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Fri Jan 10, 2014, 03:34 AM

 

NAFTA at 20 Years/The Deserted Village

This has already been a rotten year for Washington state’s Boeing workers, who “agreed to concede some benefits in order to secure assembly of the new 777X airplane for the Puget Sound region,” an Associated Press article claimed on January 4. Jim Levitt, a 35-year Machinist at Boeing, gave a shop-floor view... “Besides losing the defined-benefit pension,” Levitt stated in a follow-up piece, “we’ve lost collective bargaining, for all intents and purposes,” with Boeing’s “new modus operandi” being “Take It or We Leave.” This threat is serious, revealed by the company’s diligent efforts to help eviscerate U.S. labor in recent years. “From 2001 to 2004,” historian Norman Caulfield writes, “Boeing cut more than 35,000 employees from its U.S. workforce,” part of some 3 million domestic manufacturing positions eliminated around the same time.

NAFTA, the so-called “free trade agreement” between Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. that turned 20 on January 1, secured rights for investors, and has helped spur this devastation of U.S. manufacturing. It was a bipartisan triumph, Jeff Faux reminds us, “conceived by Ronald Reagan, negotiated by George Bush I, and pushed through the US Congress by Bill Clinton in alliance with Congressional Republicans and corporate lobbyists.” And one of its accomplishments has been “accelerating the offshoring of jobs in the aircraft and aerospace industries,” Caulfield explains, noting that, in 2005-2006, “Cessna Aircraft, Bombardier Aerospace, and Raytheon Aircraft announced plans to move wire harness production from Wichita, Kansas, to various locations in Mexico.” Depicting these developments as “failures,” a common criticism, misses the point, since NAFTA’s supporters shaped it to serve their interests. Activists Kevin Danaher and Jason Mark list “Boeing, General Electric, Motorola, Caterpillar, and IBM, among others” as some of its chief backers...

Furthermore, NAFTA’s proponents were well-aware of its predictable outcomes, having produced scant evidence to counter the grim forecasts....But NAFTA prevailed not because of its champions’ intellectual finesse, “but because of a mammoth lobbyprop conducted by corporate ‘big hitters’—including Federated Department Stores, Amana, Whirlpool, G.E., Westinghouse, Caterpillar, CitiBank, Fruit of the Loom, and Boeing—that insisted in media adprop campaigns that NAFTA was the key to prosperity,” communications theorist Alex Edelstein clarified...Dean Baker wrote recently that NAFTA was “designed to push down the wages of manufacturing workers by making it as easy as possible to set up operations overseas...”

The U.S.-Mexico border, no barrier to the corporations that pushed for NAFTA, has become increasingly militarized over the past two decades, to the point where only the most hostile desert stretches remain free of Border Patrol swarms—a “physical layout” that “promotes the death of migrants,” in investigative journalist Óscar Martínez’s grim assessment. These migrants try to escape a country where huge swathes of the terrain have been transformed from lands serving subsistence needs into potential profit sources, shattering poor farming communities in the process. David Bacon, quoting business columnist Carlos Fernández-Vega, notes that, from 2000-2012, “about 26 percent of the national territory was given to mining consortiums for their sole benefit.” These transfers were concurrent with wipe-outs of both tariffs on agricultural goods entering the country, and subsidies for Mexican farmers—“a death sentence” for these people, Ronald Mize and Alicia Swords conclude, and Laura Carlsen points out that one-quarter of all Mexicans now lack access to basic food, while malnutrition plagues one-fifth of Mexico’s children.

Reviewing a similar catastrophe, the Irish nationalist John F. Scanlan argued in 1880 “that free trade is by far a more formidable agent than war in the subjugation of a nation.” Scanlan was referring to the British-Irish Acts of Union (1800-1801)...which created a “free trade area” between the two kingdoms.

An earlier historian and economist, Henry Charles Carey, discussed in an 1872 book the impressions of one “English traveler” surveying the wreckage of “the free-trade provisions of the Act of Union” throughout Ireland in 1834; in Kilkenny, the wanderer recounted, rather than “finding men occupied, I saw them in scores, like specters, walking about,” while in Callan, “containing between four and five thousand inhabitants, at least one thousand are without regular employment,” with “six or seven hundred entirely destitute.” The similarities between past and present are obvious, and should be borne in mind, Faux writes, as U.S. officials shed “crocodile tears over jobs and inequality”—while Obama demands the authority to force through arrangements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, described as “NAFTA on steroids.”

http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/01/08/nafta-at-20-years/


The Deserted Village is a poem by Oliver Goldsmith published in 1770. It is a work of social commentary, and condemns rural depopulation and the pursuit of excessive wealth.

The poem is written in heroic couplets, and describes the decline of a village and the emigration of many of its residents to America. In the poem, Goldsmith criticises rural depopulation, the moral corruption found in towns, consumerism, enclosure, landscape gardening, avarice, and the pursuit of wealth from international trade...


Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey,
Where wealth accumulates, and men decay...

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Reply NAFTA at 20 Years/The Deserted Village (Original post)
El_Johns Jan 2014 OP
xchrom Jan 2014 #1
solarhydrocan Jan 2014 #2
canoeist52 Jan 2014 #3
canoeist52 Jan 2014 #5
El_Johns Jan 2014 #7
canoeist52 Jan 2014 #8
jsr Jan 2014 #4
woo me with science Jan 2014 #6
Guy Whitey Corngood Jan 2014 #9

Response to El_Johns (Original post)

Fri Jan 10, 2014, 05:33 AM

1. du rec.

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Response to El_Johns (Original post)

Fri Jan 10, 2014, 08:09 AM

2. kick

prophetic interview with Sir James Goldsmith in 1994 Pt1



RIP Sir Goldsmith.

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Response to solarhydrocan (Reply #2)

Fri Jan 10, 2014, 09:58 AM

3. Wow. We certainly had plenty of warning from 1994.

Sound like Richard Wolff's talks. Thanks for the link.

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Response to solarhydrocan (Reply #2)

Fri Jan 10, 2014, 10:21 AM

5. About Laura Tyson or why we're in our current predicament.

"Laura D’Andrea Tyson is a professor at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley. She served as dean of London Business School from 2002–2006, and as dean of the Haas School of Business from 1998–2001.

Tyson is a member of the U.S. Department of State Foreign Affairs Policy Board. From 2011–2013, Tyson served as a member of President Barack Obama’s Council of Jobs and Competitiveness, and from 2009–2011, she was a member of the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board. She served in the Clinton administration and was the chair of the Council of Economic Advisers (1993–1995) and the president’s national economic adviser (1995–1996)."

http://www.americanprogress.org/about/staff/tyson-laura/bio/

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Response to canoeist52 (Reply #5)

Fri Jan 10, 2014, 02:58 PM

7. I don't get it. Why ask Laura Tyson? She's representative of the 1%ers who got us into our

 

present predicament.

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Response to El_Johns (Reply #7)

Fri Jan 10, 2014, 05:15 PM

8. Yes historically, she and others like her are the reason we're suffering today.

And she's still doing damage by advising elected officials and teaching young minds exactly the opposite of what is needed to solve our economic problems.

She was also sort of bullyish and very hard to listen to.

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Response to El_Johns (Original post)

Fri Jan 10, 2014, 10:03 AM

4. Recommend

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Response to El_Johns (Original post)

Fri Jan 10, 2014, 10:48 AM

6. K&R

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Response to El_Johns (Original post)

Fri Jan 10, 2014, 05:17 PM

9. K & R. nt

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