In a post last week on NAFTA Eristic Ragemail states:
Nativist anger at undocumented workers is misplaced. If nativists really cared about U.S. jobs and the welfare of the American worker they would focus the intensity of their anger at U.S. corporations and the politicians that do their bidding.
This statement couldn’t be more true. The problem is the wave of nativist sentiment simply wants to find something to hate and another human being is a better target for them then a company or government they feel powerless to change. They find it easier and more fulfilling to actually see the target of their disdain. For those people that truly want to change the way this country, and its big businesses, treat their people and those in other countries we have a lot of work to do. Pointing fingers at each other is not a good way to start.
I had read, not too long ago, two books by Greg Palast (Armed Madhouse and The Best Democracy Money Can Buy) which provided some insight into these trade agreements between nations and entities such as the WTO and IMF. With these agreements you essentially end up with companies that can bend countries to their will. NAFTA only encompasses North America and even there we see this in one case, amongst many I’m sure, where a U.S. company sued Canada for disrupting their business due to Canada refusing them to import gas with a harmful additive. So basically the Canadian government is being told it has no jurisdiction to look out for the health of its citizens lest it be sued.
Aside from that issue I was thinking about how NAFTA is by definition a “free trade agreement” which one would assume essentially makes Canada, the U.S. and Mexico borderless when it comes to moving products back and forth. Of course the people have to stay put. Commodity over compassion.
How three separate nations with separate economies and standards of living can trade this way makes little sense to me. If this agreement created one economy amongst the nations I think we know who is getting the raw end of the deal. If this agreement was truly in the benefit of everyone it would bring everyone to a common economic ground. Unfortunately this is not the case.
The following quote, from Flor Crisostomo’s letter to Felipe Calderon, in an article titled US & Mexican Activists Target Merida Initiative, Trade Pacts sparked my desire to write this post.
“We call on the Mexican government to renegotiate NAFTA, because for 14 years it has been the principal propeller of migration and the separation of families in Mexico,” Crisostomo wrote the Mexican president. “And we are seen and treated like criminals in this country,” she added.
If our businesses can benefit from cheap labor in Mexico then why can’t Mexican people benefit from higher paying jobs in the United States? For more information here’s a link to a wonderful blog titled Eristic Ragemail and an article titled Globalization, NAFTA and immigration.
From this article:
Immigration and emigration between Mexico and the United States is driven by a complex set of forces. These forces are the result of economic and political policies put in place by the United States and Mexico. One such element is the maquiladora program which essentially expands the borders for U.S. manufacturing concerns deep into Mexico. Under this program, American corporations are allowed to transfer their manufacturing facilities to Mexico and pay pitifully low wages and send the finished goods back to the U.S. market without tariffs or other duties leveled on importers from other countries. In almost all respects this is a losing proposition for Mexico and most critically for Mexican workers.
Simply by placing a manufacturing plant 50 feet across the border from the United States, American companies are able to produce manufactured goods while paying their workers less than $5.00 a day. When you consider that manufacturing jobs in the United pay about $12.00 an hour this expansion of U.S. borders greatly benefits U.S. corporations.