The middle class is not placated by feel-good talk that the stock market has climbed to a record high, or that unemployment is at a record low, or that the gross domestic product is growing. Unemployment statistics don't count the guys who lost $50,000 jobs in manufacturing and are now working $25,000 jobs in retail, but job-growth figures happily do count the wives who have been involuntarily forced into the labor force just to keep groceries on the table. The middle class is not placated by glib slogans that free trade is good for the economy and that protectionism is a nasty word. Common sense tells them that there is no such thing as a free lunch and, yes indeed, they do expect friends in government and industry to protect U.S. jobs against unfair competition from foreigners who work for 30 cents an hour.
Americans relish competition, as our national fixation on sports contests proves every day. But the globalists have destroyed a level playing field and, in addition, have subordinated us to an umpire (aka the World Trade Organization) that is biased against us.
Globalist policies have encouraged U.S. employers to use near-slave labor in Asia, whose products are then guaranteed duty-free or low-tariff re-entry to the United States. Those products are then sold here for prices that are cheap by U.S. standards but are marked up as much as 80 percent.
Globalist policies also allow discrimination against U.S. manufacturers by the Value Added Tax racket, whereby foreign governments subsidize their products both coming and going. For example, German automobiles cost 16 percent less in the United States than the same car sold in Germany, and U.S. automobiles cost 16 percent more in Germany than the same car bought in the United States. House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., plans to shift the dialogue on Capitol Hill to worker's pay, college tuition, health care costs and other issues that touch ordinary families. Her solutions are all bad economics and very expensive, but they will enable her to pose as a friend of the middle class.
All six U.S. senators thought to be planning a run for the Democratic nomination for president voted against the Central American Free Trade Agreement. The issue would be dramatically joined if the Democratic nominee were opposed, for example, by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who supported NAFTA, CAFTA, WTO and permanent normal trading relations for China.
Will Republicans continue to follow George W. Bush in his post-election travels to solicit even more Asian products made by cheap labor and subsidized by their governments? Or will Republicans get smart on the jobs issue and re-establish their friendship with the Reagan Democrats?
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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