When it comes to trade, we need to level the playing field. Manufacturing is all about the unit cost of production. Currently, American companies that offshore, as well as foreign firms that export products to the U.S., bypass American minimum wage laws, environmental laws, and health and safety laws to lower their costs, especially labor costs. This enables the companies to undercut American-made products on price. We should tax imported products to help offset this market imbalance and encourage domestic manufacturing.
Free trade enthusiasts will argue that protectionism would raise prices on American consumers — and they are right. But isn’t it better to maximize the number of employed Americans and pay more for products than to subsidize with our tax dollars a growing number of unemployed people so that we can all save a few dollars at Wal-Mart?
More employed Americans would expand our tax base (only 50% of Americans currently pay federal income taxes), which would reduce the tax burden on each taxpayer and possibly offset the higher prices we pay at the stores. Most important, more Americans would be working, productivity would increase, and our nation would be stronger.
Republicans won the November 2010 election in part because Americans want to restore individual liberty and freedom. But if we wriggle free of Washington’s control, yet are still beholden to Beijing, are Americans any better off?
Alexander Hamilton was one of the founding fathers who favored protectionism and warned about the dangers of the economic policies we have been pursuing over the past few decades. He wrote, “Not only the wealth, but the independence and security of a country, appear to be materially connected with the prosperity of manufactures.” Thus, we can only be free if we become more self-sufficient, restore our manufacturing base, increase exports, and put people to work right here in the U.S.A.
Zachary S. Krajacic is a writer and public relations professional from Buffalo, N.Y.