- Hardcover: 240 pages
- Publisher: The New Press; 1st edition (October 1, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1565849280
- ISBN-13: 978-1565849280
- Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.8 x 1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,198,821 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Myths of Free Trade: Why America Trade Policy Has Failed Hardcover – October 1, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
Brown, a Democratic congressman from northeastern Ohios steel belt, is a veteran of legislative battlesdescribed here in gory, arm-twisting detailover 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 nations economy and protecting workers and the environment from the excesses of the market. He contends that free trade doesnt 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, cant 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 Chinas. Indeed, in Browns 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, Browns 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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
"Sherrod Brown reveals the power, corruption, and lies behind U.S. trade policy." —Eric Schlosser
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
Those harmed include a Cleveland-area child "who eats raspberries grown in Guatemala by poorly paid farmers who use pesticides banned in the United States; the unskilled, minimum-wage worker in Los Angeles who loses her job to an unskilled, five-dollar-a-day worker in Yucatan; the machinist in New York who takes a wage cut because of his company's threat to move to China and the Chinese prison camp laborer; the tomato grower in Florida who has to sell his farm; and the peasant in Chiapas who must flee the native village where his family had made its home for dozens of generations."
Brown criticizes both political parties for what he sees as blindness to the facts and wonders about the gullibility of presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, about economics professors, about journalists and about his colleagues in Congress.
Wondering about so many allegedly misguided souls, Brown can sound self-righteous at times. That tone, however, is ameliorated by the quality of his evidence. He might not be correct in some cosmic sense, and he might not convert anybody already on the other side of the debate. But his examples are plausible and well-presented.
"Our political leaders support - and excuse - authoritarian leaders in China and Indonesia because our corporate leaders have identified these totalitarian societies as ideal places to invest and reap huge profits, almost always selling back into the U.S. market the goods that slave labor or underpaid workers produce," he writes. "Big business has ignored or put aside Chinese human rights abuses, security threats, theft of intellectual property and loss of American jobs."
Trade policy is a hot-button issue when jobs come or go because of it. It is difficult, though, to explain the ideas undergirding trade policy. Here, Brown delivers information about an issue usually under the media radar.
My own opinion is that free trade has repeatedly been dangled in front of other nations as an enticement for them to align with us in a half-century of trying to limit the Soviet Union (now also China), boosting Wall Street in the process while blue-collar workers on Main Street pay the price. Brown's book points out that this rationale has now been extended to fighting terrorism as well.
Another very bothersome fact - the secrecy and inaccessibility of trade talks, from Clinton's administration through Obama's, and the establishment of trade dispute panels that override American laws. Congressional staff with necessary security clearances are prohibited from seeing 30-chapter TPP text on their own, and many legislators announce their intent to sign the agreement before they can even read it. It is currently illegal for the press, experts, advocates, or the general public to review TPP text. One portion of the agreement allows tariff-free importation of vehicles into the U.S. if only 45% of it was made in a TPP country. That is irresponsible, as well as completely undemocratic. Author Brown points out that 'with one exception, the WTO has overturned very environmental and public health rule or law brought to its trade dispute panel.'
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
hurt the interests of the American people.Read more
of the myths that the American public has been spoon-fed on free trade by the usual...Read more