Free trade and Federalism

Discussion in 'Politics' started by 82Marine89, Jan 2, 2008.

  1. 82Marine89
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    82Marine89 Member

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    ARTICLE SYNOPSIS:

    Is federalism the solution both to the glut of toxic toys emanating from China and to the economic disaster visited upon American workers in the form of "free trade" agreements like NAFTA?

    Follow this link to the original source: "Toxic toys made in China have parents worried over what their kids might receive for Christmas."

    COMMENTARY:

    On Thursday before Christmas, Wisconsin Public Radio hosted Mr. Sachin Chheda, director of the Wisconsin Fair Trade Coalition, who discussed how America’s trade policy is to blame for the sale of unsafe Chinese toys. Mr. Chheda focused on a new report from Public Citizen entitled "Santa’s Sweatshop: 'Made in D.C.' with Bad Trade Policy, U.S. Toy Corporations' Greedy Offshoring Push Puts Kids at Risk." He mentioned how NAFTA promotes the off-shoring of toy manufacturing in order to cut costs and pull in large profits. By doing so, NAFTA ensures that these manufacturers cannot guarantee the safety of its products.

    When Joy Cardin, the host of the show, mentioned that Wisconsin State Representative Cory Mason recently announced that he would be introducing legislation restricting "the sale of toys and other products for children with unsafe levels of hazardous chemicals," Mr. Chheda commented that while he appreciated the Representative’s show of leadership, he questioned why an individual state would do this and suggested that it should be left to Congress to act upon.

    The states, however, should have a role. The Founding Fathers created a federal system of government rather than the traditional central government system favored elsewhere. In the latter, the central government stands over and above inferior governmental divisions at the regional and local levels. By contrast, the federal system created by the Founders established a national government with limited, defined powers and left all the rest to the states and the people, respectively. Exercising these powers, the people, acting through their state governments, have a legitimate role in regulating commerce within that state, even when the products sold in that state come from another nation.

    Objection may be made that the interstate commerce clause grants to Congress the power to "regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes." While this has been interpreted expansively in the 20th century as giving the federal government an expansive regulatory reach at the expense of the states, it was intended by the Founding Fathers largely to prevent one state from imposing onerous duties and tariffs on imports being transhipped across state lines, regardless of where those imports began their journey. James Madison pointed out in Federalist No. 42: "this power was the relief of the States which import and export through other States, from the improper contributions levied on them by the latter." Moreover, the expansive interpretations of the interstate commerce clause favored by statists run counter to the general thinking at the time of the founding of the nation amongst those political architechts who created the Constitution that the resulting government be carefully limited in its powers and jurisdicion.

    As the Constitution makes clear, the states retain those powers not expressly given to the federal government. Consequently, the states should be working on laws that deal with citizen protection from dangerous products, such as those imported from China. Indeed, it would be particularly useful for the entire nation if the states would do so. The resulting laws of each state would essentially spur competition among the states vying for citizens and businesses. States creating the better legal environment for each would be a model for other states to follow. Rather than leading to a large number of cumbersome laws that prevent businesses from operating, such competition between states would lead to a better environment for businesses in all states as those states with successful laws would be emulated over time by the other states.

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