Social Protectionism

Max Sawicky sawicky at
Tue Mar 14 11:55:37 PST 2000

Social clauses will strengthen the WTO by giving it the appearance of legitimacy. More concretely, Clinton has said he will allow social protections only in the context of increased trade liberalization. So whatever gains are made for labor and the environment will be offset by a renewed drive for liberalization. It's like treating an illness by aggravating the underlying condition. Ted

Now you're confusing me. Are you for trade liberalization or not? If you oppose the social clause, you grease the skids for more liberalization. If you throw up your hands at the WTO debate and say a plague on both your houses, you ratify the existing power imbalance in favor of free trade (a.k.a. imperialism). Then you could go and organize squatters on the Lower East Side against Capitalism and console yourself that you have remained pure. Meanwhile the WTO keeps rollin' along.

Presumably you would be against trade in a product that, say, required the severed pinkies of 100 babies to produce. (If not, you may skip this part of the questionnaire and go directly to Cntrl-D.)

So the question is what are reasonable restrictions on trade. What conditions are intolerable. And who decides and how. If the decision is left to Patrick's World Congress of the Unelected, that defaults to the WTO's favor, as above.

You seem to be characterizing the problem as that liberalization cancels out social protection, so getting more of one always brings more of the other, resulting in no net gain. This sounds like a Law of Political Futility. It could be true. Things could be hopeless. One thing is certain: if we all think that way, we will fulfill our own prophecy.

cheers, mbs

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