R. Hemingway: The free trade debacles

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Retired Sen. Olympia Snowe deserves the public’s thanks for her position on foreign trade. The senator was not in favor of NAFTA or several of the “free trade” debacles that followed.

She witnessed the negative effects of free-trade agreements on American jobs. American corporations shut down operations here in the U.S., and then opened the same in Third World countries where labor is paid in cents per hour, workers are not respected or valued, money spent on protecting the environment is not a factor and many companies are illegally subsidized by those governments.

Foreign trade has been a race to the bottom ever since President Ronald Reagan opened the floodgates in the 1980s by pushing the American shoe industry overseas with the promise of economic benefit to average Americans.

Guess what? Those Nikes made over there still cost $80 over here. The corporations benefited by exploiting labor and the environment.

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Snowe understood the devastation “free trade” brought to America and the benefit that “fair trade” could bring.

I hope that Sen. Angus King stands his ground against free trade.

Sen. Susan Collins is weak on trade, but did a great job on the paper-dumping issue when she testified for sanctions against the Chinese and Indonesian governments for illegally dumping heavily subsidized paper on the American markets.

And, of course, Rep. Mike Michaud not only supports fair trade, but is a champion of the fight against the free-trade agreements that threaten to send even more American jobs overseas.

Ron Hemingway, Dixfield

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