It is no secret that what has become known as the sell-out has delivered an ample supply of low skilled, low wage and low-benefited jobs to replace the mass exodus of good paying and skilled American manufacturing jobs. Connecticut and New England have been states hit hardest by the loss of these jobs.

Not long ago, folks could opt out of college to pursue trade school and expect the opportunity of well paying manufacturing jobs in industries like hardware, tools, plating, arms, naval or aeronautical. These opportunities have virtually disappeared, the victim of plant closings and shifts to overseas production.

Many of these workers have either moved or made peace with lower paying employment. Sure, some of these jobs were lost due to technological advancement, but that is not the precipice. The reality is that these jobs were shipped out by corporations in response to US trade deals. These agreements had no mechanisms in them to expect fair and level arrangements between our trading partners. The government and corporate machines found ways to adjust and prosper within their unlevel terms while workers have continued to suffer from them.

America has rightfully insisted that trade be left unquestionably free and open. Any requirement that it also be fair has always been dismissed as obstructive to free markets.  This is a very inconsistent stance because our domestic free markets operate on a platform demanding fairness and openness on a level playing field. It’s a concept that gives every player a fair opportunity to compete. I believe the time has come to apply these same standards of fair play to our global free market.

Expecting trade deals that pursue fairness and that no longer circumvent level competing markets is in no way isolationism or protectionism. We are neither constructing a giant bubble around ourselves nor are we dismantling the efficiencies of our global free markets. To the contrary, it would be America’s first big step in obtaining equal footing within these marketplaces, markets currently yielding a globally disadvantaged America.

Every other country puts their country first and many exploit our pass on fairness by creating unfair advantages through lop-sided tax on trade, prohibitive import policies, currency manipulation and absurd quotas. We can’t stop this but we can equalize them by using tariffs and tax policies to get back to level and fair trade, a guiding free market principle.

Rank and file Republicans and Democrats are unlikely to address this gross disparity due to their corporate dependence and their collusive relationship.

The State of Connecticut and the American Economy can be great again; we can resume our long history of respectable growth on real median incomes. This expansion and the resulting increase in incomes would deliver much needed increased tax revenue streams to the state. Obtaining level trade deals will spur long term sustainable growth by bringing back tangible goods production to the best place for it.

Connecticut and New England has a bounty of forward thinking engineers crammed with exceptional new ideas just waiting in the wings to design, retool and advance new products and process applications. Our work force is highly skilled and second to none, chock full of Yankee ingenuity and still gleaming with pride as the heartbeat of this great nation.

These workers are ready for the challenge; they just need to be awakened with these renewed opportunities so that we can hear the giants roar once more. We have the resources, the expertise and the wherewithal to develop and harness this mighty nation yet again.

It’s time to re-start our engines, Connecticut, and get this American manufacturing powerhouse rolling again.

Robert Chester lives in Somers.

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