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Free trade? C'mon.

We should rename "free trade." Because it isn't free and it isn't fair. Since it's trade that's regulated in favor of multinational special-interest groups, why don't we call it for what it is: rigged market trade?


Why are we so afraid to call a spade a spade? There are 36,000 fewer U.S. factories than there were eight years ago. One in five manufacturing jobs has been lost nationally in the last 10 years.

If we don't stem the tide of multinationalism through trade law reform, then between 42 million and 56 million of the 140 million U.S. jobs could be moved off-shore within 20 years, including all 14 million current jobs in manufacturing. We'll be left without any manufacturing, which is at the core of our country's national security.

Members of the Tooling, Manufacturing & Technologies Association (TMTA) wonder if things will change in time. They know that most of their woes emanate from disastrous trade laws written in Washington DC.

When the concept of free trade was thought up, did the corporate-controlled multinationalists anticipate that America would cease to be a land of broadly shared prosperity? What's happened to the concept of social morality? It's been thrown out the window.

Corporate greed feeds on itself and U.S. manufacturing suffers. In Collapse: How Societies Choose to Succeed or Fail, social anthropologist Jared Diamond, describes an American society in which "corporate elites cocoon themselves in gated communities guarded by private security, fly in corporate aircraft, depend on golden parachutes and private pensions, and send their children to prohibitively expensive private schools. Gradually these corporate elites lose their motivation to support the police force, the municipal water supply, Social Security, and public schools. Any society contains a built-in blueprint for failure if corporate elites insulate themselves from the consequences of their own actions."

I suppose there are some reading this who believe this article is leaning a little to the left. Actually, it's not. Increasingly, trade policy and the effects of multinationalism are not partisan issues. The signs of broadening resistance to globalization and a fraying of Republican orthodoxy on the economy have been reported on page-one in The Wall Street Journal. The morally shameful I-don't-care-about-you-because-I've-got-mine mentality exhibited by Congress and this administration is a national disgrace. Our representatives and legislators, collectively, have been responsible for trade policy that has resulted in a cave-in of the manufacturing industry.

At the end of the day, there's only one way there's going to be any relief for all of us in manufacturing, and that's through Washington, D.C. Most of manufacturing's problems, your problems, my problems, are as a result of bad trade laws. When the grassroots electorate becomes engaged in this fight, we'll change bad free-trade laws into good fair-trade laws that will reflect the interests of small manufacturers who've been absent from trade policy deliberations far too long.

We need fair-trade reform, and we need it now. The first thing that should happen is to freeze all new trade agreements, especially by this current administration, until major pro-domestic producer and worker trade strategies are put in place.

Congress must create a National Trade Commission. Congress must pass currency manipulation legislation. Congress must address the unfair advantage caused by the rebate of value-added taxes by passing a border equalization tax. Congress has to enact countervailing duty laws. Congress has to pass laws that standardize Rules of Origin. It has to pass laws that address infrastructure imbalances including regulatory standards and enforcement standards.

In this general election cycle now, we have the real opportunity to make change. Politicians are up for election or re-election. The Tooling, Manufacturing & Technologies Association (TMTA) has aligned itself with other organizations such as the Organization for Competitive Markets and the Coalition for a Prosperous America, like-minded groups that are actually holding politicians' feet to the fire relative to trade reform issues.

In the last election cycle held two years ago, 15 politicians who were manufacturing-unfriendly and electorally vulnerable were targeted for defeat.

The "kill rate" was 15 out of 15.

Brian Sullivan is director of sales, marketing, and communications for the Tooling, Manufacturing & Technologies Association. His e-mail is
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Title Annotation:an executive view
Author:Sullivan, Brian
Publication:Tooling & Production
Date:Jan 1, 2008
Previous Article:Expanded manufacturing capabilities.
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