December 17, 2013

Thoughts on 20 years of NAFTA

It's now been 20 years since the approval of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The agreement was signed by leaders of the U.S., Canada and Mexico 21 years ago today. In the US, the House passed it in late November, 1993, after Bill Clinton had replaced George H.W. Bush as president. The Senate passed it shortly thereafter and Clinton signed it on Dec. 8, 1993.

(I was prompted by an NPR piece talking about the 20th anniversary of NAFTA, which, unless I'm missing some detail that I can't find on Canadian or Mexican approval dates, isn't quite true.)

Then-president Bill Clinton remains unapologetic for it, or the much larger World Trade Organization, evolving out of the old General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs in 1995. He remains unapologetic for enforcing the environmental sidebars of NAFTA which, skimpy as they are, could have prevented both U.S. manufacturing AND Mexican agriculture from being gutted quite as much as they were.

And, speaking on that last point, he also is unapologetic about how NAFTA likely increased illegal immigration, and the pressures behind it, rather than decreasing it.

That leads us to President Barack Obama. His DREAM Act for addressing Mexican immigration still doesn't address the causes of it. And, despite blaming NAFTA for increasing unemployment, during the 2008 presidential election, he continues to shove "free trade" treaties down the American throat. As long as such treaties bolster Silicon Valley and expand international copyright and intellectual property protections for Hollywood products, Obama really doesn't care about how such agreements increase the income inequality he recently has found religion about, or how they continue to undermine organized labor.

Meanwhile, in light of Canada's tar sands and its current Prime Minister Stephen Harper, aka Bush with a Brain, seeking to exploit the oil from those sands in any way possible, then premier Jean Chretien's worry over Canadian energy sovereignty seems almost laughable. Of course, Chretien seems like a Quebecois Canadian version of Clinton. And Carlos Salinas de Gortari was a conservative hack of a party of conservative hacks in Mexico. Enough said, there.

Bottom line? People wonder why I vote Green rather than Democrat for president?

One reason is the flat-out lies that Democratic presidents tell, have told and will continue to tell on labor issues.

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