The hidden costs of NAFTA
The Tribune article “Your Big Mac up in air” in Wednesday’s paper about NAFTA was misleading because it didn’t give the whole story.
You can always make something cheaper somewhere in the world. So free trade can bring consumers the lowest prices possible; and, we are told, this will help American jobs by helping our export business.
There are two problems here that nobody wants to talk about.
When the U.S. loses jobs because we are buying something cheaper from somewhere else, not only do we lose the tax revenues from unemployed workers, we are also paying them while they are not working. This becomes a hidden tax. The cost of running government becomes higher, both through higher interest payments on government debt and the added expenses of more government assistance. Calls for higher taxes are then not associated with the costs to our society from lost jobs.
Relying on exports for jobs is foolish, because we are relying on other countries to do well so they can buy our goods before we can prosper.
Any increase in cost by taxing imports will, in the long run, be cheaper than the cost of lost jobs and increased government spending to compensate for it.
Oh, and don’t forget. Taxes on imports go to the government, so this should relieve the pressure of the government getting all its revenue from income taxes (as in, it can lower them).
— Larry Craig, Wilmette