Fire of Liberty
At one time not to long ago I can remember when the Democrats had a popular president and folks within its party were enthusiastic supporters of free trade no matter how much the labor unions protested. Well according to this piece in the Financial Times, it seems that the Democrats are reverting from the days of free trade that were advocated by political giants like FDR and Truman back to the economic populism of William Jennings Bryan. What bugs me the most is the fact that while the Democrats continue to harp on President Bush about not reaching out to the nations of the world but when he does reach out to them by negotiating a trade deal that opens up the markets of Peru and Colombia to our goods and vice versa, they complain he's going it alone even though Congress gave him Trade Promotion Authority.
It's a sad day when the Democrats preach a game of helping the poor out in this country and within others but refuses to pass through policies like Free Trade that are a sure-fired way of relieving poverty in these less than fortunate areas because they're not up to the labor standards of the US. While I'm all for workers having protections from dangers and unfair work conditions, I have to scratch my head on how the Dems honestly believe that because a nation doesn't have the same labor standards as us then a Free Trade deal is a no go. It's generally a given that richer nations have the luxury to impose labor regulations on an industry because they've reached a point where they can afford it. As for poorer nations it's not in their economic best interest or for the benefit of an employee if a start-up industry in places like Colombia or Peru are forced to obey expensive labor laws and standards set for industries like GE or GM in the US. In time these industries will have to attain certain labor standards but we can't expect them to be a fast runner while they're still learning to walk.
I just hope that there's still some Democrats(And a lot of Republicans) still remember the economic, political, and geo-strategic benefits that Free Trade deals have on this country and the countries who sign such deals with us. I'm betting this debate will become much more heated in the next few years.
*Here's a piece by Pete Du Pont over at the WSJ's Opinion Journal that aptly sums up the Dems take on Free Trade.