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President Trump is the champion of fair trade for American workers. Or is he destroying the hopes of all workers for a peaceful and beneficial world? Or does he even know what he’s doing?

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A lot of working families were won over by Trump’s promise to renegotiate so-called “trade” agreements and restore American jobs. People, including a lot of union people, are still hoping he will. Yesterday, he poked his finger into the eyes of several world leaders at the G7 meeting in Canada. He said he was representing American workers.

What’s “Fair,” What’s “Free?”

For decades, since the Clinton Administration at least, American unions have been campaigning on the slogan “Fair trade, not free trade.” We always say “We’re not against trade — we just want it fair.” But it’s been very hard for union leaders to resist xenophobia and isolationism, because those “isms,” — right along with nationalism and racism — are also against the trade deals that America negotiated since Clinton.

The people that knew what they were talking about presented the argument that the so-called “free trade” deals were only “free” for big transnational corporations — not for the working families in America or any other country. Big corporations received “freedom” to pay low wages and pollute, nobody else got anything. That’s why we opposed NAFTA and all the others leading up to the “Trans Pacific Partnership” that was still an issue in the 2016 presidential campaign.

The people that knew what they were talking about actually favored trade deals if they included wage and environmental protection. But not everybody is so sophisticated. They hate the trade deals anyway. That’s why so many of them voted for Trump.

There’s a History to “Free Trade”

I recently read a complete history of Britain and found an interesting reference. When Britain “ruled the waves” and ruled the world, their slogan was “free trade.” From the time they defeated Napolean until World War I, the English favored what they called “free trade.” They didn’t , at least not immediately, necessarily open their own markets, but they wanted everybody else, especially their many colonies in Asia and Africa, to open theirs.

In other words, “free trade” meant, then and now, the “freedom” of one country’s corporate rulers to exploit everybody else. Another word for it is modern imperialism.

After World War I, and especially after World War II, when the United States took over world trade, corporations wanted “free trade” for the exact same reasons. But the “freedom” was always for the exploiters and never for the exploited, then and now.

Everything Ends

There are different ways to look at the Trump program on trade issues. Economists and pundits are arguing that he’s destroying the world and setting us back centuries. Trump and his supporters say he is restoring fairness. Xenophobes and racists are rooting for him, as they have all along.

But there’s another, more interesting way to look at Trump’s trade wars. American economic domination is coming to an end. It actually ended in the 1970s, according to some. Since then, international leaders have simply agreed to keep the system in place even though the United States is living on credit and has been for decades. The post-war system put in place by the United States after WWII has actually fallen apart. Donald Trump is just an opportunist trying to turn the situation to his own benefit.

A Real Solution to the Trade Wars

Modern nations were created by capitalism. Each nation is run by and for the bosses. Their economic and political decisions are made for the benefit of the dominant class — the capitalist class. That includes much more than trade deals and treaties. It also includes global pollution, war and genocide.

It is theoretically possible that the various governments, as presently constituted, could cooperate on trade in a way that would benefit the inhabitants of the various nations. But that’s only in theory. It has never worked that way because the inhabitants, us, were never in charge. We still aren’t, and there will be no solution until we are.

–Gene Lantz

I’m still on KNON radio 89.3FM in Dallas at 9 AM Central Time every Saturday. The “events” tab on the web site leads to recent podcasts. If you want to know what I really think, check out my personal web site.

 

 

 

During the fight against NAFTA and every trade deal ever created, we like to say, “We’re not against ‘free trade,’ but we want ‘fair trade.'” It’s true, too, but there are good reasons why our government will never negotiate a fair trade treaty.

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The current unfair trade proposal is the “Trans Pacific Partnership” — TPP

It’s fairly easy to see why a certain amount of confusion would be generated. Xenophobia, a paranoid fear of people in other countries, characterizes a lot of our campaigns. Xenophobia disguises itself as patriotism. Racism isn’t far behind it.

It’s confusing because we characterize the people negotiating the treaties as misguided rather than malevolent. It’s hard to believe that big corporations could be as rotten and crazy mean as they really are.

It’s confusing because some of our not-so-bad political leaders support these rotten trade deals. NAFTA could never have been passed without President Bill Clinton, and good old President Obama is currently pushing hard for TPP.

THE TRADE SITUATION IS ACTUALLY QUITE CLEAR

A fair treaty would be one that gives decent treatment to the workers in all the signing countries. But all of the trade treaties so far have been negotiated in secret by a few political representatives from the different countries and an absolute horde of corporate lobbyists.

Corporations don’t want fair treatment for workers. It would cost them money. Corporations don’t want to preserve the environment. It would cost them money. NAFTA, TPP, and all the treaties in between were bad news for workers and for the environment. Corporations have virtually all of the money, way more than enough to buy out the political representatives, up to and including the President.

CORPORATIONS MUST CUT EXPENSES ON WAGES AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Globalization (I call it “gobblelization”) today is characterized by intense competition between major capitalist countries. One of the main purposes of the TPP, mentioned often by President Obama, is to give U.S. corporations advantages over the growing Chinese economy. The companies compete primarily by holding down labor costs and not spending any money on environmental protection.

As long as we live under a system dominated by big corporations, as ours is now, every trade deal will be bad for workers and the environment. There is not and there will not be a “fair trade” deal!

–Gene Lantz

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The “Trans Pacific Partnership” is next in a long list of so-called “free trade” bills awaiting Congressional approval. The others were passed during the Clinton and Bush Administrations, and President Obama is hoping to get this one passed in the last session of 2016. It’s a “lame duck” session in which many congresspersons don’t feel as responsible toward the people who watch them but don’t pay them off.

Earlier, President Obama was able to get “fast track” legislation to grease the wheels so that the TPP could slide through without serious discussion or public scrutiny. Unions and environmentalists are dead set against any more of these bills because they mean lost jobs, lower wages & benefits, and more pollution. There’s a good reason for that.

Corporations Run The Process

Unions and environmentalists have no participation in creating the secret treaties. There are representatives, special trade envoys, from the governments involved — but there are also hundreds of corporate lobbyists in the process! Mighty transnational corporations write these things for their own benefit.

What do the big corporations want? They want low wages & benefits and the right to pollute. They want a free hand to do anything they want and make as much money as can be made.  So far, that’s what they have gotten. That’s what the TPP offers them. What does it offer us?

It Isn’t Trade, and It Isn’t Free

What is misnamed “free trade” sets up a separate legal system that overrides the democratic rules of each country involved. That system issues licenses to steal to the corporations who created it. The system guarantees corporate profits, even when the corporation breaks our state or federal laws.

They call it “globalization.” I call it “gobblelization.”

–Gene Lantz

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