Should the U.S. rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership?

WEST PALM BEACH: President Donald Trump and his wife Melania Trump arrive with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie Abe on Air Force One at Palm Beach International Airport for a weekend together at Mar-a-Lago resort on Feb. 10, 2017. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

With Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, coming back to Palm Beach for talks with President Trump Tuesday, it’s a good time to ask if the U.S. should rejoin the multi-country trade agreement.

In a head-spinner of a reversal, Trump on Thursday said he was looking into rejoining the TPP. Tearing up the pact was one  of his bedrock campaign promises and first acts as president.

Back then, he denounced the deal as “a rape of our country.” But now many farmers, business people and Republican lawmakers are worried about threats of tariffs and trade barriers.

Trump made the comment to a gathering of farm-state lawmakers and governors, so maybe this was mind-boggling idea that evaporates as soon as the intended audience leaves the room, like the time he seemed to side with Democrats on DACA or that moment when he embraced universal background checks on gun purchases.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership, forged during the Obama administration, was to unite 12 countries,  representing 40 percent of the world’s economic output, in a trading bloc. The hope was to strengthen economic ties by slashing tariffs and writing policies and regulations — and to counter China’s dominance in Asia.

Critics on the left, as well as Trump-supporting nationalists, assailed the pact as costing U.S. jobs and said it was developed with too little transparency.

So what do you think? Is the U.S. better off outside the TPP? Or should we get back in?

Munoz: Teens taking fewer summer jobs, but don’t call them lazy

Palm Beach Skate Zone employee Heather Shapiro, 18, of Loxahatchee, carries ice cream to a freezer on Saturday, May 25, 2013. Shapiro said this was her first job. (Thomas Cordy/The Palm Beach Post)

By Valeria Munoz

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Fewer teens are working summer jobs. Although it’s easy to assume that teens are lounging by the pool rather than filling out applications, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Teens are finding other ways to achieve personal growth. The majority are sacrificing their summer plans to volunteer, intern, or further their academic studies.

According to a report from CBS News, the number of teens in the workforce has decreased, with only 36% of teens working in 2016. Manager of Cannoli Kitchen’s east location in Boca Raton, Connie Smith agrees. Compared with last year, she has noticed fewer teenagers in this summer’s interviews.

It’s clear to me though, that, despite not serving tables or ringing up customers’ purchases, they still have their priorities straight.

In fact, the CBS report shows teens and parents see the value in pursuing higher education; 42% of American teens are enrolled in summer classes. Schools have become more competitive and students are taking note and stepping up their game.

University of Central Florida student, Kelly Furbish,18, is a perfect example. She is spending the summer getting a head start on college and becoming familiar with the campus before the flood of fall students. She says that attending classes with a smaller roster has its benefits.

“The professors are more personal which makes it easier to learn and get help, along with having a manageable course load. In the summer, you have the option to take two to three classes,” she said.

While some would rather hit the books, a lucky few manages to snag a job prior to summer.

One of those teens is Lauren Pires, 17, a Cannoli Kitchen employee, who thought acquiring a job was a productive use of her time. Not only has she accumulated work experience, but she’s learned to deal with people of different personalities.

“I wasn’t particularly interested in any sports or clubs at school,” Pires said. “But I wanted to spend my time wisely on an activity that would help me in the future and not sit around at home,”

Thus, it’s not that teens don’t recognize the importance of a summer job. More often than not, businesses have already filled spots with older workers or even teens themselves, during the school year to pay for the many costs connected to public school particularly senior year.

From honor society fees to sport team dues to prom, teens have to find a way to fund for these events sooner rather than later. This, in turn, forces businesses to be more selective of who they hire during the summer.

Whether they book a 9-to-5 shift or school becomes their full-time job, teens deserve more credit. They are certainly thinking ahead and past their summer bucket lists.

Valeria Munoz, a recent graduate of Boca Raton High School, is majoring in journalism in college and is a summer intern at the Palm Beach Post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goodman: Trump’s “Buy American, Hire American” order smacks of hypocrisy

President Donald Trump, returning to a major theme of his campaign, has taken aim at foreign workers, signing an executive order on Tuesday that will, as he said, “protect our jobs and finally put America first.”

Wait, has he forgotten who works at Mar-a-Lago?

The cooks, the waiters and waitresses, the housekeepers — Trump got permission from the U.S. Department of Labor last year to hire 64 of them from foreign countries through the government’s H-2B visa program at $10.17 to $12.74 per hour. That program allows employers to hire foreigners for temporary, seasonal, non-agricultural work and is often used in the tourism and resort industries.

But there was the president on Tuesday in Kenosha, Wis., targeting the H-1B visa program, which the White House says undercuts U.S. workers by bringing in large numbers of cheaper, foreign workers and driving down U.S. wages.

This sure seems hypocritical — as Trump’s foes were quick to point out during last year’s election campaign, when the Labor Department permitted 69 temporary visas for Mar-a-Lago. Trump defended himself by saying there simply weren’t enough skilled American workers to take those jobs. “It’s very, very hard to get people,” Trump said during a debate in March 2016. “Other hotels do the same thing.”

But employment experts in Palm Beach County said then that there are plenty of workers ready, willing and able to do that work. And Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, then a Trump opponent for the Republican presidential nomination, said Trump uses the program to drive down wages.

“When you bring someone in on one of these visas they can’t go work for anybody else,” Rubio said during that March 2016  debate. “They either work for you or they have to go back home. You basically have them captive, so you don’t have to worry about competing for higher wages with another hotel down the street. And that’s why you bring workers from abroad.”

Trump’s executive order, signed with a flourish at a Snap-On Inc. factory in a state he narrowly carried on the strength of white working-class voters, actually isn’t all that muscular. It does little more than order U.S. agencies to propose rules to prevent immigration fraud and abuse in the H-1B program, and to propose changes to ensure that the visas go to the most-skilled and highest-paid applicants.

The tech industry argues that the program is crucial to their companies’ success, because it enables smart college students to stay in the U.S. after getting degrees in high-tech specialties. And they say they can’t always find enough American workers with the skills they need — an argument that sounds just like Trump the Campaigner’s.

The program, however, has been terribly abused. Walt Disney World, for example, fired 250 employees in 2015 and replaced them with people with H-1B visas through an Indian outsourcing firm. Worse, the Disney workers had to train their own replacements.

So yes, clamp down on the misuse of foreign visas that allows cost-cutting employers to improve their balance sheets at the expense of American workers.

But Donald Trump’s turn as a hero of this political theater he calls “Buy American and Hire American” rings hollow when many of his Trump-branded products, from ties to chandeliers to vodka, are made overseas.

And when the cooks, waitresses and housekeepers at his “southern White House” are shipped in from abroad, taking jobs that Palm Beach County people could be doing.

What do you think? Take our poll …

Letter: Article on Donald Trump’s foreign workers incomplete

mar-a-lago
Bruce Bennett / The Palm Beach Post

The article, “Trump is not alone in foreign hiring,” (March 9) stated that Donald Trump hired 69 immigrant workers in 2015-16, paying them $10.07 to $13.01 per hour.

The H-2B visas for foreign workers were issued in 2015 by the federal government for jobs at local businesses because the employer could not find local citizens to apply. I wonder if they included citizens who were felons and had to pass background checks on their applications for the past five to seven years.

I wonder where the H-2B workers hired by The Breakers in Palm Beach, Boca West Country Club in Boca Raton, the Club at Admirals Cove in Jupiter, the Everglades Club in Palm Beach, etc. lived while working their temporary jobs in the U.S. Do the employers provide living facilities on-site? If not, how do they find housing?

This information was not in your article, and many taxpayers would like to know how the foreign workers are accommodated or if they are subsidized.

The Palm Beach Post is providing information that is much appreciated.

C. MITCHELL, GREENACRES