Manufacturing was always the foundation of the American economy and has been responsible for the rise of our middle class. In fact, 25% of American workers were in manufacturing in the 1960′s. However, the once global super power is now drowning in debt, dependent on imports and suffering from an outrageous unemployment rate. Whom do we have to blame? Our political figures pushing “free trade.”
“Free trade” is uncontrolled access to our economy, tariff- and duty-free, for imports made for four dollars per hour or less. We can’t compete with these wages so our companies are forced to sell out to foreign interests, or go bankrupt. “Free trade” is the murderer of manufacturing and the path to the loss of national sovereignty.
We were once producers of our own goods. Michelle Nash-Hoff describes in her book Can American Manufacturing Be Saved? how “goods were mainly produced by cottage industries, in which individual artisans or craftsmen working at home or in small shops made a unique product. Merchants then went and sold these goods in small shops in towns and cities.” These craftsmen soon became the bread and butter of America and the producers of our goods. During the colonial period, they participated actively in politics.
What happened to the good old days? In today’s society, we are now pushed away from actively participating in politics as the doors are shut during negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
The TPP is the largest “free trade” agreement in history, and the Obama Administration is forcing us into it without giving us a say. In fact, until recently, even Congress wasn’t allowed to attend any TPP meetings. When they finally were given access to draft documents from the negotiations, they were not allowed to take any notes nor discuss any information, not even to their own staff. Those allowed to be in the meetings are the lobbyists pushing anything that benefits multinational corporations.
For about 70 years our manufacturing dominated the globe. It grew day by day with the invention of the cotton gin, the locomotive, steam power and electricity, which put America on the map and made us competitive. Small and medium-sized companies sprang up left and right, filling our needs. In the present day, we see factories closing in the blink of an eye. Our jobs are outsourced through “free trade” agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and our major companies are bought out by China. We no longer produce for ourselves so we depend on imports.
Nash-Hoff states that “we were the world’s largest producer of manufactured goods and led the world in innovation… American manufacturing was synonymous with quality and ingenuity.” In order to go back to that, we must stop these “free trade” agreements that are detrimental to our economy. We must go back to protecting our manufacturing industry and stop outsourcing our jobs.