Saturday, July 09, 2011


Get ready for another stab in the heart of what's left of manufacturing in America. Just as more Americans are warming up to the "job saving" campaign of Buy American, the White House and Congress are preparing another Free Trade agreement with Columbia, Korea and Panama. 

It's well known that millions of our citizens who are ready, willing and able to work are unemployed and underemployed. It doesn't help he recently graduated workforce coming out of our schools to face such a diminished work option in the real world. But if you watch TV news, you'll see instead of creating jobs, our representatives in DC are busy trying to ram through another three ridiculous trade deals guaranteed to send even more jobs off shore. 
I'm reading several reports that President Obama has met with Juan Santos, (pictured above) president of Columbia with the intent to conjure up this agreement. How many people think this is going to help the American workforce? Given the opportunity, what would stop US corporations from establishing more cheap manufacturing  facilities there at the expense of our already underemployed Americans?
Sure, the President will get a pat on the back from those who stand to make a fortune on this deal, but the average worker will bare the brunt as more jobs emigrate to foreign lands. You might hear how President Santos has pledged to make working conditions equal to that of US standards, but who here believes that really?

It's exasperating to watch our national leaders squander our human resource when we desperately need to promote job growth here at home, these trade deals must stop. What has happened since NAFTA and the China trade status needs little study. We all agree that the slave labor in other countries is more preferable to the corporations, but how is it we would pursue yet another group of not only untrustworthy, but downright treacherous regimes to do business with? Look no further than Libya.

We need to be creating jobs here. There are more than enough bridges in the US that are far below the safety standard that we could set out to repair our nation's infrastructure instead of sending able bodies to the unemployment lines. Does no-one see this?
Below are some points found on the Labor sites that aim to highlight he issues of this pending deal:

  • In Colombia, one trade unionist is murdered almost every week and almost none of the murderers are brought to justice. 

  • The Korea agreement is the largest off-shoring deal of its kind since NAFTA. If enacted, it likely will displace 159,000 U.S. jobs, mostly in manufacturing. And its glaring loopholes would allow unscrupulous businesses to import illegally labelled goods from China and possible even from sweatshops in North Korea—potentially without any tariffs at all.

  • The Panama agreement has many of the problems of the other two deals, like deregulating big banks and letting foreign investors bypass U.S. health, safety labor and environmental laws. Panama is also a tax haven: a place where tax-dodging, money-laundering millionaires and billionaires hide their money.
I expect people to ask why at the county level, I or anyone else in local government would be concerned about the Federal trade issues like this one. Well, I feel we are all affected by what kind of employment landscape we must face after spending as much as we do on educating our kids, only to find our government working against us.

On a final note: Regarding the Made In America campaign, I will continue to ask that we all read the labels and invest in products made in the US. In a recent trip to Lowes, I found tools and supplies that were made here. For about the same price, I left happier knowing my purchase helped secure American jobs. With the impending trade agreements noted above... I'm no longer sure.


Anonymous said...

Mike, it gets worse. The US, like other developed countries, has long let many goods from developing countries enter without duties. Tariffs as theyre known.

The program is known as the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP). It expired at the end of last year and has not been renewed since. Why? Because of a Republican senator who objected to duty-free treatment on sleeping bags from Bangladesh. His district is home to the last American sleeping bag maker. A company he has ties to.

Only when the issue really hits home, do any of them do anything. I bring this up, because the renewal is included in the new proposal and is being expanded to include all LDCs or Least Developed Countries. We are so screwed!

Anonymous said...

The issues should be fair trade, the countries we do business with should have the same trade requirements as the US as well as a "living" wage and product safty. The US has too much regulation which causes a competitive disadvantage in the world market place. The other problem is the giving away of our technology to China and other unfriendly countries. I am nor for protectionism but there shouyld be parity with our trading partners.

Anonymous said...

Mike, You sound more like a Republican every day! But then again, so do I. It is terribly troubling to hear that the American worker is once again being wounded by our government. If you think this is bad, take a look at U.N. Agenda 21 a worldwide initiative to level the playing field against the U.S.