Trade barriers and walls never made anyone more productive and wealthy
I'm not entirely sure about that. Every time we reduce trade barriers, things seem to get worse. We lose jobs, products get shittier, wages go down, and prices still go up. The only thing that's gotten better overall is electronics/tech, and that's probably in spite of what's happening.
"Free" trade made sense when shipping costs meant that it was still profitable to produce goods locally and you only bought from other nations what you couldn't produce yourselves. When shipping is almost free, and labor in another country is almost free, when that other country doesn't make you properly dispose of environmental waste or treat workers like human beings, how can you possibly compete?? You can't. This outsourcing will continue until America is nothing but a shadow of its former self. Do you really want the majority of the people living in huts and on the streets like in India?
Some love to say that people just need to get into "more creative" jobs, but ignore that fact that it's statistically impossible for any significant portion of the people to do that. Not just due to ability, but if you do get that situation, creative jobs will no longer pay a living wage. Even if you can get 30% of the workforce into these positions, are you just going to throw the other 70% overboard?
Why is it that in the 50's, you could have a single family member working a blue collar job, while still having enough to buy a modest house, a car, and the ability to feed and raise 6 kids, yet 60 years of "progress" later, there's no way in hell that is possible. The excuse these days is that people buy way too much house and spend money on junk. To a degree, that's true, but even if you didn't have cell phone, cable, and 2 brand new cars, you still couldn't live like they could in the 50's.
I think free trade is a great idea, IF all countries are playing on the same level. That's not the case, so what's the solution?