Published 9:20 am Wednesday, August 1, 2018
Much has been written about trade and what will happen in the near future. Some believe that one industry will lose more than another, others believe that it will help, while still others believe it will destroy their business. Believing any of this is based on the theory that any change is bad. It is based on the belief that trade wars are like other wars, one side wins and the other side loses. This does not have to be the case. Maybe all the rhetoric will wake up world leaders to a new and better way of doing business. World trade is important and having this debate is good to have. Some believe that President Trump is leading us to the Taft-Hartley actions of 90 years ago that brought about the Great Depression. Another vision might be that he is opening a new path for the world.
Currently, all nations have tariffs on some products in order to protect their more favored industries and the products they produce. Each country, often for political reasons, wants to maintain the status quo in order to protect certain companies and their employees. Over the years, most other nations have protected more than the United States has. Therefore, the United States now purchases far more from other nations than they buy from us. We must do more to even the playing field that has forced many American businesses to go out of business or shift production overseas to Third World countries that pay their workers a fraction of the wages American employers pay and have little or no regard for safety or environmental concerns. In the case of China, there is also the concern of their unwillingness to honor their commitment to honor patents. For these reasons, we have shipped far more American dollars and jobs overseas. President Trump has refused to go along to get along. He has focused on protecting the American worker.
Despite the term “Trade War,” we do not have to have that world view. Hopefully, this is the real goal that the president is focused upon. Instead, hopefully, the outcome will be to not have more trade tariffs but rather that most are dropped. The world would be much better off if all nations agreed to fair treatment of their employees and the environment and then removed all trade tariffs. The trade deal that President Trump should be seeking should include such requirements to offset these two issues. Other than that, any such deal should allow Germans to buy American cars just as Americans can buy German cars. For decades, Americans have been able to go to Germany and buy cars and have them shipped to this country cheaper than to buy them in the United States; and, as a bonus, they got a European trip to boot. I believe we will soon have a trade policy that balances the needs of American workers and American consumers.
On another point, consider the war on straws. Currently, the in vogue environmental idea is to ban straws. Never mind that twothirds of the plastic waste comes from Asia. Never mind that America is 18th down in the world of plastic waste. Never mind that straws are an insignificant percentage of that. We should all be more aware of how we can best protect the environment, but attacking the lowly straw should be lower on the list of things to ban than such things as disposable drink bottles and plastic packaging. We can all do more for our environment if we simply think. We do not need the laws to accomplish this. Just as we can have fair trade if we think through what is fair for our citizens.
Frank Ruff represents Lunenburg in the state Senate. His email address is Sen. Ruff@verizon.net.