Tuesday, August 26, 2003

In the 1980s Japan was strong-armed into reducing its trade deficit with the US by starting Honda, Toyota and Nissan auto manufacturing plants in the US rather than keeping producting in Japan and shipping the cars across the Pacific. In 1982 Honda became the first, opening a plant in Ohio, and thus today all those Honda Accords zipping down US freeways are built in Marysville, OH and the Civics in East Liberty, OH.

Of course, auto production had the (then) powerful auto workers union going for it, and even Republicans back in the 1980s cared about union votes. Will Bush listen to the voice of UNITE today? International labor standards are an eminently worthy goal and a non-protectionist means to advance the interests of workers both in the US and in China. Will Bush advance their cause at the WTO?

You know, it's already permissable per the WTO to block the import of goods made with prison labor (see the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, Article XX, para. e). Thus international labor standards of a sort are already on the books. Yet the American public, addicted to cheap goods made with exploited labor and helped along by liberal economists providing ideological cover for their habit, will most likely be happy to sell their brothers and sisters for twenty pieces of silver.

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