Bob's Links and Rants

Welcome to my rants page! You can contact me by e-mail: Blog roll. Site feed.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Free Trade Isn't Free

From the Detroit Free Press' lead editorial today:
The federal government has to date shown little interest in addressing any of the critical issues facing the domestic auto industry. Motor vehicle manufacturers don't appear to have the muscles in Washington that other business groups, including steel firms and drugmakers, have been able to flex in recent years.
I'll give the Free Press a hint: Who are the auto industry's most prominent political representatives on the national stage? Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow, Representative John Dingell, Governor Jennifer Granholm. All Democrats. Like the Reagan and Bush I administrations used the Contras to make life in Nicaragua a living (and dying) hell for a decade until the country cried uncle and voted the Sandinistas out of office, the current Bushies and other Repugs running this country apparently intend the squeeze the Great Lakes State until we, too, love Big Brother. So far, at least outside of Benton Harbor, the approach hasn't involved death squads, but the suffering and even death caused by the ongoing (and nearly complete) destruction of Michigan industrial cities like Detroit, Flint and Lansing is very real.

Of course, the Free Press still serves the corporate interests, so it refuses to blame the whole corrupt economic framework. Instead, it just uses a Kerry-esque approach, suggesting that only a minor tweak is needed to get the assembly lines and $30-an-hour jobs rolling again--a federal trade prosecutor:
U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., who is cosponsoring the Senate version of the legislation with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said the prosecutor would be charged with making sure America's trading partners are "playing by the rules." The prosecutor would investigate complaints about unfair trade practices, violations of trade agreements and theft of designs or other intellectual property and take cases to the World Trade Organization. Now, that process falls largely to private companies or individual citizens who are often taking on foreign governments, Stabenow said.

"They need a voice, somebody on their side," she said.
The Free Press comments:
This is not a protectionist proposal, nor an attempt to curb free trade.
Well, then it's not good enough. Despite the evidence all around them, the Free Press apparently still believes that "free trade" is a good thing. It isn't. It destroys cities, lives, and the environment. Michigan has everything necessary for a truly healthy economy with almost no need to import or export anything. It would be vastly different from what we have today, or what we had 30 years ago, but there are enough resources and know-how here to do it. We'd have to be more careful with the environment, and learn how to do some new things, and probably put everybody back to work. Anybody got a problem with that?

BTW, right-wing Detroit News cartoonist Henry Payne has drawn not one, but TWO CARTOONS in the past week extolling the wonders of the supposed 4.3% growth in the economy, even as tens of thousands of people in the region are laid off or are having their wages, benefits and pensions cut. Two of the top headlines today in Henry's paper? Ford caps benefits for thousands of retirees, and Detroit will lay off 400, shut history museum. I'm not sure we can stand much more of this "growth," Henry.