In response: Unionism hinders trade possibilities
Mt. Ulla resident Bruce La Rue responds to a recent ěMy Turnî column on free trade agreements:
A recent ěMy turnî column by Michael C. Tuggle bemoaned the effects of free trade on American business, especially textiles, specifically Pillowtex. While I do not think that NAFTA has been a roaring success, I also believe that it must be accompanied by other cultural changes in order to have a chance. Just as Presidents Reagan and Bush (41) agreed to tax increases based on the assurance of spending cuts that never materialized, NAFTA will work only when combined with a cultural shift away from unionism.
From time to time we read or hear about the need for the return of manufacturing jobs to the United States in general, and our region in particular. Many people with experience and degrees in such matters will testify that we cannot prosper as a service industry oriented nation. If we are to regain and retain our place atop the global market food chain, we must increase our manufacturing presence and influence on the market.
Our great nation competes with third world countries or developing countries with 11th-century goat herder sub-cultures for manufacturing jobs. Americans will not work for $5 per day, nor should we, nor is it necessary to do so. We will have to lower our demands and expectations if we are to have a wisp of a chance of reviving our manufacturing base. The first step needs to be seeing to the extinction of labor unions.
Before everyone plops down in the lotus position and begins chanting, ěNAFTA, NAFTAî or ětariffs, tariffs,î we need to be able to discuss unionism without drifting into those areas which, while near and dear to the hearts of unionists, do not actually contribute to a solution to the problem at hand.
Manufacturing began moving to countries offering cheaper labor long before NAFTA. Tariffs are not paid by foreign exporters. They may write the check, but tariffs are ultimately paid by the consumer.
We can have a civilized debate about the need for changes in labor laws back in the day. We are now blessed with a plethora of labor laws, some of which do more harm than good when it comes to labor relations. Organized labor is allowed to speak harshly about management with impunity, yet if evil management attempts to deal honestly with its employees concerning the repercussions of a work stoppage, then the lawyers must get involved. With due respect to those in the legal profession, their fees add cost, but not value, to the finished product.