Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

If any of you have talked to me about economics, you probably know that I’m really not happy about NAFTA. I blame it for being the “straw” that eventually “broke my career’s back” and drove me away from printing and visual media into my new career dealing with the internet. Yes, Virginia, I am one of the people who lost their jobs when the work went to Mexico after NAFTA was signed.

Don’t tell me it made things better for the people in Mexico, either. I don’t care. It hurt American manufacturing and helped drop the median wage. In other words, because of NAFTA the American owners of manufacturing companies got richer, by outsourcing their workforce, and the American middle class continues to disappear. Sorry Reganites, the “trickle” down theory has clogged pipes.

Guess what, though? It’s even worse than I thought. Check this quote from an article on the North Amercian Union:

The Bush Administration is pushing to create a North American Union out of the work on-going in the Department of Commerce under the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America in the NAFTA office headed by Geri Word. A key part of the plan is to expand the NAFTA tribunals into a North American Union court system that would have supremacy over all U.S. law, even over the U.S. Supreme Court, in any matter related to the trilateral political and economic integration of the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Now, if you’re a democrat, don’t get all high-and-mighty on me. Remember, it was President Clinton that signed NAFTA into law.

Right now, Chapter 11 of the NAFTA agreement allows a private NAFTA foreign investor to sue the U.S. government if the investor believes a state or federal law damages the investor’s NAFTA business. Under Chapter 11, NAFTA establishes a tribunal that conducts a behind closed-doors “trial” to decide the case according to the legal principals established by either the World Bank’s International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes or the UN’s Commission for International Trade Law. If the decision is adverse to the U.S., the NAFTA tribunal can impose its decision as final, trumping U.S. law, even as decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. U.S. laws can be effectively overturned and the NAFTA Chapter 11 tribunal can impose millions or billions of dollars in fines on the U.S. government, to be paid ultimately by the U.S. taxpayer.

In other words, NAFTA has the power to challenge U.S. sovereignty in its own lands. The government under Clinton’s administration agreed to it, and the government under Bush’s administration wants to expand on it.

Why is this not scaring you? It scares me to no end. This is government by international corporation, not by and for the people. In many fundamental ways it challenges the U.S. Constitution itself simply by the fact that it has supremacy over U.S. law and the Supreme Court. Are we so willing to sell our liberties to the highest bidder?

I used to roll my eyes at pundits who talked impeachment. Now I’m beginning to wonder if they’re right.

No comments: