Opinion: California creates self-inflicted barriers to trade

May is International Trade Month, but there doesn’t seem to be much cause for celebration this year. To one extent or another, all of the surviving presidential aspirants have broken with a decades-long political consensus in favor of free trade, while also raising broader questions about the impact of globalization on the lives of middle-class Americans.

Foreign trade has also sparked controversy here in California. Growing crops for export during a drought has drawn sharp criticism. Democratic politicians like Elk Grove Rep. Ami Beri, who have backed President Barack Obama’s trade liberalization efforts, have lost support from organized labor.

Still, trade plays a vital role in California’s economy. The state’s seaports, airports and border crossings with Mexico are not only major conduits for America’s trade with the world, they provide employment for armies of blue-collar workers who might otherwise find themselves economically disenfranchised in an increasingly high-tech California.

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