The Three Amigos

The Three Amigos have had their meeting. Our estemed leaders took the opportunity to explain to us, again, the virtues of "free trade" and wag their finger at anyone who dared to doubt their devine wisdom.

Our Justin Trudeau repeated his mantra: "We need ever more free trade because exporting jobs are the highest-paying jobs."

It is an oft repeated refrain. As sound-bytes go, it sounds sound. But it is rather low on context. Will it still stand there, like a star-spangled banner, after a few salvos of reality-testing rockets?

Are exporting jobs the highest-paying jobs? Frankly, I don't know. I guess that somewhere in Canada there is a team of highly-paid bureaucrats --- or university professors --- who have crunched through all the tax returns and assembled some numbers to serve Justin's purpose. However the calculation was made, one thing is clear, remuneration is highly variable and the assertion that "exporting jobs are highest paying" can only apply in some very qualified sense. So let's look under the hood.

Today (30 June 2016) I hear that the president of Acadia University will get a severance package equivalent of 2 years salary when he resigns. Still, Acadia pays their president chicken feed compared to other universities.. I wonder if they count the position of a university president as an exporting job?

Presidents of nations and Prime Ministers also tend to be rather well remunerated. Perhaps they are really part of the exporting industry? I guess, so, judging from their public pronouncements.

In order to understand why exporting jobs are the highest paying jobs we should look at the jobs that our estemed leaders have exported. Once upon a time clothing was manufactured in Canada. Those may not have been particularly high-paying jobs but the work environment was safe and, at the very least, workers had the dignity of being protected by minimum wage legislation.

The Trudeau philosophy is to move such jobs to places like Bangladesh. Now cloths are manufactured in dangerous sweatshops where people are stripped of their dignity and are paid so little that they may as well be slaves. Are such exporting jobs really the highest paying jobs in Bangladesh?

Converting low-paying Canadian jobs into far lower-paying Bangladeshi jobs is not without its benefits. If you just remove the lower-paying jobs and nothing else changes then, by definition, you are left with higher-paying jobs. But mostly you are left with fewer jobs, or should I say fewer jobs that a less-advantaged Canadian can do. (And so free trade has spawned a great proliferation of soup kitchens and shelters for the homeless and other indignities, like human trafficing.)

A Canadian worker must, at a minimum, earn enough to subsist in a relatively high-cost society. If wages for a job are sufficiently depressed by competition from other nations, then the job is not worth doing.

Scott Brison (a Trudeau acolyte) has reminded us that we must import foreign workers to do "necessary" jobs that Canadian workers won't do. The most obvious example being physically demanding types of farmwork. Of course, if such farmwork must be done then one would expect the wage to increase until the job became a desirable thing for a Canadian worker to do! But Scott Brison would rather import slave labour than see remuneration rise for those lesser than himself. And Justin Trudeau would rather pit Canadian farms against farms in other nations where workers are treated as slave animals.