The Choice

Preface

Now that you have read “The Choice”, watched the video, and read the textbook, you should have an opinion about free trade vs. protectionism. Mr. Roberts makes an excellent case for free trade. The US–for much of its history–pursued a protectionist policy (consider subsidies and tariffs) toward trade (as most nations still do); and yet became a very wealthy nation and shifted towards free trade over time. Our more recent past has pursued a policy more focused on free trade resulting in globalization (a loss of sovereignty and dependency on other nations, interconnectedness), and also resulting in exactly what Mr. Roberts said would happen: lower prices on almost everything but loss of industries and jobs (textiles, steel, etc.) requiring job retraining. This is history in a very brief summary–there’s so much more to it.

Consider this: Who knows what the Berry Amendment is? It requires the Department of Defense to give preference in procurement to domestically produced, manufactured, or home-grown products, most notably food, clothing, fabrics, and specialty metals. Congress originally passed domestic source restrictions as part of the 1941 Fifth Supplemental DOD Appropriations Act in order to protect the domestic industrial base in the time of war. Because what would happen if there was a war and we had no steel production, no textile production, no medicine production (I could go on) in the US? Add that to what happened just this spring with CoVid-19–regarding concerns about so many medications made overseas and not in the US (speed to market becomes an issue for sure).

In 2013, the US military began issuing athletic footwear to personnel. But could they find enough athletic footwear compliant with the Berry Amendment? No. Instead, they issued an allowance to personnel to purchase their own footwear. Hmmm…makes you think, right?

The US eliminated most quotas in 2008. Many countries said that they would pursue free trade, too. And yet, the US finds it difficult to export to certain countries, even when we have something they don’t have due to their trade barriers (think “comparative advantage”, right?). Our trade deficit is still very unbalanced. But we do make stuff, right? President Trump…oh, yes, I’m going there!…has stated that he wants trade to be more fair, that we have given (in the form of jobs to other countries–think textiles, steel, and more–just like in “The Choice”). We have embraced free trade and globalization while other nations haven’t. Many people think that’s not fair, that free trade only works when everyone participates in free trade. Are they right? President Trump says that now it is time to raise tariffs, particularly against China. This is quite a change of policy! And retailers and industry organizations are going nuts! It isn’t just that it will raise prices if it ever actually comes to fruition. If it raises prices enough, businesses that went overseas may find it less expensive to produce in the US (re-shoring). Already many companies have begun diversifying their sourcing matrix. We now have factories owned by Chinese companies being built in the US (even before President Trump said he wanted to increase tariffs on China).

This is a very emotional subject but we are going to try to be objective and think carefully. As you can tell, I currently am not convinced one way or the other; your job is to convince me and your classmates what is best. As a consumer, I don’t want prices to rise, but as an American I want things to be fair. And unemployment was the lowest it’s ever been–that’s good. But thanks to some strange virus at whose mercy we seem to be, unemployment is going up. Just a few months ago, companies in the US were adding new kinds of benefits in order to get the best employees because the pool of available talent was so small. Remember that the price of apparel hasn’t risen since the 1970’s; in fact, it’s cheaper than ever.

Things have changed a bit since last fall, haven’t they?

 

Assignment: Protectionism or Free Trade? Please post this at least a few days before the due date.

I need you to convince me and your classmates what is best for America and the American consumer. I truly believe that you could go either way on this issue and find plenty of support which is accurate. There might even be middle ground despite the rhetoric. Remember, what’s best for the US may or may not be best for the US consumer at this moment in time. When we think of the US, we must think of the whole nation and the future. If you are objective, unemotional, considerate, use facts, and build a case carefully, then no matter what your opinion is, you will do fine. But I want you to “be brief, be bright, be done”.

Here’s what to do:

Part 1: Post–Find A Current Article

Last names A-L: every student needs to find one excellent article which takes the side that free trade is best and protectionism is wrong for the US. It needs to use facts to support the opinion.

Last names M-Z: every student needs to find one excellent article which takes the side that protectionism is best (or some forms) and free trade is wrong for the US.

Now, the truth is, most articles are not this right/wrong, polar opposites; they are a mix. That’s ok. I know that. While looking this up online, I found some articles with excellent information and not much opinion. If you find one of those, you are welcome to include it, too, as additional support. Try to stay away from articles which only define the situation.
Some recent history, particularly about our trade relationship with China right now would be helpful.
Search words to use might be: US trade deficit with China, tariffs, US vs. China, retailers, Covid19, scarcity, and tariffs…that should get you started.
Post the article in it’s entirety with the link–copy the words and paste, then include the link at the end. I don’t want to click around. Good resources might be WWD, WSJ, Sourcing Journal Online, and more.

Once you have posted, you will be able to see everyone else’s post.

Part 2: Reply–Analysis, Critique and My Opinion

We now have an amazing selection of articles to choose from. Scan them and find a couple which you find interesting or cause you to react.

1. Select one article that you agree with and begin the reply:

Be sure to begin the reply with “I agree with…”.
Explain why you agree–what specifically do you agree with. 1-3 sentences or points maximum.
Find 2 facts stated in the article posted. Are they true? Look it up. Tell us. Usually, there are several facts given which are intended to sway the reader to the side of the writer (they may even evoke a “whoa” response). Check at least 2 facts. Tell us what source you used to verify each fact.
Extrapolate from the article: if we did what the writer suggests, then what would happen in a few years? What will be the positive or negative effects if we follow this policy? For example, if the price of clothing rises, would people buy less clothing, thus helping global sustainability?
What do you think about all this?

2. Start a new reply. Select one article that you disagree with:

Be sure to begin the reply with “I disagree with…”.
Explain why you disagree–what specifically do you agree with. 3-5 sentences or points maximum.
Find 2 facts stated in the article posted. Are they true? Look it up. Tell us. Usually, there are several facts given which are intended to sway the reader to the side of the writer (they may even evoke a “whoa” response). Check at least 2 facts. Tell us what source you used to verify each fact.
Extrapolate from the article: if we did what the writer suggests, then what would happen in a few years? What will be the positive or negative effects if we follow this policy? For example, if the price of clothing rises, would people buy less clothing, thus helping global sustainability?

Summary of Requirements:

You must post first to see the other posts.
Post one article.
Post 2 replies minimum (after completing the requirements of the discussion, feel free to comment on other posts if you feel motivated). Let’s have some fun with this and show the world we can be smart and objective!
Be sure to explain and justify your position intelligently, logically and thoughtfully, using objectivity and courtesy instead of emotion.
If you refer to a source other than those given in the assignment, use APA style for citations.
Be brief (make your points and explanations), be bright, be done. Remember, you are not agreeing or disagreeing with a student but with the writer of the article!

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