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Myths of Free Trade: Why America Trade Policy Has Failed Hardcover – October 1, 2004

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: New Press, The; 1st edition (October 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565849280
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565849280
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #936,891 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Brown, a Democratic congressman from northeastern Ohio’s steel belt, is a veteran of legislative battles—described here in gory, arm-twisting detail—over NAFTA, GATT and other trade agreements, and in this impassioned polemic, he rebuts the usual rationales offered by free traders. Our current free trade agenda, Brown insists, is an un-American departure from a history of tariffs and government intervention aimed at developing the nation’s economy and protecting workers and the environment from the excesses of the market. He contends that free trade doesn’t promote growth in either developed or developing countries, but simply shifts well-paying American jobs to Third World sweatshops. There, miserably underpaid workers, denied workplace safety regulations or the right to unionize, can’t buy the products they make, which creates imbalances of supply over demand and thus contributes to global economic stagnation. Rather than spreading American values around the globe, he argues, free trade buttresses the power of authoritarian regimes like China’s. Indeed, in Brown’s view, no one benefits from unregulated trade except corporations and rich investors, eager to deploy their assets wherever labor and the environment are most profitably exploited. Although not systematically developed, Brown’s fact-filled argument is a cogent critique of American trade policies in a punchy left-populist style that is rarely heard in Washington these days.
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"Sherrod Brown demolishes the seven myths of NAFTA, and the ‘wonders’ of free-trade. . . . In Brown we have an eloquent public servant—rather than a go-along private one." —Studs Terkel

"Sherrod Brown reveals the power, corruption, and lies behind U.S. trade policy." —Eric Schlosser

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 51 people found the following review helpful By mallard on November 27, 2004
Format: Hardcover
What's in a word? Plenty, when that word is the adjective "free" in front of the noun "trade." The positive connotations of "free" have clouded the debate between free traders and those wanting to protect specific U.S. industries through regulation of foreign imports.

In "Myths of Free Trade," U.S. Rep. Sher rod Brown, the Lorain Demo crat, puts to work the con siderable knowledge he has gained through his efforts on the House subcommittee on commerce, trade and consumer protection to make his argument against untrammeled free trade.

He maintains that he is on the side of the angels, and that the mass public supports his views, no matter how often political and media elites label him an extremist know-nothing.

If leaders of our institutions would take the time to listen to people who work with their hands, they might learn something about the reasons for workers' anxiety, about the hopelessness with which many look to the future, and about social justice," Brown writes. "And they would see that unregulated free trade hurts more people than it helps - not only in the United States, but throughout the world."

Brown argues that an unregulated global economy does not automatically operate efficiently according to some magic formula of American capitalism. He goes further to say that the harm of free trade outweighs any benefits.
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16 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Michael Emmett Brady on January 19, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Brown,a Democrat and a liberal,has written a very good book on the severe deficiencies(for instance,the vast number of workers ,who obtain jobs in second and third world countries as a result of outsourcing and globalization, are paid incomes that are far too small to buy any American exports at all.The result is the creation of additional excess supply and decreases in the standard of living everywhere brought on by deficiencies in aggregate purchasing power)that exist as a result of globalization.The same deficiencies were noted by Ross Perot in three books written in 1992,by Pat Buchanan in 1998 in his "The Great Betrayal",and by Lou Dobbs in his recent "Exporting America:How Corporate Greed is Shipping American Jobs Overseas".All three are authentic conservatives who have broken with a Republican party establishment that has,since 1978, substituted the libertarian anarchist globalization arguments of Grover Norquist,Murray Rothbard,Milton Friedman,Ayn Rynd,Ludwig von Mises,Fredrich von Hayek,Arthur Laffer,and George Gilder for those of conservatives such as Adam Smith,David Ricardo,George Washington,Alexander Hamilton,Douglas MacArthur,Dwight D Eisenhower,and ,yes,Richard Nixon.Unfortunately,the title of the book was poorly chosen.There is a sound and valid free trade position that opposes the special interests of oligopolistic industries.A better title for the book would have been"Globalization is not Free Trade:The Myth of Globalization".Authentic free trade is based on comparative advantage,not the absolute advantage that is the foundation of the libertarian anarchist argument for globalization.Unfortunately,B does not deal with the fact that Smith and Ricardo would be opponents of globalization(Only Dobbs mentions this fact).Read more ›
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14 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Robert J. Kimber on September 2, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is a tremendously informative and well written book. Short and to the point and in a language that anybody can understand, it should be required reading for anyone vaguely interested in the economic future of America and, indeed, the whole world.

Mr. Brown's book is not a populist war cry but a sensible and well reasoned debunking of all the "free trade" rhetoric one normally hears.

One warning: This book may well leave the reader angry with the status quo!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In a clear, concise fashion, Senator Brown demolishes the myths of free trade and provides substantial evidence through facts and statistics that our trade policy is not working in the American interest. From NAFTA to PNTR with China, free trade has weakened the American middle class through outsourcing jobs in all sectors overseas, exponentially increased our trade deficits, sustains authoritarian regimes and exploits workers in developing countries in a "race to the bottom". It only benefits multinational corporations and the elites in power. Free trade also creates gluts in supply with a diminished demand, which are perfect conditions for an unstable economy.

Brown advocates fair trade policies at the end of the book as a solution. That is, labor and environmental standards that uplift developing countries to our level rather than pushing us downward, going back to our economic roots, the American system by deploying tariffs when needed to protect our industries and our workers, and using trade agreements to create markets for our exports rather than finding new places to outsource jobs to. This is a comprehensive work that any lawmaker, policymaker, and citizen should read, and will help get us back on the right track.
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