Trade, Labor, and Politics

It’s true that globalization puts downward pressure on the wages of many workers — but progressives can offer a variety of responses to that pressure, whereas on the right, protectionism is all they’ve got.

.. Serious economic analysis has never supported the Panglossian view of trade as win-win for everyone that is popular in elite circles: growing trade can indeed hurt many people, and for the past few decades globalization has probably been, on net, a depressing force for the majority of U.S. workers.

.. In fact, many of the bad things we associate with globalization in America were political choices, not necessary consequences — and they didn’t happen in other advanced countries, even though those countries faced the same global forces we did.

.. Part of the answer is that workers in Denmark, two-thirds of whom are unionized, still have a lot of bargaining power. If U.S. corporations were able to use the threat of imports to smash unions, it was only because our political environment supported union-busting.