Congratulations on your editorial "Free Trade Is Wonderful, but . . . " (Dec. 13)! The mantra of free trade and unfettered capitalism needs to be questioned closely by the media. In unrelated articles you have been laying critical groundwork.
In the same edition, "Relief Elusive for Asia's Labor Pains" points out that Adidas workers are paid $1.39 per day to make those exorbitantly expensive sports shoes that athletes are paid millions to advertise. As that article noted, "Conditions in teeming factory towns such as Tangerang represent what labor activists describe as the reverse side of the coin in the debate about free trade." Despite those exploitative low wages, Americans still don't get cheap shoes!
Another article, "Pact Should Benefit Big Industries in State" (Dec. 12), noted some major winners and losers in California, with transportation and high technology major winners. However, the author commented that "industries that depend on low-cost, unskilled labor are in jeopardy, because there is no way they can compete with farms and factories staffed by impoverished Latin American workers." Or, we might add, with low-paid Indonesian or other workers--yet large and growing numbers of Americans need jobs for which they have few skills.
In yet another article, "The Alienated Poor Are Today's National Threat" (Commentary, Dec. 12), the author writes that "the greatest danger to our national security now lies in the growing economic marginalization of so many Americans." This marginalization has not occurred in a vacuum, however. We have been operating under a GATT agreement for years (the Uruguay round), so GATT is not a new concept but a revised agreement. It has problems, will create at least as many more problems as solutions and needs to be carefully weighed and monitored in public forums. Economics is amoral--as your editorial concluded, "Life, after all, is not just about business."