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When free trade isn't free

guest column

If you check the tag on the inside of your favorite shirt, you may very well read that it was manufactured in Thailand. Your car might have come from Mexico. Your smartphone was most likely produced in Japan or South Korea by Samsung. People often don’t think about the origins of the products they use on a daily basis, nor what went on behind the scenes in order to have that product imported to the United States; the long hours in crammed spaces that the factory workers endured for little pay, the export of pollution that comes along with the numerous boat rides and truck rides that the item was transported on, or the over 100,000 synthetic chemicals that are used in the production system that jeopardizes the health of the consumer. 

How many of us actually stop to question if a certain item was made with respect to the environment, to the workers that made it, and with the consumer's well being in mind? Most of us just go with the cheapest item or the one that looks the best. Globalization is the driving force behind much of this rat race between companies to create more economic profit, even if it means cutting ethical corners. Globalization has become a mainstay in the United States and the world abroad. It is important to have trading lanes open with other countries, but large-scale trade agreements like ones similar to the TPP and NAFTA need to be met with intense scrutiny. These trade agreements pose more of a detrimental effect to the United States economy and its citizens than any possible benefits could justify. Almost all of these deals leave America with a disadvantage while only serving to the benefit of other countries. 

In recent days it has become increasingly apparent that the Trans-Pacific Partnership, one of the prides of the Obama administration, will not pass through the lame duck Congress. While this should be great news to every American, it is still essential that future trade agreements are investigated more thoroughly and are ensured to have the American consumer’s best interests in mind as well as the environment. Deals such as TPP will only further hurt an already struggling United States economy and workforce. 

It is the duty of the American government to protect its citizens and the passing of disadvantageous trade agreements goes against this very logic. This is why it is of utter importance to stay out of such agreements unless it can be absolutely determined that the United States will be better off for entering one with these countries. Just as how it's important to look at a company's values and corporate responsibility when purchasing something and look beyond the sale signs and low price tags, it's important to look past the bright, flashy word "free" that comes with free trade to realize that free trade is not in fact, free.

Brittany Amano is a Trinity freshman.

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