Sunday, April 23, 2006

Washington Post editorial: We can't do anything about the market!

In an editorial, Do No Harm, we read in the Washington Post:
INEQUALITY IN the United States has been growing for a generation. [...]

One unproductive critique of inequality targets corporations for cutting wages and benefits. Companies must respect market forces ...
Apparently the Post has forgotten about something called tariffs. That's one way of modifying the market. You can argue about efficacy of that, but it's something that can be done.

The Post continues:
Cracking down on immigration, for example, is no solution. Tough enforcement is expensive, harsh and doomed to be at best partially effective ...
Tough enforcement is expensive! Well, that settles that. When can we expect a similar editorial on the drug war, saying that cracking down is no solution, that enforcement is expensive, etc.

They do address tariffs further down in the editorial:
The most pervasive and misplaced reaction to inequality is protectionism. Trade liberalization since 1945 has delivered a vast stimulus to growth, boosting U.S. incomes by $1 trillion a year, according to an extensive survey of the evidence by the Institute for International Economics. It's true that these gains are unevenly distributed, but the skewing is subtle. Unionized labor in the heavily traded manufacturing sector has been hit hard. But the poorest and least skilled Americans actually gain from trade, because they tend to work in low-end service jobs that do not face foreign competition.
How about that? "The skewing is subtle." So pay no attention to the enormous gains made by the top 1%. Also, how about the assurance that "the poorest and least skilled Americans actually gain from trade, because they tend to work in low-end service jobs that do not face foreign competition". That would be fine, except those jobs do face foreign competition - in the case of the aforementioned immigrants.

Congratulations to the Post for writing a thoroughly pro-business, Social Darwinist, Free Market Fundamentalist, editorial.


Except, of course, for CEO salaries - which post double-digit rises regardless of how well or poorly the corporation does.

For that matter, heaven forfend that we start putting things like child labor laws, minimum wages, or anti-pollution requirements into these trade agreements. No, no, free trade is designed to shift jobs to countries with the fewest environmental and labor laws - it would be gross interference in the marketplace to make, say, killing union organizers a crime in these countries...

By Blogger RepubAnon, at 4/23/2006 7:56 AM  

Sure am glad I got me this job flippin' burger, 'cos I ain't got to worry 'bout no foreign competition like Chevron do!

By Blogger brainhell, at 4/23/2006 3:22 PM  

More than the first month of the debates of the US House of Representatives First Congress (1789-1791) was about setting tariffs.

They were far more limited in how they might collect revenue, and there were some who wanted them as low as possible, but it was the definitely "the American Way" in an originalist sense.

By Blogger josh narins, at 4/24/2006 8:16 PM  

Back in the 19th century, Republicans were for high tariffs and Democrats against. Why? High tariffs meant high corporate profits. Low tariffs meant lower prices for consumers. It is a myth that Republicans are against high tariffs and for free trade -- look at the Canadian lumber fiasco, look at the steel tariffs.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4/25/2006 9:08 AM  

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