Curse of the Free Trade Market

15 11 2010


The free trade market was established to build economic partnerships among nations within regions and of course the world over and has been the centerpiece of economic liberalism. It was supposed to make developing nations realize their national goals with the help, of course, of the peripheral states or the first worlds as they love to call themselves. The free trade market brought the emergence of economic blocks and trading blocks such as the European Union and the ASEAN, hence, affirming the economic interdependence of nation-states. Interdependence that transcends beyond racial or political divide. The free trade enabled the free flow of goods coming from all corners of the world. With more things developed and introduced, man’s fetishes grew beyond what he actually needs.

One key factor that fuels the free market to prevail is consumerism which feeds on man’s basic desires. Those who have control over the modes of production produce our needs and wants. Through effective advertisement, they make us want things that we’d never thought we’d need had they not developed such. In time, we would have an “imagined need” for all these stuff which would drive consumers from all over the world to demand for more. Fortunately for us Filipinos, we seem to have got along with life even without much of life’s luxuries. But in highly industrialized countries like the USA, a luxurious life is a normal life. Hence, their demands are definitely higher and more expensive than ours. The American Dream that every American wish to live is not just a cliché in their culture. It is a driving motivation that makes every American to pursue a rich and bountiful life even beyond contentment. This very dream catapulted their nation to power and prosperity.

But everything has a limit, in one article I read, the author pointed out that the reason why there is an economic slump in the stock market is due to the risky gambles that corporations invested in the USA. Due to unpaid debts that accumulated over the years, some companies would have to close due to insolvency. And to save these stocks a multi-billion dollar bailout plan is  initiated by the US government – to buy and to takeover these companies or to pay the debts so as not to drive other companies to declare bankruptcy. But an underlying reason why the stock market nearly collapsed was missed and that is American Consumerism. The American culture of expenditure proved to be a double edged sword. It worked well for prosperity it also worked well for the opposite.  American consumerism is going beyond the original concept of the American Dream so much so that the ordinary American is actually spending more than what he could afford especially so that they have their credit cards which enable them to get what they want before they could actually pay for them. Hence, his debts accumulated until such time that his daily income can no longer suffice his luxuries. This in turn leaves the credit companies unpaid which drove them to insolvency.

And who’d have thought that their expensive lifestyle would take such a significant effect on the rest of the world’s economy. Who’d have thought that by living their life rich the rest of the world will take the fall – well almost. It took us time to notice and it’s just appalling how powerful this nation really is yet disgusting in some way because why should the rest of the world suffer due to one nation’s extravagant lifestyle. But going back to the original premise, due to the free trade we are interdependent – in sickness and in health. We do not only share goods, we also share the “bads”.  And needless to say, due to the large market that it fosters, the world needs a healthy America – whether we like it or not.




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