Didn't we realize a long, long time ago that this was where free trade was taking us? Is it finally, finally becoming obvious enough?
It's really simple. In the old days we had these things called "tariffs". Tariffs existed to protect local industries from unfair foreign competition. If country A respected human rights, respected workers' rights, gave health care to all its citizens and educated all of its citizens, why should its citizens have to compete directly with country B where the standard of living was poverty, there was no health care or public education and workers had no rights?
But no, we had to have free trade. "It will bring us cheaper goods and a higher standard of living", they told us. 'They', of course, are the people who moved their manufacturing to poorer countries and increased their profits. 'They', of course, are the people who shut down local factories and told laid off workers to retrain.
Now Stronach tells us:
The average industrial wage in the United States is about $22 (U.S.) to $23 an hour, but workers at the auto makers are paid in excess of $50
That's right. Those were good-paying jobs. Now because of "growing worries about the competitiveness of the auto industry in Canada", those good-paying jobs have to be turned in to poorer paying jobs. "Competitiveness" can only refer to the damage being caused by free trade.
Look, there's only one way this can go. If Canadian workers are forced to be "competitive" with countries that allow their workers to be beaten up while offering those workers no health care and their children a lousy public education, then we are in a race to the bottom.
We should never be competing with workers in those countries. Not only are we dragging ourselves down, we are also rewarding those who treat their workers so poorly.
But that's not Stronach's problem:
"I guess I get paid to worry," he told shareholders.
Yes, he gets paid to worry. He doesn't worry about the lives he's ruining. He doesn't worry about the workers that he and his free-trading associates just condemned to half pay. He doesn't worry about human and workers' rights in other countries.
He's worried about the share price, because that's all that matters to him.