04 August 2004

More Catsup and Not-So-Free Trade

Remember that family (email) discussionI mentioned earlier about the LACK of a connection between John Kerry and the movement of Heinz factories to Mexico? Well, my brother Mark also had something to say. . . .

Now Mark is something of a conservative and something of an anarchist. I know that sounds odd, but his views do span the gap. He has a conservative attitude toward gays & lesbians, toward women's issues, and he really likes Pat Buchanan. On the other hand, he disagrees with taxes, dislikes government control, is against "free" trade, and is suspicious (as we all should be) of recent government invasions of personal privacy--and the anarchists agree with him there.

After Gillie straightened us all out on the Heinz company, Mark commented on "Free Trade" saying: "Good point, however, more importantly John Kerry did support Bill Clinton in the signing of the NAFTA and GAT treaties.

"NAFTA and GAT are the catalyst of the trend to move manufacturing overseas. It reduces and in many cases eliminates import duties on goods that these companies manufacture overseas and ship back to the United States. In all fairness, George Bush Sr. was a supporter(and original signer) of NAFTA, too, but that limited these trade deals to North American countries not South American countries or the entire world.

"Free trade is bad. Our country was founded on a Constitution that allowed Congress to levy taxes upon imports. This created a treasury for our national defense and it also fostered the growth of a manufacturing industry here. The elimination or reduction of tariffs over the years have created a vacuum that has been filled by income tax, gas tax, etc."

To which I had to respond: "You are very right, Mark! Free trade is seldom very free--it costs Americans jobs and gives no benefit to the Third World countries where American manufacturors pay less than living wages to the locals while getting away with poor ecological and environmental control. I don't understand how it is that we allow our big businesses to get away with things in other parts of the globe that we don't allow on American soil. Or are we just blind?

"But as for Administrations that push free trade, you might also note that the current Bush adminstration is pushing to expand NAFTA from just North America into the FTAA (Free Trade of the Americas) which will spread American interests to the rest of Central and South America. And, by the way, do you remember that $87 billion dollars ostenensibly for the aid of Iraq & Afghanistan which Mr. Bush signed off on last November? Few people know that 8.5 million of that fund was sent by the federal government to Miami to block legitimate, permit-granted rallies that were scheduled to protest against the FTAA summit in Miami:

Our right to deliver this message in a safe environment was systematically thwarted by police in Miami. Thousands of officers were deployed to guard the FTAA Ministerial – an international trade summit hosted by the Bush administration. Forty jurisdictions reportedly contributed officers to the police presence in Miami, which was financed, at least in part, by the $8.5 million in federal funds appropriated by Congress for the FTAA Ministerial in the emergency supplemental appropriations bill for Iraq and Afghanistan.

These direct links between the Miami police presence on the one hand, and federal funding and functions on the other, should be sufficient to merit federal oversight. But it is the police’s grave violations of the constitutional rights of union members and our allies that most urgently demands intervention by the Department of Justice. It is the responsibility of the federal government to ensure that state and local authorities respect our civil liberties. I urge you to use your authority as Attorney General to investigate and prosecute those responsible for violating our rights, and to ensure that such repression is never again tolerated in the United States.
From a 'Letter Sent by AFL-CIO President John Sweeney to Attorney General John Ashcroft Urging an Independent Investigation into Miami Police Force Tactics During FTAA Demonstrations'

"So before blaming Clinton & Kerry (never mind the rest of Congress that lets this crap get as easily past them as the so-called 'Patriot Act' did), let's take a closer look which big business pockets G.W. Bush has his hands into!"

Interestingly enough, this is one area in which my brother (the militant right-winger) and I (the liberal feminist bitch) , can totally agree. I want to thank President G. W. Bush for uniting us strange bedfellows in the universal urge to vote for "ANYBODY BUT BUSH!"--as my car bumper so proudly states.

Anyone wanting to do a bit more research on outsourcing overseas might check out Downsize This by Michael Moore and on the foibles of the Bush administration see the new book out by Sen. Robert Byrd Losing America.

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