Monday, June 10, 2013

Globalists and US Trade Agreements

Treason is defined, in part, as someone who "adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort." Whereas a globalist is defined, in part, as someone who advocates "a policy of placing the interests of the entire world above those of individual nations". But where does one line cross the other?

The US has many wealthy global philanthropists, such as Bill Gates and Bill Clinton --- and they both have set up foundations to "feed the world's poor and to lift them out of poverty".

On the surface, it appears to be a very noble cause. While many corporate CEOs send jobs overseas for cheaper labor, many politicians accommodate them by passing free trade agreements (such as Bill Clinton for Bill Gates).

But why do so many corporations (such as Walmart) set up these foundations to "feed the world's poor and to lift them out of poverty" when we have so much hunger and poverty in the US?

Walmart has also donated to help feed America's hungry; but why not just give their employees a raise so that they don't have to depend on food stamps?

When I was critical of Bill Clinton for this at the Democratic website Daily Kos, I was excoriated by the readers. On one hand, they condemn inequality in America; but at the same time, they fervently defend those who perpetrate the inequality. Can someone please explain to me, this disconnect between rationality and insanity?

What exactly is the Clinton Global Initiative? His website says that it "convenes global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world's most pressing challenges." But what exactly does that mean? I'm guessing that pressing challenges could mean ending world hunger --- but I thought that was Miss America's job.

And what exactly are innovative solutions? That sounds like part of a typical corporate mission statement. Don't get me wrong, I'm not criticizing Bill Clinton, I'm just trying to better understand what global philanthropy is all about. After all, I can't criticize something if I don't understand it.

On the issues, Clinton says, "The global economy is giving more of our own people and millions around the world the chance to work and live and raise their families with dignity. But the expansion of trade hasn't fully closed the gap between those of us who live on the cutting edge of the global economy and the billions around the world who live on the knife's edge of survival. This global gap requires more than compassion. It requires action. Global poverty is a powder keg that could be ignited by our indifference."

OK, I get it. It's not Miss America's job to save the world, it's Bill Clinton's job. So then, doesn't that also make Bill Clinton a "globalist", which is defined as "having the attitude or policy of placing the interests of the entire world above those of individual nations."

So where exactly are Bill Clinton's loyalties? I'm really trying to understand, not criticize. Can people be patriotic to more than one nation --- sort of like dual-citizenship? Are multi-national corporations patriotic to all the nations they do business with, or are they loyal to no nation at all? I'm trying to better understand this whole "globalization" thing, and how it's supposed to be good for Americans. (I'm sure that a real smart economist or political scientist could better explain this to me, and in terms that I even I could understand.)

Bill Gates also sounds like a globalist, because it says on his foundation's website, "We are dedicated to improving the quality of life for individuals around the world." So then, why do we even NEED a Miss America any more? Has globalization put Miss America out of work too. And what is she supposed to do now, sell Girl Scout cookies? Or was her job also outsourced to China or India?

OK, so far I understand that Bill Gates and Bill Clinton wants to help people all over the world. Kudos to both Bills for being good and decent human beings --- and for wanting to help others around the world. They are both very wealthy men, and so it's a good thing that they can afford to help others around the world, especially without having to personally make any sacrifices to their own livelihoods or standard-of-living while engaged in their global work.

And if their righteous and noble efforts means having to sacrifice one American middle-class job to help lift three other people out of poverty in China or India --- then that's a good human trade-off, am I right? After all, we're all God's children, and we all should have a fair and equal opportunity, no matter who we are, no matter where we live, or no matter what country we may call home.

Again, please don't get me wrong. I think it's great for both Bills to be helping the poor. After all, there are no poor people in America --- just ask millionaire Pat Buchanan, who thinks they're not really poor because 99% of them have a refrigerator.

But why are both Bills helping poor people in places like China or India --- don't those countries have their own billionaires? How many Chinese or Indian billionaires set up foundations to help poor people in America? I'm really trying to understand all of this. Am I that stupid?

The poor in America are told to pick themselves up by their bootstraps, and that no one owes them a thing. Millionaire Herman Cain told us, "Don’t blame Wall Street, don’t blame the big banks, if you don’t have a job and you’re not rich, blame yourself!" Millionaire Glenn Beck told unemployed protesters, "Some of these people, I bet you'd be ashamed to call them Americans. Go out and get a job!" Millionaire Ben Stein writes, "The people who have been laid off and cannot find work are generally people with poor work habits and poor personalities". Why don't those rich Americans start foundations to help the poor in America (or in China), instead of berating them? Do those American millionaires say the same thing about poor people in other countries?

I would tell them all, "Stop outsourcing our jobs and pay us a fair and living wage, and maybe then we wouldn't have to come to you for a damn handout."

But both Bills have done their fair share to help in their moral endeavors: Bill Gates with Microsoft and his foundation, and Bill Clinton with his foundation and all those "free trade agreements".

Walmart is another global philanthropist. Their foundation's website says, "Walmart and the Walmart Foundation gave more than $1 billion in cash and in-kind contributions around the world." They also launched a program called Fighting Hunger Together and made "a $2 billion cash and in-kind commitment through 2015 to help end hunger in America." Shouldn't Walmart just give their employees a raise so they wouldn't need to use food stamps?

Then there's the Ford Foundation: "We are on the frontlines of social change around the world, working with visionary leaders and organizations to change social structures and institutions—so that everyone has the opportunity to achieve their full potential and have a voice in decisions that affect them."

Or the Rockefeller Foundation: "John D. Rockefeller, Sr., established The Rockefeller Foundation in 1913 to promote the well-being of humanity around the world."

And Bloomberg's foundation: "Bloomberg Philanthropies draws on the Mayor’s decades of experience as a leader in the public and private sectors to deliver real, meaningful, and lasting change around the world."

Here's a list of the top 100 foundations. It sounds like they all do good work (globally), but I never realized just how dedicated our American elite were to improving global conditions. The people of the world should be more grateful, considering what all our corporate leaders are doing for them, right?

I couldn't possibly imagine the concept of being a jet-setting globalist and wealthy philanthropist, especially after being unemployed since 2008 and losing my car. My little corner of the world has become much smaller.

The more cynical side of my reasoning tells me that these corporate and political leaders do this mostly for tax benefits --- and probably for public relations reasons. It's very difficult for me to fathom that so many wealthy people have such kind and generous hearts, and that they feel so much empathy for the poor and down-trodden around the world. A "saintly CEO" sounds more like an oxymoron to me, especially when I think of how they also outsource jobs for cheaper labor to factories with poor working conditions and very little safety regulations.

And then I begin to think of the much more sinister reasons behind globalization.

Currently, the United States has free trade agreements in force with 20 countries and negotiating with several more. Most of them were signed during Bill Clinton's and George W. Bush's terms in office, with the exception of the Israel–United States Free Trade Agreement in 1985 (which also includes the Palestinian Authority).

In 1994 we had NAFTA, the trade agreements with Canada and Mexico. In 1994 Bill Clinton also arranged an agreement in Indonesia with Pacific Rim nations to gradually remove trade barriers and open their markets as well.

In 1999 Bill Clinton signed a "landmark" trade agreement with the People's Republic of China. During a press conference on March 29, 2000, Clinton said that granting China permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) would open up telecommunications for investment. He also said, "We don't have to transfer technology or do joint manufacturing in China any more." But China's entry into the WTO was not what President Clinton had promised.

The United States Trade Representative's Office of China Affairs is currently responsible for managing the formulation and implementation of U.S. trade policy for the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and Mongolia, with the goal of increasing access for U.S. products and services in these markets and ensuring that the World Trade Organization (WTO) and other commitments are enforced, such as labor prison camps and child labor laws. (Considering current events, provisions for cyber-espionage may also need to be addressed).

The same year that Bill Clinton signed the trade agreement with China, he also said, "In 1999, my administration executed a unique trade agreement with Cambodia that gave U.S. clothing companies the opportunity to be fair trade purchasers. As a result of the agreement, working conditions vastly improved [in Cambodia]; employment skyrocketed, producing new jobs for 270,000 workers (two-thirds of the industrial workforce); and exports to the United States increased 17 percent, through participating companies like Gap, Nike, Sears, and others." --- names we're very familiar with today.

The trade agreements below were during the Bush era:

Jordan: Jordan–United States Free Trade Agreement (2001)
Australia: Australia–United States Free Trade Agreement (2004)
Chile: Chile–United States Free Trade Agreement (2004)
Singapore: Singapore–United States Free Trade Agreement (2004)
Bahrain: Bahrain–United States Free Trade Agreement (2006)
Morocco: Morocco-United States Free Trade Agreement (2006)
Oman: Oman–United States Free Trade Agreement (2006)
Peru: Peru–United States Trade Promotion Agreement (2007)
Dominican Republic: Dominican Republic–Central America Free Trade Agreement (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua ( 2005)

The trade agreements below were during the Obama era:

Panama: Panama–United States Trade Promotion Agreement (2011)
Colombia: United States–Colombia Free Trade Agreement (2011)
Korea: United States–Republic of Korea Free Trade Agreement (2011)

The last agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement (2013, Asia-Pacific trade agreement) includes the United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Trade ministers have also confirmed that each TPP member has concluded bilateral consultations with Japan regarding Japan’s interest in also joining the TPP

It's worth noting who actually write these trade bills. They are usually lawyers for conservative lobbying groups --- a group of CEOs of major U.S. corporations formed to promote pro-business public policy --- such as the Business Roundtable and the U.S.Chamber of Commerce (and no, the "Chamber" is not a branch of the government, it's just a very misleading name).

American consumers and their advocates have little-to-nothing to say on the matter of trade agreements (unless they sign an online petition), but that rarely has any effect; and most people must just trust their representatives in Congress (and the their President) to do the right thing -- *cough-cough-choke-choke* -- but so far, that has not -- *cough-cough-choke-choke* -- worked out very well for the middle-class in America; but the free trade agreements have helped many other people across the world...and that's what should matter most, right?

Proposed Multilateral Trade Agreements:
Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA)
Middle East Free Trade Area (MEFTA)
Transatlantic Free Trade Area (TAFTA)
Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific Region (FTAAP)
Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership (TPP)

Proposed Bilateral Trade Agreements:
New Zealand
United Arab Emirates

1 comment:

  1. The Gates Foundation's Hypocritical Investments

    Last Year's 96-page Tax Return from Bill Gate's Foundation