Sunday, September 7, 2008

On Obama's "Fair Trade" Policy

Consider this scenario. You go to a shop, choose a quality product and decide that the price is fair. You bring it to the cashier.

The cashier tells you: "sir, I'm sorry, but you cannot buy this item."
Perplexed, you ask why. She responds: "your street neighbors got together yesterday and decided that you cannot have this choice of product anymore."
Even more stunned, you say: "I don't understand..." She replies: "sir, this merchandise comes from a country that does not respect what your neighbors consider to be adequate environmental standards, so they determined that you don't have the right to buy it."
You argue: "but I don't have any problem with their standards and, as long as I know, the product was made in accordance to its own country's environmental standards..."
She answers: "yes sir, however it really doesn't matter; it's not your choice anymore; it's your neighbors' choice."

Wouldn't that conversation make you feel like you have just entered an old episode of "The Twilight Zone"? However, that's exactly what is at the core of Obama's "fair trade" proposal, as seen in his campaign web site: “Obama … will use trade agreements to spread good labor and environmental standards around the world and stand firm against agreements like the Central American Free Trade Agreement that fail to live up to those important benchmarks.”

It’s hard for me to believe that Obama not only wants to impose his or his voters' standards on other nations, but worse, to restrict our freedom of choice while doing that.

I'm not saying that we should be forced to buy from countries we dislike. We are all free to not buy from a country if we don’t want to. Nobody should have however the right to force other people to do the same.

I agree with Obama that we should exercise good judgment when trading with others. It’s however our own personal values and individual choices that should serve as our guide, not his or those of his voters.

No comments: