Notably, [the foreign companies that supply parts for Boeing's Dreamliner] don't pay their workers low wages. In fact, when you add in the value of health and pension benefits--either directly from these companies to their workers, or in the form of public benefits to which the companies contribute--most of these foreign workers get a better deal than do Boeing's workers... So why is so much of Boeing's Dreamliner coming from these high-wage, high-tax, high-cost places? Because the parts made by workers in these countries are better, last longer, and are more reliable than parts made anywhere else.

There's a lesson here. The way to make the American workforce more competitive isn't to put economic walls around America. It's to invest more and invest better in the education and skills of Americans, in on-the-job training, in a health care system that reaches more of us and makes sure we stay healthy. And to give workers a say in their companies through strong unions.

Reich has some good points -- one has to be careful about throwing the baby out with the bathwater in rolling out anti-trade measures; not every foreign country is a worker- and currency-abusing locale. Of course, Reich is as usual somewhat-blindly ensconsed on the political left when he makes "economic" arguments, so take some of this with a grain of salt (e.g., "just add unions and healthcare" falls flat for us as an explanation of why foreign developed countries are able to produce superior parts; we tend to think the 800-lb gorilla in the room is the monetary dysfunction that led to both union dismantling and health care cost stresses in the first place...).

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