In the 2016 presidential election campaign, global trade deals were harshly criticized, particularly those involving China. The admission of China into the World Trade Organization in 2001 did result in the closing of thousands of U.S. factories, and too many factory workers lost good-paying jobs. American consumers as a whole benefited because they could purchase less expensive "Made in China" consumer goods. Global corporations importing and selling these goods made greater profits since Chinese wages are so low as compared to U.S. wages. In the past two years, concerns about China's theft of American companies' intellectual property, on-going cyber-security attacks against the U.S. from some foreign countries and a perceived rise in illegal immigration have increased support for protectionist trade policies — and not just in communities that lost manufacturing jobs.
Of course, "Made in the USA" products are popular because we all want to support American jobs. But international trade is not just about merchandise and commodities. It includes technology transfers, software, recreational and medical tourism, sporting events, foreign students and cross-border services like legal, accounting and project management.
American consumers are more exposed to foreign imports than they are to our nation's exports. Numerous government and private sector studies reveal that exporting companies pay higher wages than domestic companies in almost every industry sector.
Many residents of our Tampa Bay region may not realize how much international trade adds to our quality of life here — imported foods adding to our food security, world-class medical centers and universities attracting foreign patients and students, high-paying jobs and new technologies created by our exporters as well as foreign firms setting up operations here, a rapid expansion of Port Tampa Bay and an increase in the international flights to and from Tampa International Airport.
Susan L. (Susie) Hoeller, Land O'Lakes
The writer serves on the board of directors of the Tampa Bay chapter of the global Organization of Women in International Trade.
Editor's note: This letter was originally published on Wednesday, but the author's name was inadvertently omitted. Here is the letter in full.
13 parents to plead guilty in college bribery case | April 9
Have students re-take tests
As the guilty parents fess up and probably stay indoors with their personal trainers to avoid further embarrassment, what is the plan for the kids who entered college under false pretenses? It's been suggested the kids had no knowledge of the deals, and I really hope that is true. It would make sense to have the kids take the standardized tests again, allowing them to say, "I did well and have earned the opportunity to attend." This would be a powerful message. They could prove to their parents that they are smarter than believed and demonstrate to fellow students they've earned the same right to attend. And if they excel on their own, they will prove to themselves they have what it takes. If they don't do well enough to gain admission, then it will be a great lesson in learning how to deal with real-life setbacks.
Darryl David, St. Petersburg
Look in the mirror before mocking UK | Column, April 7
Groundswell of democracy
I was nodding my head in agreement with Adam Goodman as he described the populist causes and mistakes of Brexit — until he turned to describing the similar dangerous groundswell in the United States and blamed our similar mistake, the election of Donald Trump, on Hillary Clinton's obliviousness.
Really? Does that mean that gross and growing inequality, the agonizingly slow recovery from the recession, the 16 or so unappealing Republican primary candidates and their obliviousness, etc., had nothing to do with it? He then lists what he considers the emerging dangers: the growing list of progressive Democratic candidates, the turn toward socialism (Medicare for All, I assume he means) and to top it all off, the recent Florida ballot initiatives. He sees these all as a turning away from proper republican processes toward GDP-wrecking anarchy, like Brexit.
I see in a quite a different light all this activity that Goodman, a conservative Republican, fears. I see it as the beginning of an actual democratic groundswell to return government to a positive social force, not just a tool for the elite of either party, hopefully making the destructive, divisive populist movement that elected Trump less appealing.
Jane Sellick, Palmetto
Barr says 'spying' occurred on the Trump campaign | April 11
A member of Team Trump
After releasing a four-page summary of the Mueller report and several appearances before Congress, there should be little or no doubt that Attorney General William Barr is now officially part of Team Trump and not Team America. Barr displayed his allegiance long before his appointment when he submitted an unsolicited 19-page memorandum in June 2018 to acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein criticizing the Mueller investigation. Barr's memo not only questioned Robert Mueller's mandate, it said Mueller should be prevented from even questioning the president about obstructing justice.
His bias is palpable. Upon receipt of Mueller's final report, Barr provided a four-page summary to Congress, which Mueller refused to sanction, that concluded "the evidence developed during the Special Counsel's investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense." Translation: Trump gets a pass from his political appointee with no indication that cooperation with Congress is forthcoming. Barr's refusal to provide an unredacted copy of the Mueller report to Congress will likely result in a long court battle. Despite his promise of transparency, Barr's actions are murky at best, allowing him to do the bidding of the president and not the people.
Jim Paladino, Tampa