The impact of trade agreements in America has consequences that affect every individual. Furthermore, the execution of these deals can wipe out an entire industry and way of life within a blink of an eye. I have spent most of my adult life in the apparel and textile industry. I have personally witnessed this industry flourish. Unfortunately, I have also witnessed it decline. After NAFTA, most of the labor moved to Mexico, however, a majority of the textile work remained here. Yet, following The Central America Free Trade Act and another trade deal with China in 2005, the textile labor accompanied by the sock industry were lost.
Trade is necessary, but trade agreements have consequences for the economic health and welfare of ordinary Americans. Many agreements that only benefit corporations and big investors, can do great harm to the rest of us. We have learned from the disrupted lives of millions of working Americans, that our trade agreements should benefit all people and not just a few. The truth is, even without these trade agreements, the American workforce was approaching an inevitable conflict. The trade agreements just act as catalyst to digital technology and its impact on the global economy. No matter how much we disagree, we live in an interconnected world. It is in this world most of us live, work, and compete.
How do we move forward in a world that is constantly changing? We do what we have always done as a nation, we put one foot in front of the other, we adapt, improvise, and overcome. The technology exists for each of us to become global entrepreneurs that cultivate economic production. We have the skill and the technology. The missing ingredients are the will and the infrastructure. As the American public, we must supply the will, but just as the Rural Electrification Act of 1936 brought electricity to rural America, it is time to bring high-speed internet as well. This will become our highway to economic security, and provide us with the infrastructure we need to make products that the world wants and needs.