Trade strategy must balance public and private interests
Donald J. Boudreaux makes an excellent point in his Nov. 20 Opinion piece, "Want world peace? Support free trade." Free trade, in theory, works marvelously at averting war and conflict. However, if we are serious about world peace, we must advocate for a system of fair trade designed to raise worldwide living standards, environmental protection, and workers' rights.
I respectfully disagree with the author's notion that openness to trade inherently leads to "economic freedom." Has this freedom and prosperity been achieved by Americans who have lost their jobs to corporate outsourcing? Deals such as NAFTA and CAFTA have resulted in job displacement and depressed wages.
It would also be wise to consider the perverse effects of special interests on the policymaking process in our country, especially in matters of trade.
It should be no surprise that Democrats, in response to these trends, are taking a more protectionist stance. The approach is shortsighted, but framing these complex issues in a typical "support free trade, it's good for you" mantra leaves much to be desired, as well. Unfettered market capitalism is not the "end all, be all." Ultimately, both political parties share responsibility for the failure to deliver a comprehensive US trade strategy that balances public and private interests. The current system sells us short, and we need a fresh approach. To truly achieve peace, the world needs a global New Deal.
Regarding Donald J. Boudreaux's Nov. 20 Opinion piece in support of free trade: What about free trade of labor? Everyone talks about free trade, but we still have protection of domestic labor. I can't sell my time in a foreign country, nor can foreigners sell their time in the US. If the markets are really going to be opened up, then there should no longer be work visas. If corporations get free trade, shouldn't individuals get that as well?
Dialogue can mend interreligious rifts
I was delighted to read the Nov. 27 article, "US works to bridge its Muslim trust gap." Bridging this gap is one step that we can take to avoid the "clash of the civilizations." Monotheistic religions believe in one God, and we are all children of God. Dialogue is the best policy to resolve any misconceptions among religions.
The Nov. 20 article, "A note to the travel industry: Who are you calling 'over the hill,' " caught my eye. I read a few of the travel brochures to which the writer refers. But I use them only for ideas. Otherwise, I "plan" my own travel, sans reservations, and I usually go alone. Staying in lower- or lowest-price accommodations gives me access to interesting people all over the world. I've stayed in the four- and five-star hotels where no one speaks except the gracious help; and I've stayed in hostels and camped where everyone speaks to one another.
I just camped in Yellowstone near a UN military attaché and a retired Scottish fisherman and his family. That evening around the campfire beat any fancy bar in a five-star hotel. Inexpensive accommodations also let me stay longer and meet even more interesting people. As for age, you're as old as you think you are. I rode my bicycle, unsupported, across the US when I was 57 and 58, and I worked as a park ranger when I was 60. So leave your diamonds, your attitudes, and your backyard at home, and go for it.
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