elite mossbacks discover free trade is killing the middle class

Es­ti­mated reading time is 2 min­utes.

WHAT THE HELL’S A MOSSBACK? Head­line on to­day’s Cam­paign for Amer­i­ca’s Fu­ture web­site reads “Elites Dis­cover So-Called Free Trade Is Killing Economy, Middle Class” by Dave Johnson.This is dis­turbing if se­rious: the ed­i­tors at The New York Times have NOT “dis­cov­ered” anything!

These editors—mostly white, mostly older, mostly un­pro­gres­sive (syn­onyms in­clude but are not lim­ited to hide­bound, re­ac­tionary, and my fa­vorite, moss­backed) mostly male—have de­cided for some in­ex­plic­able reason to stop lying and tell their readers a sem­blance of the truth.

I use the word “truth” here to mean gen­uine facts (I’d ask the rhetor­ical ques­tion, “Are there any other kind?”, but I am afraid of the an­swers that I might re­ceive . . .) versus conservative/neo-liberal mis­in­for­ma­tion, dis­in­for­ma­tion, and plain old lies and damn lies! (Ju­dith Miller, where are you?)

Elite: Cartoon by John Darkow of The Columbia Daily Tribune.

Car­toon by John Darkow of The Co­lumbia Daily Tribune.

Mr. Johnson is ref­er­encing an ed­i­to­rial on the Sunday Re­view sec­tion of NYT from April 19,2014, ti­tled “This Time, Get Global Trade Right.” The ed­i­to­rial opens with this statement:

“Many Amer­i­cans have watched their neigh­bors lose good-paying jobs as their em­ployers sent their liveli­hoods to China. Over the last 20 years, the United States has lost nearly five mil­lion man­u­fac­turing jobs. In that same time, how­ever, the prices that Amer­i­cans pay for basic goods like T-shirts and tele­vi­sions have fallen. The cost of clothing is down 8.2% since 1993, as ‘made in China’ and ‘made in Bangladesh’ la­bels have crowded out ‘made in USA’ on the shelves of the local mall.

There is a na­tional am­biva­lence about our trade of goods and ser­vices with the rest of the world, which has more than dou­bled in the last two decades. Amer­i­cans want the ben­e­fits of trade, but they’re in­creas­ingly anx­ious about the down­side, which in­cludes closed fac­to­ries and lower wages. The country needs to pursue new trade agree­ments, but this time we need to get the agree­ments right.

This page has long ar­gued that re­moving bar­riers to trade ben­e­fits the economy and con­sumers, and some of those gains can be used to help the mi­nority of people who lose their jobs be­cause of in­creased im­ports. But those gains have not been as wide­spread as we hoped, and they have not been ad­e­quate to as­sist those who were harmed.”

There is no need to read the NYT piece, as Mr. Johnson quotes it ex­ten­sively in his ar­ticle. But, in­ter­ested readers should give it a read nonethe­less, as seeing the high muckety-mucks and decision-makers at the paper that brags that it de­livers “All the news that’s fit to print” (HA!) and whom the righties de­light in pil­lo­rying as a mouth­piece for lefties (HA HA HA!!!) acknowledge—even if only a wee bit—the error of their ways is a rare and note­worthy occasion.


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