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Intro Essay — Resolved: In matters of international trade, globalization ought to be valued above protectionism.

December 20, 2016
Published in Newsletter

In matters of international trade, globalization ought to be valued above protectionism.

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Bibliography

Affirmative Essay

Negative Essay

Introduction

This is a great LD topic — it’s pretty well worded, it’s incredibly timely, and it draws on a strong, two-sided controversy that has produced great debates for years.

In this essay, I will review some of the key terms, offer a bit of background, and discuss arguments on both sides of the topic. There are many, many good arguments — way more than you need to keep you occupied for a semester.

Key Terms

There are a number of terms and concepts in the resolution that are important to understand.

International trade.  International trade is simply the exchange of goods and services across international national borders.

Wikipedia, no date, International Trade, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_trade

International trade is the exchange of capital, goods, and services across international borders or territories. It is the exchange of goods and services among nations of the world

Protectionism.  Protectionism is “the theory or practice of shielding a country’s domestic industries from foreign competition by taxing imports.” (Google Definitions)

It can include other regulations that effectively reduce trade, or at least that make trade more difficult.

Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protectionism

In economics, protectionism is the economic policy of restraining trade between states (countries) through methods such as tariffs on imported goods, restrictive quotas, and a variety of other government regulations.

Investopedia offers a similar definition/explanation:

Protectionism refers to government actions and policies that restrict or restrain international trade, often done with the intent of protecting local businesses and jobs from foreign competition. Typical methods of protectionism are tariffs and quotas on imports and subsidies or tax cuts granted to local businesses. The primary objective of protectionism is to make local businesses or industries more competitive by increasing the price or restricting the quantity of imports entering the country. (Investopedia)

Globalization.  Globalization simply refers to global integration:

T.X.Hammes, August 2, 2016, The End of Globalization? The International Security Implications, http://warontherocks.com/2016/08/the-end-of-globalization-the-international-security-implications/ T.X. Hammes is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University in Washington, DC.

The Economist defines globalization as the “global integration of the movement of goods, capital and jobs.” The combination of labor cost advantages, efficient freight systems, and trade agreements fueled globalization by providing regional cost advantages for manufacturing. Over the last six decades, it transformed agricultural societies into industrial powerhouses.

Globalization can take other forms (cultural integration, for example), but in the context of the resolution (international trade), I think it makes sense to limit the discussion to economic globalization, which the above definition identifies. Here’s another definition:

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, May 6, 2014, Feminist Perspectives on Globalization, http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/feminism-globalization/   DOA: 1-1-2015

  1. What is Globalization?

1.1 Economic Globalization

Economic globalization refers to the processes of global economic integration that emerged in the late 20th century, fueled by neoliberal ideals. Rooted in classical liberal economic thought, neoliberalism claims that a largely unregulated capitalist economy embodies the ideal of free individual choice and maximizes economic efficiency and growth, technological progress, and distributive justice. Economic globalization is associated with particular global political and economic institutions, such as the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank, and specific neoliberal economic policies, such as the following:

  • Trade liberalization. Free trade policies, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), seek to integrate regional or global markets by reducing trade barriers among nations. Signatory countries typically agree to eliminate tariffs, such as duties and surcharges, as well as nontariff obstacles to trade, such as licensing regulations, quotas on imports, and subsidies to domestic producers.
  • Deregulation. Trade liberalization is associated with the easing of restrictions on capital flow and investment, along with the elimination of government regulations that can be seen as unfair barriers to trade, including legal protections for workers, consumers, and the environment.
  • Privatization of public assets. Economic globalization is marked by the sale of state-owned enterprises, goods, and services to private investors in the name of expanding markets and increasing efficiency. Such assets include banks, key industries, highways and railroads, power and electricity, education, and healthcare. Privatization often also involves the sale of publicly owned, economically exploitable natural resources, such as water, minerals, forests, and land, to private investors.
  • Elimination of social welfare programs. Neoliberalism favors sharp reductions in public expenditures for social services, such as housing, health care, education, and disability and unemployment insurance, as a crucial means of reducing the role of government and making private businesses more efficient. Structural Adjustment Policies (SAPs) have been instrumental in requiring countries in the global South to eliminate social welfare spending. Since the early 1980s, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund have required debtor nations to adopt SAPs as a condition of borrowing money or improving conditions of existing loans. SAPs require debtor nations to restructure their economies along neoliberal lines, by, for example, removing government regulation, eliminating social welfare programs, and promoting market competition.
  • Restrictions on immigration. While many countries have liberalized capital markets and eased barriers to transnational trade in goods and services under globalization, most have not eliminated barriers to the flow of labor. Indeed, some affluent countries, such as the United States, have implemented more restrictive immigration policies, leading to the detention and deportation of thousands of undocumented immigrants and the militarization of national borders. Despite these restrictions, however, migration has increased along with other processes of globalization.

Political philosophers are concerned with the effects of these policies on human well-being. Proponents of globalization claim that economic liberalization has enabled many people throughout the world to move out of conditions of dire poverty. Open markets, they argue, have increased employment and productivity within developing countries, raising the standard of living and enhancing the well-being of the people living within them (Diamandis and Kotler 2012, Friedman 2012, Micklethwait and Wooldridge 2000, O’Neil 2013). Critics point out that neoliberal policies have created the widest gap between the very rich and very poor in history, with unprecedented wealth for the rich and poverty and destitution for millions of the global poor (Nikiforuk 2007, Pogge 2002). On the whole, they argue, globalization has benefitted the world’s wealthiest people—both citizens of the global North and the elite in developing countries—without substantially benefitting the majority of the world’s population.

Feminist philosophers insist that economic globalization must also be understood in terms of the effects it has had on women, who make up a disproportionate percentage of the global poor. Most agree that these effects have been primarily negative. For instance, Jaggar argues that globalization has promised many things that are crucial to feminists: peace, prosperity, social justice, environmental protection, the elimination of racism and ethnocentrism, and, of course, an increase in the status of women. However, neoliberal policies have brought about the opposite of these aspirations. Rather than peace, they have created conditions for war and increased militarism; rather than prosperity and social justice, they have increased the gulf between the rich and the poor; rather than environmental protection, they have led to the privatization and destruction of publicly-owned natural resources; and rather than eliminating racist, ethnocentric, and sexist barriers, globalization has been, ultimately, “a system hostile or antagonistic to women” (Jaggar 2001, 301).

That definition both gives you additional background and starts to flush out what the debate will be about: Should this globalization be restricted through trade protectionism?

Ought.  Debaters often interpret “ought” to mean a moral obligation.  This seems silly since if I say, “I ought to go have a drink at the bar,” that hardly suggests a moral obligation to have a drink, but since this is L-D, there will be some pressure to debate this as a moral question, and the word “value” appears in the resolution.  That said, of course, morality can be determined either by a deontological or a utilitarian calculus, and extreme deontological positions (we should act morally even if it means we will all die) are not very persuasive, so I suspect most of your debates will be about two things —

(a) Is globalization generally good or bad?

(b) Should we adopt protectionist measures to reduce globalization?

These questions are related, but they are not the same question. Why? Because one could conclude that globalization is bad but that protectionist measures are even worse than globalization. Similarly, if globalization is good, there are then two arguments as to why globalization is bad — (1) general arguments against it, (2) problems of protectionism.

Affirmative debaters need to win both that globalization is both generally good and that protectionism is bad. Negative teams need to win that globalization is bad and that protection is the best way to constrain globalization.

Lack of an actor/perspective. I think it is worth pointing out that the resolution doesn’t have an actor or give any indicator of whose value perspective the decision could come from. Why do I say this? Because it is easy to argue that China has benefitted from globalization but that it has hurt the US middle class.  I’l leave you to think about this more.

With this basic understanding of the resolution, let’s look at the status quo and why this is an interesting topic.

Why is this an interesting and timely topic? What is the status quo with regards to globalization and protectionism?

This is an interesting and timely topic because in June, UK voters, through a popular referendum, decided to leave the European Union (EU).  This is known as Brexit (British exit).  Although Brexit was supported by a narrow majority, it was supported because Brits thought (rightly or wrongly) that membership in the EU was against their interests, particularly their economic interests, and that integration was continuing to undermine the middle class.

Similarly, Donald Trump ran on an economic nationalist (and arguably racist) platform that, at the very least, includes threats to reduce trade and get “better deals” for the US. This is the same logic that supported the Brexit — that the US needs to reduce its global integration to produce its own economic integration, particularly the welfare of the middle class that was arguably harmed by integration.

These highly visible trends represent growing opposition to globalization:

Associated Press, December 16, 2016, Globalization took hits in 2016; will 2017 lead to more? http://www.foxnews.com/world/2016/12/16/globalization-took-hits-in-2016-will-2017-lead-to-more.html

2016 was the year when globalization, the path that the world economy has largely followed for decades, took some hefty blows. The election of Donald Trump as U.S. president and Britain’s decision to leave the European Union have raised questions over the future of tariff-free trade and companies’ freedom to move production to lower-cost countries. Borders are back in vogue. Economic nationalism is paying political dividends. “We want our country back” was the rallying cry of those backing Brexit. A sound bite that had echoes in Trump’s “Make America great again.”

As soon as Trump was elected he moved to protect jobs in the US by threatening Carrier with a loss of government contracts and then helped it with subsidies (well, Mike Pence, the Governor of Indiana (the plant is located in Indiana):

Guian McKee is an associate professor at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center of Public Affairs. He is the author of “The Problem of Jobs: Liberalism, Race, and Deindustrialization in Philadelphia” and is working on a book about the rise of the health-care economy in American cities after World War II. December 1, 2016, US News, Don’t Underestimate the Implications of the Carrier Deal, http://www.usnews.com/opinion/op-ed/articles/2016-12-01/dont-underestimate-the-implications-of-donald-trumps-carrier-deal

The Carrier decision aligns perfectly with another early development in the Trump transition: the effort to publicly reposition chief strategist Steve Bannon. Bannon’s appointment has been widely criticized because of his willingness to align Breitbart News with the white nationalists of the emergent (although not really new) alt-right. In recent interviews and profiles, however, Bannon and his associates have sought to rebrand him as an economic nationalist opposed to globalization. Untenable though it may be, such an agenda lines up well with the Carrier agreement and its celebration on Trump’s victory tour.

In particular, reports that Trump threatened Carrier’s parent company, United Technologies, with the loss of valuable defense contracts suggests the potential emergence of an aggressive economic nationalist strategy.

Whether the economic nationalists within the nascent Trump administration will actually win out against the other factions competing for influence remains unclear. The presence of former Goldman Sachs investment bankers such as Treasury Secretary-nominee Steven Mnuchin suggests there will be strong opposition to such policies within the administration.

But the Carrier agreement remains the only concrete indication that we currently have of the potential focus of the Trump presidency. And even if the economic nationalist approach loses out to Wall Street interests, symbolic politics such as Carrier will provide a degree of populist cover for the president.

During the campaign, journalist Salena Zito observed that the political and media establishment took Trump “literally, but not seriously,” while his core supporters took him “seriously, but not literally.”

The Carrier agreement suggests that in any given policy area, until we have evidence otherwise, we would be wise to take Trump both seriously and literally.

Trump recently tapped UC Irvine professor Peter Navarro, who supports protectionist measures, to lead the office of the new National Trade Council.

“The formation of the National Trade Council further demonstrates the President-elect’s determination to make American manufacturing great again and to provide every American the opportunity to work in a decent job at a decent wage,” the transition office said in a news release. “Navarro is a visionary economist and will develop trade policies that shrink our trade deficit, expand our growth, and help stop the exodus of jobs from our shores.”

The new office will advise Trump on trade negotiation strategies and work to boost domestic manufacturing and defense jobs. Its creation will almost surely cut the influence of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, which has traditionally had authority over trade negotiations.

Navarro has long been a critic of China and its trade relationship with the United States. He has written books on the subject and created a documentary film titled, “DEATH BY CHINA: How America lost its manufacturing base.”…

Alongside Wilbur Ross, Trump’s pick for Commerce secretary, Navarro penned a white paper in September that backed the president-elect’s pledge to label China a currency manipulator and said that most of the trade deals America has entered into “must be renegotiated.” The paper also promised Trump would reduce the U.S. trade deficit by boosting exports, reducing “cheap imports” from countries like China and Mexico and promoting “Made in America” policies. [Politico]

Similarly, there is opposition emerging to globalization in other parts of Europe. This opposition is led by similar candidates — white individuals campaigning on platforms similar Trump’s and the Brexit platform — anti-trade, anti-immigrant, anti-minority. In some cases, there are blatantly racist candidates running for office.  Protectionism is increasing globally:

T.X.Hammes, August 2, 2016, The End of Globalization? The International Security Implications, http://warontherocks.com/2016/08/the-end-of-globalization-the-international-security-implications/ T.X. Hammes is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University in Washington, DC.

Other factors are slowing globalization. First, protectionism is growing. Since 2008, more than 3,500 protectionist measures and administrative requirements have been instituted globally. More governments are required to purchase locally produced products, even if they are much more expensive than imported alternatives. As robotics, artificial intelligence, and 3D printing eliminate jobs, the political pressure for protectionism will rise. To prevent dumping, nations are already raising import duties. Political campaigns in the United States and Europe reveal the growing popular opposition to international trade treaties. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton both oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Its Atlantic counterpart, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, is still being negotiated but faces growing political opposition on both sides of the Atlantic and may have been dealt a fatal blow by the Brexit vote.

And independent of these new political trends, more protectionist measures have been recently adopted:

According to the World Trade Organization, international trade this year will grow at its slowest pace since 2007. In 2015, Global Trade Alert, an independent trade-monitoring group, cited at least 644 discriminatory trade measures imposed by the G20 economies with the U.S. at the forefront. Imports among the world’s 20 largest economies have fallen as a share of their gross domestic product for four consecutive years [Harvard Business Review, October]

Given these political winds, the status quo find growing opposition to economic globalization.  Will such opposition take the form of limited protectionism or a full-scale global trade conflict? That is one thing both sides will want to debate about.  It seems to me that Affirmative debaters must argue for no protectionist measures and Negative debaters will want to argue for limited measures that slow globalization enough to stem the harms without advocating a full-scale trade war or reversal of integration that could wreck the global economy. That’s a delicate balance to keep, but Negative debaters will try to do it. In fact, some argue it is the way that China was able to absorb the benefits of globalization without experiencing the harms:

Dani Rodrik, Spring 2012, This article is adapted from the author’s book The Globalization Paradox: Democracy and the World Economy, Norton, 2011,America’s Quarterly, “Global Poverty Amid Plenty: Getting Globalization Right,” http://americasquarterly.org/rodrik DOA: 1-1-15 Dani Rodrik is Rafiq Hariri Professor of International Political Economy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

China’s experience offers compelling evidence that globalization can be a great boon for poor nations. Yet it also presents the strongest argument against the reigning orthodoxy in globalization, which emphasizes financial globalization and deep integration through the World Trade Organization (WTO). China’s ability to shield itself from the global economy proved critical to its efforts to build a modern industrial base, which would in turn be leveraged through world markets. Since 1978, income per capita in China has grown at an average rate of 8.3 percent per annum—a rate that implies a doubling of incomes every nine years. Thanks to this rapid economic growth, between 1981 and 2008 the poverty rate in China (the percent of the population below the $1.25-a-day poverty line) fell from 84 percent to 13 percent, much of it from reducing rural poverty.5 This meant a whopping 662 million fewer Chinese in extreme poverty, a number that accounts for virtually the entire drop in global poverty over the same period. During the same period, China transformed itself from near autarky to the most feared competitor on world markets. That this happened in a country with a complete lack of private property rights (until recently) and run by the Communist Party only deepens the mystery. China’s big break came when Deng Xiaoping and other post-Mao leaders decided to trust markets instead of central planning. But their real genius lay in their recognition that the market-supporting institutions they built, most of which were sorely lacking at the time, would have to possess distinctly Chinese characteristics. China’s economy was predominantly rural in 1978. A Western-trained economist would have recommended abolishing central planning and removing all price controls. Yet without a central plan urban workers would have been deprived of their cheap rations and the government of an important source of revenue, resulting in masses of disgruntled workers in the cities and the risk of hyperinflation. The Chinese solution to this conundrum was to graft a market system on top of the plan. Communes were abolished and family farming restored, but land remained state property. Obligatory grain deliveries at controlled prices were kept in place, but once farmers had fulfilled their state quota they were now free to sell their surplus at market-determined prices. This dual-track regime gave farmers market-based incentives and yet did not deprive the state of revenue nor deprive urban workers of cheap food.6 Agricultural productivity rose sharply, setting off the first phase of China’s post-1978 growth. Another challenge was how to provide a semblance of property rights when the state remained the ultimate owner of all property. Privatization would have been the conventional route, but it was ruled out by the Chinese Communist Party’s ideology. Once again, an innovation came to the rescue. Township and village enterprises (TVEs) proved remarkably adept at stimulating domestic private investment. They were owned not by private entities or the central government, but by local governments (townships or villages). TVEs produced virtually the full gamut of products, everything from consumer goods to capital goods, and spearheaded Chinese economic growth from the mid-1980s until the mid-1990s. The key to the success of TVEs was the self-interest of local governments, which would reap substantial income from their equity stake in the enterprises. China’s strategy to open its economy to the world also diverged from received theory. The Chinese leadership resisted the conventional advice to remove trade barriers. Such an action would have forced many state enterprises to close without doing much to stimulate new investments in industrial activities. Employment and economic growth would have suffered, threatening social stability. The Chinese decided to experiment with alternative mechanisms that would not create too much pressure on existing industrial structures. While state trading monopolies were dismantled relatively early (starting in the late 1970s), what took their place was a complex and highly restrictive set of tariffs, nontariff barriers and licenses restricting imports. These were not substantially relaxed until the early 1990s. In particular, China relied on Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to generate exports and attract foreign investment. Enterprises in these zones operated under different rules than those that applied in the rest of the country; they had access to better infrastructure and could import inputs duty free. The SEZs generated incentives for export-oriented investments without pulling the rug out from under state enterprises. What fueled China’s growth, along with these institutional innovations, was a dramatic productive transformation. The Chinese economy latched on to advanced, high-productivity products that no one would expect a poor, labor-abundant country to produce, let alone export. By the end of the 1990s, China’s export portfolio resembled that of a country with an income-per-capita level at least three times higher than China’s.7 Foreign investors played a key role in the evolution of China’s industries. They created the most productive firms, introduced new technology to the economy, and became the drivers of the export boom. The SEZs, where foreign producers could operate with good infrastructure and with a minimum of hassles, deserve considerable credit. But if China welcomed foreign companies, it always did so with the objective of fostering domestic capabilities. It used a number of policies to ensure that technology transfer would take place and that strong domestic players would emerge. Early on, they relied predominantly on state-owned national champions. Later, the government used a variety of incentives and disincentives to foster joint ventures with domestic firms (as in mobile phones and computers) and expand local content (as in autos). Cities and provinces were given substantial freedoms to fashion their own policies of stimulation and support, which led to the creation of industrial clusters in Shanghai, Shenzhen, Hangzhou, and elsewhere.8 Many of these early policies would have run afoul of WTO rules that ban export subsidies and prohibit discrimination in favor of domestic firms—if China had been a member of the organization. Chinese policy makers were not constrained by any external rules in their conduct of trade and industrial policies and could act freely to promote industrialization. By the time China did join the WTO, in 2001, it had had created a strong industrial base, much of which did not need protection or nurturing. China substantially reduced its tariffs in preparation for WTO membership, bringing them down from the high levels of the early 1990s (averaging around 40 percent) to single digits in 2001. Many other industrial policies were also phased out. However, China was not yet ready to let the push and pull of global markets determine the fate of its industries. It began to rely increasingly on a competitive exchange rate to effectively subsidize these industries. By intervening in currency markets and keeping short-term capital flows out, the government prevented its currency (renminbi) from appreciating, which would have been the natural consequence of China’s rapid economic growth. Explicit industrial policies gave way to an implicit industrial policy conducted by way of currency policy. Asia’s economic experience violates stereotypes and yet offers something for everyone. In effect, it acts as a reflecting pool for the biases of the observer. If you think unleashing markets is the best way to foster economic development, you will find plenty of evidence for that. If you think markets need the firm, commanding hand of the government, well, there is much evidence for that too.

This is also true in the environmental area — sometimes trade restrictions are needed to protect the environment.

Washington Times, October 6, 2014, “Economic Globalization Boosts Asia, bogs down US Middle Class,” http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/oct/6/economic-globalization-boosts-asia-bogs-down-us-mi/?page=all DOA: 1-2-14

Some environmental activists complain that the global trading system, as embodied in the WTO, favors free trade at the expense of environmental protection. But WTO rules place no restraints on the ability of a member government to impose any environmental regulations determined to be necessary to protect its own environment from domestically produced or imported products. Article XX of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade 1994, the basic charter of the WTO, plainly states that members may impose trade restrictions “necessary to protect human, animal, or plant health.” The Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement of the Uruguay Round does require that such restrictions be based on sound scientific evidence—a commonsense requirement necessary to discourage the use of health and safety issues as a cover for protectionism. If WTO members are found to be in violation of their commitments, they remain free as sovereign nations to simply ignore any adverse WTO rulings against domestic regulations that impact trade. A prominent example is the European Union’s ban on the sale of beef from cattle treated with growth hormones. The EU has repeatedly lost in the WTO, but it has no plans to lift its ban, even though it has produced no scientifically sound evidence that the banned beef poses any hazard to public health. The United States retaliated against the EU in May 1999 by imposing sanctions on $ 117 million worth of imports from Europe, but retaliation as a weapon of trade disputes existed long before the WTO. Antitrade environmental activists complain that several decisions by the WTO have undercut U.S. environmental regulations. In the so-called Shrimp-Turtle case, the WTO ruled against a U.S. ban on shrimp from countries the United States judged were not adequately protecting sea turtles from being caught and killed in shrimp nets. In an earlier, similar case, the WTO had ruled against a U.S. ban on tuna from Mexico that the United States claims was caught through a process that endangers dolphins. Environmental critics of the WTO point to these two cases as proof of their claim. In both these cases, however, the United States remains free to simply ignore the WTO ruling and continue enforcing the law as is. The affected nations could in theory retaliate with trade restrictions of their own if the United States refuses to comply, but that option would always exist even if the WTO did not. And in the case of the Shrimp- Turtle decision, it was not the law itself that ran afoul of WTO rules but the discriminatory way the United States went about implementing it, for example giving Latin American suppliers more time than Asian suppliers to comply with the law.

Thinking ahead, I think a strong Negative argument will be one with nuance — We shouldn’t abandon globalization, but we shouldn’t value it over protectionism because the only way to make it sustainable and avoid a nationalist political backlash is to use protectionist measures to moderate it and prevent it from increasing inequality and poverty. 

In the next section, I will review the Affirmative arguments and then in the final essay I’ll review the Negative arguments.

Research Note

While the general Affirmative and Negative arguments related to the topic will be discussed here, it is worth noting that back files related to the Transpacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Agreement (TTIP) are relevant because they represent trade and economic globalization. And the first agreement Trump said he would not carry forward is the TTP.

Anabel Gonzalez, October 24, 2016, Huffington Post, Trade Agreements Under Attack: Can they be salvaged and is it worth it? http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anabel-gonzalez/trade-agreements-under-at_b_12619314.html

Part of the current anti-globalization backlash in advanced countries takes the form of opposition to trade agreements. Presidential candidates in the United States have come out against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), with one of them promising to renegotiate the long-standing North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA); negotiations on the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Agreement (TTIP) have been suspended, among other reasons to minimize the risk that resistance may impact elections in some European countries; and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is on edge on the decision of the regional parliament of small Wallonia, Brussels, to oppose an European Union-wide agreement with like-minded, friendly Canada.

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Affirmative Essay  Negative Essay

…..

Some concluding thoughts

(1) Globalization has reduced poverty abroad and has improved overall economic growth and lowered the price of goods in the US. At the same time, however, it has displaced, at least temporarily, some middle class workers who have not been able to obtain new jobs.

It is by now well-known that the period from the mid-1980s to today has been the period of the greatest reshuffle of personal incomes since the Industrial Revolution. It’s also the first time that global inequality has declined in the past two hundred years. The “winners” were the middle and upper classes of the relatively poor Asian countries and the global top 1%. The (relative) “losers” were the people in the lower and middle parts of rich countries’ income distributions, according to detailed household surveys data from more than 100 countries between 1988 and 2008, put together and analyzed by Christoph Lakner and myself, as well as my book Global Inequality: A New Approach for the Age of Globalization, which includes updated information to 2011. [Harvard Business Review]

(2) I think smart and strategic Affirmative cases will preempt major negative arguments, arguing, for example, that free trade reduces prices an benefits consumers, that protectionism will create disruptions/shocks that dislocate more workers, and that the only way to really project workers would be to put tariffs on all countries, causing a global trade war.

(3) For the Pro, I think the argument that there is a net reduction in extreme poverty is a very strong one, especially since the resolution doesn’t specify from what country or group of people globalization is supposed to be valued from.

(4) Negative debaters are going to need to be a bit crafty in defining protectionism. If they have to defend all protectionism, including 45% tariffs, they are going to have to beat against arguments that they destroy the global economy. This won’t be easy.

To counter that, they are going to argue for more moderate definitions of protectionism that focus on ‘fair trade.’ What is “fair trade?” Well, that’s the problem. Precisely how to maintain trade/capture the benefits of it while avoiding the harms to protectionism is a difficult needle to thread, but Negative debaters that can do it will win because (a) they’ll be able to articulate that any Affirmative preempts against protectionism are bad and (b) that they can capture the benefits of trade without causing the disadvantages. Goldilocks J

 

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