Double edge swords can be pretty cool. In experienced hands, they make short, bloody shrift of an enemy and, barring any phallus references, the sword can make the wielder look something of a badass. This ginormous blade with two sides is also a prime, well used metaphor of something which bears opposing qualities. Take, for instance, Siegfried/Nightmare from Soul Calibur.
Now, I’m going to be upfront with you — this article is a bit of a double edged sword itself. By that I mean it is a bit of news, and a bit of commentary, regarding the Entertainment Software Association’s (ESA) support of the U.S. Congress’s free trade agreements announced this Thursday.
Here’s the news portion: the U.S. Congress has approved free trade agreements (FTA) between Colombia, Panama and South Korea. Among other things, it enables U.S. based game companies to sell their wares to these respective countries without the worry of such things as trade tariffs and (intellectual) piracy. ESA president and CEO Michael Gallagher applauded the government, saying, “[t]hese agreements mean greater market access and product protection for U.S. entertainment software publishers, which in turn boosts exports, opens prospects for new markets and grows high-paying jobs.”
On the surface, this sounds like a good thing. If I were the head of, say, Microsoft, I would want to get my goods in as many hands as possible without having to pay the tax man, no matter what language he spoke. More, the prospect of creating new jobs in such a down trodden economy makes me look like a white knight to customers and investors. Well, here’s the opinion part:
Who is to say free trade is the magical key to boosting exports and job creation? From what we’ve seen, the video game industry had cut more jobs than it has created lately despite record sales numbers. And I’m the last to say I know a thing or two about the economy, but, in a world where it’s not only people going bankrupt, but entire countries, I doubt video games are on the top of these countries’ to-buy lists.
Remember, just like the double edge sword, a no trade tariff policy works both ways. Yes, companies get to ship for free. This also means it’s cheaper to buy South Korean, Panamanian, Colombian goods since there’s no trade tax to jack up the price, compared to higher priced U.S. goods, higher priced because U.S. manufacturing companies have to pay taxes. If jobs follow the money, and if we’re shelling out most of our cash to other countries, where will the jobs ultimately wind up? Notice, Gallagher said the FTA’s grow high-paying jobs but didn’t mention where.
So I’m not waxing on the world economy or sounding like either a tea-bagger or an OWS fanatic, I’m just going to stop there. Just some food for thought. I welcome your comments.