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The Rage Against Trade By The New York Times Editorial Board

This opinion piece written by the New York Times editorial board analyzes the two major presidential candidates positions on international trade deals, primarily President-elect Donald Trump’s proposed isolationist policies. The article examines the increasingly common perception among the American public that trade agreements such as NAFTA and the TPP are responsible for causing economic hardships due to prioritizing global interests over American interests. The writers of this article oppose this view and present evidence to refute it. The authors have a liberal viewpoint on this issue and are pro-free trade, however they do concede that there are certain issues that need to be resolved as a result of these trade agreements. They disagree with Trump, viewing his statements as “nothing more than hot air”. The article sets out to dispel some common myths about international free trade deals and also takes a look at the development of the anti-free trade sentiment in the United States over the years.

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Clinton currently opposes the TPP, however in the past she has praised it and called it the “gold standard” of international trade deals (Memoli). She seems to have shifted her views during the Democratic primaries against Bernie Sanders, who opposed the TPP his entire campaign, putting into question her true viewpoint. Meanwhile, Trump has consistently railed against international trade deals since the 1980s, when he criticized the US for importing more from Japan than they export. He also criticized NAFTA as it was being passed in 1993 and criticizes China for its trade practices. Trump’s opposition to trade deals seems to primarily stem from two main factors: loss of American manufacturing jobs to overseas countries and trade deficits with other countries. Clinton on the other hand believes that the benefits of free trade agreements outweigh the cons, and that these deals save American consumers money when they buy goods. Trump believes in protectionist policies and has a realist view on trade, believing in increasing the US’s power over it’s own economy and promoting it’s own self-interests. Trump often talks about “bringing back jobs” to the US, primarily in manufacturing and the auto industry. Trump’s views seem to focus on protecting and defending American interests. Clinton supports a liberalist view of free trade, economic interdependence, and a global marketplace where states can trade with each other for mutual benefit rather than just the benefit of the United States.

Trade deals have been a scapegoat for America’s economic problems for quite some time. As has already been mentioned Donald Trump was speaking out against Japanese trade practices as early as the 1980s and continues to do so today. One of his main concerns was their mass importing of cars and home electronics to the United States while the US exported far less. “When was the last time you saw a Chevrolet in Tokyo?” was a statement by Trump in his announcement that he was running for President, commentating on the fact that Japanese car brands such as Toyota are extremely popular in the US while Ford and Chevrolet have lackluster sales in the Japanese market. Japan mainly relied on producing their own goods over the years and has maintained a relatively closed market compared to other great economic powers. In 2015, the US trade deficit with Japan was $68.9 billion (“Foreign Trade” Census.gov). Trump also criticizes the US’s dealings with China, whom the US had a $367 billion dollar trade deficit with last year (“Foreign Trade.” Census.gov). From a realist point of view, this makes it look like the US’s best interests are not being served. It appears China and Japan are benefitting far more due to the fact they import far less American products than the United States imports from them.

From a realist perspective, these countries are gaining more in terms of relative gains and increasing in power, going against the fundamental realist goal of preventing other states from gaining an advantage in a relationship. A liberal may argue that these deals benefit both countries and are beneficial in several ways. For example, importing goods from overseas provides cheaper goods to the American consumer due to less material cost and lower wages for overseas workers. Buying goods from Japan and building the country up economically increases American sphere of influence into East Asia by having a powerful ally in Japan act as a potential deterrent against China, North Korea, and Russia. Another argument is that economic cooperation with China improves relations between both countries, lowering the likelihood of a conflict to arise. As China’s economic power increases and the gap between them and the US’s spot at the top of the world hegemony decreases, there is some concern that China might become more aggressive and become the dominant power. The liberal viewpoint is that if economic cooperation and collaboration exists between the two nations rather than hostility and competition, conflict is less likely to occur. If Trump were to impose tariffs, China would likely retaliate and it would result in a trade war. This would sever relations between the two countries and likely cause harm to both.

READ:  Analysis Of Frame Analysis : An Essay On The Organization Of ExperienceIn 1974, one of the first attempts at identifying how individuals perceive, or “frame”, experiences subjectively was articulated. In Frame Analysis: An Essay on the Organization of Experience, sociologist Erving Goffman identified basic frameworks of understanding used by individuals to make sense of events. Theorists and other researchers from fields such as mass communication and media effects would also study frame analysis, further adopting and shaping the way it is defined and applied. Most recently, however, frame analysis has been used to examine the ways in which visual news media, such as photographs and editorial cartoons, communicate not only details about a news story, but also rhetorical information that can used to interpret events. Determining the ways in which visual frames exist, are created, and applied is a relatively new field. Pioneering work has been completed that applies frame analysis to photos of war and conflict, images that look to communicate events around the world as they take place. This work is extremely valuable, but more popular forms of news visuals have largely been excluded from frame analysis, including editorial cartoons. The way editorial cartoons frame news events is important in communicating how society generally perceives current times. However, public figures are also an important focus of editorial cartoons. From celebrities to world leaders, editorial cartoons capture societal sentiment and opinion of the actions and decisions carried out by important people. By examining the literature on frame analysis since Goffman, we can identify specific concepts and practices that inform our understanding of the perception of public figures in editorial cartoons. According to Gary Alan Fine and Philip Manning, Frame Anlysis: An Essay on the Organization of Experience, was seen by Goffman as his “magnum opus” (Fine and Manning, 2001, p. 460). Working from William James’ question, “under what circumstance do we think things are real?” (Goffman, 1974, p. 2), Frame Analysis sought to define the ways in which individuals organize their experience of, or perceive, the world around them. Borrowing a term from Gregory Bateson, Goffman determined that a “frame” is the basic element that helps to define the characteristics of a social situation or event, and how individuals subjectively determine their involvement (1974, p. 10). To use “frame analysis” would be to refer to the examination of an individual’s perception of their involvement in any given social situation. Two primary frameworks are employed by individuals in any given situation. However, individuals are “likely unaware of such organized features as the framework has and [are] unable to describe the framework with any completeness if asked…” (Goffman, 1974, p. 21). These primary frameworks are methods of interpretation that transform situations from meaningless to meaningful for an individual, and each allow its user to perceive a situation in any multitude of ways. The first primary framework Goffman recognizes is the natural framework — events or situations which are seen as undirected or free from individual action. As one may assume, the second primary framework is the social framework which can provide background of the situation in terms of an individual’s will, aim, and degree of control (Goffman, 1974, p. 22). In Frame Analysis, Goffman uses the weather as an example. The natural framework of the weather is what its current state may be when you walk out the door, as opposed to a social framework, which would correspond to a news anchor presenting the weather, as this person may alter one’s perception of the weather with their comments or actions (1974, p. 22). Goffman stresses that these frameworks can add weight to the act of the glance, the most casual act of perception, as this action contains much more penetration of a current situation that what might be first thought. Goffman’s focus on perception follows through to his next two major publications. In Gender Advertisements (1979), the concept of the frame is used by Goffman to examine the ways photographs and photographic advertisements convey messages about male/female behaviours. These behaviours are referred to as “displays” and are related to the ritualization of emotional reactions in people to a situation. Displays also have a framing function that informs and establishes the terms of contact, and mode of action between participants in a situation, as well as how individuals may perceive the situation. According to Goffman, displays can iconically reflect fundamental features of gender in the social structure (1979, p. 8), referring to these as “gender displays”. Through advertising, gender displays frame how an individual should perceive their life by holding up idealized, and potential unreal, situations. Here, the act of the glance at an advertisement, even for just a moment, can carry substantial weight in terms of the viewer’s perception of their world. In Forms of Talk, Goffman builds off a general point from Frame Analysis which states that natural and social primary frameworks affect participants in an activity and bystanders who may be involved in a more passive sense (1974, p. 38). In Forms of Talk, Goffman discusses the “participation framework.” This refers to how a conversation can “open up an array of structurally different possibilities” that encompasses not only the speaker, but also direct and indirect participants of the conversation (1981, p, 137). Individuals exist differently within the participation framework for the moment of speech and may perceive the situation in their own way, depending on their relation and proximity to the speaker. This aspect of perception in relation to participation is important as a framing device throughout Forms of Talk, and can be tied to Goffman’s concept of the display in terms of providing information of a social structure. As an individual talks, they may acquire information from their perception of a situation by way of participatory framework, in that the presence of certain individuals may alter their behaviour. Though Forms of Talk may only show the ways in which frame analysis can help us understand how we perceive of public figures in editorial cartoons indirectly, when combined with Frame Analysis and Gender Advertisements, we can start to develop a foundational understanding of the power of perception as outlined by Goffman. This understanding is formed by determining what features from these publications could be found in any editorial cartoon. These features can include primary frameworks, types of displays, and participation frameworks. For example, identifying the kind of situation a figure seems to be in, and what kinds of behaviour they display, can give us clues as to what information is being communicated. However, to better understand the perception of figures in editorial cartoons, a well-known form of news media, it’s important to examine frame analysis as employed by theorists of mass communication and media effects. Before the early 1990s, framing and frame analysis were defined and conceptualized in different ways. In Framing Public Life, co-editor Stephen D. Reese outlines the progression of the framing tradition since Goffman (1974). Reese cites examples such as David Morely 's call for the examination of how basic ideological frameworks give events dominant meanings; Todd Gitlin’s definition of frames as repeated patterns of cognition or interpretation that inform selection, emphasis, and exclusion; and William A. Gamson and Andre Modigliani’s definition of frames as central organizing ideas that help individuals make sense of relevant events. (2001, p. 11). Though all these definitions and conceptualizations of frames work from similar concepts, each are applied and articulated differently. The first call for a unified definition of frame analysis came in Robert Entman’s 1993 article, “Framing: Toward a Clarification of a Fractured Paradigm.” According to Entman, frame analysis illuminates how communication can influence human consciousness through methods of selection and salience in text, adding that frames highlight “bits of information about an item that is the subject of communication…” (p. 53). In this case, salience makes parts of text more noticeable or meaningful to audiences, while selection pertains to how text may be included or omitted in media. When examined, these concepts show how our perception can be altered when information is communicated through text. Entman argues that universal concepts of salience and selection can create a common understanding of frames and establish framing as a general research theory. Working from Entman’s characterization of frame analysis as a “scattered conceptualization” (1993, p.51), Dietram A. Scheufele attempts to adopt frame analysis as a theory of media effects. In his discussion on the creation of a typology of framing that can be used for further research aims, Scheufele points to a 1996 article by Friedland and Zhong which states that “frames serve as the bridge between…larger social and cultural realms and everyday understandings of social interaction” (1999, p. 106). Two types of frames help to create this bridge: media frames and individual frames. Media frames incorporate Entman’s concepts of selection and salience, turning meaningless happenings into discernible events (1999, p. 106). Individual frames, however, relate back to Goffman’s original primary frameworks, presenting individuals with inherent natural and social frames of reference or ideas that guide perception or the processing of information. For Scheufele, media frames and individual frames assist individuals in making sense of political discourse in the news, and when examined together, can comment on the way news media is digested by public viewers and audiences. Both Entman and Scheufele provide important links of thought and theory from Goffman to their fields of study. Though these authors generally focus on the ways text can be framed, concepts such a salience and selection can be used to glean more information on how public figures in editorial cartoons can be perceived visually. Using salience, editorial cartoons highlight aspects of general social knowledge on current events or individuals and transforms them into meaningful information. Through selection, only certain details are included in an illustration, ensuring the that a specific and editorial point is made. However, literature since Entman and Scheufele needs to be examined in order to fully understand how frames and frame analysis can inform or affect our perception of public figures. Paul Messaris and Linus Abraham provide the one of first explanations of how photographs can play a role in framing of news stories. In “The Role of Images in Framing News Stories,” Messaris and Abraham focus on three unique characteristics of photographs. The first of these characteristics is a photograph’s analogical quality. Unlike words, which depend on social convention for meaning, pictures largely correlate to what they represent based on similarity (2001, p. 216). The indexicality of images is Messaris and Abraham’s second characteristic. Here, the authors explain that indexicality refers to the degree of authenticity in news photographs. Building from the work of philosopher C.S. Pierce, Messaris and Abraham argue that photographs have a true-to-life quality, directly pointing to aspects of events that are known to be true (indices), thus having an “implicit guarantee of being closer to the truth than other forms of communication” (2001, p. 217). Lastly, Messaris and Abraham argue that photographs do not have an explicit set of syntactic conventions like words, allowing the viewer to make much more direct connections to causes and events (2001, p. 219). Through an analysis of television news coverage of African Americans, the authors conclude that viewers may be less aware of the process of framing when it occurs visually due to the fact it relies on less explicit forms of association and communication, and in turn, making it easier to communicate controversial messages (2001 p. 225). Renita Coleman similarly examines these visual framing effects discussed by Messaris and Abraham, and by Goffman in Gender Advertisements. In Coleman’s discussion, she opens visual framing to include photographs and illustrations in newspapers, and more secondary elements such as posture and gesture of journalists and other individuals who appear on television news. However, Coleman’s main argument is for additional frame analysis theory-building using visual framing research. Criticizing the largely word-based foundations of the nascent frame analysis tradition, Coleman points to a number of studies that show the effect of news visual on individuals. For example, in a 1990 study by Doris Graber, viewers remembered news stories better when they contained visuals, and in a 2006 study by Arpan et al., negative photographs of social protests elicited negative opinions in viewers about the cause (Coleman, 2010, p. 242-243). Coleman says these two lines of research are important in the further study of frame analysis as they can highlight stereotyping in visual news media when compared to what is being reported in text.

The two specific trade deals that have been mentioned often this election cycle are the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). NAFTA was a contentious issue ever since negotiations began under President George H.W. Bush in 1990. The bill took 4 years to pass and the main goal was to eliminate trade barriers between the three major North American powers: Canada, the US, and Mexico. NAFTA addressed several key economic issues regarding tariffs, intellectual property, and agricultural regulation. However, the American population were concerned this agreement would lead to more outsourcing and a greater dependence on foreign goods. Third party presidential candidate Ross Perot gained a large amount of popularity in the 1992 election primarily for his opposition to NAFTA and his America-first economic nationalist stance. American nationalism and patriotism is deeply embedded in the national consciousness, as is a sense of American exceptionalism. A large portion of Americans want to see their country do well and “be the best”, and they view their country as superior to other nations of the world. Trade deficits are often used as a populist political tool to rile up the patriotic masses, as politicians often point to them as an example of the US getting ripped off or taken advantage of.

This could tie into constructivism as these attitudes seem to be about protecting American identity/interests more than anything. Certain portions of the American electorate aren’t particularly well-informed on the intricacies of economics or world trade and see trade as more of an “us vs. them” economic showdown or competition where the US is losing. Explaining economic policy in greater detail would likely go over the heads of most voters, as there are certain nuances in trade deals that require an academic background in either economics or world politics to fully understand. For example, according to a survey of prospective voters conducted by Harvard and Politico, 70% of those surveyed had no idea what the specifics of the TPP were or hadn’t read anything about it. Of the remaining 30% who were aware of the agreement, 63% were against it. (“Americans ‘ Views on Current Trade and Health Policies” Politico.com). The TPP and NAFTA are deals based upon the liberal philosophy of free trade and the goals are to remove as many barriers to free trade as possible in a globalized economy. Part of the opposition seems to stem from an anti-globalization attitude that is becoming increasingly common.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t debate between economists on the effectiveness of these trade deals, however the pro-free trade position is the most commonly supported one. One of the unique aspects of the protectionist anti-free trade position is it’s support from both sides of the political spectrum. Both left-wing and right-wing politicians have spoken out against trade deals in the past. An example of this is in the current election with Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump both voicing opposition to NAFTA and TPP. This shows that it’s a popular viewpoint with a large number of Americans regardless of party affiliation. According to a survey conducted in March by the Pew Research Center, 53% of Republican voters believe free trade agreements have had a negative impact on the US economy. While the majority of Democratic voters according to that same survey believe free trade agreements have been positive for the US, Sanders supporters have a more negative view compared to Clinton supporters. Republican support for free trade deals has declined dramatically from May 2015, when 53% believed they had a positive impact. (“Views on Economy, Government Services, Trade.” Pew Research Center). According to the Harvard-Politico survey, 54% of Democrats surveyed believe free trade has lost more domestic jobs than it has created, compared to 66% of Independents and 85% of Republicans.

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NAFTA was ratified in 1994 and has been in effect for 22 years now, more than enough time to properly assess its impact on the economy. A 2015 report by the Congressional Research Service summarizes the effect of NAFTA as “relatively modest”, neither causing the “huge job losses feared by critics” or “large economic gains predicted by supporters.” (“The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).” Congressional Research Services). One of the main concerns of NAFTA was the fear of losing manufacturing jobs to outsourcing. NAFTA is often used as a scapegoat for the loss of manufacturing jobs in the US. According to the op-ed, manufacturing jobs have been declining across the world as “the number of manufacturing jobs fell by 34 percent in Japan, 31 percent in the United States and 25 percent in Germany” (“U.S. Manufacturing in International Perspective.” Congressional Research Services), showing that there may be more to the issue than just NAFTA. Rather than any trade deal causing the loss of jobs, it’s more likely that automation and lower wages overseas have had a bigger impact. Development of new technology causes a gradual shift in the jobs available. For example, the American economy used to rely a lot more on agriculture. There were more farms and a larger amount of people living in rural areas. In 1870, 50% of the population consisted of people working in the agriculture industry (Daly). As of 2014, the number is now 1.4% (“Employment by Major Industry Sector.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. ). The manufacturing industry is similar to the agricultural industry in terms of decline. Both the farming and manufacturing sectors have had to deal with new technology becoming available to accomplish these tasks more efficiently.

This can be proven by the fact that more factories are actually moving back to the US in the past 2 years. Output is increasing. Despite this, the amount of manufacturing jobs isn’t growing as most of these jobs are being done by automation (Cheng). Trade agreements don’t seem to be the culprit as much as new technology and a shifting of priorities in the current economy. The United States has shifted largely to a service-based economy, with 80% of the workforce being in the service sector (“Employment by Major Industry Sector.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. ).

As many American blue-collar workers are finding it increasingly difficult to make a living due to the changing economy, free trade has become a target of vitriol. Protectionist, realist attitudes toward trade are becoming increasingly popular among the American electorate. Donald Trump’s stated policies during his presidential campaign seem to line up with this perspective. Trump has talked about renegotiating NAFTA and the TPP and imposing tariffs on Chinese imports. Trump has also made vague promises about bringing back American manufacturing jobs. The op-ed disagrees with his stance. Further analysis shows that free trade is not the primary cause of the loss of these jobs, and much of the disagreement stems from populist anger more than anything. Manufacturing jobs have been declining around the world due to various other factors, primarily automation and changing technology.

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The Rage Against Trade By The New York Times Editorial Board
This opinion piece written by the New York Times editorial board analyzes the two major presidential candidates positions on international trade deals, primarily President-elect Donald Trump’s proposed isolationist policies. The article examines the increasingly common perception among the American public that trade agreements such as NAFTA and the TPP are responsible for causing economic hardships due to prioritizing global interests over American interests. The writers of this article oppose
2019-04-18 05:22:07
The Rage Against Trade By The New York Times Editorial Board
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