In a posting titled, “The Clinton Legacy,” over at the Bad Attitudes site, Jerome Doolittle reminds us that Bill Clinton, more than any other person, is responsible for passing the NAFTA (North American Free Trade) treaty. And therefore, he is responsible for many of our present problems with illegal Mexican immigrants. I was aware that NAFTA has undermined the U.S. workers but did not know that the legislation also allowed cheap U.S. and Canadian corn to undercut & bankrupt Mexico’s small farms. With their farms gone, the Mexicans come to the U.S. looking for a way to make a living (can we really blame them?)
Wait a moment! Did Bill Clinton not already apologize for ruining Mexican farmers this way? Oh, no…sorry…that was Haitian farmers to which Clinton apologized in March. He helped ruin them by getting Haiti to import cheap U.S. rice. I talked about it in my March 16 blog, “The Bill and George Tour.” Fortunately for American laborers so-far, the Haitian farmers could not get off their island so easily to come here. Instead, they have to just tough it out until U.S. Capitalists can ship the jobs down there to them. I figure that should start to happen very soon. The U.S. military occupation that started in March after Haiti’s big earthquake is even now making the island safe & stable for the empire’s business interests.
One could cut through my NAFTA-related disgust with a knife! I voted for Clinton twice but no wonder by the arrival of 2000, I voted for Nader mostly to send a message to Democrats that they needed to be more than “Republican-lite.” Those odious ogres, Reagan & George Bush #41 would have loved to have passed NAFTA during their times, but it took a Democrat, the worker’s friend, to coordinate that sell-out. (BTW- get ready for Obama’s similar Democratic presidential sell-out of Social Security)
Back in the pre-NAFTA days I still thought our “representatives” wanted to hear voters’ opinions and so I wrote them frequently. I mounted a one-man anti-NAFTA campaign where I wrote letters to political and business leaders and had as many of my family, friends, and coworkers sign them as I could get. And I got many.
I closely watched the sham debate leading up to the passage of NAFTA. The media and their Capitalist owners were of one voice: NAFTA would be a boon for Americans. Prices would drop and U.S. workers would safely move into high-tech jobs that are immune to being exported for cheap labor. Opponents of the treaty were portrayed in editorials & political cartoons as cretins on the level of cavemen afraid of the introduction of fire. The only notable person I recall as being anti-NAFTA was Ross Perot, who warned that businesses would move to Mexico so fast we would hear a “giant sucking sound.” 99% of working people I talked to were not fooled, they knew NAFTA meant unparalleled disaster for their future.
NAFTA passed and there was much rejoicing among the moneyed-crowd. The newscasts featured politicians and their owners grinning ear-to-ear in celebrations rivaling VJ day in 1945. I threw away my filing cabinet full of letters I had written over the years. I vowed never again to bother writing the politicians; a promise I kept until the run-up to the Iraq war.
Today we see the ramifications of NAFTA and similar policies that have been enacted by the evil monsters that pass for American “leadership.” Our industries lie in ruins. Working class income is in free-fall, with all classes but the topmost close behind. My beloved Dayton, Ohio, once one of the premier manufacturing cities of the world is little more than a ghost of its former self. Like most everything in the 21st U.S., the Capitalists made money off this economic destruction while the citizens got sold a pig in a poke.
Once again, as I did back in March, I ask: Will Bill Clinton will ever apologize to U.S. workers for NAFTA?
P.S. I was going to end this essay with the above question. And then I remembered that, during the 2008 campaign, presidential candidate Obama (now President George Bush III) said he would “renegotiate NAFTA.” Shockingly, he has since changed his mind about it.