The Instigator
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The Contender
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Free Trade

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/17/2016 Category: Economics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 771 times Debate No: 98186
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (3)
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I am taking the position against free trade. Burden of proof is shared equally.

Pro may begin their argument in round 1 if they wish, but I ask that they waive round 4 since I am not using round 1 for debate, in order to keep the rounds used for debate equal. In round 4, if you use round 1 for debate, you should say something like "I am waiving this round as agreed upon".
Otherwise, you could use round 1 for acceptance, agreement of definitions, and a brief overview of your position, but no arguments, and then you can use round 4 for debate.

It's up to you whether you want to start the debate in round 1 or 2 of course.

Free Trade is defined as "international trade left to its natural course without tariffs, quotas, or other restrictions." [1]



I will be waiving this first round as agreed upon.
Debate Round No. 1


The first objection I have to free trade is that we are trading with countries which use slavery and child labor. There are over 45 million slaves in the world still today[1] and China and India are countries with some of the most slaves today[2]. In addition, they both use child labor in production of their goods as well[3] They are countries we trade with substantially: from China we buy more than 30 billion dollars worth of goods every month[4] and 3 billion dollars worth of goods each month from India [5]. Much of this could have been created from slave labor and child labor, and because we are trading with them, it is essentially permitting them to use slave and child labor. I argue we should not trade with any countries that use abominable work practices such as slave and child labor.

The second biggest problem with free trade is that it hurts the jobs in America. While conservative-leaning economists argue that, in theory, "Imports mean lost jobs only if we pretend we can make here all the things we import, the same way and for the same price," the evidence in reality shows the contrary, and:

"Adjustment in local labor markets is remarkably slow, with wages and labor-force participation rates remaining depressed and unemployment rates remaining elevated for at least a full decade after the China trade shock commences. Exposed workers experience greater job churning and reduced lifetime income. At the national level, employment has fallen in U.S. industries more exposed to import competition...but offsetting employment gains in other industries have yet to materialize.

"The study shows that the affected industries and regions 'have been hit hard and have not recovered. Workers in these industries and regions don't go on to better jobs, or even similar jobs in different industries. Instead, they shuffle from low-paid job to low-paid job, never recovering the prosperity they had before Chinese competition hit. Many of them end up on welfare. This is very different from earlier decades, when workers who lost their jobs to import competition usually went into higher-productivity industries, to the benefit of almost everyone.'" [6]

There is evidence we have lost hundreds of thousands of jobs due to trade with Mexico and Korea as well and the promised jobs that were supposed to be created never happened[7] In another study conducted by Jeffrey D. Sachs and
Howard J. Shatz of Harvard University , it was found that trade has contributed to over the past 15 years, a "sharp decline of overall employment in manufacturing; the widening of the income inequality between high-skilled and low-skilled workers; and the especially sharp decline in employment in low skill manufacturing sectors" [8]

While there are some papers claiming there is no effect of free trade, or there is even a positive effect from free trade on our jobs, these all mostly rely on economic theory that has been proven through the above evidence I've listed, to be false.

Thus, because free trade with countries that use slave and child labor essentially doesn't do anything to get them to stop using slave and child labor(the countries that use them would be more likely to cut down on those practices if countries stopped trading with them) and that free trade has a negative effect on our jobs at home, I consider free trade to be disadvantageous to America. The only positive outcome from free trade is cheaper products, but if people are out of a job, they can't even afford the cheaper products anyways, as they are earning no money.



I will begin by attacking my opponents case. First I will begin by stating that one of the sources used by my opponent is fairly biased. EndSlaveryNow was a website used and it is obviously biased too make all their evidence sound like free trade is bad because of child slavery. So that entire contention falls just because of this biased source. Now to their 2nd argument which is that free trade hurts the jobs in america, but according to the US Chamber of Commerce, the increased trade brought about by the agreement has created 5 million jobs in America alone. This evidence shows that free trade is creating jobs unlike my opponent wants you too think.

So onto my 1st contention which is that free trade gives us access to lower priced goods. Free trade increases access to higher-quality, lower-priced goods. Cheaper imports, particularly from countries such as China and Mexico, have eased inflationary pressure in the United States.1 Prices are held down by more than 2 percent for every 1 percent share in the market by imports from low-income countries like China. This piece of evidence states that we are getting better goods for lower prices because of free trade. Free Trade is helping the U.S. get these goods for a much lower price then normal because there is no tariffs or taxes on the trade which helps the u.s substantially.

Now to my 2nd contention which is that it boosts the economy. After my last pieces of evidence that stated that free trade has created jobs and that it gives the U.S. goods for less; it is obvious that free trade helps our economy significantly. Free trade means more growth. At least half of US imports are not consumer goods; they are inputs for US-based producers, according to economists from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Freeing trade reduces imported-input costs, thus reducing businesses" production costs and promoting economic growth. Businesses' aren't having to pay as much to produce goods because of free trade. Free trade is giving the U.S. a great boost in it's economy because of the reasons I have stated in this contention.

Now to my third contention which is that free trade improves efficiency and innovation. Over time, free trade works with other market processes to shift workers and resources to more productive uses, allowing more efficient industries to thrive. The result is higher wages, investment in such things as infrastructure, and a more dynamic economy that continues to create new jobs and opportunities. According to the Washington Post the U.S. has seen an increase of about .96% to American wages. The efficiency and innovation being shown by free trade is substantial. Free trade is something that we must keep so these wages will keep going higher and so efficiency and innovation can continue to be improved.

So it is for these reasons that I strongly stand in firm affirmation for free trade.

Debate Round No. 2


I'll begin by defending against my opponent's attack: I'm not sure where my opponent got the idea that EndSlaveryNow is biased against free trade. It doesn't even have any positions on free trade and is only pointing out and trying to end slavery and child labor in the world. It doesn't have anything to say about free trade, which the voters will see if they go to the source [1] So it seems like this attack is unfounded, unless they can show that they have a bias against free trade somewhere else on the site, which I have yet to find any.

As for my opponent's attack on my claim that free trade hurts jobs in America and offered a rebuttal that the US chamber of commerce shows that free trade creates jobs, they didn't link to any source for this claim, so it can't be verified. I did try looking for it through a google search, with "US chamber of commerce, jobs and free trade" but I can't find a specific source that confirms the 5 million number my opponent suggests. In addition, since it's a lobbying group not owned by the government, it would be more biased than the scientific study that I linked to, and probably can't be trusted either way. The source I linked to for the jobs lost is the researchgate source, source number 8 above. You'll need to press on "download" to view it once you've clicked on the link.

As for my opponents first and second contentions, I've already conceded that free trade does leave to cheaper products, but at what cost? The reason they are cheaper is actually because those countries pay their workers hardly anything. As we can see here, workers in Mexico are paid significantly lower than in the United States, about 4 times as low.[2] In addition, I already pointed out how other countries use slave and child labor, this also reduces the cost of making the product, but is either really moral to do just for a cheaper product? Yes, products are cheaper with free trade, but we're buying them at the expense of other people in those countries: where they get paid hardly anything to survive off of, or they are not paid anything at all because they are slaves. I think a little bit of inflation is worth it in order to make sure morals are promoted and that workers are properly compensated for their work in other countries.

Sure it may help our economy, but we are profiting with a better economy through buying products that were created by people who were paid measly wages or no wage at all. Saying it's a good thing to improve the economy off of those circumstances is like saying it's okay to steal from someone else because it helps you out.

As for my opponents third contention, I again ask, at what cost are we getting more innovative and efficient? Again, it's happening because we are piggybacking off of slavery, child labor, and poorly-compensated workers of other nations. As for the idea that it raises wages, I would need to see your source, because there can be many other reasons for wages rising, such as minimum wage going up in various states. This source need to prove causation, and it can't just prove correlation, otherwise the wages easily could have been going up for other reasons. And once more, if it's true, it's happening because of what I said before: we're piggybacking off of slavery, child labor, and poorly-compensated workers of other nations.



I will begin by attacking my opponents case. All my opponents arguments against me is that it is morally unjust to buy from these countries that use underpaid workers. They haven't brought up any other type of argument that actually uses facts. They can only prove that other countries use underpaid workers. They also have stated that free trade helps our economy. Our economy is very important for America's success and without a booming economy our job numbers go down and prices go up. Do we really want our economy to be lowered cause we stopped trading with other countries? Now I am not saying that these countries use of underpaid workers is good, but we have to look at our economy first. Free trade as I have stated before creates jobs and helps lower trade prices. My opponent argued that he could't find my chamber of commerce study online, but it's a credible source even if he can't find it himself.

Now onto my first contention which is Higher Standard of Living
The most compelling reason to support free trade is that society as a whole benefits from it. Free trade improves people's living standards because it allows them to consume higher quality goods at less expensive prices. In the 19th century, British economist David Ricardo showed that any nation that focuses on producing goods in which it has a comparative advantage will be able to get cheaper and better goods from other countries in return. As a result of the exchange, both trading parties gain from producing more efficiently and consuming higher quality goods and services at lower prices.

Trade between nations is the same as trade between people. Consider what the quality of life would be if each person had to produce absolutely everything that he or she consumed, such as food, clothing, cars, or home repairs. Compare that picture with life as it is now as individuals dedicate themselves to working on just one thing--for example, insurance sales--to earn a salary with which they can freely purchase food, a car, a home, clothing, and anything else they wish at higher quality and lower prices than if they had done it themselves.

It simply makes sense for each person to work at what he or she does best and to buy the rest. As a nation, the United States exports in order to purchase imports that other nations produce more skillfully and cheaply. Therefore, the fewer barriers erected against trade with other nations, the more access people will have to the best, least expensive goods and services in the world "supermarket."

Producers benefit as well. In the absence of trade barriers, producers face greater competition from foreign producers, and this increased competition gives them an incentive to improve the quality of their production while keeping prices low in order to compete. At the same time, free trade allows domestic producers to shop around the world for the least expensive inputs they can use for their production, which in turn allows them to keep their cost of production down without sacrificing quality.

In the end, the results benefit both producers--who remain competitive and profitable--and consumers--who pay less for a good or a service than they would if trade barriers existed.

America as a whole is better off with free trade; but with new technologies evolving continuously at home and abroad, open economies are constantly challenged to change the way they do business. In the process of adapting to change, some sectors suffer until they can adapt to the new changes and begin to benefit from them. For example, during the Industrial Revolution, workers in the agricultural sector had to adapt to the "new industrial economy," competing with machines that could do the same work more efficiently. Eventually, the agricultural workers trained themselves to use machinery and seized the opportunity to be part of the new industrial economy.

Today, America again faces major economic changes. The U.S. economy is moving from an industry-based to a knowledge-based model. For example, the U.S. textile industry gradually disappeared during the past two decades because it became increasingly less competitive vis-"-vis the lower cost of labor in foreign countries. As a result, many U.S. textile factories shut down their operations.

South Carolina was one of the states most affected by the shutdown of textile factories. South Carolinians, however, did not become permanently unemployed, because other industries moved to the state to take advantage of a trained labor force.

In 2000, BMW leased a research facility at Clemson University's automotive research campus to train engineers to sustain BMW's growth. IBM and Microsoft each contributed to this project with the idea of creating high-paying jobs tied to knowledge. Through this project, BMW "invested $2.5 billion at the plant, and now employs 4,700 people, with most production workers making $24 per hour."1

BMW's investment illustrates the process of adjustment in an economically open society. In order to remain competitive and benefit from the economic evolution brought about by the new knowledge-based technological change, South Carolina's workers trained themselves to seize the higher-paid job opportunities. The adjustment brought better-paying jobs and, with them, the possibility of raising the living standard of all those involved in the process of change.

Contention #2: Competition
Innovation is the basis of progress, and competition is the best incentive to innovate. The challenge of having others producing similar products or offering similar services motivates businesses to find new technologies and better ways to provide what they produce. The need to remain competitive forces businesses to strive constantly to innovate. As a result, new technologies are born.

America is perhaps the world's best example of how competition fosters innovation. Although at times the United States has become somewhat protectionist, its economy has been built primarily on the principles of a free market, private enterprise, and competition.

In such a competitive environment, new technologies, from computers to medicines to machinery, have helped the economy to become increasingly more productive per unit of labor and machinery employed in the production process. Since 1948, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, multifactor productivity--a ratio of output to combined inputs--in the U.S. private business sector has more than doubled.2 (See Chart 1.) Productivity has fostered economic growth and, by lowering production costs, has given ordinary Americans the opportunity to raise their standard of living.

In the 1980s, personal computers were very expensive, few people owned them, and those they did own handled only word texts and a few calculations. Due to increased competition, by 2002, 65.9 percent of people living in the United States owned a personal computer that handled text, calculations, graphics, media, Internet access, and many other functions.3
In 1975, the airline industry carried about 200 million passengers; now, due to competition and lower costs, it carries almost 600 million passengers a year.
In 1987, only 0.3 percent of Americans owned mobile phones. By 2002, 50 percent owned one. Similarly, in 1975, only 37.3 percent of people had a telephone mainline; now 64.6 percent have one.
The percentage of people who own a television set soared from 48.6 percent in 1975 to 93.8 percent in 2001.
These are just a few examples of the millions of products and services made available to increasing numbers of people, thanks to the opening of trade and to the freedom of the U.S. economy.

America's ability to compete and innovate derives from its open markets and from the continual search for new markets through the expansion of free trade. Goods and services flowing across borders foster new ideas and allow U.S. producers to learn about the market through the failure and success of traded products. As they learn more, they are able to innovate to remain competitive.

Scottish moral philosopher Adam Smith had observed this simple truth already in 1776, when he wrote in The Wealth of Nations:

When the market is very small, no person can have any encouragement to dedicate himself entirely to one employment, for want of the power to exchange all that surplus part of the produce of his own labour...for such parts of the produce of other men's labour as he has occasion for.... As by means of water-carriage [at the time, a means to expand trade] a more extensive market is opened to every sort of industry than what the land-carriage alone can afford.... [As a result,] industry of every kind naturally begins to subdivide and improve itself....4
Smith was even more of a visionary than Ricardo, for he understood that labor specialization is something that constantly changes and that gaining a comparative advantage requires open borders and the ability to adapt to continuous change. It was free trade that continuously challenged local merchants to improve their products and therefore fostered innovation. Consumers benefited as well because, in an attempt to capture a greater share of the market, producers offered consumers the best possible products in the world at the lowest possible prices.

Protectionist policies have the opposite effect. They give advantages to a very small group of producers that do not want to compete. Tens of millions of consumers, as well as smaller producers buying goods and services from the protected few, bear the cost of such protection by paying higher prices for lower-quality products.

It's for these reasons that I strongly urge you to vote pro in today's debate
Debate Round No. 3


Defense against Opponents attack:

My opponent ignored the fact that I brought up that free trade destroyed jobs. They seem to think it was okay that they claimed free trade created 5 million jobs without any evidence to back it up. As I said, I couldn't find their source that 5 million jobs were created, and they didn't offer the source. I already provided sources that show free trade limits jobs, and here's one which shows that trade protectionism creates jobs.[1] When a government raises the prices of a good, or allows a good to be produced in America, it attracts certain firms to stay here and provides more jobs in that sector here in America.[1] In reality this would be good for the economy in a different way than free trade is. While free trade will lower prices and that could be good for the economy, I argue that it is worse for the economy because it would also lower wages and cause people to be unemployed as it destroys jobs, which I proved already before and my opponent provided no evidence of jobs being created through free trade, and only claimed they were created. What good is the lowered price for a product if no one can buy it still because they are unemployed and not getting any money? In addition, since unemployment would be higher, that is good for the employer since if the employees ask for a raise, they can be fired and replaced with people who are unemployed. Unemployment really only helps the employer.

However, in protectionism, jobs are guarded and prevented from going over seas. While the price of products will probably go up, people will have jobs and money to pay for those products. And since more people will be employed, they can demand for a raise(and there is no one the employer can replace them with since unemployment would be down) to balance out the fact prices are up.

When my opponent says we need to look at our economy first, that's an excuse to justify using other countries' slave, child labor, and under-paid workers. It's like saying you need to look out for yourself first to justify stealing from someone.

Rebuttal to Opponents first contention:
Standard of living does not go up in a society with free trade because more people lose jobs as I pointed out above, and because there are more unemployed people, employers are free to lay people off and hire someone else who is currently earning nothing(because they are unemployed) and who would be willing to work for the lower wage. So, it doesn't raise the standard of living at all. When we do trade when we have a comparative advantage, and the other party does as well, then that is a good thing, but trade has to be regulated in such a way where such circumstances arise. If the trade is getting rid of more jobs than it creates, which as I showed above that usually happens, then it is not good for us over all.

I agree that specializing in certain products would be a good idea for certain nations, but again, it needs to be looked at through a protectionist's eye to ensure that the other nation isn't producing their goods immorally, and that it truly benefits both nations. One problem with specializing is that we need to make sure that we are specializing in the right fields. If we specialize in a product that doesn't need very many people to work to produce it, and we start trading for a product that needs more people to produce it and get rid of the industry of the latter product type, we've lost jobs over all and that is bad for the economy. In fact, that is what has been going on when I pointed that more jobs were lost than gained through free trade previously.

Rebuttal to Contention 2:
My opponent argues that free trade here is basically good because it fosters competition on a global scale. However, this can also happen under protectionism, it just happen at the same scale and it happens in a way more beneficial to the country. For example, if, let's say we didn't have any protectionist measures for our trade. Then let's say we have a company producing product A. Let's say this company employs 100,000 workers. They then go overseas to produce it more cheaply in another country and those 100,000 jobs are lost. Now, because this happened, America can no specialize in another product, but let's say this product B only needs 50,000 more people to produce it as efficiently, quickly, and as equal in quality as product A. We then just lost a net 50,000 jobs. Allowing Free Trade to run rampant can cause this to happen. If, however, we had a protectionist policy for product A that America is going to specialize in that product instead of Product B, we would gain more jobs. Instead, it would be the reverse. Instead of company A going over seas, company B will. We lose 50,000 jobs, but gain 100,000 jobs with a net growth of 50,000.

This is why Free Trade is problematic, and we need the right kind of competition to where it provides more jobs for us than it destroys. Protectionism allows for this.

So yes, if we were to make the market small, it would be a problem. I have no qualms with what my opponent said here, however, we need to make sure that the companies who are providing the most jobs in America do not get out-competed by other companies overseas otherwise it will destroy jobs in America. We should, instead, have those companies expand, and have the companies that need less people to produce the product, die out and get the product through trade.

Why voters should vote for me
I would implore voters to vote for con because:
1) Free Trade does in fact destroy more jobs than it creates, and I proved this through my sources above. My opponent didn't provide a source, and only mentioned it but I could not find this source they claim existed.
2) Protectionism would prevent us from trading with countries that use slave, child labor, or pay their workers poorly, which is immoral.
3) Protectionism would allow us to keep companies that employ more people here and the product that needs more people to create it could be protected to continue to be created in America in order to provide more jobs. It can be used to allow products that don't need a lot of workers to go over seas for a net-gain of employment. Free trade could lead to the opposite happening where the product that needs less workers to continue being made in America while the product that needs more workers would go out of America. My point in number 1 proves that we have products that need more people to create go overseas for production and the ones that need less workers stay here, which is how we lost jobs.
4) My opponent rarely provided actual sources, and the ones they did mention were not as reliable as the scientific studies I provided on this matter.

I thank pro for accepting this debate and offering a challenging debate. I turn this to pro for their concluding arguments.



So my opponent has stated that protectionism is the way to go, but protectionism isn't better than free trade. In the long term, trade protectionism weakens the industry. Without competition, companies within the industry won't innovate and improve their products or services. There's no need to. Eventually, consumers will pay more for a lower quality product than they would get from foreign competitors.

Job outsourcing is a result of declining U.S. competitiveness, itself a result of decades of the U.S. not investing in education. This is particularly true for high tech, engineering, and science. Increased trade opens new markets for businesses to sell their products. The Peterson Institute for International Economics estimates that ending all trade barriers would increase U.S. income by $500 billion.

Increasing U.S. protectionism will further slow economic growth and cause more layoffs, not less. If the United States closes its borders, other countries will do the same. This could cause layoffs among the 12 million U.S. workers who owe their jobs to exports. Our economy will be significantly weakened because of protectionism. People will lose jobs and it will lower competition. Also protectionism can lead to a trade war. Protectionism means that the United States is raising the prices on certain things coming into our country. While we are an incredible source of imported goods, that does not mean that we are the only one. Other countries responsible for exporting goods to the United States may not like it if protectionism stops their goods from being sold in American markets. As a result, they may retaliate and put protectionism legislation in place to increase the cost of their goods.

What starts small can quickly escalate into a larger multinational disagreement regarding aspects of international trade. When this happens, business goes down and prices go up. My opponent also stated that protectionism created more jobs, but it most likely won't. An important thing to consider is that protectionism may not actually protect jobs. Simply making the competition more expensive does not necessarily drive local growth. Unless there is a demand in the market, local job growth will not improve.

Protectionism is faulty in many ways that I have stated above. Protectionism will hurt our economy more then free trade ever will and without a strong economy we will not have a strong America.

Reasons I have won this debate:
1) I have proved that free trade creates jobs and creates booms in our economy making America stronger.
2) His only argument against me for most of the debate was that trading with countries that use underpaid workers is immoral. While it's not right that doesn't mean we can't trade with them.
3) I have also proved that protectionism is faulty and won't help the U.S. much.
4) I have also proved that free trade creates competition which helps the economy.

It's for these reasons that I strongly urge a pro ballot in this debate. Thanks to the neg side for an awesome debate!
Debate Round No. 4
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by stova11 2 years ago
TheBenC: I believe you are confusing free trade with free markets. These two issues are wholly different.

There maybe a free markets debate going somewhere. But this debate is about free trade, and not free markets.
Posted by TheBenC 2 years ago
Free trade sounds nice on it's surface but dig deeper and it is a fraud. Eventually a business gets so big it can control the market, which takes away the entire premise of free trade. The choice boils down to having an elected government in control or having an unelected greed monger in control.

OPEC already reached that point. They were getting too much competition from smaller oil companies because of how profitable oil can be. So OPEC decided to increase production which caused the price of oil to plummet. Those smaller companies could not compete with the new low price of oil and shut down shop.
Posted by dr.jimmythefish 2 years ago
Argh I would love to argue the position you took.
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