Thursday, June 02, 2005

Do we Hafta CAFTA?

Having labored in and around the vineyards of multinationals for going on 30 years — but not as an actual laborer, mind — I don't automatically go into a frenzy at the words "free trade" or "global markets." Near the end of my working career, with portable skills and money put away, I don't feel personally threatened by the possibility that my job will decamp for Honduras or Bangladesh.

Trading goods beats trading blows, and isolationism is no defense against economies that have decided to invest in education and innovation to raise the living standard for their millions.

CAFTA, the Central America Free Trade Agreement, may raise the hackles of trade union types, but it seems like a ho-hummer for comfortable suburbanites. And for backscratching Florida citrus growers. (Thanks to the right-wing Club for Growth for the tip.)

That is, until you actually start to read about it from people like Jim Hightower.

This isn't going to be a deep think piece. It's just a warning not to let your eyes glaze over when CAFTA comes up, and to get past the usual populist alarms about corporatism run amok. For example, note how some states have rescinded their "voluntary commitment" to CAFTA provisions after governors (often Republicans) discovered they'd been hoodwinked by the White House into accepting untenable state procurement regulations.

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