SCUTTLING BAD TRADE AGREEMENTS
It was back in 1993 that the federal government signed off on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The Clinton crowd was all for it. Interestingly, mainstream Republicans were also talking it up (not that there is any difference between the two that makes a difference). Rush Limbaugh touted it on his talk radio show. Among those visible, only Ross Perot and Pat Buchanan had opposed it; the former’s reference to that “giant sucking sound” of jobs going south of America’s border and into Mexico is now legendary.
I didn’t know much about trade agreements back in the early 1990s. My research interests were elsewhere. But as the decade progressed and began to show that Perot and Buchanan had been right while the “establishment” had been wrong—the country did hemorrhage manufacturing jobs, after all, replacing them with low-paying “service sector” jobs—I decided to learn. Were the effects of NAFTA on our job market a natural consequence of globalization? If so, then worrying about lost jobs was an exercise in futility. Or was there more to the story?
What, precisely, is free trade? In economics, it is an arrangement in which buyers and sellers can approach one another, producers with goods or services to sell and consumers wanting to buy; they conduct their transaction by choice, without forcible interference from others. Both producers and consumers obtain something they want; both believe they come out ahead, so both go away satisfied. In a natural order where there is specialization and divisions of labor, where some recognize that needs exist and can satisfy them, free trade will develop naturally and doesn’t need approval or regulation by outsiders. The only reasons for government oversight are to watch for fraud, or to make sure that it isn’t human beings that are being bought and sold (for example). There is no reason why trade should be confined within a single nation’s borders. It never has been possible to do so. In this sense, globalization is a process that has been going on for centuries, since before there was an America.
The question, in this case, is: why should the process require leviathan-sized ‘agreements’ like NAFTA? NAFTA’s final version ran to approximately 1,700 pages. When the World Trade Organization (WTO) was created the following year, its founding document ran to 23,000 pages! Both have since grown by thousands of pages. What is in all this fine print? Regulations. Thousands of them. NAFTA created dozens of new regulatory bodies—international bureaucracies, in other words, leading to the creation of the WTO. I don’t see how one can peruse the official documents of NAFTA and the WTO without realizing that the former was not really a free trade agreement and the latter is not really about free trade. Both are about trade micromanaged and controlled by contingents of bureaucrats, politicians, and politically well-connected corporations and business groups. In other words, what NAFTA created was the opposite of free trade. It, along with myriad other workaday activities of our government, set up a state of affairs that made it harder for those without the right political connections to do business profitably in America, while making it easier to outsource jobs to Mexico to save labor costs.
In other words, many of those who cried foul over lost jobs and a diminished standard of living in areas especially hard hit by the effects of NAFTA were justified. They just had the wrong target. Free trade wasn’t the culprit. For all practical purposes, there is no such thing today, not on a large enough scale to make a difference. Micromanaged trade, driven by “incentives,” designed as if to hurt the interests of ordinary working Americas, has been to blame.
Murray N. Rothbard once wrote (Ron Paul [R-Tx] is quoting him here): “[G]enuine free trade doesn’t require a treaty (or its deformed cousin, a ‘trade agreement’; NAFTA is called an agreement so it can avoid the constitutional requirement of approval by two-thirds of the Senate). If the establishment truly wants free trade, all it has to do is to repeal our numerous tariffs, import quotas, anti-dumping laws, and other American-imposed restrictions on free trade. No foreign policy or foreign maneuvering is necessary.”
The folks who gave us NAFTA have served up two new trade abominations. The first is called the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) which could be voted on before the end of this month. CAFTA extends NAFTA to six more nations: the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. It is a stepping stone to the second, the granddaddy of all the pseudo free trade agreements: the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). The FTAA has been called “NAFTA on steroids.” It would integrate all 34 nations of the Western Hemisphere into a single “trade bloc” extending from the Arctic Circle to Tierra del Fuego on the southern tip of South America.
This move toward regional integration also began in the early 1990s, with a confab called the Summit of the Americas which met in Miami in early December, 1994. This meeting resulted in a Declaration of Principles drawing on the UN Charter and the Charter of the Organization of American States (OAS) that integrated commitment to “democracy, free trade and sustainable development.” The Summit of the Americas launched a ten-year campaign the goal of which was the FTAA. The target year for completion of negotiations leading to the FTAA: 2005. Here are the Declaration’s own words: “We … resolve to begin immediately to construct the ‘Free Trade Area of the Americas’ (FTAA), in which barriers to trade and investment will be progressively eliminated. We further resolve to conclude the negotiation of the ‘Free Trade Area of the Americas’ no later than 2005 …”
On April 21 I attended a talk by William F. Jasper, senior editor of the magazine The New American. Jasper, who has authored two books on the United Nations, spoke of all this and more. The real issue, he emphasized, is not just American jobs but the survival of the United States of America as a sovereign nation. A sovereign nation is able to control its legal and political destiny. It need not fear absorption into a megastate. That is the future of the U.S.A. if CAFTA and the FTAA go through. We will be absorbed into an entity akin to the socialist European Union (EU). CAFTA speaks openly of regional integration. From its own Preamble, the following (emboldenments in original; italics mine):
There it is, folks, in black and white. Hemispheric integration is about more than trade. It is a political construct, and from the standpoint of our future, a very dangerous one.
Jasper made four points with regard to CAFTA and the FTAA.
First, and for reasons we noted above, as free trade agreements these documents are frauds. The many references to the environment, ensuring opportunities for women, other forms of diversity, etc., etc., ought to be sufficient to indicate why, and how. They are about hyper-regulation, not free trade. Their actual aim is to mandate collectivism and inculcate supersized socialism through massive redistribution of wealth.
The adoption of the FTAA will mean the transfer, over a number of years, of hundreds of billions of American taxpayer dollars. Though a document still in progress, it already contains thousands of pages of regulations which will be interpreted at an international level. Moreover, it will continue expanding in unpredictable ways, as NAFTA and the WTO have continued expanding, and to arenas going well outside trade. The 1998 Summit of the Americas contains sections on education (which the power elite has essentially already controlled for years), municipal and regional administrations, transportation, health care, drugs, terrorism, and more besides. We are looking at reams of regulations that would effectively end property rights by individuals and businesses, as these all must yield to the “hemispheric integration” process.
Second, these agreements are traps capable of bringing more and more aspects of the American legal system under the control of globalist bureaucrats. Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Stephen Breyer have both pondered whether the U.S. Constitution can survive in an increasingly “globalized” era. The reality is that international tribunals created by NAFTA are already arrogating for themselves the authority to overrule U.S. courts in trade spats between American and foreign firms. William Jasper had in his possession copies of an article entitled “NAFTA court is law of the 3 lands” which appeared in the Sunday, April 14, 2004 Sacramento Bee. This article reported how, in 2002, a tribunal created by Chapter 11 of NAFTA passed judgment on the ruling of a Massachusetts court over a Canadian real estate company (the U.S. Supreme Court had declined to hear the case). The tribunal had found in favor of the Massachusetts court, but that isn’t the point. This is just one of several cases that have arisen. The WTO has been considerably more aggressive in handing down judgments against state laws in ways that indicate growing attacks on U.S. sovereignty. Professor John D. Echeverria of Georgetown University’s law school observed (in the above-mentioned article), “This is the biggest threat to United States judicial independence that no one has heard of and even fewer people understand.” Professor Peter Spiro of Hofstra University’s law school also noted, “It’s basically been under the radar screen…. But it points to a fundamental reorientation of our constitutional system. You have an international tribunal essentially reviewing American court judgments.” Professor Spiro, by the way, approves. A recent article of his in the Council on Foreign Relations flagship journal Foreign Affairs (2000) attacked “new sovereigntists,” his term for those wishing to maintain U.S. sovereignty under the Constitution. “Indeed,” he writes somewhat euphemistically, “the Constitution will have to adapt to global requirements sooner or later …”
It is happening. None of this was planned when NAFTA was originally debated. Sen. John Kerry, Bush’s erstwhile opponent last year, observed, “When we debated NAFTA, not a single word was uttered in discussing Chapter 11 [of NAFTA]. Why? Because we didn’t know how this provision would play out. No one really knew just how high the stakes would get.”
We know now! Those currently debating CAFTA and the FTAA will not be able to say they weren’t warned!
For third, continued Jasper, CAFTA and the FTAA aren’t single agreements but processes. The FTAA will include material from all previous Summits, and there will be much of the open-endedness that has allowed international tribunals to begin reviewing American court decisions. The model for Western hemispheric integration has been the EU, which was sold to Europeans as a “free trade zone” consisting of six nations, and has since expanded to 25. The nations of Europe have lost control of their economic destinies, lost their currencies, and are losing their political sovereignty. While I do not foresee Americans ever giving up the dollar, Canada has at least toyed with the idea of accepting it. The term here is dollarization. Several Central American nations already use dollars. If more followed suit, this could lead to our fiat money becoming the official currency of a pan-American megastate, as the euro has become for the EU.
There are two buzzwords to watch out for, given the European experience: broadening and deepening. Broadening involves geographical expansion or what can be called horizontal integration, eroding geographical borders. In this sense, CAFTA is a broadening of NAFTA, and the FTAA is the proposed broadening of CAFTA. Broadening, that is, means horizontal regional integration. Then there is deepening. Deepening includes gradual vertical integration beginning with economies and rapidly moving to other arenas such as education, transportation, cultural issues, security issues, and so on. In fact, advocates for deepening NAFTA are hard at work.
Both George W. Bush and Mexican president Vicente Fox have come out in favor of making the FTAA akin to the EU. (One may see here just how ambitious Bush’s agenda really is!) It goes without saying that the FTAA includes components regarding immigration. Is there really any wonder why Bush not only has done nothing about flagrant lawbreaking by illegal immigrants but actually undermined the rule of American law with irrational-seeming policies such as amnesty-for-illegals? If the U.S. Congress commits this country to the FTAA, the problem of illegal immigrants will be “solved”: by a policy of entirely open borders. And in a cultural context where we are all expected, in true political-correctese, to “celebrate our diversity.” Result: there will be no exclusive property rights for anyone!
This monstrosity has actually received support from those influential in American business! The late Robert Bartley, Wall Street Journal editor, proposed a Constitutional Amendment in a revealing article: “There shall be open borders.” He once told immigration critic Peter Brimelow, “I think the nation-state is finished.”
The fifty dollar question is: has all this been a natural process, an outgrowth of the globalization we mentioned at the outset? Or has globalization been hijacked by globalism, an aggressive, very well financed ideology with a long-term elite-driven strategy to go along with it? The New York-based Council on Foreign Relations was created in 1921. It was created in response to the defeat of proposed U.S. membership in the first attempt at creating an incipient world government in Europe, the League of Nations. One can go back further, of course, to the Round Table groups that began in 1891 following Cecil Rhodes’ having set aside part of his fortune for the creation of a “secret society.” The goal of this society was world government—conceived as a revival of a British Empire that had reincorporated America.
Or one can go back still further, to the British Fabian Society, the socialist group founded in 1883. The Fabians repudiated classical Marxian revolutionism in favor of gradualism, advocating the slow infiltration of institutions and communities until they were transformed from within and turned to socialist purposes. Fabians assisted Rhodes in making the contacts in England necessary to build up his secret society; then Fabianism migrated to America. Edward Mandel House, close associate of Woodrow Wilson, was surrounded by Fabians, and when he was instrumental in founding the Council on Foreign Relations it was all Fabian-approved. Arnold Toynbee, well-known British historian, Fabian, and member of the Royal Institute of International Affairs (the British equivalent of the Council on Foreign Relations), stated ten years later: “We are at present working ... with all our might to wrest this mysterious political force called sovereignty out of the clutches of the local states of the world. And all the time we are denying with our lips what we are doing with our hands.”
The elites have thus had no moral scruples about lying to the public when confronted—although they are quite open about their intentions in their own writings, which they have long assumed the masses would never read. Indeed, the CFR’s Foreign Affairs has the look of just one more dry, academic-type periodical, assuring that it will never have the audience of, say, People—or even National Review. Which is perhaps why we can find in it statements such as that of Richard N. Gartner, a former UN ambassador, who wrote candidly in 1974 (in an article entitled “The Hard Road to World Order”) of “an end run around national sovereignty, eroding it piece by piece ...” Fabian-style gradualism all the way.
In other words, this scheme aimed at undermining U.S. sovereignty did not happen overnight. Unfortunately, this means it cannot be stopped overnight. We are looking at a broad-based convergence of institutions and an accumulation of resources that has a lot of forward momentum. Authors are appearing who maintain that world government of some sort is now inevitable, if only because of globalized forms of technology such as the Internet. An example is Robert Wright, writing in the (Fabian founded) The New Republic (January 17, 2000) that “In recent years, more and more people have raised the specter of world government…. Much power now vested in the nation-state is indeed starting to migrate to international institutions, and one of these is the WTO….” The process of creating world government will massively accelerate after an FTAA is in place.
Fourth and finally, CAFTA and the FTAA are treasonous. It should be clear by now that they involve the gradual dismantling of our Constitutional system of government involving checks and balances by those who swore an oath upon taking office to uphold and protect the U.S. Constitution. The Constitution was written by men who did not trust power--including their own. This loss of mistrust of power has been eroded over the past two and a quarter centuries of time, until our globalist elites see central planning as the solution to everything. The idea of an economic system absent stifling governmental controls is simply beyond them. This is an important reason natural processes such as globalization are vulnerable to being hijacked, so they begin automatically to work against the natural liberties of the individual.
I have often been asked by readers, “What can we do?” Here is something specific we can all do. We can all fire up our word processors and begin turning out letters to our Senators and Representatives in Congress. The backers of CAFTA, the most immediate concern of the globalists, need 218 votes to get it passed. What we as U.S. citizens can do is urge them to vote against CAFTA, using arguments such as those developed in this article and elsewhere. There are models letters available (although I do not recommend people sending letters and emails which look pretty much alike!). There is no guarantee, of course, that the specifics of such letters will be read. But the next election is a perennial concern up in Rome on the Potomac. Each of our fearless leaders doubtless has a staff person who keeps track of what comes in the mail (regular and electronic), and what positions are taken on which issues. And it is easy for letter-writers to find out how any particular Senator or Representative voted on any issue.
is important, because the adoption of CAFTA and the FTAA will impact
seriously on Americans’ pocketbooks in ways going well beyond NAFTA.
More importantly, these trade agreements are more than trade agreements.
They are direct, long-term threats to the sovereignty of this country.
They would effectively end whatever tenuous hold the Constitution
still has on our government—and they would not replace it with a libertarian
natural order, either! They would replace it with the incipient New
© 2005 Steven Yates -
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Dr. Steven Yates has a Ph.D. in philosophy and currently teaches the subject in an adjunct capacity at the University of South Carolina Upstate and the University of South Carolina at Union. He is the author of Civil Wrongs: What Went Wrong With Affirmative Action (San Francisco: ICS Press, 1994), and his new book Worldviews: Christian Theism versus Modern Materialism (Columbia, S.C.: The Worldviews Project) should be out this summer. He is a board member of the South Carolina Chapter of Citizens Committee to Stop the FTAA. He lives near Greenville, South Carolina.
His blog is at:
In other words, this scheme aimed at undermining U.S. sovereignty did not happen overnight. Unfortunately, this means it cannot be stopped overnight. We are looking at a broad-based convergence of institutions and an accumulation of resources that has a lot of forward momentum.