, Salem, MA


March 29, 2014

Column: NAFTA, 20 years later


The now transnational corporations use the cudgel of cheap labor, no benefits and no environmental oversight to depress wages domestically (in the U.S.), and this Bush-Clinton-Bush hallucination of accelerated job growth and domestic investment is one of the major reasons the U.S. has not bounced back completely from the Great Recession of 2008-2009, which still lingers on unless you’re in the top 1 percent or work, in some capacity, for the government.

According to the International Trade Council, there has been a 700 percent trade increase over the last 20 years of NAFTA, but that’s primarily in the form of imports, with a net decline in exports from the U.S. of 62 percent since NAFTA’s inception. The U.S. Trade Commission has said that the aggregated U.S. financial obligation to our two largest trade partners is $177 billion as of February 2014. To put that in perspective, before NAFTA, we had a trade surplus with Mexico, and a $30 billion trade deficit with Canada. In cash alone, that’s a $137 billion negative financial swing, along with the hemorrhaging of a million middle-class jobs, a loss of hundreds of billions in potential tax revenue from corporations and individuals that are now offshore, and the evisceration of the manufacturing base of America.

We have many reasons to scrap NAFTA. The experiment worked for Washington, D.C., and the transnationals, but it’s not working for the United States of America. We need the trade balance back; we need the jobs back; we also need to choke off the convenient opportunity for the smuggling of tons of heroin and cocaine into the United States.

We need America back. Getting rid of NAFTA could be our first step.

Joseph F. Doyle is a freelance writer based in Salem.

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