When CEOs Say 'Do No Harm' in NAFTA, They Mean 'Don’t Harm Me'

Celeste Drake

Celeste Drake AFL-CIO

We keep hearing CEOs of global companies and giant agribusiness conglomerates say “do no harm” in the North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiations, but from the perspective of working families who haven’t had a raise in the past 20 years, this advice doesn’t make any sense.

NAFTA continues to hurt families across the United States, Canada and Mexico, pushing down our wages, making it harder to join together in union, and making us constantly vulnerable to losing our jobs due to outsourcing. NAFTA threatens our health and undermines democracy. It forces our governments to pay off private companies like Exxon Mobil that object to laws and rules created in a democratic fashion. So how could any rational person say that fixing NAFTA would be "harmful"?

It’s true that the negotiations could make NAFTA more like the Trans-Pacific Partnership—and that would be extremely harmful. But big businesses liked TPP, so that’s not what they mean.

To understand what they mean, let’s use an analogy, comparing North America's economy to the human body. Like the human body, the North American economy is susceptible to various illnesses, and NAFTA is one such illness. In fact, we can compare NAFTA to a tumor. Like a tumor, it has led to rapid growth in profits and incomes for some, but at the expense of the economic health of the rest of us. In fact, bad U.S. trade policies cost most of America’s workers $2,000 a year in lost income.

To heal the North American economy, we need new rules for trade. New rules that level the playing field and prioritize ordinary families over corporate profits. But changing the rules means getting rid of the privileges that global corporations now enjoy. And just like tumors cling to life, these companies are fighting to keep their entitlements.

Those who have profited off NAFTA say "do no harm" because they can only see what benefits them. They don’t see that the unfair rules are actually bad for America as a whole. NAFTA’s unfair rules make it harder for most families to reach the American Dream because they divert the benefits of trade to those who already are economically powerful. That’s why we always feel like we are running in place and not getting ahead.

Changing the rules of trade means those who have benefited at the expense of others must get used to a level playing field. It means the president will have to say no to global corporations, despite their whining. The president promised to protect working families from bad trade, but it remains to be seen whether he will renegotiate NAFTA to protect working families or, as he did with the tax bill, protect the interests of his rich and powerful friends.

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Reposted from AFL-CIO

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From AFL-CIO

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He Gets the Bucks, We Get All the Deadly Bangs

Sam Pizzigati

Sam Pizzigati Editor, Too Much online magazine

National Rifle Association chief Wayne LaPierre has had better weeks. First came the horrific early August slaughters in California, Texas, and Ohio that left dozens dead, murders that elevated public pressure on the NRA’s hardline against even the mildest of moves against gun violence. Then came revelations that LaPierre — whose labors on behalf of the nonprofit NRA have made him a millionaire many times over — last year planned to have his gun lobby group bankroll a 10,000-square-foot luxury manse near Dallas for his personal use. In response, LaPierre had his flacks charge that the NRA’s former ad agency had done the scheming to buy the mansion. The ad agency called that assertion “patently false” and related that LaPierre had sought the agency’s involvement in the scheme, a request the agency rejected. The mansion scandal, notes the Washington Post, comes as the NRA is already “contending with the fallout from allegations of lavish spending by top executives.”

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Corruption Coordinates

Corruption Coordinates