Failed Trade Policies Have Erroded the Middle Class

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“Free trade” agreements may not be intended to cause class warfare, but they have had the effect of further enriching the wealthiest in our country while driving many previously middle class citizens into subsistence-level service jobs. These agreements weren’t put into place by an outcry from a  public begging for more trade, and they certainly haven’t been maintained because of it.

These agreements, which include NAFTA, CAFTA, KORUS and the WTO, have been put into place because powerful moneyed interests have pushed for them. Most Americans now oppose NAFTA-like free trade agreements, yet three more were approved at the end of 2011 and have since been implemented.

When the wealthy are taxed at higher rates, critics say this hurts job creators. Free trade agreements have the opposite effect: they allow “job creators” to move those jobs overseas, leaving much larger numbers of Americans struggling to find a decent job.

Meanwhile, those “job creators” use their increased profits to perpetuate the system that allows them to do this. They do this through making campaign contributions, hiring lobbyists and promising politicians cushy private sector jobs after they leave office. This kind of influence has pushed our country toward bad policies again and again.

With many billionaires paying a smaller percentage in taxes than their middle class counterparts, failing to raise their taxes would be an offense against lower income individuals. The outcry shouldn’t be about hurting job creators; it should be about rewarding job destroyers with new “free trade” agreements. The trade agreements we already have in place have destroyed the middle class, devastated communities, and helped deflate a once-powerful manufacturing base.

Despite all of this, in a masochistic orgy of self abuse we enact more of them. Are we going to learn our lesson or continue down this path of madness?

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