Is Free Trade The Issue? Or Is It Tax Policy, Health Care and Income Disparity?
Paul Krugman tell some hard truths about trade policy and income inequality in the United States and the world. Some bloggers like David Sirota and the folks at MYDD are closely aligned with labor unions and have a fairly narrow way of looking at the issues - international labor standards, the right to organize, etc. From the US perspective, I think Krugman states an essential truth:
Realistically, however, labor standards won’t do all that much for American workers. No matter how free third-world workers are to organize, they’re still going to be paid very little, and trade will continue to place pressure on U.S. wages.
So what’s the answer? I don’t think there is one, as long as the discussion is restricted to trade policy: all-out protectionism isn’t acceptable, and labor standards in trade agreements will help only a little.By all means, let’s have strong labor standards in our pending trade agreements, and let’s approach proposals for new agreements with an appropriate degree of skepticism. But if Democrats really want to help American workers, they’ll have to do it with a pro-labor policy that relies on better tools than trade policy. Universal health care, paid for by taxing the economy’s winners, would be a good place to start.
Tax policy and health care policy can do more for our country's workers than trade policy. That is not the labor union mindset, but it should be the Democratic mindset.
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