Effects of Free Trade/Safety Net

The effect of free trade policies that result in outsourcing and loss of American jobs does not create a moral imperative to have public policies [a safety net] put in place to help those who have lost their jobs. This is the view of Steven. E. Lundsburg, What to Expect When You’re Free Trading. NY Times op ed 1/16/2008. He writes, “if the world owes you compensation for enduring the downside of trade, what do you owe the world for enjoying the upside.” He feels that lower prices for goods due to free trade policies trump other values. These would include the moral values that IPPA espouses.

It is widely accepted that we have, through evolution, an inborn sense that helps us make moral choices involving what we consider right and wrong. Most of us act as though there is “the right thing to do” in any given situation. We help accident victims, protect children from harm, feed the hungry and try to live lives that don’t harm others. These are not always clear cut decisions but in general our inborn and culturally molded moral sense directs us toward sympathetic action. Lundsburg ignores the fact that there are competitive moral imperatives that rely on ethical values other than only material profit/loss. Based on the values of fairness, empathy and compassion, we have an obligation to help disadvantaged workers with societally promoted governmental and non-governmental programs to provide temporary assistance such as extended unemployment insurance, food stamps and health insurance, and retraining/education for reentry into the workforce. Some forms of these opportunities emerge in the private, non-profit sphere, such as food banks and free clinics. With such help, once again affected people can enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

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