The Tahoma Activist

"Changing the Media, One Story at a Time"

This website is your Pierce County source for progressive news and opinion. If you want to be a part of The Tahoma Activist, send all submissions here. We will print anything that makes sense and touches on the important issues of the day.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Tacoma newspaper fearful that Democrats will end "free trade"


Listen to this headline: "Free trade endangered in new Congress"

What a bunch of whiners. The corporate fat cats that rule the McClatchy newspaper empire have clearly hired the right gang of stooges to run their corporate rag here in Tacoma. "Free Trade", as it's referred to by the elite intellectuals that own our media, is a nightmare for ordinary working people that only benefits those with investments outside the country and those who make more money off dividends than they do off their own actual labor.

Here's the piece in full, separated by my angry critique in italics.

Free trade endangered in new Congress

One problem with politics is that it’s always a package deal. Constituent groups offer their votes and money to political parties, and both Republicans and the Democrats wind up playing host to some screwball causes.


Like the neverending occupation of Iraq?

Vote for Republicans because you favor lower taxes, and you wind up with environmental “reforms” written by industry lobbyists.


True.

Vote for Democrats because you want a more ethical Congress, and you wind up with lawmakers who pander to fears about free trade.


Democrats that actually pay attention to the concerns of their constituents? Those bastards!

The latter may be precisely what’s happened with the 2006 congressional elections. A slew of newly elected or re-elected Democrats belong to the global-commerce-kills-jobs school of economics.


I don't even know where to begin with this one. Can't we be for trade that is fair for the citizens of both countries involved? Tell me how that "kills" jobs?

Their party’s newly won control of both House and Senate bodes ill for important trade liberalization initiatives, such as renewal of the president’s “fast-track” negotiating authority and new agreements with Peru and Colombia that need congressional approval.


I hope it bodes ill for these initiatives! "Free trade" agreements with Peru and Colombia are totally unnecessary, considering the abysmal labor and environmental standards in both those countries, and "fast-track" authority is a power that no one person should have.

That also bodes ill for Washington, the most trade-dependent of all states. By some estimates, as many as a third of all jobs here are tied in some way to international commerce. Washingtonians sell jetliners, apples, software, wines, lumber, potatoes and endless other things to other countries, and this state actually runs a trade surplus with China.


Oh my god! A trade surplus? Maybe we're actually doing something right here. Perhaps we should focus on how to replicate that success nationwide, instead of tricking our readers into thinking that "free trade" will do that. Because it hasn't. And it won't.

As a result, the Democrats that Washington sends to Congress largely understand that vigorous commerce – and the policies that make it possible – tend to create more jobs than they displace.


As long as you pair vigorous trade with tariffs to protect domestic industries.

They will be an important voice in a Democratic majority that may be inclined to pursue shortsighted protectionist policies likely to curb U.S. exports to foreign markets.


Protectionist policies will not curb U.S. exports. The only thing that will curb exports is a policy that wipes out our domestic industries, a policy exactly like today's corporate "free trade".

Fast-track authority – which will expire this summer – is crucial.


Wrong!

It allows the president to negotiate trade deals with other countries that are not subject to congressional amendment, though Congress remains empowered to reject them in their entirety.


Why would we take away the power of Congress to negotiate these deals? The President can be lobbied directly by one or more self-serving industries, whereas the Congress is much larger and harder to influence in such a simple way. Shouldn't we then put the power into their hands, where it's easier to implement the will of the people? Fast track authority has given us NAFTA, CAFTA, GATT (which gave us the WTO) and several other terrible trade deals which have wiped out our manufacturing base. Wouldn't you like to see what Democrats in Washington could actually do with the power to negotiate trade deals? We might actually see some positive changes in labor and environmental standards, rather than having to rely on the kindness of our trading partners and their autocratic and/or ineffectual governments.

Without that authority, the United States is not a reliable negotiating partner.


This is patently false.

Other countries know that the complex bilateral agreements they work out with American representatives are subject to being picked apart in Congress by lawmakers out to protect industries in their home districts. The lack of fast-track authority makes it much harder for the United States to establish mutually beneficial agreements with trade partners.


So the deals we worked out with countries for the first two hundred and ten years of our history weren't mutually beneficial? This is nothing more than right-wing spin to confuse you into supporting this position, based on nothing.

Polls suggest that many Americans are fearful of international trade, which in fact can be a hard sell.


Shouldn't that tell you something is wrong with the way we've been doing it? Like maybe we should change course?

It is much easier to alarm people by posing in front of a newly closed factory than it is to reassure them by pointing to abstract statistics showing job gains and economic growth.


Maybe that's because it's a more honest approach.

But Washington state is a working demonstration of how international trade offers a big net advantage to those who don’t run away from it. Our congressional delegation has a duty to get that message out.


Yes, they do. But if we're successful, the message won't be written the way the McClatchy Group wants it written. If We the People are effective in lobbying the Democrats to change the way our government negotiates these crooked deals, perhaps Washington State and every state in the union will see a resurgence in American industry. By ending fast-track and reinstating protective tariffs for essential American industries, as well as State-of-Origin labeling, we may just be able to restore all we have lost, since the nightmare of NAFTA began the rapid decline of our economy.


My Take


So there you have it. Yet another editorial page dominated by corporate money-men whining because Democratic legislators might actually do the right thing when it comes to protecting American jobs. Sadly, they've been handed this club by Democratic legislators like Joe Liebermann and Maria Cantwell, and good little lapdogs like Adam Smith and Norm Dicks, who take every opportunity they can to tout the importance of corporate "free trade".

I'd like to see these misguided Democratic legislators go to one of those "free trade zones" in Jamaica or Haiti or the Dominican Republic, to see what it's like where workers have no rights, no retirement and no health benefits. I'd like them to wander the streets at night without their entourages and see how long it takes before they are mugged, offered cheap heroin, or invited to spend the night with a twelve-year-old child prostitute and her starving family.

Free trade is killing this country, and killing the world. Global warming may be the biggest disaster facing this planet in the next twenty years, but the effects of free trade are visible now to anyone who dares to go and visit the Third World. If we wanted to build factories in Peru and Colombia that actually employed people at a living wage, I would be all for it. But thanks to the miracle of "fast-track" that Seago and Zeeck tout as some kind of panacaea, such protections can not be written in to the law. And the WTO, which America is a signatory to, will not even allow such well-intentioned changes to be enforced.

If the Democrats do the right thing, and actually work to change these laws through fair negotiation (following the demise of "fast-track"), they will quickly discover that challenging these laws bring the US into conflict with the World Trade Organization, a conflict which will not end happily for anyone with stock in the growing industries of outsourcing and the corporate rape of "emerging" markets. And because McClatchy and Murdoch and all the other tools of corporate media are making money off this awful situation, they will lose money and power worldwide. Threatening corporate "free trade" threatens their bottom line, and therefore, they will continue to sell this concept as somehow good for our state, and good for us.

But they will be wrong.

Challenging corporate free trade, and by extension, the very structure of the WTO, is
what we absolutely must do as a nation, if we are ever to restore the power of our economy and the strength of our industrial infrastructure. If we want to have good middle-class American jobs, we need to protect our domestic industries with protective tariffs and the enforcement of existing immigration laws. The corporatists who run our newspapers and our television networks would freak out if our leaders did this, but it's still the right thing to do.

Bringing back protective tariffs and throwing employers of undocumented immigrants in jail. Those two policies will make a dramatic impact on our economy, by forcing investors to invest in domestic industries. It will energize our economy and transform the labor market by forcing employers to pay a living wage. It's the right thing to do, which is why you will never see our local corporate rag advocating either of these policies. Instead, they will continue to shill for GE and Westinghouse and Lockheed Martin and Wal-Mart and all the other corporations that want to outsource our national security for the benefit of the Almighty Dollar.

I say tell McClatchy where they can stick it, and tell your legislators to vote the right way on corporate "free trade"! Down with "fast-track" authority and down with the WTO! We can have a country again, that serves all its citizens and not just the richest one tenth of one percent. We can have a country that we are proud to be citizens of, but only if we get off our butts and make our views known to those who claim to represent us in Washington.

Call, write, and raise hell! It's the only way we'll ever get our country back from the vultures who have stolen it from us. It's our patriotic duty as Americans to defend the policies that protect our jobs and restore our wealth as a nation. And the best part is that doing so will be good for all workers worldwide.

While you're pissed off, consider sending a letter to the TNT to tell them what YOU think of corporate "free trade". Send a copy to us here, and we'll print it in our "Your Views" section.

Categories: Local News, Workers' Rights


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2 Comments:

At 1:05 AM, Blogger Gary said...

Jeff, try a re-frame on this crap. All this blather about "Free Markets", "Free Trade" supposedly come from Adam Smith's "The Wealth of Nations", the handbook of capitalism. But these little manipulators, these purveyors of "Lesefaire Capitalism" misrepresent Smith, they bloviate on about "the invisible hand of the market" about how "free markets" must remain unregulated, and oh how they lie. Simply go to the Project Gutenberg web site, download a copy of Wealth of Nations (http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/3300) It's dense so don't try to read it (bloviators never have). just do a text search for "free market" and especially "invisible hand" of the market, Greenspan's favorite bagatelle. You'll find that the market that Smith envisioned, was one of many small entities doing a flourishing business with "little" interference from regulation AS LONG AS ALL THE FISH WERE SMALL! This so-called "invisible hand of the market" that these bastards lip-synch in lock-step is the tendency of an unregulated market to be overtaken by THE BIGGEST FRIGGIN' SHARK ON THE BLOCK! In other words, the "global fat globules" that have become our no longer patriotic Multi-Nationals. What the sons-of-bitches want is a "FREEBOOTER" market that they can hijack and buy up . Pirates indeed, for that's the scum to which the term FREEBOOTER applies. Free trade has merely "offshored" slavery and is just slobbering to bring it back home when no one can any longer "put food on their family". Thanks for keeping my faith in the youth of this nation. Gary Batterson

 
At 6:26 AM, Blogger Jeffrey Richardson said...

I like it, Gary. The Freebooter Market, yar! All these libertarians running around glorifying the freebooter market when they really just want to be able to seize their enemies' vessels and drink endless amounts of stolen rum.

Where there is no law, there's no order. Sadly, the "leaders" we elect to represent us in Washington don't seem to understand this.

 

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