Myths of Free Trade: Why America Trade Policy Has Failed

Sherrod Brown, Author New Press $24.95 (228p) ISBN 978-1-56584-928-0
Brown, a Democratic congressman from northeastern Ohio's steel belt, is a veteran of legislative battles--described here in gory, arm-twisting detail--over NAFTA, GATT and other trade agreements, and in this impassioned polemic, he rebuts the usual rationales offered by free traders. Our current free trade agenda, Brown insists, is an un-American departure from a history of tariffs and government intervention aimed at developing the nation's economy and protecting workers and the environment from the excesses of the market. He contends that free trade doesn't promote growth in either developed or developing countries, but simply shifts well-paying American jobs to Third World sweatshops. There, miserably underpaid workers, denied workplace safety regulations or the right to unionize, can't buy the products they make, which creates imbalances of supply over demand and thus contributes to global economic stagnation. Rather than spreading American values around the globe, he argues, free trade buttresses the power of authoritarian regimes like China's. Indeed, in Brown's view, no one benefits from unregulated trade except corporations and rich investors, eager to deploy their assets wherever labor and the environment are most profitably exploited. Although not systematically developed, Brown's fact-filled argument is a cogent critique of American trade policies in a punchy left-populist style that is rarely heard in Washington these days.
Reviewed on: 10/01/2004
Release date: 10/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 245 pages - 978-1-59558-124-2
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