Matt Towery

Consider Delta pilots. They have considered going on strike to protest that pay concessions on their part would lower their standard of living to an unacceptable degree. Meanwhile, such a strike could destroy their employer. (Delta is currently trying to restructure its debts and stay in business.)

How in the world does our economy deal with such stubborn wrong-headedness?

From the political left, we'll keep hearing that the federal minimum wage must continually rise with inflation, even though health care, inflation and foreign competition are creating sometimes unsustainable burdens on the businesses that create the jobs in the first place.

If holding wages in check isn't a sustainable strategy to compete with the world economically, what is?

How about this: Let's reinvigorate the movement to close foreign "sweat shops," but with this crucial difference from efforts to date: Instead of arguing the morality of these establishments, let's apply an economic "eye-for-an-eye" standard.

If a nation like China refuses to pay its workers more, the United States could tax China's exports to the U.S. on a scale based on the difference between what China pays its workers and what America pays its workers for making the same product.

Oh, no! That's protectionism, some will say. It's against the principles of global, free-market economics.

Somewhat, yes, but with a difference. This eye-for-an-eye approach would encourage competitive behavior from the Chinese or whomever. They would pay no set surcharge on their goods; only a tax indexed to their wage scale relative to the country that imports their products -- us. Legitimate Chinese businesses with a solid future would pay higher wages; sweat shops wouldn't, and they'd suffer accordingly.

This policy would only be a first step to ending the trade advantages that China and other emerging economic giants have over U.S. manufacturers.

But it would be a start. It would send the message that the opening of markets worldwide has to mean a parallel closing of worldwide business loopholes. Only on this level playing field can true globalism take permanent root.


Matt Towery

Matt Towery is a former National Republican legislator of the year and author of Powerchicks: How Women Will Dominate America.
 
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