Even in a time of historical partisan gridlock so venomous and dysfunctional that Republicans and Democrats can’t agree on the day of the week let alone a simple jobs plan for an American economy on life-support, our honorable elected leaders have once again demonstrated that they have no problem coming together in sweet, loving bipartisan harmony when their true masters come calling.
I’m referring to Wednesday of this week, when one of our nations’ most divided and contentious sessions of Congress suddenly stopped the political warfare, called a cease fire, and quietly passed 3 new Free Trade Agreements (FTA’s) without so much as a furled brow from either side.
The new agreements, signed this time with the economic powerhouses of South Korea, Columbia and Panama, came with the same assurances of those that preceded them; “All participating nations will benefit by creating a larger common market”.
And if you believe that, I’ve got a trickle down economic theory to sell you.
The reality is that nothing could be further from the truth, as the only people who benefit from these agreements are the multinational corporations and big banks who spend billions lobbying for them. Packaged and sold to the American public as a means to “increase exports and reduce consumer prices”, the only real purpose of these agreements is to provide American corporations with access to the slave labor and relaxed environmental laws of 3rd world nations.
The results have been predictably devastating.
American manufacturers naturally pick up and relocate their plants to these more “business friendly” countries, taking with them millions of middle class jobs and crushing entire towns and regions in the process. Adding insult to injury, they even successfully lobbied the IRS to allow them to write off the relocating expenses. How’s that for a kick in the teeth Mr. John Q Taxpayer?
Next to follow is a ballooning trade deficit. Since FTA’s generally repeal tariffs between the nations, and America consumes far, far more than any 3rd world nation, imports naturally rise well above exports. As a result, cheap imports made with cheap labor flood the market, American businesses are unable to compete, and millions of additional small businesses and jobs are destroyed.
In the end, America is left with Wallmart, and the complete decimation of Main Street and the kinds of small businesses and decent paying jobs that fueled local economies across middle-America for generations.
Our corporate rulers like to call it “globalization”, a clever disguise for what is basically an international race to the bottom for cheap labor and fewer regulations.
Yet as I speak, news of these agreements has been met with what could only be described as a collective yawn by both the national media and the American people. At a time when populist protests are growing across the nation, one can only hope that at some point attention will be brought to one of the primary drivers of America’s economic problems.