Democratic presidential candidate for 2024, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., seems to be echoing his would-be Republican opponent 45th President Donald J. Trump by pitching the imposition of tariffs targeting foreign imports in order to safeguard American workers and businesses in order to insulate them from unfair competition in nations with much lower overhead. The policy pitch indicates the return of a long-believed extinct brand of left-leaning populism and provides an interesting overlap between the environmentalist legal expert, known for his opposition to big pharma, and the America First Republican.
As reported by Breitbart News Kennedy posted in a series of tweets a detailed analysis of growing wealth inequality in the U.S., highlighting the exponential growth of wealth among the nation's top-earners versus the steady decline of working-class and middle-class Americans. The Democrat appeared to attribute this to the coincidental breakdown of organized labor unions as well as the decades of destructive free-trade policies, the latter of which is objectively true and oft' referred to by America First Republicans since 2016.
Kennedy wrote, "The top share of income going to the top 10% has increased from 35% in 1945 to more than 45% today. Union membership has declined in the same period from 33% to about 10% — its lowest level since the 1930s."
"From the end of WWII through the 1980s, income distribution stayed relatively constant. But union membership began declining, and the share of income going to the bottom 90% followed it. Capitalism only functions equitably if workers have the collective bargaining power of unions, so they can claim a fair share of the economic pie," he added, citing an article from Quartz.
After identifying the problem in his view, Kennedy went on to describe how he would seek to counter the historical effects of union collapse and disadvantageous free-trade agreements to ostensibly reverse the offshoring of American jobs and protect domestic industries.
He wrote, "As President, I will protect American labor AND American industry. One thing I will consider: tariffs on imports from countries that allow exploitation of workers. American industries should not be forced to offshore to low-wage areas as nations compete with each other to sacrifice wages and working conditions in a ‘race to the bottom.'"
As President, I will protect American labor AND American industry. One thing I will consider: tariffs on imports from countries that allow exploitation of workers. American industries should not be forced to offshore to low-wage areas as nations compete with each other to…— Robert F. Kennedy Jr (@RobertKennedyJr) May 20, 2023
While Kennedy's concept of tariffs would appear to check out based upon most objective findings that suggest that imposing tariffs on nearly all foreign imports could generate as many as ten million American jobs and simultaneously increase domestic output, his connection to de-unionization as a negative force is irreparably flawed, and the right-to-work movement is the only labor construct compatible with free capitalism and individual rights.
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