The provincial leftism of Bernie Sanders – opinion

For every American manufacturing job lost since 1977, 10 comparable (or better) paying jobs have been created elsewhere.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders addresses supporters during a campaign rally in Ann Arbor, Mich., March 8, 2020.  (photo credit: GETTY IMAGES)
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders addresses supporters during a campaign rally in Ann Arbor, Mich., March 8, 2020.
(photo credit: GETTY IMAGES)
Bernie Sanders's social and economic ideas are anachronistic leftovers from an era that idolized the industrial worker. They display nostalgia for the cloth-capped picket line solidarity of yesteryear.
Sanders claims free trade agreements have widened America's trade deficit and cost millions of "well-paying" jobs and closed more than 60,000 factories over the past several decades. He brags about his opposition to every FTA reached over the past 30 years.
The facts are that America's trade agreements have created more jobs in aggregate than they have cost. The United States has an aggregate trade surplus in manufactured goods with its 20 free trade agreement partners, and has a massive trade surplus in services of over a quarter of a trillion dollars.
America's trade deficit is with non-FTA countries. Trade with Canada and Mexico supports more than 140,000 small and medium-sized businesses and more than 3 million jobs in the US.
According to the World Trade Organization, 420 bilateral or multilateral FTAs are in force around the globe (compared to America's 14 with 20 countries). This means US exporters are often among a minority paying tariffs to sell their wares in key markets. American exporters face higher tariffs abroad than nearly all its trade competitors. The US is 130th out of 138 economies in terms of tariff barriers it has to overcome.
One inconvenient truth for the “woke” generation (as well as for President Donald Trump) is that free trade agreements actually save the interesting well-paid jobs – such as design, marketing, PR, packaging and sales – by outsourcing the boring, poorly paid, mind-deadening, drudge jobs that would have been eventually lost to technology or foreign competition in any case. As I have actually worked in carton, textile and plastic factories, I can personally testify that most factory work is inherently degrading and in no way enhances human dignity.
Another inconvenient truth is that foreign trade actually creates new high paying jobs such as translators, international law experts, Internet entrepreneurs and AI innovators in addition to abundant median salary jobs.
For every American manufacturing job lost since 1977, 10 comparable (or better) paying jobs have been created elsewhere. Imports contribute to job creation. Cheaper goods result in more sales, which create jobs in transportation, wholesale, retail, construction, finance and a whole slew of service jobs.
The hospitality sector, for example, represents America’s largest export segment. The US leads the world in international travel and tourism, which accounts for more than 30% of all US services exports. This has been fueled by the very countries the United States has been exporting manufacturing jobs to; 170 million Chinese tourists spend more than $260 billion a year supporting 4 million American workers.
Imports facilitate lower prices and boost the purchasing power of the average American household by about $10,000 annually. Companies that import intermediate goods, raw materials and capital goods account for more than 60% of all imports – lowering costs for American businesses. thus enhancing their global competitive edge while keeping the better paying industrial jobs in the US.
Additionally, increased imports to America have actually incentivized foreign companies to invest in America.
The slogan “Made in America” can best be claimed by the Japanese. The Toyota Camry, Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey are the most American-made cars on the market when one figures in the percentage of American-made parts they contain  (more than 75%; more than Ford and GM).
The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association reports that its member companies directly employed more than 90,000 Americans and invested some $43b. in US manufacturing cumulatively by 2014.
The BMW production facilities in South Carolina are the largest in the United States by number of employees. They also export 70% of the cars they assemble, primarily from imported parts, to 140 different countries – making it the largest automobile exporter in the Unites States. Asian and European car companies manufacture 53 of the 101 light-duty cars assembled in the United States.
Trump's protectionism is no better than Sanders's. The fact is that open markets are better than fences for making better global neighbors. Most “illegal” immigration to the United States from Latin America is not from Mexico.
In fact, more Mexicans are moving back to Mexico from the United States than are coming in from Mexico. The “illegals” are from non-FTA countries in Central America, the Caribbean Islands and failed states like Venezuela and Cuba.
If you want to better control your borders, expanding NAFTA (or whatever its new name is) would have been a much better solution than building a wall.

The writer is an Israeli-American futurist. His most recent book is The Suicide of the Jews.