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Fair Trade

Jill Stein: Obama’s Colombian Trade Deal ‘Race to Bottom'

An angry Green Party presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein had this to say about Obama’s certification last Sunday of the US-Colombia Free Trade Agreement.

President Obama called it a win-win. No, it's a lose-lose for workers. It's a deadly assault on the freedom of Colombian workers to organize, as well as on the freedom of American workers from unfair competition from workers who make poverty wages because they are violently repressed.

It is a trade pact, explained Stein, in which more than 80 percent of industrial and manufactured products exported from the U.S. and from Colombia will be duty free. More than half of U.S. agriculture exports to Colombia will also become duty free.


The U.S. agricultural exports are not so-called free trade but subsidized trade. Many of them receive federal agribusiness subsidies. They will flood Colombian markets, displace Colombian farmers, reduce Colombia's food self reliance, and push farmers and farmworkers into the manufacturing labor market to further lower wages there. The trade deal is job killer for American workers and a wage depressor for Colombian workers.

King George III Won: Happy Fourth of July!

King George III Won: Happy Fourth of July!
By David Swanson

The Declaration of Independence is best remembered as a declaration of war, a war declared on the grounds that we wanted our own flag. The sheer stupidity and anachronism of the idea serves to discourage any thoughts about why Canada didn't need a bloody war, whether the U.S. war benefitted people outside the new aristocracy to whom power was transferred, what bothered Frederick Douglas so much about a day celebrating "independence," or what the Declaration of Independence actually said.

When you read the Declaration of Independence, it turns out to be an indictment of King George III for various abuses of power. And those abuses of power look fairly similar to abuses of power we happily permit U.S. presidents to engage in today, either as regards the people of this nation or the people of territories and nations that our military occupies today in a manner uncomfortably resembling Britain's rule over the 13 colonies.

Or perhaps I should say, a large portion of us take turns being happy or outraged depending on the political party with which the current president is identified.

Listen to National Public Radio's (NPR's) "Take Away" with John Hockenberry & Adaora Udoji & be Mislead & Misinformed

Listen to National Public Radio’s (NPR’s) “Take Away” with John Hockenberry and Adaora Udoji and be Mislead, Misinformed, and Propagandized
Andrew H. Dral

On Friday morning December 26, 2008 John Hockenberry and Adaora Udoji (I believe) interviewed David Frum. Mr. Frum represents the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a reactionary think tank espousing royalist propaganda. Mr. Frum made a statement that Bush had created jobs during his administration as one of his successes. There was no response from Mr. Hockenberry or Ms. Udoji, just silence. I was astounded. Mr. Frum is the same individual that invented Bush’s “Axis of Evil,” and wrote many of Bush’s early speeches. In early October 2002 Bush gave a speech in Cincinnati, Ohio. In that speech Bush unequivocally asserted Iraq had reconstituted its nuclear weapons program. Bush indicated Iraq was rebuilding its nuclear facilities. Iraq was purchasing high-strength aluminum tubes with other equipment needed for gas centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons, the propagandist in chief said. All of these assertions were lies. Why Mr. Frum would be given full, unfettered access to National Public Radio’s (NPR’s) audience is beyond me. He has a history of lies, deceit, and distortions, yet Hockenberry and Udoji had no problem helping him catapult the propaganda, as Bush would say.

A point of fact, job creation has been extremely weak during the Bush administration, by some measures the weakest on record, four years after the 2001 recession ended the job count increased by only 2.6%, the slowest rate ever recorded, surpassing the previous low of 4% set four years after the 1953-1954 recession. Bush promised his policies – deregulation, globalization, privatization, and free trade – would create 8 million (MM) jobs a year. The best he could do was just over 2MM jobs a year. On average, 189,000 jobs were created every month in 2006, compared to only 111,000 jobs per month in 2007. A matter of fact the first quarter of 2007 was the slowest quarterly rate of job creation ever recorded. You need at least 150,000 jobs created a month to be at equilibrium, i.e., providing jobs to new entrants into the work force. This is a far cry from 1994 to 2000 period when the Clinton administration was averaging creating roughly 300,000 jobs per month. At the time of the Frum interview, the latest year to date non-farm payroll numbers the economy had lost over 1.9MM jobs. For calendar year 2008 we’ve lost 2.6MM jobs. You have to go back to the Great Depression to get these economic numbers. A matter of fact, 2008 was the worst job loss year since 1945.

A recent article in the New York Times by Floyd Norris published on January 24, 2009 indicates during Bush’s term the economy added enough jobs to employ only 14% of the added number of working-age Americans, the lowest proportion of any postwar administration. Employment grew at a compound annual growth rate of 0.3%, half the 0.6% rate that his father had recorded in what had previously been the worst post-World War II performance.

NJ's Free Trading, Outsourcing, Warmongering, and Israeli Go To Guy, Senator Frank Lautenberg vs. Challenger Rep. Rob Andrews

New Jersey’s Free Trading, Outsourcing, Warmongering, and Go To Guy for Israel, Senator Frank Lautenberg Faces Senate Challenger Rep. Rob Andrews
Andrew H. Dral

When the decision is to help the middle class by keeping jobs in America or to help corporate America reduce domestic expenses, you can count on New Jersey’s (NJ) Senator Frank Lautenberg to side with corporate interests. Senator Lautenberg voted for the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004 – S1637. A tax giveaway to corporations, lowering the corporate tax rate on repatriated funds to 5.25% from 35%. Corporations have received a free ride on taxes, in 1995 corporations paid $157 billion (B) in taxes, compared to $132B in 2003 corporate taxes paid. In his annual report, Warren Buffett said corporate taxes are at their lowest level, since 1934, at 7.4% of all federal tax receipts, down from 32% of tax receipts in 1952.

This bill, the Jobs Creation Act, should have been called the CEO Bonus Earnings Act or Mergers and Acquisitions Funding Act. This extraordinary gain on 2005 earnings helped CEOs across the nation make their bonus targets. In addition, a good portion of the funds from the roughly $500B repatriated pretax profits or $149B in tax savings would go to destroy jobs through Wall Street driven mergers and acquisitions, so through this bill Mr. Lautenberg exacerbated NJ’s job losses. Corporations are now incentivized to wait for the next repatriation tax holiday.

Over the past twelve months ending in March 2008 overall workers‘ wages rose 3.1%, while inflation rose 4%. Wages for working people have gone no where since the 1990s, rising only 32%, barely keeping pace with inflation, while chief executive officer (CEO) pay rose 535% over the same period. In 2006 CEO pay averaged 364 times the average workers‘ pay, down from 525 times in 2000, a record year, compared to 42 times in 1980 and 25 times in 1960.

NJ's 11th Congressional District Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen Endorses Free Trade with Colombia to Eviscerate the Middle Class

New Jersey’s 11th Congressional District Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen Endorses Free Trade with Colombia Joining Other Free Traders to Eviscerate the Middle Class
Andrew H. Dral

Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen, a member of New Jersey’s (NJ) 11th Congressional District, recently visited Colombia. He thought a trade deal with the United States (U.S.) would benefit both countries. He was quoted as saying, “This is a nation that has recovered enormously from the scourge of violence and drug wars.“ Yet human rights groups and labor leaders believe Colombia is actually moving backwards, not forwards in regards to workers‘ freedom of association and collective bargaining. Since the 1980s 2,500 workers have been murdered by pro-corporate reactionary Colombian death squads. Under President Alvaro Uribe’s watch death squads murdered 400 union members. Last year, 39 union members were killed, and so far the tally this year is 25 murdered. Lacking the ability to unionize exacerbates wage disparities, the lack of benefits, and poor working conditions. NJ’s 11th district deserves a representative to stand up for the rights and dignity of workers, better wages and working conditions, that representative is progressive Democratic candidate Tom Wyka.

Back in the U.S., over the past twelve months ending in March 2008 overall workers‘ wages rose 3.1%, while inflation rose 4%. Paychecks continue to lose ground to inflation. Since the late 1990s, incomes of the bottom fifth of families have declined by 2.5%, while those in the middle fifth improved by 1.3%, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the Economic Policy Institute. The top-fifth of Americans saw their incomes rise by 9% over the same period. Lower and middle class families did not share in the 2001 recovery.

Chalmers Johnson on the Myth of Free Trade

Chalmers Johnson reviews the book "Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the secret History of Capitalism.

[I enjoyed page two]

Chalmers Johnson on the Myth of Free Trade

By Chalmers Johnson

[I'm going to skip the first two paragraphs ...]

    Ha-Joon Chang’s life is conterminous with his country’s advance from being one of the poorest on Earth—with a 1961 yearly income of $82 per person, less than half the $179 per capital income in Ghana at that time—to the manufacturing powerhouse of today, with a 2004 per capita income of $13,980. South Korea did not get there by following the advice of the Bad Samaritans. Chang’s prologue contains a wonderful account of how post-Korean War trade restrictions and governmental supervision fostered such projects as POSCO (Pohang Iron and Steel Co.), which began life as a state-owned enterprise that was refused support from the World Bank in a country without any iron ore or coking coal and with a prohibition on trade with China. Now privatized, POSCO is the world’s third largest steel company. This was also the period in which Samsung subsidized its infant electronics subsidiaries for over a decade with money made in textiles and sugar refining. Today Samsung dominates flat-panel TVs and cell phones in much of East Asia and the world.

    Chang remembers quite clearly that as a student “We learned that it was our patriotic duty to report anyone seen smoking foreign cigarettes. The country needed to use every bit of foreign exchange earned from its exports in order to import machines and other inputs to develop better industries.” He is frankly contemptuous of New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman’s best-seller “The Lexus and the Olive Tree” (2000) and its argument that Toyota’s Lexus automobile represents the rich world brought about by neoliberal economics whereas the olive tree stands for the static world of no or low economic growth. The fact is that had the Japanese government followed the free-trade economists back in the early 1960s, there would have been no Lexus. Toyota today would be, at best, a junior partner to some Western car manufacturer or, worse, have been wiped out.