Free Trade Is Plutocratic Propaganda

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Dark Bid

 Free Trade Is Plutocratic Propaganda

With the looming Trans-Pacific Partnership dominating the headlines, now is a good time to revisit an old scam called "free trade."

In 2003, Kevin Flanagan was an information technology employee at Bank of America. They told him he was being replaced with foreign labor, and he was ordered to train his replacement. After he completed his assignment, he was laid off. Then he went to the parking lot and shot himself.

That's "free trade."

Like The Ministry of Truth in George Orwell's 1984, sometimes, the most effective way to lie is to use the most innocent words. No word is more susceptible to propaganda-leveraging than "freedom." Attach that word to any concept, and all of a sudden, it's unassailable. That's exactly what happened with "free trade."

Proponents of free trade will often use the simplest analogies to convey their point, as if you were retarded. The reason they have to resort to such caveman illustrations is because free trade does not exist in the real world. There is no such thing as equality of bargaining power. If someone has ten million dollars and you have zero dollars, anything above zero is an "improvement" in your situation. The free trade economists will say this person with zero dollars is "free" to work for $1 per hour, and they will do so because it improves their situation. This is what "freedom" means to free trade economists.

If you doubt the free trade economists, they will call you a "protectionist," as if protecting your country's economy were some kind of grievous transgression. In fact, nothing is more American than shunning free trade nonsense.

Ian Fletcher calls free trade the myth of "cowboy capitalism." According to Fletcher, all four presidents on Mt. Rushmore were protectionists. The entire American Revolution was fought because the colonists were tired of being economically exploited by the British. Alexander Hamilton realized that British dominance in manufacturing and American reliance on agriculture were dooming us to a banana republic future. The solution? Tariffs. By taxing British goods, the United States boosted its manufacturing industry. By 1820, tariffs were at 40%.

Abraham Lincoln said, "Give us a protective tariff, and we will have the greatest nation on earth."

One of the fascinating parts of this history is that the South was opposed to protectionism. They wanted free trade. Why? Because free trade was necessary for the international slave trade from Africa to the United States.

Fast forward to 1994. That's when the North American Free Trade Agreement was enacted. The result was nothing less than the wholesale destruction of the American manufacturing industry. And where did these displaced workers go? In the 1990s, 98% of all net new jobs created were in the service industry, which has lower wages.

This is what free trade looks like. I love the smell of freedom in the morning.


Manufacturing Employees

One doesn't have to look hard to find free trade evangelists in the corporate world. Apple, the world's largest company, is also the largest example of how free trade is a game of heads I win, tails you lose. Only 5.6% of Apple workers are in the United States. There are 43,000 Apple employees in the country and 20,000 employees overseas. However, Apple is nothing without its global suppliers, where 700,000 workers make the next round of flashy gizmos that nobody needs anyway. These suppliers should be included in the worker count because they are directly involved in the manufacturing process.

In February 2011, President Obama asked Steve Jobs, "Why can't that work come home?" Despite having the last name of "Jobs," Steve Jobs made it clear that he didn't care about jobs. He only cared about money. He said, "Those jobs aren't coming back."

In 1983, Jobs used patriotism when it was convenient for him. He called the Macintosh, "a machine that is made in America." Later, he said, "I'm as proud of the factory as I am of the computer." But by 2004, patriotism gave way to profits, and Apple became an American company in name only. It relied on foreign manufacturing.

Betsey Stevenson, former chief economist at the Labor Department, said, "Companies once felt an obligation to support American workers, even when it wasn't the best financial choice. That's disappeared. Profits and efficiency have trumped generosity."

Of course, Apple falls back on the timeless corporate lie that American workers are not skilled enough. One anonymous Apple executive said, "We shouldn't be criticized for using Chinese workers. The U.S. has stopped producing people with the skills we need." They were skilled enough before NAFTA, but after NAFTA, all of a sudden, they all forgot how to do their jobs. It's funny how that amnesia works. Now, for every two American college graduates with degrees in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics, only one of them is hired into a job in their field. Sounds like a real skills shortage.

Alan Blinder, a professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton and a former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, said, "Contrary to conventional wisdom, the more offshorable occupations are not low-end jobs, whether measured by wages or by education. The correlation between skill and offshorability is almost zero."

The anonymous Apple executive made it clear that Apple was really a country to itself and did not care about jobs or social effects, "We sell iPhones in over a hundred countries. We don't have an obligation to solve America's problems."

Manufacturing analysts estimate that if Apple paid Americans to build iPhones, it would cost an extra $65 per iPhone. With hundreds of dollars of profits per phone, Apple would still be profitable.

While Obama asked Steve Jobs about bringing jobs back to America, the Apple executives had their own suggestions. They wanted more visas so they could bring in more foreign workers. They wanted a tax holiday so they could bring back some of their overseas profits at no cost. They wanted government funding to train American workers. Notice a pattern here? They want to exploit government assistance so they can maximize their profits, which would boost their stock options. On and on it goes.

You may be familiar with the term "corporate raider" from the 1980s, but what is happening now is on a scale much larger than that. It is "country raiding." Entire countries are being exploited and saddled with the burden of supporting multi-national behemoths who tell you that your very demise is actually your greatest freedom. Some Americans are catching on to this scam and are actually leaving the country in pursuit of opportunity. Imagine that: leaving America for economic reasons. Ellis Island has been flipped on its head. "Give me your tired and your poor" has been replaced with "Let's GTFO!"

As Zero Hedge reported, in the first quarter of 2015, a record number of Americans renounced their citizenship.


One expatriate, Emily Matchar, described her experience, "After applying for 279 jobs over two years, my husband finally got the offer he'd been hoping for: a well-paid position teaching philosophy at a respected university. We should have been thrilled. There was just one little thing. The job was in Hong Kong. My husband said, "I feel like we're being deported from our own country."

Meanwhile, in China, Apple continues to thrive on its masses of slave labor. Like the antebellum South, Apple supports free trade because it makes their slave labor possible. Foxconn, Apple's major supplier, is located in Shenzhen. Do you know how they keep their unemployment rate down? If you are a migrant worker who has been unemployed for more than 3 months, it is illegal to rent housing. So you can either be homeless or leave. I'm sure the people at the Bureau of Labor Statistics would love a policy like this in the United States. Then they wouldn't have to bend over backwards to goal-seek all their employment data to conform to the official "recovery" story line. If you're not unemployed in Shenzhen, you're probably getting beaten by Foxconn security or jumping off buildings to escape your miserable existence.

So you can imagine my level of trust when President Obama says this time will be different. He called the Trans-Pacific Partnership "the most progressive trade deal in history." And yet he doesn't want to tell us anything about it. With NAFTA, 5 million American manufacturing jobs were lost, and 57,000 factories shut down. What will the Trans-Pacific Partnership do? It's like a sequel to a movie that was terrible in the first place.

Obama visited Nike's headquarters as part of his political rally. One of the high-quality jobs at Nike is held by a 32-year-old mother in Indonesia who processes 100 shoes per hour for 83 cents. I'm sure she is a free trade supporter.

After awhile, you start to realize that the people who love free trade so much are economic hacks and the uber-rich. They use sterilized language and hollow arguments to convince you of the positive ideals of free trade. In all honesty, it's a great theory. It really is. But then the moment you start believing it, they start working in all sorts of exceptions - usually for themselves. Before you know it, you're an unemployed American or a Chinese slave at Foxconn. And the uber-rich are in the Bahamas laughing about it, thanking the economists for playing along with the story.

One thing is for sure: The Founding Fathers would have never put up with this bullshit. Neither should you

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gwar5's picture

If Obama is for TPP then  it is very bad for people. Obama is a sociopath. Little wonder the details are top secret, even from members of congress who are supposed to vote on it. 


CH1's picture

Statist tripe.

Hint: The state is your abuser, not your savior, and arguing (endlessly) over how it should use violence for the good is ridiculous.

remain calm's picture

If obama wants it, then it ain't good for you. If obama doesn't want it then it's good for you. He is a fucking liar.

TeamDepends's picture

It is now obvious that TPP will work in conjunction with Jade Helm to attempt the final takedown of America. Hope and change.

New England Patriot's picture

If a company can pay a Vietnamese worker less than an American worker for the same product, I don't begrudge the company that advantage.


If that worker is a slave, or if there are untold economic costs to shipping all of a nation's jobs overseas, then there are other factors to consider than simply the price of a wage.


But I'm not opposed to foreign workers competing against American workers. 


Is that what the free trade discussion is about?

7.62x54r's picture

What gets me is that the guy actually complied with his superior's orders, and then quietly offed himself.

He should have locked down everything he was in charge of, emptied his desk, and walked off.

If the company wants help from him after that to run shit and train a foriegn replacement, his fees should start at $1000 per hour for consulting.

Rico's picture

From his perspective (presumably before he decided to off himself) if he did what you suggested, then he would be quitting - thus no unemployment and he would not get a letter of recommendation from his employer so his chances of getting another job in his field would have been severly limited...I hear what you are saying, but the practical realities of what his choices were are not what we all automatically assume....

jefferson32's picture

TPP, NAFTA, etc. have as much to do with free trade as "liberalism" has to do with liberty. These are just words, used to divide through collective identification. Free trade doesn't need several hundred-page "agreements". Just repeal the violence carried out against people who are trading. NAFTA, TPP are about favoring corporatist oligopolies through more regulatory capture. Please don't be fooled, the State is not there to protect you.

MonetaryApostate's picture

The fear of Job Loss is > Patriotism & Honesty

spooz's picture

So, bacially, you say "hell yeah, sacrifice the middle class lifestyles in this country so multinational corporate profits can be maximized".  A sutainable economy should have a plan for how its citizens can earn living wages, and if it doesn't, eventually there will be a civil unrest which leads to instability and revolution.  

But, perhaps even more concerning, from what we know from leaks about the highly secretive Trans Pacific Parnership (TPP), US citizens would be giving up the rights of our (theoretically) democratically elected government to regulate working conditions, the environment, intellectual property, product safety (including toxic foods and poisonous air/water) in our country, handing it over to multinational corporations, to a corportely controlled world government that is unaccountable to sovereigns.

New England Patriot's picture

I say a corporation should be free to hire workers at the lowest wage at which those workers are willing to do the job. 


An economy doesn't have a "plan;" an economy is a living collection of producers and consumers. Civil unrest and revolution are symptoms of imbalances in a real economy.


I still feel like I'm missing something, because what libertarian is not for "free trade?" It seems as though "free trade" in the case of the TPP is really code for all sorts of statist "anti-trade" policies, but the details about those policies are sparse. 

spooz's picture

What you fail to see is that the "living collection of consumers" lose the ability to consume when their wages are driven down by multinational wage arbitrage, and the whole system falls apart.

And the statism of the TPP is globalist totalitarianism rule by oligarchs at the expense of sovereign states. It seeks to fill the void left by loss of national sovereignty.  The idealized libertarian "free trade" is a myth to be exploited by corporatists who would see us as global worker units, to be subjugated to the by powerful elites.

Oh regional Indian's picture

Actually, the answer usually lies one level abstracted from the playing field.

They, as in they, never give names casually, announce dates casually or any such thing. This is a highly choreographed drama with every set piece named and identified.

So yes, it is free trade, but to whom?

Trade is free when you do not have to recognize borders and/or tarrifs. Ergo, supranational entities.

United Nations, IMF, World Bank. (edit, to add to this list City of London, Vatican, DC and Switzerland and thus the BIS.)

That is the end game...unless...

Meanwhile: 19

WillyGroper's picture

>>>>>Alexander Hamilton realized that British dominance in manufacturing and American reliance on agriculture were dooming us to a banana republic future.

One of the original traiters.

He needs to be dug up & shot again.

The author has no grasp of history.

N3mo's picture

Aaron Burr was 10 years too late.

TuPhat's picture

You are quite right Willy.  I quit reading when he stated that  the civil war was caused by the South wanting free trade to import slaves.  The civil war was not about slavery.  The south had very little manufacturing and wanted to import cheap manufactured goods from Britain and pay for them by exporting ag products.  The north enacted a high tarrif on goods from europe and high taxes on ag products.  The goal was to keep the south in perpetual poverty and servitude to the north.  The south revolted.  This author only knows .gov disinformation.

Icelandicsaga...............................................'s picture

Set the comments on the South aside.. the rest of the piece had some good stuff.. find the nuggets reject the dross.

HowdyDoody's picture

Secret courts, secret evidence, secret committees, secret laws, secret treaties. That's an nice democracy you have there.

Kirk2NCC1701's picture

Welcome to FEUDALISM 2.0

Where the 1.0 version was a National game, 2.0 is the Global Game.

And where individual banks participated in American Capitalism (funded real capital at first,  and later provided fiat Debt), only the largest players (TBTF) participate in 2.0 -- with the liquidity backing (Reacharound) from its CB (the private bankster cartel).

And that's the NWO: one country and global region at a time.

Real Estate Geek's picture

Sounds like someone wants a one-way trip to a black site.

JenkinsLane's picture

Obama is a front man for the US oligarchy, as was GW Bush, Clinton & Reagan. Daddy Bush on the other hand was actually part of the oligarchy.


junction's picture

It is not just the USA workers who were hurt by NAFTA.  Three million farm laborers in Mexico lost their jobs 20 years ago thanks to Mexican companies importing cheaper subsidized American corn.  Carlos Slim, now one of the world's richest men, made his fortune from buying most of the Mexican government telephone monopoly on credit and then charging high call rates to the Mexican expatriates in the USA, forced to leave a Mexico wrecked by President Carlos Salinas and his drug peddling associates.  Obama is just a darker version of Salinas, whose brother arranged the killing of their main political opponent (a crime which Mexico is delaying the prosecution of, especially with PRI now in charge).  Obama also has a secret "kill list" to bump off his enemies, from Michael Hastings to talkative Navy SEALs to even Joan Rivers (you don't believe that story about her botched medical procedure, do you, right after Joan made fun of Michelle, calling her a "tranny").

g speed's picture

If you want power you have to do murder--plain and simple ---most people are nice and won't do murder--some people just murder for fun and get nowhere---some murder for power -they become powerful--you have to murder with a purpose-- just saying--If you want to take power from the powerful you have to murder the powerful--history is full of those lessons--

GRDguy's picture

From NYtimes today: "President Obama is aggressively courting Republicans and Democrats to grant him accelerated power . . ."  That's the way it is with sociopaths; there's never enough power to get more OPM (Other People's Money).  But they fly so high on it.  And the masses keep giving it to them.

Oldwood's picture

But we have always "given it to them".

Yes, we have been lied to and manipulated forever. Seriously...forever. For the entire history of humanity.

WE gave away our jobs. WE bought the foreign made crap...and we knew what we were doing.

Yes they lied and said we could have it all....and we believed them.

It is amazing that we have been manipulated, tricked and lied to forever and even still, we feel robbed while simultaneously resent being treated as sheep. The offer of "something for nothing" has never failed to sell. We will watch it once again with this latest atrocity. We will line up to suckle at the poisonous tit. Easier than putting out poison for the coyotes.


booboo's picture

"One of the fascinating parts of this history is that the South was opposed to protectionism. They wanted free trade. Why? Because free trade was necessary for the international slave trade from Africa to the United States"

Really? It was that simple? Kinda like that "freedom" word, can't argue that point because we are retarded?

ATM's picture

Wasn't the importation of slaves into the USA abolished in 1807?

kowalli's picture

no, only in somewhere near 1900...

TuPhat's picture

Idiot Kowalli, March 2 1807 is when the law was enacted to prohibit the importation of slaves.  You have something in common with the author of this article, no knowledge of history.

Urban Redneck's picture

Because American slave manufacturers didn't want to compete with low cost African slave manufacturers.

teslaberry's picture

yes it is that simple. 


that is the complex reality of 'free trade'. someone always benefits more than another party from any state of affairs. history is a dynamic IM-balance of winners and losers. 


the civil war was about economic systems vying for dominance over one another. it just so happens that one was fully dependent on cheap labor, as much as is the TPP. 


is the TPP wrong? i don't know is slavery wrong? is ultra cheap unregulated labor wrong?

shades of gray or black and white?


ebworthen's picture

TPTB are interested in whatever enriches them and hurts the individual. 

That's it.  The rest is talk.

seabiscuit's picture

Seriously,  does anyone think that it is actually Obama pulling the strings? Obama is an errand boy, sent by grocery clerks, to collect a bill.

The central issue here is what this is actually doing to US - and tacitly to other nation states is that these secretive agreements are transforming our (former) rule of law into a corporatist amusement park where the serfs will have no recourse. Good thing that we have a choice of red team or blue team. I for one cannot wait to take my country back. <sigh>

HowdyDoody's picture

Oligarchy - the ultimate Free Shit Army.

MonetaryApostate's picture

No offense HowdyDoody, but ain't nothing free bro, they be stealin our laborz, and I know cuz uncle Tom told me so...

Bagbalm's picture

Kevin should have at least done us the favor of taking his boss along if he was exiting.

Dearlydeparted's picture

'Kevin should have at least done us the favor of taking his boss along if he was exiting.'


Indeed, too bad he didn't.

cheech_wizard's picture

I know, doesn't it strike you odd that people don't turn around and off the person that ordered the end of their livelihood?


Conax's picture

People can be laid off and desperate and still pay heed to their inner moral compass.

They have always worked, played by the rules and have acquitted themselves admirably all their lives. Killing themselves is one thing, doing murder over anger is another.

They just feel hopeless, without a future.  Killing the old boss won't fix the situation, it would only bring condemnation and shame on the family name.  In anguish, they off themselves.


sgt_doom's picture

You are right, of course.

I was one of those on the chat board who spoke with Kevin during his last six months as a living person.

Others advised him to look for work during the six months he was training his replacement droid, while I mentioned to him I was the type of person who would have told them to shove it and walked out.

(BofA shittards threatened him with no reference, or a bad reference, if he didn't train his replacement.  But under the law, once you know a corporation plans to lay you off, you can leave and file for unemployment.  Something which many have us had never filed for as there use to be more work to be found, however low-level, while today finding any work is a major undertaking!

ebworthen's picture

They do, it's called "going Postal" here in the States.

Nice explanation Conax.

random999's picture

Well I was just about to point that out myself.

And well, if free trade is a reason why banksters kill themselfs, lets have moar of it!

Icelandicsaga...............................................'s picture

You have to take down the whole system . his boss is one more cog who probably got axed a few months later. The SYSTEM that has evolved since the 80s in particular is at fault ..not one bank or one individual ..

TeethVillage88s's picture

Yes the complexity and interdependence is stunning.

Central power seems to be in VICHY DC and VICHY Wall Street... if not VICHY London Bankers.

Trust in Leaders, Free Trade Treaties, and a headless corporate system seems very odd. I think people have natural trust if their parents give it to them when they are young. They also learn to trust the system and our patriarchs.

Leaderless Samuri - Ronin must be all over the USA though.

How can Power be so obviously corrupt and moving in dangerous directions with few questioning the trust they put in people they never even met.

Last of the Middle Class's picture

Free Trade, NAFTA, Right to work, Affordable Healthcare Act, If you don't know the link you need to go back to skool. always, ALWAYS name the bill something warm and fuzzy then your political cronies write the guts of it.  Been going on a long long time.

strangewalk's picture

Yes and now there's free organ transplants--in China that is--lots of Falun Gong, Uyghurs, Tibetans and House Christians for outsourcing:

Achilles Heel's picture
Achilles Heel (not verified) May 10, 2015 12:24 PM

"After applying for 279 jobs over two years, my husband finally got the offer he'd been hoping for: a well-paid position teaching philosophy at a respected university"


Well now, there's someone who will surely be a contributer to society! Congrats on taking the job in the exact moment that your 99 weeks ran out.

CoastalCowboy's picture

Congratulations for you both as deserve to celebrate this.

My longest known friend applied for 250+ jobs before he blew his brains out with a .357 magnum. I still miss him.