No Free Dessert

Feb 6, 2008

"The Hill" reports today:

…this week a group of businesses wrote congressional leaders pleading for more support to block a 'private arrangement' between the sugar industries of the United States and Mexico that basically ignores the requirements of the North American Free Trade Agreement." In the letter, the American Beverage Association, Business Roundtable, Grocery Manufacturers Association and US Chamber of Commerce wrote: "The sugar industry is the most highly protected US agricultural industry and has already won major additional protection in the pending farm bill, as well as an increase in their government-guaranteed price." The current proposal, they added, "threatens to undermine trade liberalizations that have been achieved, as well as threatening trade-liberalizing efforts in the future."

While the overwhelming majority of Americans benefit from global engagement, one of the biggest arguments we hear about trade restrictions is that they are necessary to protect American jobs; but let’s look at the larger cost to America’s workers and families.

"The Washington-based Institute for International Economics has assembled data that might help with the answer. Tariffs and quotas on imported sugar saved 2,261 jobs during the 1990s. As a result of those restrictions, the average household pays $21 more per year for sugar. The total cost, nationally, sums to $826,000 for each job saved. Trade restrictions on luggage saved 226 jobs and cost consumers $1.2 million in higher prices for each job saved."

America’s booming exports support hundreds of thousands of high-paying American jobs. Isolationist policies rob our workers of business opportunities and reduce family income by raising prices on almost everything we buy and use every day.  Once again we are reminded that there is no free lunch, or in this case no free dessert.

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