If you are anything like me and seek out American-made clothes, are disgusted by the cheap picture frames, flimsy plastic toys and poorly made kitchen cookware that doesn’t last more than a year, you may welcome the idea of a Trump Presidency when he continuously talks about equalizing the trade deficit between the U.S. and overseas markets. My ears perk up when I hear Donald Trump speaking about eliminating the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) and blaming NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) for American jobs going over seas and elsewhere. I relish the idea of manufacturing coming back to the states and returning this country back to greatness. However, these same high ideals that bring much hope for America-made goods and jobs, also bring with it, a lot of concern.
Ease of Trade
We are dependent on cheap goods, and it’s a direct result of bringing equalization to the world market by undervaluing products made in other countries. Making trade easier for these countries that want to bring products to America is a noble cause, and in theory it would raise the standard of living and bring better living conditions to those workers in China, for example. As this may be happening to some small extent, it’s also lowering the standard for many of us living in America by eliminating jobs here, and further provides incentives to U.S. firms that send their factories overseas, while still making a lot of money for these corporations that have relocated. As a business owner, this makes a lot of sense, and where Donald Trump has benefited, it also makes him very knowledgeable about trade.
In addition to taking advantage of lower wages and having to pay additional benefits, like social security, foreign owned companies (under these Trade Agreements) are allowed to build manufacturing plants right here in America with little regard to our environmental regulations, nor do they pay fees (taxes) that an American company would otherwise be required to pay. Trade tariffs that American businesses pay to sell goods overseas are not the same for foreign companies selling in America, and in some cases, totally non existent for those coming to America. It’s no wonder companies like Carrier are relocating to Mexico. Chinese businessmen are buying up American companies for this very reason. The playing field is far from being equal.
No Pain, No Gain
A Trump Presidency will eliminate these backroom deals that Donald Trump, himself, has called stupid. He states that these foreign countries have been brilliant at the negotiating table, and our leaders have been foolish. These ideals to “even out the playing field” have good intentions, for who wouldn’t want people in third-world countries to make more money, and have better living conditions. This is what the Fair Trade Movement is all about…bringing goods to market that assure safe working conditions and protecting natural resources all while still making money. It’s what true sustainability represents.
Our government has done a poor job of creating sustainability for America, however, and we’ve been enjoying this free trade for too long. Under a Trump Presidency it will be painful. America, under a Trump Presidency will have to go through a cheap market de-tox, and it will not be very comfortable. You think people are angry, now! Stores like Tuesday Morning and Kohl’s and Target will have empty shelves. Shipping will come to a halt, and truck drivers will run out of boxes to bring to the distribution warehouses, which also, slowly will become empty. Oh sure, we are all for a Greater America; more jobs, less foreign influences and dependencies…but, we don’t want to suffer, or feel any pain.
The free market that we currently enjoy will see some dramatic changes under a Trump Presidency, and it’s time to start preparing. Not all is hopeless and dire, if we start practicing responsible shopping and thinking about self-sufficiency, today. Prepare by buying less, but buy with intention. Select clothes that are timeless in design and durable. Wash your clothes less often, and think twice before something is thrown away just because there is a newer model on the self. Take your tools to a repair shop for sharpening, and your boots to a cobbler for re-soling. Find a seamstress to repair a tear, and support local businesses, farmers markets and second-hand stores.
America under a Trump Presidency will be difficult only if we insist that “life as we know it” must remain the same. Adapt, by making changes now. Start a garden, and begin to purchase fresh food locally, and when in season. Importing food from Mexico and from overseas may be in limited supplies. Purchase goods that you need, and refrain from buying on impulse. Again, think about the clothes you love, and the inexpensive disposable furniture we see on the market every year. These may be the biggest changes that we see, or don’t see, available in stores.
America has a lot going for her, for we have people ready to work, and a marketplace ready to buy. We have an infrastructure, however, that is in dire need of repair that more manufacturing coming back to America will drive these improvements, AND create more jobs…again, we have a work force ready to work. We have people that are up for the challenge!
A Trump Presidency may just help to create a Lifestyle in Sustainability a little bit easier.