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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Pat Buchanan on NAFTA

If the right wing in America were represented by Pat Buchanan, rather than by insane ideologues like Cheney, religious nutjobs like Falwell, and idiot poseurs like Bush and Frist, we'd be a lot better off. Buchanan may start with basic assumptions far different from yours and mine, but he is intelligent, reasonable, and consistent. And when it comes to issues of war and peace and so-called "free trade," he also happens to be right. Here are some excerpts from a recent column:
A year after NAFTA passed, the U.S. trade surplus had vanished. From 1995 through 1998, we ran $20 billion trade deficits with Mexico. From 1999 through 2005, the U.S. trade deficit with Mexico grew every year, from $27 billion in 1999 to last year's $54 billion.
When NAFTA passed in 1993, we imported some 225,000 cars and trucks from Mexico, but exported about 500,000 vehicles to the world. In 2005, our exports to the world were still a shade under 500,000 vehicles, but our auto and truck imports from Mexico had tripled to 700,000 vehicles.

As McMillion writes, Mexico now exports more cars and trucks to the United States than the United States exports to the whole world.
Mexico's leading exports to the United States in 2005 were autos, oil, electrical machinery, computers, furniture, textiles and apparel. The Made-in-the-USA goods that reaped us the greatest revenue in trade with Mexico were plastics, chemicals, cereals, cotton, meat, paper, oil seed, aluminum, copper and knitted or crocheted fabrics.

U.S.-Mexico trade calls to mind the trade relationship between Betsy Ross' America and the England of the Industrial Revolution, with Mexico in the role of England.
The American people were had. NAFTA was never a trade deal. NAFTA was always an enabling act -- to enable U.S. corporations to dump their American workers and move their factories to Mexico.

For U.S. companies, it was one sweet deal. At zero cost, they were allowed to rid themselves of their American workers; get out from under contributing to Social Security and Medicare; and slough off the burden of environmental, health-and-safety, wage-and-hour and civil-rights laws -- and were liberated to go abroad and hire Mexicans who would work for one-fifth to one-tenth of what their unwanted American workers cost.

What NAFTA, GATT, Davos and the WTO have always been about is freeing up transnationals to get rid of First World workers, while assuring them they could hold on, at no cost, to their First World customers.

When one considers who finances the Republican Party, funds its candidates, and hires its former congressmen, senators and Cabinet officers at six- and seven-figure retainers to lobby, it is understandable that the GOP went into the tank.

But why did the liberals, who paid the price of mandating all those benefits for American workers and imposing all those regulations on U.S. corporations, go along? That's the mystery. About NAFTA there is no mystery. There never really was.
As Eli at Left I on the News points out, Jeff Faux answered that question last month. Shorter Jeff Faux: The Clintons and other "New Democrats" aren't liberals at all--they're as much a part of the pro-corporate ruling elite as Bush is. The other thing to note is that the statistics Buchanan quotes make it sound like our loss is Mexico's gain, something Faux and others have pointed out isn't true. Only the corporate elite in both countries (and Canada as well, for that matter) have benefited from NAFTA; everyone else is worse off.

Conservatives like Buchanan and Paul Craig Roberts are not the problem; while they have certain biases which may color their judgment (as do we all), they still USE their judgment. It is those who use religion or patriotism or loyalty to a particular person (especially a particularly awful person like Bush) instead of judgment who are preventing America from adequately dealing with its many problems.