Thursday, October 13, 2011
Newspeak: The Free Trade Agreements are a victory for American workers
“And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed-if all records told the same tale-then the lie passed into history and became truth. 'Who controls the past' ran the Party slogan, 'controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.'”- George Orwell, 1984, Book 1, Chapter 3
by Larry Geller
George Orwell’s 1984 gave us a heads up. It was simply ahead of its time by almost a quarter century.
Today’s paper contained a perfect example of Newspeak passing for news—an edited version of an AP article described the enthusiasm with which Congress has sold out the American worker once again by signing the latest “free trade” agreement (FTA). It is as though the attack on labor that is called NAFTA never happened, as though all that is bad is suddenly good.
In rapid succession, the House and Senate voted on the three trade pacts, which the administration says could boost exports by $13 billion and support tens of thousands of American jobs.
None of the votes were close, despite opposition from labor groups and other critics of free trade agreements who say they result in job losses and ignore labor rights problems in the partner countries.
President Obama said passage of the agreements was “a major win for American workers and businesses.’’
[Star-Advertiser, Congress endorses free trade pact with 3 countries, 10/13/2011]
Why did Congress unite to pass this agreement? Were they suddenly concerned about American jobs when they have ignored the dire unemployment figures for so long? If these agreements are so good for workers, why do labor groups oppose them? The story gives no hint.
When President Bush signed an FTA with Columbia in 2006, Congress objected. The murder of union leaders in Columbia was very much in the news at that time. Columbia was then, and remains now, the most dangerous place for labor organizing. The difference between then and now is that the Orwell thought police have removed the news from public consciousness.
It’s harder to remove information from the Internet:
- At least 51 trade unionists were murdered in Colombia in 2010. In 2009, 47 unionists were murdered. More than 2,700 trade unionists have been assassinated in the last two decades.
- Virtually no one is prosecuted or convicted for these murders, with an approximate 96% rate of impunity.
- On October 12, 2011 the U.S. Congress passed the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, stalled since 2006. USLEAP and other human and labor rights organizations are continuing to pressure President Obama to delay ratification until Colombia shows sustained, systemic progress in meeting the requirements of the Labor Rights Action Plan, passed in April 2012.
US workers will clearly be harmed as jobs leave this country for sunny corporate climes in the sweatshops of Columbia.
So these trade agreements are a boon to corporations, who now have Congress firmly in their grip, not to workers, about whom they couldn’t care less.
The agreements typically set aside hard-fought protections and override national and local laws and judicial decisions.
They don’t work for workers. Here is part of a statement by the United Steelworkers:
The results of “free trade” deals are all too clear: In the last decade alone six million manufacturing jobs and 55,000 plants have been lost. Multinational companies easily set up operations overseas and export back to the U.S. market. Numbers tell the story. New Department of Commerce data show that large U.S. multinational companies cut their workforces in the U.S. by 2.9 million during the 2000s while increasing employment overseas by 2.4 million. This continues even as workers and families wrestle with a tepid and uncertain economic recovery that is generating insufficient job growth with millions still unemployed or underemployed. It’s no wonder -- our trade policies encourage job growth overseas. Trade deals force working Americans to assume all the risk and encourage big multinationals to reap all the rewards.
The Steelworks add:
The FTA, through its agricultural provisions and its encouragement of further corporate exploitation of Colombian land, will only accelerate internal displacement in Colombia which just overtook the Sudan as the country with the largest internally displaced population (over 5 million) in the world.
Labor leaders predict that the three trade agreements together will cost hundreds of thousands of US jobs. So is our president lying to us again?
President Obama said passage of the agreements was “a major win for American workers and businesses.”
In Washington today, everything they say about creating jobs is suspect. We need to understand that corporations are the ventriloquists that put these words in the mouths of their political puppets. While workers are still waiting for their jobs, corporations are making record profits. So Obama’s declaration about the three FTAs should be viewed in that light, and of course, he wants to get re-elected.
Is Obama lying? The administration’s own figures show an increase in the trade deficit as a result of these agreements. The Newspeak component is to talk only about the increase in exports while ignoring the larger expected increase in imports.
US companies are salivating at the opportunity to exploit the cheaper Columbian labor market. They want to replicate their success with NAFTA and CAFTA, which were also ostensibly labor agreements but which allowed corporations to attack government policies protecting the environment.
The rules put corporations in control of judicial processes and enable them to claim damages if protections are invoked. An example is a toxic metal smelter in Peru. The American owner has demanded $800 million in damages because Peru has attempted to protect its environment. How can he do that? Peru and the US are bound under an FTA.
Congress and President Obama, supported by newspaper editors and the wire services that they depend upon, would like you to believe that the FTAs are being signed to benefit workers.
You better believe.
The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact, there will be no thought, as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking-not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness."
- George Orwell, 1984, Book 1, Chapter 5
A good video on YouTube released clip, "This Shits Got to Go" of "Zeitgeist; Moving Forward" by Peter Joseph. 1/15/2011 best expresses the Why of Occupying Wall Movement's growth...
(In rapid succession, the House and Senate voted on the three trade pacts, which the administration says could boost exports by $13 billion and support tens of thousands of American jobs.)
Newsspeak forgot to mention these will be minimum wage jobs.