Unfair global competition / by kevin murray

Americans pride themselves on their ability to compete against other comparable companies, and feel for the most part that competition is beneficial not only for the end users of the products, themselves, but also benefits those corporations, for, as they say, iron sharpens iron.  However, it is one thing to compete domestically against other domestic companies, in which, even that competition, may have inherent advantages depending upon location, labor conditions, materials, taxes, and so on and so forth; whereas it is an entirely different proposition to compete against global companies that are headquartered outside the United States, and are not subject to the same laws.


For instance, the United States has all sorts of laws, rules and regulations, in regards to different industries, of which, these laws, rules and regulations, cover such things as the environment, so that companies are not permitted to just dump their chemicals into rivers or streams, or endlessly pollute the skies and so on.  Additionally, companies are required or obligated to provide some sort of health benefit to their employees, once they reach a size of fifty full time employees or more.  So too, there are Federal as well as State laws, which stipulate how many hours of labor a given person is permitted to work on a given day, or a given week, before overtime pay becomes mandated.  Also, those of a certain age, such as teenagers have specific rules that apply to the hours and the amount of hours that they are legally permitted to work, in addition to their being Federal as well as State minimum wage laws.  Also, while unions have been in steady decline in America for the last few decades, unions, with the exception of a few industries, are permitted within America, which helps provide those that labor with a seat at the negotiation table with management.  Finally, the currency of any country, can be manipulated by government officials in order for the goods of a certain country to become cheaper to the export market, as well as some governments in order to be internationally competitive work hand-in-glove with the domestic corporations that are exporting goods as a team.


All of the above, indicates that domestic companies in certain industries, are often not going to be competitive against global companies, simply because their domestic labor costs and their health costs, as well as their environmental regulations, and so on, are materially more expensive than these other companies, and no matter how hard these domestic companies work on being even more efficient and effective, the ground that they have to cover is just too much for them.  In a free trade world, perhaps this is considered to be ideal, of which the consumers are thereupon able to benefit from getting lower cost goods or services, of which even if this is true, what is lost in the translation, is that it doesn't make sense that certain countries are compelled to pay a minimum wage or a living wage, and are compelled to provide health insurance, as well as abiding with environmental laws, whereas other global companies are not compelled to do any of these things.  So that, what has occurred, in effect, is that the exploitation of labor, and the abuse of the environment have essentially been exported to other countries, while consumers blithely purchase the services and goods imported into this country as if the playing field is level, when it clearly is not.


If, it is important that laborers receive a living wage, and further that the environment is dealt with in a responsible and sustainable way, then it would seem to indicate that products and services, the world over, should be appropriately designated as being in conformance with these attributes, so that, those that procure those services and products, will, at a minimum, know which side their dollars are supporting.