Pros And Cons Of Protectionism

This week, winter hit us with a vengence. London was covered in six inches of snow, and everything ground to a halt. No buses ran, schools were closed, and the country couldn't cope.

Frankly, it was a national disgrace. And, at the same time, the first cold winds started to blow across the Atlantic since your new President took office. Right now the Europeans are furious with him and even threatened the possibility of legal action.

Why?

Because Obama has suggested that you Americans should think American when spending your economic bail-out dollars. This is known as 'Protectionism' and it is in direct opposition to the idea of global free trade. Here we are undergoing some of the same 'protectionist' issues but it's the call for 'British Jobs for British Workers' that is causing a stink.

It began to be used when British workers at a French owned oil refinery, based here, went out on strike because bosses had decided to employ workers from Italy and Portugal. The unions are complaining that the Brits are being undercut by cheaper foreign workers - the company insists that is not the case, naturally!

Our Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, is also being accused of "pandering to protectionism fears" by using the phrase 'British jobs for British workers' in a major speech back in 2007 and refusing to apologise for saying so in this week's parliamentary Question Time.

It is easy to see why both our leaders share this sentiment. We are facing tough economic conditions and all countries are struggling to find a clear path out of horrendous debt. But is looking inward the best way out? Is the shutting out of foreign workers and the curbing of foreign imports the best way of solving our problems?

The whole world is experiencing this financial meltdown so surely only by trading with the whole world can we all come out of this mess in one piece. The situation on our side of the pond is getting very frosty indeed. Brits are turning the cold shoulder to foreigners looking to make a living on our shores.

We are in danger of becoming bigoted and xenophobic - not traits that I admire. Our mood is only matched by our weather.
by Petrie Hosken
  • CBSNews

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