Monday, October 23, 2006

Euro-American free trade zone

I know there are people around here who purport to be against free trade, and, although I feel this to be a fairly silly idea, I suppose I must tolerate it. But even socialists and anarcho-syndicalists (or whatever you call yourselves these days) should support a Trans-Atlantic free trade zone. This is because, from an American perspective, it gets around the only plausible argument against free trade, the so-called race to the bottom: Europe has higher labor and environmental standards than we do, and these laws have persisted in the face of stagnant economies and the opening of trade in the Eurozone. A stronger economic alliance, as this (awkwardly translated) article argues, between Europe and America will serve to raise the standards everywhere, or at least maintain the status quo while bolstering countries that have high standards. Objections? Objections with clear economic argument behind them?

7 Comments:

Blogger Scantron said...

And the social democrat speaks first! (Come on, dude, anarcho-syndicalist? Where am I, Berkeley? This is a HOOVER town, baby!) I think you'll find my response pretty disappointing, though, mainly because I have little or nothing to say about economic policy. But I don't think Herr Steingart does, either. He admits that the "most imposing effect of the mega-merger" is the pressure put on Asia as part of the "world war for wealth." I also find it hard to believe that it's trade barriers between the US and *Europe* that have led to: "worker's councils are tamed, rules for environmental protection are watered down and responsibility for social welfare is gradually handed back down to families and individuals." This might ring true in Europe but I don't think we Americans even know what "worker's councils" are. And "Responsibility for social welfare"...uh huh huh huh. You said "welfare." In other words, I'm saying that the US isn't exactly peeing its pants in anticipation of being able to institute all these wonderful social policies, no matter what the competition looks like.

Please correct me if I'm mistaken, but despite this article's worries about globalization, I always thought that it was precisely because of cheap foreign labor markets in the third world that jobs are exported, unions are weakened, and wages are allowed to stagnate for the sake of competition. And if we aren't adjusting to other people's cheap labor, we're eagerly seeking it for ourselves for just those anti-workers' rights reasons (remember Tom DeLay's "petri dish of capitalism" in the Marina islands?) Do American businesses seriously care that much about reforming those conditions? Would a free trade agreement between the US and Europe substantially change the status of the third world? Steingart thinks we can exert pressure on (at least) "the Asians," but aside from increased political capital, so to speak, the effects on the US and Europe themselves seem negligible. So, to sum up, we get incremental advantages to the US and Europe, and a more united "Western front" in the global economic war, the terms of which could even be exacerbated by such a move, who knows. I honestly entreat you to inform me whether you think the trade pact would entail the results Steingart wants. You definitely know more than me about this. But overall, okay, sure.

And then he had to go and mention Kissinger. It's like watching a decent political ad and then hearing "I'm Robert Mugabe and I endorse this message."

12:40 AM  
Blogger Josh the Hippie Killer said...

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12:25 AM  
Blogger Josh the Hippie Killer said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:15 AM  
Blogger Austin 5-000 said...

I'm not sure if it will raise standards, and I strongly doubt that it would do anything to hurt Asia in a global economic war. The latter concept is pretty silly and is based on some kind of economics that must be peculiar to Germany. But a free-trade zone between Europe and the US would do a great deal for both countries. If that's all, sign me up. I'll resist the temptation to address your ill-informed remarks on globalization.

2:28 PM  
Blogger Scantron said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:07 PM  
Blogger Scantron said...

I ask you to please correct me if I'm mistaken and I get "I'll resist the temptation to address your ill-informed remarks"? What kind of a deal is that?

7:09 PM  
Blogger Austin 5-000 said...

You're facing global competition, Scantron. Corrections have risen in price, and last thing I heard, graduate students aren't allowed to unionize.

9:53 AM  

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