We built the global economy — by gutting our own.

Not long ago, the shirts, skirts, suits and dresses Americans wore were “Made in the USA” — in plants in the Carolinas, Georgia and Louisiana, where the lower wages, lighter regulations and air conditioning that came after World War II had attracted the factories from New England.

The American idea was that the 50 states and their citizens should compete with one another fairly. The feds set the health and safety standards that all factories had to meet, and imposed wage and hour laws. Some states offered lower wages, but there was a federal minimum wage.

How did we prevent companies from shutting down here and going to places like today’s Bangladesh to produce as cheaply as they could — without regard for the health and safety of their workers — and to send their products back here and kill the American factories?

From James Madison to the mid-20th century, we had a tariff.

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