packaging. Smoking causes about 15,000 excess deaths, and costs Australia over $30 billion per year. In response, Parliament passed a “plain-packaging” policy, requiring all cigarette packages in Australia to have plain brown designs, with no advertising. We’ve had similar rules for decades that prohibit cigarette smoking, cigarette advertising, and liquor advertising on television.

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One Damning Report

by Leo Gerard

USW President Leo Gerard

It’s a damning report because it says America has endangered itself by allowing both its manufacturing sector and its infrastructure – like dams, roads and bridges — to deteriorate.

The report, Preparing for 21st Century Risks, issued by the Alliance for American Manufacturing last week, recommends a two-part solution. First is restoring America’s infrastructure lifelines:  its electrical grid, its public water and sewer systems, its railroads and dams. And second is doing it with American-manufactured steel and concrete, glass and aluminum – all American components and all American labor.

The result would be a nation more capable of fending off and recovering from natural and man-made disasters. And it would be a nation with a stronger economy based on a solid manufacturing base.

The Preparedness report was written by two security experts. One is Tom Ridge, the former Republican governor of Pennsylvania and first Assistant to the U.S. President for Homeland Security. The other is Robert B. Stephan, a former Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for Infrastructure Protection.

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U.S. Cannot Certify a Country that Tolerates Murder

by Leo Gerard

USW President Leo Gerard

The slaying of one Florida teenager, Trayvon Martin, roiled anger and outrage in this country among citizens who believe the killing was unjust and unwarranted. Similarly, the torture and killing of one labor activist in Bangladesh last week provoked an outcry there and a half-page story in the New York Times.

Americans don’t countenance murder, particularly when it’s racially or politically motivated. Americans are justice-seeking and fair-play-believing. And that is why we, as a country, cannot certify that Colombia has fulfilled its obligations under the Labor Action Plan. Certification is a step necessary before the free trade agreement between Colombia and the United States can take effect.

Colombia eagerly anticipates that happening this weekend during the Summit of the Americas to be held in Cartagena, Colombia. For us to do so would be to turn our backs on the 30 trade unionists slain in Colombia last year and the six that Justice for Colombia reports have been murdered already this year.

The Labor Action Plan that was attached to the free trade agreement when the United States approved it a year ago was intended to pressure Colombia to stop the killing and torture and to prosecute the perpetrators. The routine slaughter of human rights activists and trade unionists in Colombia is a quarter century old. It didn’t end in a year’s time. And for us to certify that it did would be to betray the victims and their families.

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How, Exactly, Does Trade Bring Prosperity

by Stan Sorscher

Stan Sorscher

I work for a labor union in the aerospace industry. We are 100% in favor of trade. We make products the rest of the world wants to buy.

With increased trade we expect more prosperity. Instead, we see the American economy de-industrializing and job security at historic lows. So, what’s going wrong?

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