Free Trade has Eroded the American Way of Life
Free trade policies have unfortunately become the exception rather than the rule in the United States. Politicians from both parties now push them on the American people. They have become so standard that they now encounter little resistance in Washington, while Americans in the rest of the country reel from their devastating effects. This is why politicians go to Rust Belt states and say they are going to do something about our trade problem. Politicians purport to recognize that these agreements are hurting the American way of life when they visit these states, yet they go back to Washington and pass more bad trade deals.
Long gone are the days when an individual could graduate from high school, head down to the local factory, and get a job that would sustain them and their family for the rest of their life. Certainly some things have changed. The expectation that workers get an education beyond high school is reasonable, but even those workers with the best education and training have no guarantee of a good job. They may find that there are no employers looking to hire. They may find a job, but there is no guarantee it will not be shipped overseas without notice. Free trade has removed the financial security that once made America exceptional.
When Americans are uncertain about their future, it perpetuates our economic problems. When someone is unsure if they will have a job they often hold back from making purchases they would otherwise make. This may include small impulse buys, but even more often it is large purchases like cars and homes. Being locked into a 30-year mortgage is far from ideal when your job may go to China next year, leaving you to scrounge for employment locally or causing you to relocate looking for greener pastures. Perhaps as a result, the home ownership rate in the United States has been falling since 2004.
We have a Federal government because government is supposed to improve our lives. For many years this was the case, but since taking up free trade our government has failed us. We are regressing as a nation into a country that spends its time fearing the worst rather than building a better future. Unfortunately until we revise our trade policies, fearing the worst is well-founded.