Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning
Earlier today, Brad Friedman reported that, despite high unemployment and food stamp usage at an all-time record high, U.S. corporations were experiencing record profits.
Simultaneously, Los Angeles Times reported that Senate leaders have reached an accord to pass three more NAFTA-like "free trade" agreements (Panama, Colombia, and South Korea) when Congress returns from its August recess. The Times stated: "Proponents [e.g., the U.S. Chamber of Commerce] say the trade agreements...will pump as much as $14 billion into the U.S. economy and add more than 250,000 jobs."
The reality was better captured by Ross Perot during a 1992 Presidential Debate when he warned (video reminder below) that NAFTA would produce "a giant sucking sound of jobs headed South"...
There is no empirical evidence that would support the proponents' claim that the proposed Colombia, Panama, and South Korean trade agreements would add so much as a single job to the U.S. economy, let alone 250,000. In the meantime, there is a great deal of evidence to suggest that this latest 'jobs scam' of billionaire sociopaths will cost jobs and increase our trade deficit.
As observed by Tim Robertson of The San Francisco Chronicle:
This myopia is familiar, as NAFTA-boosters in the early 1990s also predicted job growth due to new export opportunities while failing to heed warnings that import growth would overwhelm such advantages. Nearly 20 years later, 1 in 3 manufacturing jobs are gone, 90 percent of American workers have suffered stagnant wages, and California's unemployment rate is 12.3 percent.
Subsidies and NAFTA's dirty little secret
As revealed by Jeff Faux in The Global Class War, with the 1993 passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), some of the wealthiest citizens of this country not only gorged themselves at the public trough by way of subsidies, but parlayed this into a means to engage in unfair competition in Mexico, selling corn at well below the cost of production. This drove nearly 1.5 million Mexican farmers off the land, creating a massive migration to Mexico's cities.
Faux asserts this created an overabundance of cheap labor in the Northern Mexico cities which was exploited by U.S. manufacturers, who saw a golden opportunity to dispose of their unionized U.S. workers, in what amounted to the first step in the wholesale outsourcing of almost everything made in the U.S., save military weapons, first south to Mexico and then to China, India, and and other parts east --- short-term greed with devastating long-term economic consequences.
But the NAFTA scheme entailed much more than Ross Perot's ominous warning during the 1992 Presidential debates of a "giant sucking sound of jobs headed South." As Kenner and Schlosser reveal in Food, Inc., when the U.S.-subsidized corn drove Mexican farmers off their land, it created a golden opportunity for the meat packing industry to shift to cheap labor even while remaining in the U.S.. American meat packers actively recruited the displaced Mexican farmers, drawing the undocumented into an increasingly consolidated U.S. meat packing industry --- an industry which once paid union wages in the 1950s that were on par with the middle class wages in the auto industry.
As a result, the job of meat packing was set back both in terms of economics and safety to levels not seen since Roosevelt --- Teddy Roosevelt that is.
The three new "free trade" agreements are likely to produce similar results in Panama, Colombia, and South Korea, though, especially with today's virulent levels of anti-immigrant bashing, it is doubtful we'll see a significant influx of immigration to the U.S. from those three nations.
'Freedom is Slavery'
Faux's major contribution to the issue of globalization comes from his recognition that the so-called "free trade" agreements cannot be understood from the basis of whether they benefit any of the nation-states which enter them. Instead, they must be understood from the perspective of an international billionaire class whose loyalties lie with their class rather than the nations in which they reside.
If we are to overcome the betrayal embodied in these NAFTA-like agreements, we must overcome the power of their Orwellian frame.
One of the three major slogans from George Orwell's 1984 was "Freedom is Slavery." So called "free trade" actually translates to the liberty of the investor class to enslave the rest of humanity by forcing ordinary citizens everywhere to compete with the $2/day slave wages now paid in foreign sweat shops.
Ross Perot warning us about NAFTA during 1992 Presidential debate...
Ernest A. Canning has been an active member of the California state bar since 1977. Mr. Canning has received both undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science as well as a juris doctor. He is also a Vietnam vet (4th Infantry, Central Highlands 1968).