Local Stories, Events
Ref. : Civic Events
Ref. : Arts & Education Events
Ref. : Public Service Notices
Books, Films, Arts & Education
Ref. : Letters to the editor
Health Care & Environment
11.16 How pesticide bans can prevent tens of thousands of suicides a year [how many thousands more die early from eating pesticide-laced food?]
11.15 The long read: The plastic backlash: what's behind our sudden rage – and will it make a difference? [the world wants to throw-up...]
11.15 Claws out: crab fishermen sue 30 oil firms over climate change [workers are waking-up...]
11.12 This Land is Your Land: The Zinke effect: how the US interior department became a tool of industry [behaving ignorantly again...]
11.11 Trump responds to worst fires in California’s history by threatening to withhold federal aid [behaving ignorantly again...]
11.11 Interior department sued for ‘secretive process’ in at-risk species assessment [behaving ignorantly again...]
11.11 Keystone XL pipeline: judge rules government 'jumped the gun' and orders halt [behaving ignorantly again...]
News Media Matters
US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
11.16 As 'Green New Deal' Demand Grows, Democrats Have Choice: Confront and Defeat Fossil Fuel Industry or Take Credit for 'Doomed' Planet [Two choices: Save life-on-Earth or help Republicans let it die?]
11.15 Democrats Won Big. Can They Go Bold, Too? [it's about suppressing the influence and leadership by Republican-like Democrats who counsel 'íncremental' (no) change, such as Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Shumer and Joe Biden]
11.15 Pentagon Officials Forced to Make Fewer Public Appearances to Avoid Provoking Trump [...by revealing Trump's huuuge ignorance]
11.15 REPUBLICANS USED A BILL ABOUT WOLVES TO AVOID A VOTE ON YEMEN WAR [if there are 'defense industry' profits to be made—including congress-critter insider-trading—and political 'donations' to be had, we mustn't stop killing innocent civilians!]
11.14 The Guardian view on Yemen’s misery: the west is complicit [WAR CRIMES]
Economics, Crony Capitalism
11.16 Amazon’s HQ2 Will Get a Tax Break Designed to Help the Poor [a Republican program that directly helps participating wealthy companies—but only helps workers if and when 'trickle-down' occurs.]
11.16 Trump doesn’t want to punish Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi. His new sanctions prove it. [George W. Bush made a similar immoral decision for the same oily reasons after 9-11, protecting Saudi defense contracts while facilitating the slaughter of poorer Arab "terrorists" in the region.]
11.15 The Earth is in a death spiral. It will take radical action to save us [fossil fuel burning, un-recyclable plastic production/use and methane gas release must cease ASAP.]
International & Futurism
11.15 Cuba to pull doctors out of Brazil after President-elect Bolsonaro comments [terms must be negotiated for fairness to Cuba's health professionals without disruption of healthcare for Brazil's poor]
11.14 'Appalling' Khashoggi audio shocked Saudi intelligence – Erdogan [Exposing a psychopath?]
American Style Free Trade
Trade deals have been structured for corporate profits, but cause a net loss of middle-class jobs and tax revenue in developed countries.
Monday, 15 November 2010
"Free trade" is a license to steal, plunder, exploit, pollute, and overall operate unrestrained, the sole consideration being maximum profits, no matter how gotten.
Agreements like NAFTA, DR-CAFTA, and various bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) have proved hugely destructive, superseding national laws, sovereignty, labor rights, environmental concerns, and more.
In other words, "free trade" is a license to steal, plunder, exploit, pollute, and overall operate unrestrained, the sole consideration being maximum profits, no matter how gotten.
As a result, level playing fields don't exist. Jobs are exported and destroyed. Corporate giants alone win, trade managed solely for their benefit. An Economic Policy Institute (EPI) study showed NAFTA-related imports cost America 879,280 jobs in its first decade, besides downward pressure on wages and benefits. Saying FTAs will create them is deceptive hooey, a big lie based on historical experience, instructive for Korean and American workers as Washington pressures Seoul for a deal, a KORUS-FTA.
If agreed, EPI estimates that imports will displace around 888,000 existing or potential US jobs by 2015, causing a net 322,000 loss, the differential over export produced ones. Obama said he wanted a Bush negotiated KORUS voted on by Congress by early 2011 the latest after unspecified modifications were made. However, the current text replicates NAFTA and DR-CAFTA, contradicting his promise to use trade as a vehicle to create jobs, assure worker rights, protect ecological sustainability, and ensure financial stability.
As in America, worker rights violations, for example, are widespread in Korea. Authorities use their "obstruction of business" law to imprison labor leaders and employers, often using police repressively against union activity. America is more subtle for similar results, organized labor here a shadow of its former self.
The 2007 KORUS text also prohibits restriction sizes of financial institutions or limitations on services they can provide. Moreover, there's no control over risk, speculative derivatives trading, or destabilizing capital flight. Yet both countries have since implemented new stability and regulatory measures, conflicting with the original agreement. Some of Korea's, however, were loosened, not tightened, and America's financial reform is more business as usual than change.
In addition, the KORUS text lets foreign corporations privately enforce investor rights. As a result, they can directly challenge US laws in offshore courts seeking compensation for lost profits. Both countries have established businesses in the other. They'll thus get taxpayer subsidized payments for complying with environmental, public health, labor, financial, and other laws and regulations that violate KORUS provisions in its current form.
As now drafted, it also lets both nations ignore the International Labor Organization's (ILO) core conventions, nullifying its worker rights provisions. Overall, its limitations are as destructive as NAFTA, making its disturbing parts essential to renegotiate. According to Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen's Trade Watch division:
Over 150 congressional members co-sponsored HR 3012 - the Trade Reform, Accountability, Development and Employment Act (The TRADE Act) - for trade agreements to deliver for the majority in areas of labor, human rights, environmental and public safety, food and product health and safety, various services, investment, procurement, intellectual property, agriculture, trade remedies and safeguards, dispute resolution and enforcement, technical assistance, national security, and taxation.
Now's the time to deliver as promised and set a standard for all agreements to follow. On September 17, Wallach explained that US export growth to non-FTA countries have been more than double our treaty partners.
Besides increasing exports, job creation is the core justification for all trade deals. Yet Public Citizen's study "Lies, Damn Lies and Export Statistics" analyzes actual trade data. "It showed that, if exports to the 17 US FTA partners had only grown as much as exports to the rest of the world, (we'd) have had an extra $72 billion in exports over the past decade."
Point of fact: Contrary to NAFTA proponents, America's trade deficit with FTA partners increased, US producers losing out. Moreover, America's manufacturing base eroded, and its trade deficit ballooned. Yet, "corporate lobbyists unveiled a series of misleading and erroneous studies and talking points, alleging all sorts of" NAFTA-style benefits. "It is impossible to know whether these are deliberate attempts to distort the truth, or simply sloppy economics." Smart money says the former.
Disturbingly, current FTAs extract export penalties, harming manufacturing and service exports, besides destroying jobs at a time creating them should be priority one. In his 2010 State of the Union address, Obama called export expansion a national priority, its goal to create two million jobs by doubling exports by 2015. The data, however, belie the bravado, as distorted as bogus lobbyist, US Chamber of Commerce, and National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) claims.
For example, since NAFTA-style FTAs in 1994, America lost 4.9 million manufacturing jobs and 43,000 US plants closed. Since 2000, the proportion of US jobs in the manufacturing sector declined by 30% - from 15.5% to 10.9%, a key factor being flawed trade deals.
The EPI, in fact, projects that if current trade policy continues, all wage gains since 1979 for non-college degreed workers may be erased.
The EPI, in fact, projects that if current trade policy continues, all wage gains since 1979 for non-college degreed workers may be erased. Clearly, a new direction is needed, one opposite of KORUS and other FTAs.
KORUS So Far Is Stalled
On November 11, New York Times writer Sheryl Gay Stolberg headlined, "Stalled South Korea Trade Deal Is Setback for Obama," saying:
Unsurprisingly, Stolberg's tone supports a deal she should condemn. Instead she touts its export growth and job creation potential, calling it a US Chamber of Commerce priority, and saying America is falling behind China negotiating its own Asian deals, "a source of concern to the Obama administration, which is trying to promote alliances in the region to tamp down China's influence."
A November 7 New York Times editorial headlined "South Korea Is a Start," saying:
Earlier editorials were just as clueless. For example, a February 2, 2007 one headlined, "A Bipartisan Trade Policy" called it "very good to the United States, (an unidentified source saying deals added) an additional $1 trillion in income for Americans annually, and millions of new jobs" since WW II.
False, as Public Citizen's Lori Wallach explained above. No matter, The Times editorial concluded saying "putting the brakes on (FTA-created) global growth is still the surest path to losing American jobs."
No wonder Jonathan Tasini, the Labor Research Association's Executive Director headlined a February 2, 2007 op-ed: "The New York Times Shills for Corporate Trade," saying:
They're committed solely to wealth and power interests, what's pretty much true throughout the dominant media, where seldom is heard a discouraging word about policies they should denounce, destructive trade deals among them.
Listen to Lendman's cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
Mr. Lendman's stories are republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.
Copyright © 2010 The Baltimore News Network. All rights reserved.
Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.
Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.This story was published on November 15, 2010.