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Tuesday, April 27, 2004

When Lovers Fight
The World Trade Organization (WTO) was intended by its Washington parents to give unfettered access by American and other wealthy capitalists to world markets, resources, and cheap labor. They never intended for the WTO to block their ability to bribe senators from farm states by challenging crop subsidies, which are basically corporate welfare. But to sell the WTO to the countries they wanted to exploit, they had to put in some language suggesting that the WTO might actually provide some benefits to those countries.

Since our tax dollars are used to subsidize cotton and other crops far beyond our domestic needs, these crops are sold on the world market. There these crops compete with unsubsidized products of poor farmers in other countries, either preventing them from selling or forcing prices below their costs of production.

Brazil filed a complaint in the WTO against the U.S. for our cotton subsidies, and yesterday Brazil won. The Bushies of course say they will appeal, as always worried about votes in the red states than they are about the plight of the poor billions around the world. But their commitment to profoundly undemocratic trade organizations like the WTO will likely trump even this election-year concern, as it did in the case of steel tariffs last year. A far better result would be if they rejected the WTO entirely, leading to its downfall. Brazilian farmers could then grow for the domestic market without having to compete with subsidized American crops. And eventually, American workers could go back to making things without having to compete with near-slave labor in Latin America and Asia.

"Free trade" is a euphemism for capitalist imperialism, and the sooner it dies the better. Hopefully this WTO ruling is a step in that direction, one way or another.