Putting Economic Nationalism To The Test

Your article "Economic Nationalism: Disaster ahead" (Editorials, Sept. 18) correctly identifies the problem: As globalization expands, workers in the industrialized countries see their jobs leave and their incomes erode. "Improving the skills of the U.S. workforce" is an essential, but in no way sufficient, step toward mitigating the negative impacts of free trade and mobile capital.

A truly long-term solution would involve rewriting the rules of international commerce to remove some of the perverse incentives that currently reward footloose corporations. If we can work in international arenas toward agreed-upon minimum labor and environmental standards, corporations will have less leeway to bargain down workers' wages. Maybe then governments will compete to attract capital by offering the most skilled workforce and the best infrastructure rather than the most disenfranchised workers and the most exploitable environment.

Thea M. Lee

Economic Policy Institute


Oh, the chutzpah of BUSINESS WEEK editors to say Pat Buchanan's economic nationalism spells "disaster ahead." Where have you been since 1971 as your brand of globalism piled up an endless list of disasters?

It precipitated a 20% decline in real earnings for most working people; decimated urban areas; sent the dollar into the tank; sabotaged our vital jobs and tax base, thereby becoming a major factor in the $4.5 trillion run-up in federal debt.

Buchanan's brand of "nationalism" is the only thing that will put America back on the right track again. Everything else is rearranging deck chairs on a sinking Titanic.

Gus R. Stelzer

Mill Creek, Wash.