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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Galbraith on Trade

Anyone interested in the intra-progressive debate on trade policy should check out Jamie Galbraith’s new piece at the American Prospect site, which takes apart much of the neo-populist argument for trade restrictions or strict bilateral labor and environment conditions on trade agreements as a panacea for the downside of globalization. To make a long story short, Galbraith thinks that it’s entirely possible to combine strong domestic wage supports and corporate regulation with a relatively laissez-faire attitude towards overseas labor conditions that we can’t really dictate and that only tangentially affect trade patterns to begin with. And in an especially interesting twist, given Galbraith’s impeccably liberal background, he argues that globalization has actually made a regimen of dramatic, European-style domestic economic and social improvements possible by all but abolishing inflation. Galbraith also engages in a follow-up exchange with EPI’s Jeff Faux, long an advocate of making all trade contingent on vastly higher overseas wage rates–i.e., of massively restricting trade, as an evil in itself.

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