Source: Common Dreams
It is an easy mistake to make when looking at a problem as deep and complex as our immigration woes to want to find the "thing." That magical element which if we only changed all would be well again.
NAFTA has become that thing as regards illegal immigration from Mexico and the Americas. Which is not to say that I don't think NAFTA is a component, I do, but what then explains the earlier Bracero programs and the reality that illegal immigrants have been crossing our border from Mexico for decades?
NAFTA is not "The Thing." But it is one of the many "things" that add up to our out of control situation with illegal immigration.
The recent ferment on immigration policy has been so narrow that it has excluded the real issue: family-sustaining wages for workers both north and south of the border. The role of the North American Free Trade Agreement and misnamed ‘free trade’ has been scarcely mentioned in the increasingly bitter debate over the fate of America’s 11 to 12 million illegal aliens.The entire notion of "Free Trade" is predicated on a notion so bizarre, and so "religious" in nature it stuns me that sane grown ups have any truck with this notion at all.
NAFTA was sold to the American public as the magic formula that would improve the American economy at the same time it would raise up the impoverished Mexican economy. The time has come to look at the failures of this type of trade agreement before we engage in more and lower the economic prospects of all workers affected.
While there has been some media coverage of NAFTA’s ruinous impact on US industrial communities, there has been even less media attention paid to its catastrophic effects in Mexico:
* NAFTA, by permitting heavily-subsidized US corn and other agri-business products to compete with small Mexican farmers, has driven the Mexican farmer off the land due to low-priced imports of US corn and other agricultural products. Some 2 million Mexicans have been forced out of agriculture, and many of those that remain are living in desperate poverty. These people are among those that cross the border to feed their families. (Meanwhile, corn-based tortilla prices climbed by 50%. No wonder many so Mexican peasants have called NAFTA their ‘death warrant.’
* NAFTA’s service-sector rules allowed big firms like Wal-Mart to enter the Mexican market and, selling low-priced goods made by ultra-cheap labor in China, to displace locally-based shoe, toy, and candy firms. An estimated 28,000 small and medium-sized Mexican businesses have been eliminated.
* Wages along the Mexican border have actually been driven down by about 25% since NAFTA, reported a Carnegie Endowment study. An over-supply of workers, combined with the crushing of union organizing drives as government policy, has resulted in sweatshop pay running sweatshops along the border where wages typically run 60 cents to $1 an hour.
So rather than improving living standards, Mexican wages have actually fallen since NAFTA. The initial growth in the number of jobs has leveled off, with China’s even more repressive labor system luring US firms to locate there instead.
Richard Cobden, often considered the Father of Free Trade, wrote in 1846...
"I believe that the physical gain will be the smallest gain to humanity from the success of this principle. I look farther; I see in the Free Trade principle that which shall act on the moral world as the principle of gravitation in the universe - drawing men together, thrusting aside the antagonism of race, and creed, and language, and uniting us in the bonds of eternal peace."In the interests of pure laziness, and the fact that I cannot put this any better today, let me quote myself from that piece...
All evidence to the contrary. This sounds great, and if it worked it would be thing of beauty, but beauty and utility are not always on speaking terms. If this were actually true, then wouldn't we be seeing some of these things happening right now? Do you?Free Trade is a false religion and like all false religions it brings misery and strife in it's wake.
Do you see the "antagonism of race, and creed, and language" being thrust aside, cuz I certainly don't. What I see is a cheapening and coarsening of our nation by those who hold profit as being the highest good. If your god is money what will your sacrifice be? What will you sacrifice to your rapacious god? What will restrain your darker impulses?
The true danger of this kind of philosophy is that it tries to replace God and the things only he can do with money, never works, never will work, in fact it can only bring evil. I've said this before but it bears repeating, I don't give a rat's ass if you believe in god, that's between you and he, but can you truly look me in the eye and tell me that something on the order of original sin doesn't make a whole lot of sense?
And are we really to believe that the solution to mans essentially depraved nature is trade? Really? This is dangerously utopian, dangerously foolish, and to me it explains a lot of the foolishness I read and hear about the principles of "Free Trade."
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