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Monday, June 25, 2007
(9:31 AM) | Stephen:
Trade Issues

I'm tired of people talking about "free trade" as something that helps the poor - whether America's poor or the world's poor. Free trade has absolutely nothing to do with workers and their standard of living. Nothing. Free trade has to do with corporations' ability to move goods and services across borders. It has to do with reducing tariffs and even providing incentives for a nation's corporations to move their operations to other countries, such as the tax breaks American corporations receive for outsourcing.

Free trade also means that the workers in the poorer countries that participate in free trade agreements face new restrictions on organizing. It means that all those new jobs we hear about are unsafe and pay below that country's poverty level. It means that coffee growers in Colombia who sell to Folger's or Maxwell House need to raise coca on the side because the massive size of those companies allows them to buy their nasty-ass coffee beans at less than the amount it takes to raise them. Free trade means children work in factories instead of going to school. Free trade means that corrupt politicians are able to stay in power and enrich themselves at the expense of the citizens they claim to serve.

Free trade means American towns losing their residents. Free trade means our stores are flooded with useless, poorly-made and often unsafe junk. It means transforming our economy from one that allows high-school graduates to support their families through manufacturing and other blue-collar jobs to one where working as a barista at Starbucks is a "good" job, yet is one of 2 or 3 required to actually make a living. Free trade means our economy is increasingly based upon the masses of our citizens working in menial "service industry" jobs for the comfort and amusement of the wealthy - the same wealthy citizens who craft and ensure the passage of Free Trade Agreements.

Free trade is a crock of shit, a huge crime perpetrated upon the citizens of the world, deals made complex and inscrutable in order to hide the enormous stink of corruption and injustice rising from them.

So don't speak to me of free trade. Trying to argue in favor of it means you're either a fool or a criminal. Opposing free trade agreements doesn't make one "protectionist" or "xenophobic." There are plenty of models out there for fair trade, trade that opens up markets, that provides jobs, that helps people and their countries - even the USA - to improve their lot, to send kids to school instead of work, to allow people to work and live with dignity, providing for themselves and passing on to their children more than debt and the resentment, misery and despair of broken dreams and unobtainable goals.

I hereby declare war on free trade, on all those who are either ignorant or mendacious enough to support the idea.

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