Trade, China and capitalism
President Trump is quite correct to give some attention to China’s unfair trading practices.
However, we should also realize that China is not the sole culprit in this situation. Rather, the current iteration of capitalism and U.S. consumers are partners as well.
Contemporary capitalism is driven by a lust for the greatest possible profits at the lowest costs possible. A multinational corporation has little loyalty to or concern for the country in which it may be headquartered. Instead, it maintains a laser-like focus on the interests of its shareholders and top executives. As astute observers realize, contemporary capitalism in the United States at least does a poor job of distributing resources. We have huge income inequities that create two classes of individuals, the wealthy and everybody else, and an unjust society that functions neither effectively nor efficiently. Scarce resources are used to produce more consumer goods that people do not really need instead of applying those resources for infrastructure, research and enhancements to the quality of life. Of course, corporations also have an interest in keeping their costs low, even if doing so results in an environment that is neither healthy nor safe, whether for the public-at-large, workers or consumers.
Most U.S. citizens will become the oppressed and the downtrodden as the Supreme Court continues to tighten the screws on us while further empowering corporations. This is not to say that such a deplorable situation calls for a shift to a socialistic system. Rather, we should learn from Western Europe, particularly Scandinavia, and effect changes that result in greater balance between individuals and corporations.
What about U.S. citizens as equal partners? Just as corporations are driven by a lust for profits so are U.S. consumers driven by a lust for low prices. Who doesn’t love a bargain? While it is good and wise to manage one’s fiscal resources as efficiently as possible, taking that to an extreme results in a loss of jobs in the U.S. and a flood of imports. Might not our country be better off if we were willing to pay somewhat higher prices for consumer goods produced in this country?
Food for thought as we celebrate workers around the world. When choosing between the interests of individuals and those of corporations, let’s hope that we make the right choice for the former.