Detroit: A Vision of America’s Potential Future
Once the wealthiest city in America, known as the “arsenal of democracy,” Detroit was the fourth largest city in the U.S. in the 1960s, with a population of two million. Now a microcosm of everything that is wrong with the American economy, Detroit has become nothing more than a devastated landscape of urban decay with a population of about 700,000.
Visiting Detroit is the closest Americans can come to viewing what appears to be a war-torn city without leaving the U.S. This former powerhouse is a barren stretch of land, devastated by looters and full of run-down, vacant houses. Row upon row of dilapidated structures line the streets; empty apartment buildings and factories consume the landscape. Almost a third of Detroit has been abandoned.
Unfortunately, Detroit is not alone. All across America, cities are being devastated by their own collapsed manufacturing bases. The U.S. government abandoned its manufacturing prowess when it pursued “free trade” deals that make it impossible for America to compete. The North American Free Trade Agreement all but eliminated manufacturing in the U.S., as American auto companies were forced to relocate their manufacturing south of the border in search of lower costs. Without moving to Mexico, the American automobile industry could not compete globally with the rest of the world’s lowered labor costs and lax environmental standards.
Now debt-ridden and forced to cut many of its beleaguered services like transportation and street lighting, Detroit has a jobless rate of 29 percent. As public services are shuttered, the poor continue to suffer. Gazing at the streets of Detroit today, where the average house price is only $7,500 (some houses sell for as little as a few hundred dollars), it is hard to imagine the Motor City’s glory days.
“Free trade” agreements have put the final nail in the coffin, making it too expensive for American auto companies to manufacture cars in the United States. Knowing they could no longer produce competitively, American automakers shipped their jobs to Canada and Mexico.
“Free trade” is uncontrolled, unrestricted access to our economy, tariff- and duty-free, with products produced at labor rates in foreign countries much lower than ours — sometimes as low as $4 per hour — that we cannot compete with. “Free trade” is forcing us to outsource most of our manufacturing, enriching the individuals and companies that outsource our manufacturing, turning more millionaires into billionaires while our own labor force – the middle class – evaporates.
America must end ALL free trade agreements before the fate of Detroit becomes the fate of the nation.