This week, the leaders of the United States, Canada, and Mexico are meeting in Quebec to discuss “modernizing” the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). After a decade and a half of watching American jobs shipped over the border, watching our manufacturing base die, and watching Mexico’s economy continue to choke when compared to America’s, it is time to do away with the agreement.
Free trade is a fallacy. In exchange for cheaper prices on low-quality foreign goods, we get a depleted economy. Meanwhile, in third-world countries, free trade succeeds in bringing jobs: jobs at sweatshops and on mega-plantations. Free trade is not ethical. It is not in the best interests of any country. NAFTA is an abuse of human rights and national economic sovereignty.
National interests are best taken care of when the economy works for the citizens. What is a wiser trade policy: employing a minimum-wage farmer at $4.50 a day in Mexico on an American-owned maize plantation to raise a crop that will be sold 1,000 miles away, or giving him money to grow maize to feed customers in his own village? Rather than taxing imports at 20%, or at whatever rate Mexico determines, and spending the income on subsidizing Mexican farmers to grow crops, thus sponsoring markets that can eventually compete fairly with our own, NAFTA sees an American conglomerate buy all the farms in the Mexican countryside and has them grow crops for use in the United States. It suppresses the development of meaningful domestic markets in poor areas. Rather than producing competitors who could eventually rival us, it mandates outsourcing jobs across the borders, where wages and regulations are disturbingly low, keeping America very rich and Mexico very poor. Rather than equalizing trade, it tilts the odds permanently in favor of the industrialized market. Rather than creating the Japanese and German economic miracles of tomorrow, free trade creates second-class countries of the future.
Global markets are not a bad thing. Opening new markets, diversifying the types of products available to people, and making domestic providers compete with foreign producers are important ways of providing the competition necessary to grow our economies. Embargoes against responsible members of the international community and excessive tariffs that strangle international trade are irresponsible and closed-minded. Free trade is a good thing between nations on an equal footing, who can truly compete without sacrificing the environment or the rights of labor. The problem with NAFTA and other international free trade agreements is that they establish a global oligopoly by eliminating the right of nations to place reasonable tariffs on goods. They provide no real means of enforcing fair environmental and labor standards. They take workers from other countries and exploit them to work for wealthy foreign investors in impoverishing conditions, rather than empowering workers to improve their own nations. They even deny us our means of protecting American jobs from employers who will put money before the people of this country.
In the interests of our national welfare, labor rights, the self-sufficiency of foreign economies, and the health of our environment, it is time to repeal NAFTA. The entire system of free trade, in which the only model for increased global interaction is exploitation and economic suppression, is warped and abusive. Future international trade needs to be based on self-sufficiency and national growth, not reliance on others. We need to declare our independence as Americans again, and encourage all nations to take back their rights. We can only trade goods fairly, for everyone’s benefit, as independent equals.
We have every right to regulate and restrict trade in the best interests of our people. Every country does. It is time to leave NAFTA and free trade behind. Another world is possible: a world where people work for themselves and the betterment of their countries, a world where jobs come back home and Americans employ Americans. We need to reclaim the sovereignty that is rightfully ours. We need to repeal NAFTA now.
This post was made in the United States of America.