The fight against the Fast Track bill itself changed Dec. 6, when 215 Democrats and Republicans effectively sold a critical legislative power to the executive branch. The focus now falls on Fast Track”s results. No one doubts that the Senate will give the president the authority to negotiate international trade agreements and to draft all impending legislation needed to get U.S. law in line with these agreements.
Nightmares over his incoherent expressions aside, our president and his corporate crew will secretly pen trade agreements and laws that determine labor rights, environmental practices and control over government”s basic services education, health care, water, to name a few. And Congress will have less than 20 hours to review and vote on these crucial agreements that affect the most basic areas of our lives. The vote will be a simple yes or no, Congress having surrendered its right to add amendments to this legislation. Representative democracy at work too bad it”s for corporate interests instead of citizens” interests.
But the “compassionate conservatives” and “new Democrats” rally behind the flag of opportunity at home and development abroad. So what about the most recent example of this global development NAFTA? According to the public interest group Global Trade Watch, the United States has lost an estimated 395,000 jobs with corporations diving into the Mexican pool of cheap labor and lax environmental laws, sponsored by NAFTA. How does unemployment translate into opportunity?
Citing a Los Angeles Times article, Global Trade Watch explains that Mexico”s NAFTA-inspired woes have sent 8 million Mexicans from the middle class into poverty. Mexico”s economic development translates into a minimum wage below $3.40 a day and an employment boom confined to the sweatshop districts. Environmental contamination and corresponding public health risks have only increased under NAFTA.
Maybe the Bush administration has learned from the dismal destruction wreaked by NAFTA. Nope. The latest proposed international trade agreement, the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas takes NAFTA as its model. Congress set no goals for the talks held last April in Quebec City. Many members of Congress have little to no idea what the agreement entails. Not to worry. Over 500 corporate representatives good people with good hearts, no doubt are negotiating far-reaching trade agreements in place of our representative officials.
If economic and environmental degradation abroad doesn”t bother you, agreements like FTAA will unite our global village like never before. Bringing sweatshops, toxic dumps and unaffordable utilities to a neighborhood near you exploitation isn”t just for the “third world” any more.