Why Americans Are Turning Against Free Trade

“…A recent Pew Research poll found that although 58 percent of Americans felt that free trade benefits the national economy, just 43 percent thought such deals benefited their own families finances. And pluralities of Americans believe that free trade slows economic growth, lowers wages, and leads to job losses.

These are responses that cause economists to roll their eyes. But most of us aren’t economists. We know what we experience—and what most Americans have experienced are many more foreign products on their shelves, a half-decade of weak job growth for Americans, and stagnating or declining living standards for all but the wealthiest.

Economic and political leaders can argue that the nation’s economic troubles are not traceable to free trade—that Americans would have been even worse off if they reverted to protectionism. The trouble is that Americans no longer trust their leaders.”

Once in a while David Frum writes a good column, let’s get that out of the way to start.

Free trade does benefit the economy, I am also inclined to agree that it does little for anyone but the wealthy and corporations.

Ontario is a rust belt, that is the lived experience for many of its citizens.

Yes the Liberal government carries much of that blame for its Luddite energy policy but Federal policy like the TFW program have also left a very sour taste.

I wonder if the NDP surge is more substantial than realized.

  • BillyHW

    But the NDP would just make those temporary foreign workers permanent.

    • Yup. I am not suggesting support for the NDP just that the TFW program is a scam that has hurt Canadians.

  • ontario john

    Maybe Wynne can explain why she gave a forty million dollar contract for a new ferry to Chile, according to today’s Toronto Sun. Maybe she thought it was about paying for lesbians to come into the country.

    • Sean

      Do ferries ferry fairies?

    • Posted that.

    • simus1

      You would usually have to check into which rent seekers are on which side of the fence in the case of Ontario. A more mundane example would be a Hamilton company making reactor vessels for some US oil refineries that had Americans all agog. The simple explanation was probably that they were put-putting along making similar items for the oil sands and could easily turn out the wanted item quicker and cheaper. Then there is the fact that US oil refineries have been actively harassed by watermelons and their friends in the US government so the few American companies still doing such work have longer lead times.
      If the Chilean outfit has multiple customers for a similar ferry product but can still offer a good price and decent delivery time, they will get the business.

      What we need to do is to find out why the powers that be are so clingy and refuse to dump Toronto’s clown streetcar makers on some suitable third world backwater.

  • SDMatt

    The NDP are the “No One Is Illegal” crowd, so they won’t be throwing the TFWs out of the country; instead they will insist on instant citizenship and union membership for them with a commensurate increase to your morning cup of coffee that’ll put Tims out of business tout de suite.

    • Sean

      You say putting Tim’s out of business like it’s a bad thing.

  • Allan

    It is not only that, but the hundred of little clauses in the trade deals limiting free speech, access to internet, gun control, immigration, etc, etc, etc,.

  • Sean

    Oh, I can promise you it’s more substantial than what most conservatives (and even Liberal party supporters) believe. I do not believe vote splitting will occur much in this election. The left wants a winner and Justine ain’t it. I think it’ll be much closer than it should be…. even to the point of an NDP minority.

  • canminuteman

    I believe in free trade in theory. Free trade should enrich everybody. But that would only work in a perfect world where every country was identical in terms of culture economics and politics. Free trade will not benefit everyone if you have to compete with countries that have slave labour, few to no regulations that are enforced by anyone and people with no money to but your products even if they wanted to.

    • Alain

      I agree and would add that you can never have real free trade without having real free markets. Neither exists today.

      • Absolutely right. Slave wages are of no benefit to anyone.

    • Una Salus

      If every country was identical there wouldn’t be much need for trade.

      Calling it free trade doesn’t make it so because other countries have barriers which remain unaffected by so called “free trade” initiatives.
      What gets sold as free trade is mostly just political expediency and open border malarky and that’s why free trade is getting a bad name.

      For instance open borders might make sense if there wasn’t social security but there are nice benefits to be had in some countries which makes open borders really a form of wealth redistribution.
      The reason captains of industry like this form of wealth redistribution is that they can offset it against cheap labour. It’s the average tax payer that carries the burden.

      There’s something going on here. There’s a bill and nobody knows what’s in there but Obama’s happy to let it ride. That’s because they’ve decided to call it free trade.

      This bill has as much to with free trade as Obama does with the bible belt despite the fact that many Republicans are on board.
      Does Obama seem like a free trade fan to you? No, he isn’t he just knows how to sell enough rope for a hanging.

  • cmh

    systemic free trade is a scourge on democracy…. just another far left social engineering prop to forcefully try to make us all equal

  • Billy Bob Thornton

    Hopefully this will lead to Canadians outright rejecting NAFTA and other trade policies because at the time in 1988 they said we would lose countless jobs over the span of it because in existence so you could say neoliberalism and conservatives and liberals have supported it. The time has come to embrace protectionism, policies of the Great Society of the 50’s and 60’s, full employment and traditional capitalism which made the West great. No wonder, people are suffering. Corporate welfare has added so much strife to our societies in the West as well. Human nature is a huge part of it.

    • Frau Katze

      You’re right about that.

  • Billy Bob Thornton

    The free traders should hang their heads in shame and are thus traitors for selling out the nations they represent. Those policies have brought down wages, outsourced industries and have done nothing to help humanity. We could have kept the massive manufacturing and put small business around those sectors to cover the rest of society with jobs. Why we chose free trade and picking big business over small business was a huge mistake. It just leads to oligarchy and less choice. Greed is the main driver for these policies coming into effect during the Thatcher and Reagan era. People are simply too blind to see the big picture. Free trade, deregulation and outsourcing are to blame for much of our problems.

  • Norman_In_New_York

    Economists have some explaining to do. For years they have made consumer spending the sin qua non of prosperity without bothering to ask where the spending funds were coming from, such as credit cards getting maxed out. Bubbles, anyone?