The Free Trade Debate

The 2016 campaign has brought a number of issues into the spotlight, one of which being free trade. Both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have brought up trade issues often on the campaign trail, and these mentions have renewed the debate. To put it simply, free trade theory basically says that countries will be better off if they remove barriers to trade like tariffs and the like. The removal of such trade barriers will cause nations to get richer because it allows each nation to focus on what it makes best, along with other advantages.* Here’s a Wikipedia link if you would like to know more.

The problem is that free trade theory is not what has been put into effect. What we have instead are free trade agreements between countries. These agreements have indeed made the United States richer. The problem is that many manufacturing workers lost their high-paying jobs but didn’t get a similarly high-paying job in return. To make matters worse, these workers now find that their high school diploma doesn’t have the value it once did. Do they try to juggle college, a spouse, and kids (assuming they can afford to go), or do they accept a  job that pays them less than what they were getting before?

The advancement of technology will undoubtedly lead to the loss of some jobs. That is a fact of life. The nations of the world becoming more connected will undoubtedly lead to the loss of some jobs. That is also a fact. What is nowhere near as clear is how the loss of  good jobs benefits America in the long term, and that question is what Trump and Sanders have drawn attention to.

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