Trade Restrictions Will Not Help Underpaid Chinese Workers

Re: “America’s economic troubles are deep-seated,” From Readers, Sept. 6

Madeleine Soudee laments that China, India and Vietnam are “intensely competitive by ignoring human rights and using cheap labor, including unpaid prisoners.” I wonder if she is aware that the world’s largest unpaid work force is not in China but here in America, where U.S. inmates are forced to work for federal and state governments.

Trade restrictions will not improve human rights in Asia. Without the freedom to sell to Americans, Asian economic development would regress dramatically. Millions of workers would lose their jobs and be forced back to subsistence-level farming. Soudee cannot see this as progress.

Finally, foreign trade is good because it frees up labor to do what Americans do best, such as make heavy machinery or provide services in the finance, medical and education sectors. Soudee should celebrate the fact that Americans don’t have to make trinkets and T-shirts anymore.