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The Race To The Bottom: Why A Worldwide Worker Surplus And Uncontrolled Free Trade Are Sinking American Living Standards Paperback – August 31, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; 2nd edition (August 31, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813340241
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813340241
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,105,767 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Current United States government policy may celebrate the economic benefits of globalization, but Tonelson, a policy analyst with the private U.S. Business and Industry Council, counters with a skeptical "Show me the money!" on behalf of the U.S. worker. Burrowing into statistics on employment patterns and wage trends in industries like automobiles, household appliances and textiles, Tonelson makes a forceful and engaging argument that globalization, with its attendant rush by multinational corporations to cheaper sources of labor, has been partially responsible for what he sees as a shift from high-wage to low-wage industries in the U.S. (e.g., an Economic Policy Institute study shows that between 1973 and 1998, real hourly wages fell for the bottom 60% of the U.S. workforce). In response to multinational corporations crowing that globalization has increased U.S. exports to emerging markets, Tonelson urges a closer examination of the patterns of trade. He points out that U.S. exports to Third World countries are dominated by manufacturing and intermediate goods that are used to build the industrial capacity that then produces goods for direct export to the United States. The net resultAlost jobs, lost factories and a growing U.S. trade deficitAlead Tonelson to question whether the current U.S. policy is anything but de facto foreign aid at the expense of U.S. workers. Though the uninspired jacket belies Tonelson's lively prose, readers of sophisticated financial journalism will appreciate this well-researched and politically savvy treatise, which goes beyond criticism to propose thoughtful economic alternatives that Tonelson hopes will enable expanded free trade without imposing more burdens on American labor. (Nov.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"...all of us need to get informed, and The Race to the Bottom is certainly a good place to start." -- Inside Business

"...provocative and should lead to further debate about how we should engage the global economy." -- New York Times

"A well-informed and often witty assault." -- Wilson Quarterly

"[Alan Tonelson is] probably the most significant economist spreading the nationalist gospel." -- The New Republic

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

80 of 84 people found the following review helpful By John W. Runyan III on October 9, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book details the depressing details of globalization, and debunks the promises of free trade, like Mexico being a huge market(it isn't), most workers that lose their factory jobs would get new and improved high tech jobs(they haven't), and we'll do the high tech stuff and the Third World will do the low tech(not true). We are living in an age where business can relocate almost anywhere. Our corporations are dumping our highest paying jobs overseas and/or importing Third World workers to do them (like Indian programmers). The result is a slowly sinking standard of living. Between mass immigration and globalization it appears we may be at the beginning of a new age of poverty.
For "fun" scroll down to the first review of the book, down to the guy that gave it one star (apparently after reading only part of chapter one). Print it out and keep it with this book. After you read the book, re-read his review and then see if you can answer the question: What planet are the globalists living on?
This just in: According to NPR, one of the last textile factories in the US closed on October 22, 2002. It was a fancy high-end shirt factory in Maine. It had been in business for decades. The women there worked so fast that their hands were just a blur. Not fast enough apparently, as they couldn't compete with the sweat shops of the Third World. (NPR said "foreign competition") Some of the women had worked there for twenty years and cried when they left. I seem to remember the globablists saying that foreigners only took jobs Americans didn't want. Perhaps those women were just crying tears of joy.
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 27, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Tonelson describes in detail why the current trade system, aka globalization, will cause the purchasing power of the US population to go down the drain. (Yes, the book is written with a US bias, but it applies equally to Europeans). It describes a type of trade where factories (even sophisticated ones) are shipped off to China, Mexico, Malaysia... only to see US/European labor displaced by a torrent of cheap imports. Further aggravating the downward spiral in the standard of living of Americans/Europeans are the massive immigration flows - more cheap labor to compete for the dwindling manufacturing jobs. There is a chapter on the asymmetric type of trade that is worthwhile reading; it describes how countries like Korea do everything to build sophisticated industries with the intent of exporting primarily to the US, but at the same time do everything to impede US imports (except the capital goods necessary to build the original factories). The implications of the lopsided trade are catastrophic for all involved - US, Europe, Japan and the Asian tigers.
The consequences of globalization are massive and detrimental to US and Europe, and this requires an informed debate on the issues. This book is an important document that analyzes some of the reasons that globalization is detrimental to your health. The book nicely skirts "econospeak" - the type of analysis that causes brain damage. It makes its points backed up by data - it refers to the real world!!
On the downside: the book suffers from a wee bit of repetition - I guess the editor got lazy. The few graphs in the book discuss identical points with slightly changed data - this is on the less than useful side.
All in all, I read the book, and was happy I did so.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 23, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I found this work to be significant in that the title and the content described clearly the global trade dynamic which we find our selves in today. I'd heard George Gilder a few years back tell a gathering of telecomm executives that they were caught up in this very dynamic; many of them have already lost that race and are no longer with us.
Mr. Tonelson's research is clearly evident in this book. He has done the heavy lifting(analysis)needed to make considered and substantiated statements about something a complex as the impact of global trade on our quality of life in this country.
I recently read "The Lexus and the Olive Tree" by Thomas Friedman and thought it a good counterpoint to "The Race To The Bottom."
"The Race To The Bottom" is richer in the numbers and is focused on us, while "The Lexus and the Olive Tree" is the more subjective and places the subject in a global and human context.
I highly recommend both books, however if you want solid facts before solid impressions, I'd say read "Race To The Bottom" first to get a good sense of "what." Then read "The Lexus And The Olive Tree" to figure out the "why" of it all.
My thanks to both authors.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By J. Johnson on August 4, 2004
Format: Paperback
I have ready many books about globalization and its effects, but Alan Tonelson's "The Race to the Bottom: Why a Worldwide Worker Surplus and Uncontrolled Free Trade are Sinking American Living Standards" is the ONLY book to explain the truth behind globalization. If the US public understood just simple facts, like the difference between producer goods and consumer goods, it would be clear why the US has the most massive trade deficit in history; and the US public would demand that congress act to stop the fast track legislation given to the president. (This is being carried out now by Bush, but was negotiated under Clinton. In other words, both parties are complicit in the destruction of the US middle class.)

As Tonelson says, "Current globalization policies have plunged the great majority of U.S. workers into a great worldwide race to the bottom, into a no-win scramble for work and livelihoods with hundreds of millions of their already impoverished counterparts across the globe. In addition, by sapping the earnings power of U.S. consumers, who are almost single-handedly propping up the world economy despite their sagging earnings, continuing this race could all too easily bring the global financial house of cards tumbling down."

Tonelson doesn't merely make a statement like this, he proves it with expert economic analysis that he explains clearly to the lay public.

Read this book and act on it, before the U.S. middle-class is further eroded.
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