When did people start believing that “buy American” and thinking about America first were bad?
Countries already worry about their own first. They enter deals which benefit them or their people. The Japanese enter trade deals because it creates jobs and improves the lives of the Japanese. The Chinese do the same as do the Russians. Most countries already have laws that encourage governments and their citizens to buy their own products. It’s naive to think that countries don’t put the interests of their citizens first.
What globalization proponents have failed to do is to explain how trade with other nations benefit a specific country. Free trade is supposed to be a benefit to all participating countries, not a zero sum game where one country wins at the expense of another.
Globalization proponents have failed to fully appreciate the devastation to workers and their communities when factories and businesses move abroad. This is because within a trading country free trade is a zero sum game: there are winners such as the Silicon Valley billionaires and consumers who pay less for products, and losers, such as factory workers in the Midwest and South. Many globalists don’t have any contact with or understanding of the lives of these people. For them it’s an academic argument “there will be winners and losers in the economy blah blah blah” but for a person working at the factory it’s the center of his or her existence.
For twenty-somethings with college degrees it’s easy to switch careers. For people in their forties and fifties who have mortgages, children and elderly loved ones to support, and car payments it’s nearly impossible. We haven’t found a way to take a laid off middle aged factory worker in the Midwest and train her with new skills that will immediately pay the same or more than she is currently earning in her factory job. When factories close workers usually end up finding jobs earning half of what they previously earned. The trickle down effects of this can be seen throughout communities in the South and Midwest.
Those who have suffered from globalization have found little support from the major parties. Democrat Bernie Sanders recognized them as did Republican Trump but the ruling elite of both Democrats and Republican is controlled by globalization forces. Democrats like Hillary Clinton and Republicans like Jeb Bush have supported free trade and immigration policies that have crushed the working poor. Only Sanders and Trump appreciated their plight.
If we are to maintain a free trade globalist system we must come up with a means of redistributing wealth from the winners to the losers within a country. But so far this has been completely ignored by globalists meeting in Davos Switzerland. “People talk about inequality, how it’s a major problem, the greatest threat to globalization and the global economy,” (Nobel Prize wining economist Joseph) Stiglitz said. “You have to recognize that the way we have managed globalization has contributed significantly to inequality. But I have not yet heard a good conversation about what changes in globalization would address inequality.”
Redistribution of wealth is instinctively hated by libertarians and conservatives, but the Left has remained silent, refusing to confront their globalist allies in Silicon Valley, Hollywood and New York. Free Trade has been oversold to citizens. It’s not perfect and it does damage lives. Unfortunately the ruling elite hasn’t figured out how to fix that damage and support those who lose their jobs by confiscating wealth from the few winners and handing it to the millions of losers in an economy. Until they do it will be populists like Trump, Farage and Le Pen who will write History.