Wednesday, June 1, 2016
We really need to stop gnawing on lead painted window sills
Like most people I have many reservations about presidential candidate Donald Trump, but I must concede that he has brought some much needed attention to issues that have been quietly ignored for years.
Specifically I'm talking about the trade agreements we have with other countries that are loaded with one-way concessions....they win, we lose. Too often we're just opening our wallets and saying, "Here, take what you want." Are we dopes or what?
Example: The US has signed many "open skies" agreements with other countries, allowing airlines to fly to and from cities in the US from cities in the other airline's host country (British Airways/London-NY-London, Air France/Paris-Atlanta-Paris, Delta/Washington-Amsterdam-Washington, etc). One requirement is a rather vague statement that says the airlines involved "stipulate certain degrees of labor protections". This should theoretically stimulate fair competition, which is a good thing.
Enter Norwegian Airlines. They are already a "low cost carrier" similar to Southwest and JetBlue....no harm in that, I say. But now Norwegian has set up an ultra-low-cost subsidiary (Norwegian Shuttle) in Ireland *RED FLAG* that will be using Asian (most likely Thai) flight crews on flights in and out of the US.
Norwegian's rationale in simple: Ireland is a low-corporate-tax nation, and they have very liberal labor laws that allow using foreign employees who will work for much lower wages. This is a loophole that you could drive....er....fly, a 737 through! And our trade negotiators couldn't see this coming? DOH!
There are two ways to look at this: If you're a squeaky cheap traveler wanting to get to Europe and back as cheaply as possible, you'll have no problem with the idea of bare bones flights with bargain basement crews, but if you're a US airline employee, you know the pressure will soon be on you to work cheaper if you want to keep your job.
Haven't we learned already that sending jobs overseas will help corporate bottom lines, but at devastating expense to American workers? Sure, Walmart prices are cheap, which is good since that's about all formerly well paid US workers can now afford. If we keep making stupid deals like this, we'll all eventually do nothing but flip burgers and give each other haircuts.
No, I don't want to overpay for jeans or a flashlight or an air conditioner, but I'm willing to pay a bit more to not have to throw American workers under the bus. Trade agreements that will competitively open up markets for US and other countries products are good. But trade agreements that are rigged from the get-go against us, HELL NO!
To me this isn't a liberal / conservative, Democrat / Republican issue, but just common sense.